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Retiring Faculty and Staff

Sandy Butler, Lower School, 2001–2022

Sandy Butler

By Jenn Katsoulis
Lower School Faculty

Former Lower School Principal Annette Raphel told me that 20 years ago, we were about to start school without an art teacher. On a Friday before Labor Day, a tip came in about Sandra Butler. She interviewed and left us speechless. Sandy taught us to WAIT for the perfect teacher and never settle.

Sandy is described as kind, talented, wise, funny, and “a magician disguised as an art teacher.” She has a magical clarity with children, treating them with enormous respect and confident expectations they will produce their best. She shared with me openly about the first time she taught kindergarten, planning an activity that overestimated their experience with scissors. Sandy’s takeaway was to be grateful for this lesson: students showed her what they needed to learn, therefore she developed lessons on fine motor skills.

Sandy is a wizard at introducing students to ways of seeing real and imaginary worlds, appreciating different media and art forms, and celebrating artists who have brought techniques and perspectives to the world. She approaches learning and teaching in multiple ways. While teaching portrait sketching, she poses in a beautiful hat, reading stories aloud. Her elaborate set designs for the Grade 5 Play allow students to “own” the colorful work they make. While Sandy’s art curriculum is fun, a look at the scope and sequence reveals a careful progression of fostered skills. Favorite projects include alebrijes, intricate watercolor and ink flowers, Egyptian masks, a lifesize elephant connected to math and literacy, acrylic paintings inspired by Kadir Nelson, and Ugandan paper beads for a summer reading assembly.

Sandy’s belief in each student reflects a gifted educator who makes all students feel confident and creative. We have marveled at what she helps our students produce artistically. She is an accomplished artist in her own right. After sharing her work she encourages children to critique it, graciously accepting the thoughts of every child.

Sandy is a much-loved collaborator who shares ideas, materials, and time. As part of the Cambridge/Somerville carpool for many years, I witnessed Sandy bring to life projects conceived during long commutes. Lucia described her as “a sponge” eager to learn and share during a teaching exchange with El Pilar. Sandy found time to support the Farmers Market Service Learning Project this year, and host a visiting artist. Noah Grigni’s visit, the non-binary artist of It Feels Good to Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity was a powerful experience for K-5. Sandy was attuned to the needs of both the artist and students during every workshop.

Sandy’s warm presence welcomed Lower School newcomers. She asks how you are, and genuinely wants to know! We all cherish every heart-to-heart chat. Her deep friendship is sensitive to the more somber aspects of the human experience. A willingness to be vulnerable, provide emotional support, and listen, allowed us to bring our whole selves to work during some tough times. She’s a sounding board for curriculum, for connecting with kids, and for adulting all these years.

We hope that extra time in her own studio will continue to feed her passion, and friends certainly look forward to extra time with her. The school has been enriched by Sandy’s vision, delight, and talent, and she will be missed by all.

Terri HerrNeckar, Mathematics Department, 1996–2022

Terri HerrNeckar

By Gregg Reilly
Mathematics Department Faculty

With passion, integrity, creativity, clarity, and humor, Terri has committed herself to the education of young people for the past 37 years. An avid sports fan and keen-eyed photographer, Terri is a big picture thinker. She sets clear and high standards for students and colleagues. And, with compassion and kindness, Terri champions their cause in meeting them. That’s the right thing to do! That’s Terri’s way! Said another way (Terri will expect this), Terri is always looking to think outside the box, while simultaneously coloring between the lines.

Terri arrived at Milton in 1996 as the Mathematics Department was shifting away from traditional textbooks that had become both less relevant to and more expensive for our students. As Terri would say, “That’s just wrong!”. With her keen eye for detail and outstanding editing skills, Terri became a driving force behind the writing of curriculum that would provide our students with a more dynamic and responsive experience for more than two decades. Her trademark TJH can be found on countless documents used in myriad courses, many of which she hasn’t taught in over a decade. Most recently, she revamped our honors calculus curriculum, starting with integration which many feel is the more historically accurate development.

Terri is the consummate lifelong learner and a gifted teacher who knows that how each student learns best is a moving target. Thus, she is always on a quest for new ways like slide-decks, hyperdocs, pacing guides, and DESMOS investigations to provide her students easy access to the work at hand along with clear expectations and built in flexibility for its completion. Still, Terri finds a way to check-in with each student during class as she wanders among them engaging in short conversations (often involving laughter) to gauge where each is that day. She brought the same energy, clarity and compassion to her advisory, to the young men in Goodwin, to the DC, even to library duty, and in the past to the softball team and the SGA (where she helped them create our current ranked voting system).

Terri is also a dedicated colleague. With her innate ability to read people’s feelings, Terri has always looked to welcome and support new faculty. No surprise, she was the first holder of the Lee Chair. In recent years she has expanded that support in her roles on the Teaching and Learning Team and as a facilitator in Circle conversations. Many colleagues, myself included, have acknowledged that Terri has made us better teachers.

In her last class, Terri helped guide her Advanced Functions students through the concept of the secant line of a cubic function with a brief stop at the binomial theorem before helping them discover the tangent line (in point-slope form). At the end, she asked, “Isn’t that cool?” and they agreed! Actually Terri, you’re cool!

While Terri has given so much to Milton, she also found her beloved Elaine here and they have been cultivating a network of friends in Northampton where they will enjoy a calmer pace of life and continue their adventure together. Perhaps a burger and a beer at the Brewery, watching the Red Sox or a music session with Brick. You have both earned this next chapter and we wish you well.

Before I read the Encomium proper, you should know that there is a hard maximum of 550 words, so in respect for Terri’s integrity to always do the right thing I could not fully elaborate on all of the contributions that Terri has had for our department, to the support and mentorship of numerous faculty members both young and old, and to her students, advisees, etc. Also, FYI, the brief math lesson I will talk about is actually really cool, ask Terri about it. Finally, John Banderob suggested that I use a prime number of words in it, there are 541.

Special thanks to Martha Jacobsen, Jeanne Jacobs, John Banderob, and Patrick Owens for their contributions to this work.

Manny Taveras, Facilities Services, 1985–2022

By Nick Parnell
Director of Facilities Services

Manny started at Milton 37 years ago this year, having spent his entire career as part of the grounds team within facilities services.

Known as someone always willing to learn new things and ready for any challenge that came his way, Manny ensured that he and other members of the grounds team successfully completed every season-related task. There was not any job he would not take on. From growing grass to building walls and fences, to ensuring irrigation was working properly, to the basics of weed-wacking and picking up trash, he was focused on ensuring that the school grounds sparkled. Under Manny’s direction, each playing field was lined for the appropriate sport and met dimension requirements. He could operate any piece of equipment needed and was always ready to mentor and teach others. Manny was also integral to the school’s event set-ups. He played a key role in ensuring that the school always had the appropriate tables, chairs, and other needs available in the tents and gym when the school had to revise its approach during COVID.

Manny took great pride in his job and there was never any question about whether a task scheduled would be completed. His exacting nature showed in everything that he did, especially in the perfectly lined up corners between paths and fields. He literally (and stubbornly) refused to cut corners. Despite his long commute, Manny was often the first to arrive and the last to leave. Even when it snowed, he would make it in and ensure that our paths remained clear even during the largest storms.

On campus, you could always hear Manny before you saw him. Even while focused on getting the work done, he was a constant presence. He loved seeing and speaking to the students each day. He believed wholeheartedly in the school’s mission, and would do anything he could to support it.

Manny, we hope that you have some great catches now that you can spend a lot more time fishing with your family! We will miss you and wish you the best.

Ed Donahue, Controller, 1999–2022

By Heidi Vanderbilt-Brown
Chief Financial and Operating Officer

Last week, Ed Donahue dared me to start this encomium—which represents his 23 years here at Milton as the school’s Controller—with two truths and a lie. “It will be funny…” he said, “and far more interesting to me than the other retirement speeches you’ve already given about me. Everyone else hasn’t heard your other speeches, but I have, and I will know when you are repeating yourself.”

If that isn’t characteristic of Ed, I don’t know what is. Blunt as can be but always with a twist of humor… Even if he’s delivering bad news, it at least comes with a joke. And if he can’t think of a good joke for the moment, or if he has something to say that he thinks you might take personally, he’ll end his comment with “but it was said from the heart.”

At the same time, numbers are serious business, especially at a school like ours. As a not for profit, we must spend every penny in a way that supports our mission, but not more than that. To that end, Ed knows every single one of the school’s more than 200 endowment funds and how they need to be spent to meet a donor’s requirements. Ed also has a 6th sense if things are not heading in a great direction with our budget. He can tell you the spread between gas prices at the pump in three different nearby towns, and use that to pinpoint utility trends for Milton Academy. More broadly, he thinks about what challenges could be coming to Milton and puts options on the table for us to debate, so that we can be prepared.

Yes, Ed has marvelously headed our finances for the past 23 years. But the key to his success is that he does not see himself as just an accountant or a forecaster. Those roles are reactive, and that’s not Ed at all —he is a person of action. He’s always encouraging dialogue, asking his colleagues and team, “how can we make this happen despite what’s going on”? Or in Ed lingo, “I’ll be moving some things around.” While budget managers may not be quite clear on how it happened—as Ed takes great pride in being the Wizard of the Business Office—all of a sudden departments find that money appears so they can buy that thing they didn’t think they’d have. For many of us, the resources we need to do our job are there without our having to ask.

Over time, Ed’s actions and partnership with the business office team has ensured that resources have been distributed as fairly as possible. Ed is always asking, if we take action X, how will it impact students and families who come to the school with vastly different resources? Will this feel right to both faculty and staff? Is what each division has to spend proportionally correct? Across Upper School boarding and day?

Ed has not been following a written policy all these years. Rather, he has been following his own north star, which is respect. Respect is the one thing that matters to Ed above all else. Respect for one another as fellow human beings, that we treat each other with care. Respect for the role that everyone plays in fulfilling the school’s mission, no matter what job they do on campus. Respect for the business and operational processes in place so that we can—in good conscience—say that Milton Academy has done everything possible to provide every opportunity to our students. Everything possible to treat each person in this community as they would wish to be treated.

Ed has brought humanity to a role that is usually perceived as unidimensional. And so while I could repeat a huge, long list of all the things that Ed has accomplished while at Milton—from accounting to
budgeting to cash to debt management to clean audit and tax filings, plus generating innumerable ideas about how we could make it financially through COVID… I know that Ed would rather that we all take a moment and identify one specific action we each can take now to make others at Milton feel respected.

Pay it forward. That, more than anything else, is the legacy that Ed seeks and deserves.

Gerry Brosnahan, Facilties Services, 2001–2022

Gerry Brosnahan

By Nick Parnell
Director of Facilities Services


Gerry has been at Milton for over 20 years, serving as the school’s in-house plumber on the facilities services team. I would like to take a few minutes to acknowledge Gerry and all he has contributed to Milton.

As a licensed plumber, Gerry has overseen the maintenance and repair of the school’s vast array of plumbing systems at Milton, which are old and complex. From troubleshooting sewer line connections to ensuring sufficient hot water from the school’s central plant to adding bottle fillers to making sure all of our bathrooms are operational in academic, athletic, and dorm buildings as well as faculty housing, Gerry was the go-to person. He ensured that the school was in compliance with annual backflow testing requirements; that main drain cleaning occurred annually, and addressed other issues such as the annual infamous grease trap cleaning at the snack bar.

His efforts consistently reduced system downtime, which is critical on a 24/7 campus, whether he was called during the workday or the middle of the night. Gerry also served as an advisor on recent and upcoming large building projects. His reviews ensured that the expansion and modernization of the school’s bathrooms and kitchens would include fixtures that would stand the test of time and would avoid potential issues as they were tied into existing systems. Most recently, across the COVID pandemic, Gerry made multiple modifications to bathrooms to keep the campus safe, including changing out sink hardware sets and adding toilet covers to over 150 fixtures.

Gerry was a team player and worked with many other disciplines, including the school’s HVAC, electrical, and general repair trades staff to complete more complex tasks across the facilities department. He took ownership and made sure every task was seen to completion. In addition, Gerry was an integral part of the snow removal team and could be found driving one of our larger plows at all hours.

No matter what room he walked into or whatever situation he found, Gerry was always ready with a quip or a joke to fit the situation, and his smile could light up a room. His can-do attitude was always on display, and when located on the radio to address an issue, his response was always “I’ll take care of it.” Gerry, we appreciate your many contributions and thank you for keeping Milton Academy running. We wish you the best in your retirement.

Elaine Apthorp, English Department, 1999–2022

Elaine Apthorp ’75

By Nicole E.C. Colson
English Department Chair

I have worked at Milton Academy since 2006 and, in that time, I have not been shy about telling people that I root for the Yankees. However, in my 15 years at Milton Academy, I have been reticent to mention my Yankees fan status to one person…and that person is Elaine Apthorp. It’s not that I think that Elaine, a true Red Sox enthusiast, would berate me or belittle my choice. Anyone who knows Elaine knows that is not in her nature. It’s that I would never want Elaine to think less of me.

There is no one on this campus that I respect more than Elaine. I find it both humbling and daunting to try to encapsulate her over 20 year career at Milton in a short encomium. Elaine teaches both English and History, two disciplines that require students to engage in close reading and rich, rigorous, written work. Her educational background demonstrates a deep investment in scholarship. After earning a degree in English and Religion from Williams College and a PhD in English Literature from Berkeley, Elaine taught for 13 years at San Jose State, before joining Milton’s faculty in 1999. She approaches her students as young scholars, empowering them to authentically engage with the work before them. Her passion and sensitivity bring out the best in her students and, when her students begin to falter or doubt themselves, Elaine is there, providing scaffolding and chances to explore, risk, fail, and persevere. She has truly “seen” the students at her table and helped them discover the paths that lead towards being their best and most authentic selves. Decades of students left Elaine’s classroom knowing that they have been empowered by someone who believes deeply in them.

I felt that I needed more historical context to Elaine’s career and I called John Charles Smith. He said that, of course, I should speak to her superb mind and impeccable training, but also emphasize that Elaine is really funny. While I have seen Elaine laugh on countless occasions, her humor is always genuine and lacking cynicism. I have never seen Elaine laugh at another person’s expense. I have, however, seen her laugh at herself, a truly rare quality. Perhaps this quality is why John Charles noted that she can “get along with anybody.” I have never heard an unkind word or complaint about Elaine.

I did not have the pleasure of working with Elaine in the dorm, but I have worked in the classroom with countless Goodwin students. When Elaine’s name is mentioned, there is a kind of reverential tone that the students adopt. Her kindness and empathy inform all of her interactions. Elaine bleeds for the students in her care. A colleague told a story that encapsulates Elaine’s tremendous sensitivity and goodness towards others. On a Class II retreat, before my time at Milton, a young man made an error of judgment prior to getting on the bus. By the time he arrived at the camp for the retreat weekend, it was clear that the student would need to be removed and would be facing disciplinary action, possibly expulsion. It was Elaine who embraced the child as he wept, staying with him and providing him comfort in, what for him, must have felt like a very dark time. Elaine provided safety to that young man when he needed it most.

When I began teaching at Milton, I recall logging on to the website to see my new colleagues. As I mentioned earlier, Elaine graduated from Williams College, which was indicated on the website. As a fellow Eph, I felt confident that this person was someone who was probably wonderful. Nothing in the past 15 years of working with Elaine has dispelled that first impression. She has been a role model for me and I know that I am not alone. I have often referred to Elaine as the conscience of the English Department. Her instincts and practice are always in the best interest of the students.

I wish nothing but the best for Elaine and Terri as they move on to this next chapter of their lives. I will not dwell on Milton Academy’s profound loss, but applaud Elaine’s well-earned retirement, cheering on her beloved Red Sox. And, while I seek to embody Elaine’s attributes as an educator, I hope she will understand if I keep rooting for the Yankees.


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