Retiring Faculty and Staff

Cathy Fitzpatrick – UPPER SCHOOL DEAN’S OFFICE, 1992-2021

We know that comforting rhythm that emanates from her office, the steady, gentle beat that eases us along, and we sing the same refrain: Thank you, Cathy. Those words reverberate, day after day, year after year, for we in the Upper School enjoy a priceless gift: the calm that comes from the confidence that at our core, at our very center, lies a person of dedication, of knowledge, of kindness, and of soul.

Cathy, of course, often deflects the attention that such traits so rightly attract. Still, we notice. We notice the weekends cut short to finish a project, the emails written and rewritten to get the meaning just right, the attention to detail whether crafting a schedule or balancing a budget. With a deep sense of responsibility, she demands much of herself, not out of some compulsion for perfection but out of respect, even out of love, for this place and its people. She gives her best because she wants us to be our best. And she has the deep, experiential knowledge that allows us to do just that.

Time and again, we experience an event—Family Week- end, perhaps, or Prize Assembly—and we wonder how an event of such complexity can go so smoothly. We soon recognize the reason: Cathy. Indeed, there’s hardly a question that Cathy herself cannot answer, and at the moment when we think that we might have her stumped, she knows just whom to turn to—a colleague, no doubt, with whom she has nurtured a longstanding, trusting relationship. That knowledge and that network—they silently, invisibly propel the Upper School forward, returning us to that reassuring rhythm. Yes, we will miss all that Cathy knows— some of which, to be fair, Cathy, always discreet, will never, ever reveal. She is a vault.

Yet it is not what is in Cathy’s head that we value most but what is in her heart. With limitless patience, Cathy listens to every visitor and each caller, each believing that their crisis, real or imagined, is the one that demands her utmost attention. She brings them calm; she takes on their burden. Then, when emotion overflows—sorrow or fear, or the anger that such sadness and anxiety beget— Cathy offers compassion, a gentle kindness, a quiet space, to colleagues and strangers alike. More than we know, she holds us all, honoring our experience, sustaining us in times of uncertainty. She finds goodness in us, too, and she maintains, even in the hardest times, faith in the future. Cathy does this work, like all her work, with the greatest humility and with the greatest strength. Cathy’s resolve is unshakeable.

Now, as we celebrate Cathy and her much deserved and long overdue next adventure, we hold fast to all that Cathy has taught us. Cathy will soon depart Warren Hall; her gifts and goodness will long endure. And so once more we sing our beloved refrain for our beloved friend: Thank you, Cathy. —DAVID BALL


In speaking about Jackie’s tenure as academic dean, a colleague noted: “You never felt that you were dealing with an administrator with a title; you felt that you were dealing with a real person.” Indeed, this statement holds true for the many titles Jackie held: math teacher, advisor, house head, department chair, academic dean, and, most recently, dean of academic initiatives. In all that she did, Jackie carried herself with unflappable authenticity and clarity of purpose.

To uphold the highest standards for the Milton community, she tended to the needs of individuals in her care with compassion, respect, and integrity. To lead an equitable academic pro- gram, she challenged faculty to rethink grading, particularly for students in Class IV. To honor the learning needs of all students, she led the way to the first new Upper School daily schedule in decades. As another colleague described, “She believed in innovation, not for the sake of newness but for the ways that change could help our institution better serve its students.” Indeed, Jackie ensured that Mil- ton responded to calls for a more inclusive academic program.

She questioned practices that no longer felt relevant, engaged with research that challenged our assumptions, and ultimately refused to allow Milton’s past to define its future.

And for all that she expect- ed of others, she held an even higher standard for herself— one that she used to examine her own practices deliberately and with humility. Responsive, reflective, and adaptive, Jackie honored the thinking of those around her, whether with

colleagues or with students. She modeled consistency without rigidity and believed in genuine collaboration, wherein multiple voices shaped an outcome that was greater than what might otherwise have been achieved. Ultimately, she made visible her own desire to grow as a teacher and school leader along with the School itself—for a school’s growth is only as dynamic as that of its leaders.

While Jackie may have garnered the respect of the Math Department in her early years at the School, she ended her career as a mentor for all. Penn

fellows often identified Jackie as the person whom they most ad- mired or wanted to emulate. Department chairs sought out her counsel in times of need, as did countless numbers of students, parents, and colleagues through the years. And each time, Jackie’s door was open. If her classroom teaching is defined by her skillful support of students through the learning process, as described by a recent observer, then so too is the kind of teaching she did for all of us: She sought to understand each of us, each situation in which we may have found ourselves, until we, too, found ourselves learning in the care of this exceptional educator. Jackie will be retiring to Wilmington, North Carolina, with her husband, Michael, who lived with Jackie on campus for the four decades in which she served the school.


The Food Issue

In this issue we celebrate the world of food. In putting it together, we visited alumni at farms as close as Mattapan and as far away as Downeast Maine. We spoke to chefs who’ve chosen diverse culinary paths and to alumni who, during challenging times, created a platform for sharing recipes and memories that are keeping them closer together. These stories help remind us that food nourishes not only the body but also the soul, keeping friends and families close. As the renowned food writer MFK Fisher wrote: “I think our three basic needs for food and security and love are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others.” The stories and individuals featured in this issue echo that sentiment.