Faculty Members Receive Sabbatical Grants to Pursue Individual Projects

Allowing faculty members to take paid leaves of absences from teaching duties to pursue interests relating to their particular fields, Phillips Academy granted 13 sabbaticals for the upcoming school year. Although the program permits veteran teachers to take year-long sabbaticals, many teachers nevertheless chose to separate their leaves into terms to be used throughout their careers. “The purpose of sabbaticals is to give faculty [members] a chance to step back from their busy lives here and to reconnect with their disciplines,” Dean of Faculty Stephen Carter said. “Sabbaticals give folks a chance to reflect on the work they are doing and build new skills to bring back to their teaching the next year.” Acting Head of School Rebecca Sykes added, “Sabbaticals are granted depending upon the needs of the department and the merits of the proposal, especially the anticipated benefit to the faculty member’s work at the Academy”. She continued, “We are fortunate to have faculty members who remain here for many years, and the sabbatical program is a means through which to recognize commitments and to give a professional boost.” Faculty members use their sabbaticals to partake in a plethora of activities, including continuing their education by earning Master’s degrees, developing new courses or course materials, and writing books or articles. Head of the Division of World Languages Margarita Curtis will take her sabbatical during the winter and spring terms of next year. “I plan to improve my technology skills and develop some interactive course materials for use in the LLC (Language Learning Center),” she said. Dr. Curtis also plans to attend the course “Latino Cultures” at Harvard University to begin research for an article and documentary about Latino students in New England prep schools. She will also travel and study in France and in several South American countries. Instructor in French and former Department Chair Natalie Schorr will fill in for Dr. Curtis during her sabbatical. Three years ago, Dr. Curtis took a summer sabbatical to write a paper for a comparative literature conference in Israel and has only positive sentiments about Andover’s sabbatical program. “Andover has always been very supportive of faculty development initiatives,” Dr. Curtis said. “Over the years, I have been encouraged to pursue many scholarly projects.” Director of the Brace Center and Instructor in Philosophy and Religion Diane Moore will also take a fall sabbatical to update the offered RelPhil courses in non-Western traditions and writings. She plans to look for new literature to assign in current courses and to explore possibilities for new courses. While Dr. Moore will spend the majority of her time in Brookline Mass., she hopes to travel to East Africa for a few weeks with the Islamic Cultural Studies project at PA. Three years ago, Ms. Moore took a similar sabbatical to research new courses in Pakistan and Tanzania. Long-time Instructor in Mathematics Cheng-yu Huang will use her winter-term sabbatical to finish compiling a supplementary exercise book for the Academy’s pre-calculus classes. In her last sabbatical during fall term of this year, Ms. Huang introduced TI calculators to several schools in China and was a visiting scholar at Huanggang High School, one of the most prestigious math and science high schools in China. Chair of the Theater and Dance Department Bruce Bacon will spend his summer sabbatical in Weston, Vermont, where he will serve as the production manager for the professional summer stock theater company, The Weston Playhouse. “My connection with the Playhouse opens up opportunities for PA graduates,” Mr. Bacon said. “We are still in the early hiring phases for the coming season, but I expect to have two former graduates working in the production departments this summer.” Instructor in History Mary Mulligan will use her summer sabbatical to prepare for her new senior seminar about World War I, as well as to research the religion and culture of Islam. “I think the school has a sabbatical program so that teachers can intellectually recharge,” she said. “It gives a teacher a chance to recapture some of the love of learning that pulled him or her into teaching in the first place.” The other faculty members granted sabbaticals include: Instructor in Biology Leon Holley, Instructor in English Gregory Wilkin, Instructor in Theater and Dance Kevin Heelan, Instructor in French Henry Herbst, Instructor in Art Stephen Wicks, Instructor in History Derek Williams, and Instructor in Dance Judith Wombwell. In order to obtain a sabbatical grant, faculty members must submit their proposals to Dean Carter after they have gained the support of their respective department chairs. Dean Carter then evaluates the cost to replace each faculty member. After determining which requests are economically feasible, he then consults with Dean of Studies Vincent Avery, who together with Dean Carter makes recommendations to the Head of School for final approval.