2019 Employee of the Year: Len Whitaker
During the Bicentennial Senior Class Day and Final Awards Assembly on Friday, June 14, outgoing Head of School William Bugg presented the 2019 Employee of the Year to Science and Social Studies teacher Len Whitaker. Here follows Bugg’s tribute to this remarkable teacher:
At this time, it is my privilege to announce this year’s Thetford Academy Employee of the Year Award.
This award is given annually to a member of the faculty, staff or administration who is incredibly dedicated to Thetford Academy and who goes beyond the call of duty to nurture, support and inspire our students. A plaque with recipients dating back to the award’s establishment in 2001 hangs in the office.
This year’s recipient is an unforgettable science teacher whose classroom is a laboratory of animals, plants, bugs, bees, stars, planets, microscopes, telescopes.
He also brings Egyptians, Sumerians, Greeks, Romans, and the peoples of ancient Africa, India, and China alive, in his active and project-filled 9thgrade ancient history class.
This teacher goes out of his way to make every kid feel special and important, from middle schoolers in their first days at TA to prospective students who don’t know anyone — from reluctant students who don’t love school to inquisitive students who don’t stop asking questions.
During Power Hour and before and after school, this teacher stands in the hallway or outside the arts and science building to greet every passing student by name. When recent graduates return to TA, they seek him out. When we ask alumni during our annual Day of Giving why they are giving back to TA, time and time again, the answer is “Mr. Whitaker.”
What makes this teacher so magical? I think it’s his deep authenticity, a personality so genuine and so endearing that it knocks you off your feet, as Mr. Chabot puts it.
There isn’t a cynical bone in Mr. Whitaker’s body. What you see on the surface is who he is, all the time — always kind, ever caring, always asking about you with a genuine interest in who you are, and a genuine desire to see you thrive. You can’t help but love Mr. Whitaker.
For 23 years as a teacher here at TA, Mr. Whitaker has made a positive difference in the lives of our students, and has worked tirelessly to help students overcome adversity, find joy in the world, persevere, become successful in school, and have the courage, compassion, and strength to love and serve one another.
A few years back, Mr. Chabot tells me, there was a small group of faculty who talked about wearing pins saying “Be Like Len.” Let’s all make one and put it on!
I am delighted to present the 2019 Thetford Academy Employee of the Year Award to Mr. Len Whitaker.