Endowed Teaching Chairs Awarded

When new and returning faculty and staff gathered in Tagart Memorial Chapel on Monday, August 21 for the first meeting of the school year, there was an air of excitement and anticipation. After introductions and a series of updates, Headmaster Charlie Britton changed gears and announced the recipients of two endowed teaching chairs. Endowed chairs are the most prestigious honor any educator can earn. Chairs recognize great teaching as well as commitment to the McDonogh community. Each recipient, who is selected by the administrative team, holds the chair for three years and receives a stipend over and above his or her salary. This year, as in the past, the deserving recipients were completely surprised and overwhelmed by the honor.

Jennifer Richter Awarded the Thomas R. Harper '63 Teaching Chair

To hear Jennifer Richter tell it, as she was listening to the veiled description of the Harper Teaching Chair, she felt that it could be almost any one of her colleagues.

Britton said, "It is characteristic of today’s honoree to seek out new challenges, take them on eagerly, and work hard until success is achieved. No job is too big and no order is too tall! Along the way, this teacher draws on a reservoir of talents and abilities that others may not realize existed. One such talent is the ability to work collaboratively with anyone. This teacher has been part of teams of varying sizes, effectively adapting to evolving team dynamics, all the while diplomatically retaining her own point of view. She knows when to listen and when to lead."

Richter felt certain that he was describing a Lower School teacher when Britton said, "However accomplished our honoree may be at working with adults of all sorts, she is steadfastly and intently focused on her students. They cannot get enough of her unconditional acceptance and affection. She can coax them into taking risks because they know she will be there to support them, guide them, and catch them if they fall. Because she listens to each child as if he or she were the only one in class, she knows everything there is to know about their parents, siblings, pets, weekend plans, vacation destinations, etc. There is nothing a child won’t tell her!"

It was when Britton began telling a story she once shared with her kindergarten students that Richter realized she was the recipient of the Harper Teaching Chair. With her parents, daughters Abby '25 and Laura '23, and husband Daniel by her side and baby Charlie in her arms, Richter accepted the prize.

Bob Mahon Awarded the Charles C. Kinard, Sr. Master Teaching Chair

The prelude to awarding Bob Mahon with the Charles C. Kinard, Sr. Master Teaching Chair, established by the Class of 1952, was equally mystifying. Britton began by saying, "The teacher whose work we celebrate today is described by a colleague as the 'the Swiss Army Knife of our department.' He is the ultimate team player who is willing and able to handle a wide variety of tasks and assignments. He’s a master storyteller with an encyclopedic knowledge of his subject -- a combination that is a powerful teaching tool, which pulls his students in and enables them to learn the material in deep and meaningful ways."

Britton continued, "A grizzly bear on the outside and a teddy bear on the inside, our honoree can appear to be gruff and intimidating. But, as his students get to know him, they find him to be one of the most engaging and caring teachers at McDonogh."

After sharing several anecdotes and enumerating his many contributions to McDonogh over his 41 year career, it was apparent that the recipient of the Kinard Chair was Upper School science teacher Bob Mahon. With Mahon’s parents, brothers, and son Bobby '01 in the audience, Britton presented the award saying, "For all he has done for McDonogh, from connecting with kids in the classroom or on the playing field, to turning up the sound, to teaching powerful lessons in unforgettable ways, I am proud to present the Charles C. Kinard, Sr. Master Teaching Chair to Bob Mahon."

Seven endowed teaching chairs have been established at McDonogh. They have been named in honor of Dutch Eyth, Ray Oliver, Tom Harper, Charles Kinard, Doc Lamborn, John Grega, and the Rollins-Luetkemeyer Foundation.

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