Leo Higareda: 10-Years
Each morning Leo opens the doors for all of us, and each morning, I am lucky enough to exchange greetings with him. A quiet man, Leo takes work very seriously at MA. Attending to the details, ensuring that everything is ready for another whirlwind of a day. I encourage you though to take a moment to watch how Leo observes all that is around him, how he takes it in, making sure that MA is ok, that we are ok. Leo, thank you for all that you do to make MA safe and ready for learning; without your dedication and your care, the doors would open with less ease, less warmth, and less meaning.
Among other things, Kevin keeps us all posted on educator discounts, where to get the best details, and provides some of the best parenting advice written or verbal that you can find. And that isn’t even his job! Here is the sum total of things when it comes to Kevin. Consider what it means to lead by example and think Kevin; understand what it means to put others first and think Kevin; ponder what it means to think out of the box and remember Kevin. Each year the expected and unexpected seem to occur in the Math Department—perhaps it is a reaction to the rational numbers—and each year Kevin is sure to consider multiple perspectives, dig deep, and do the right thing with compassion and integrity. Thank you, Kevin, for the sense of character and purpose that you bring to MA everyday.
Cosmopolitan, dynamic, dedicated and a total sports fan captures some of what makes this teacher tick. The true narrative, however, lies in watching Aida teach. First, she balances the “both and” of teaching—how she manages to be both exacting and supportive, a grammarian and an explorer of ideas, a leader and an encourager- baffles me at times. To walk into her classroom is to recognize deeply what it means to learn and to live in a different language, a different culture. And it is equally instructive to sit next to her at a basketball game, watch out for the elbows; she is a true Wildcat! Aida, thank you for your dedication to our students, for your high standards, and your commitment to challenge our students to see the world clearly by seeing it through many different eyes.
I just have to say it, I am really missing the Chambers announcements that Annie used to make with the cash box at her side, letting us know that tickets were available for plays and concerts. That said, such a small detail is inconsequential compared to the gifts that Annie brings to our community. The chair of five sub-departments, all of which are filled with practicing artists, she herself remains a practicing playwright. One of Annie’s greatest gifts is her ability to hold and to integrate the visions of many different individuals. We see it every year in the classes she teaches and the production she leads, certainly. Her own work reflects this gift. For MA, however, it is her leadership of the most dynamic Performing Arts Department that I have ever witnessed that stands out year to year. Annie does not subsume her talents in favor of others but rather that one of her many gifts is to grow the talents of others. Our students take on challenging works of music, theater and dance successfully because their teachers lead them this way. Their teachers can do this because of Annie’s vision and leadership. Excellence, commitment, grit, all characterize her dedication. Annie, thank you for this vision, thank you for insisting on the creative process and its diversity, thank you for the compassion and persistence of your leadership.
Imagine sixteen years ago, a time before Jenny was known to MA, a time before digital photography had fully gained credibility in the art world. And now imagine today, iMACs, a fully functioning dark room, preserving both wet and dry photography, and witness the work of the past fifteen years led by Jenny. So much has changed in our program with her leadership and dedication. As much as there has been change, core values have remained the same: a supportive classroom that encourages risk taking, a recognition that fine art is as much the product of persistence as it is of talent, and an insistence upon excellence. Students love Jenny as a teacher because she believes in their unique vision, because she respects them by pushing them to do their best work, and because of her consistent engagement with them as emerging artists. Jenny, thank you for your dedication to your students, to your advisees, and to your colleagues, bringing a belief each day in the creativity of us all to Marin Academy.