In the life of any school, great teachers impact students in a multitude of ways. Some students know immediately that a teacher/coach/advisor has helped them become a better version of themselves and for some students, they are long out of high school before they consider the influence an important educator had on their lives.
At the end of this academic year, Holderness will bid adieu to not one of these greats but four of them. Franz Nicolay, Janice Pedrin-Nielson, Kathy Weymouth, and Rich Weymouth ‘70 will be retiring after decades of service. While there are still moments of honor yet to come, a special dinner was held to honor these four educators. We salute these individuals for the mark they have had on generations of students and on Holderness!
Franz Nicolay (director of the Edwards Gallery and member of the visual arts faculty) came to Holderness in 1980 and established the photography program. Franz has worked to create a strong foundation of visual literacy in his classes. In the Edwards Gallery, he has worked tirelessly to ensure that the entire Holderness community benefited from artistic excellence. He has mentored generations of new artists and professional designers.
One former student shared, “It almost cannot be put into words what Franz does to light the fire of artistic creativity within his students, which in turn trains them in a way of seeing the world that will remain with them for a lifetime. His encouragement, suggestions, inquiries, critiques and simple presence and observation while I did my work in his various classes made for a perfect environment for maximum output of creative energy. I think about, and use, the techniques and perspectives I learned there every single day.”
Janice Pedrin-Nielson (community service coordinator, member of French faculty, and former dean of academic affairs) joined the Holderness faculty in 1981. She spent her career guiding students in their academic pursuits and helped countless youngsters learn how to approach and master their study skills and learn how to manage their time.
An alumna wrote that “Janice was one of my first female professional role models who demonstrated persistence in a patriarchal landscape before I knew how to identify that as a systemic issue. This was decades before the term “she persists” became popular. I have often thought of her fortitude as a female faculty member during those early co-ed years in the 1980s. And I remember how much I enjoyed the last year of French especially - reading, comprehending, and even enjoying Le Petit Prince because of her excellent teaching skills.”
Kathy Weymouth (member of English faculty, former dean of students) joined the Holderness community in the fall of 1998. Along with Rich and their three children, they moved into a girls’ dorm and began their work in the classroom and on the athletic fields. In her former role as dean of students, Kathy was involved in all aspects of community life including leadership, community service—including the Relay for Life/Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer project and the Wounded Warrior Project—and the advisory program.
One former colleague related that “When Kathy arrived at Holderness we did not have a clear and specific job description and opening for her, but she quickly became a leader on the faculty, indispensable, respected by all, and a joy to work alongside….[and she] almost single-handedly transformed weekend life for the students, developing all sorts of interesting and inviting activities, and not hesitating to support student ideas.”
Richard Weymouth ‘70 (chaplain and member of Religious Studies & Theology faculty) As chaplain, teacher, coach, and dorm advisor, Rich models other-centeredness for students and colleagues. His work within this community to impact the larger community has fortified those in need.
A former student shared “I had the pleasure of being taught by Mr. Weymouth the spring semester of my senior year. He touched my life. Mr. Weymouth showed me a type of kindness that semester that had never been shown to me before. He not only gave me a safe space to express my feelings but he also allowed me an environment that I could go to even when the days were really bad. That was the hardest and worst semester of my life, but I knew that Mr. Weymouth cared deeply for me and because of that, classes and school were a little bit easier.”
Albert Bierstadt, the German-American painter renowned for his landscapes of the American West, came to the White Mountains to capture its simple yet overwhelming beauty. What came to life through nearly a decade’s worth of work was The Emerald Pool, a massive oil-on-canvas monument to the natural majesty of a hidden swimming hole along the Peabody River in the Pinkham Notch. Recounting The Emerald Pool, Bierstadt said, “I never had so difficult a picture to paint, as this White Mountain subject the Emerald Pool; my artist friends think it my best picture and so do I.”
At Holderness we deliberately build community through the people we bring in and programs we support. Today I want to share one story about people who showed us what it means to be a mission-centered community and talk about one unique program that is hitting a milestone.
Kicking off its 141st year, Holderness School welcomed new students to campus on September 5th. Under blue skies and surrounded by the cheers of joyful Senior Leaders, 114 new students eagerly joined the Holderness School community. The day was filled with smiles as new students and families unpacked their cars and turned dorm rooms into a home away from home.