GFS bids farewell to Nancy Burrows, Meg Goldner Rabinowitz, Megan Hess, Steve Kushner, Rosario Manion, Candi Root, and Michael Williamson.
At the end of this school year, we will be saying farewell to the following special people who are retiring from GFS or departing after 20+ years of service. They have each made their own indelible imprint on our community and their contributions will continue to guide us for years to come. We are so grateful to each of them for their many years of dedicated stewardship of GFS!
Nancy Burrows will be retiring from her position as Assistant to the Director of Enrollment and Financial Aid Coordinator.
Nancy has been instrumental in ensuring that the Admissions process is welcoming and organized, a role she has gracefully occupied at GFS for 20 years! Nancy has shepherded the transition to online financial aid, admissions, and enrollment, as well as managing overall data production. Through organizing approximately 80 kindergarten admissions play days, Nancy has welcomed 800 new students to GFS!
Nancy has been known for being steadfast, loyal, and reliable, and for always taking the time to celebrate colleagues' personal milestones like birthdays and special moments. We wish her the best as she joins her husband Rick, also recently retired, in this next chapter of their lives.
Meg Goldner Rabinowitz has accepted a position as Assistant Head of School at The Northwest School in Seattle.
Since 1988, Meg has worked in countless roles at GFS. As an English teacher, she has brought her love of literature to her students, and she has introduced them to countless texts and authors. A deep reader, she brought her passion and commitment to diverse voices into her work with students. Meg has also developed dozens of popular electives on a range of topics, including Creative Writing, Media Studies, Social Justice, Spike Lee's movies, Literary Feasts, and the Holocaust.
In addition to her work as a teacher, Meg has served the school in numerous capacities outside of the classroom. Meg served as a college counselor, an 11th-grade advisor, and she has been a Founding Teacher and Site Director for Global Online Academy (GOA).
Meg's committee work includes the Admissions Committee, the Junior Projects Committee, the Diversity Leadership Team, and the Racial Concerns Committee. She was a part of the founding group for the Germantown Poetry Festival. She has presented at several national conferences including the NAIS People of Color Conference and National Conference, the White Privilege Conference, and the Online Education Symposium for Independent Schools. She clerked the AIM Committee, whose findings continue to shape our work as a school dedicated to equity and inclusion. She was also the Philadelphia-area Program Associate for Facing History and Ourselves, where she helps teachers develop and implement anti-bias curriculum in their classrooms. Most recently, Meg was appointed co-clerk of the Upper School Faculty Meeting. In addition to her work at GFS, for the past ten years, Meg has taught new middle and high school English and Social Studies teachers at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.
Most importantly, Meg has been a fierce advocate for generations of students, inspiring them to go forth with love and courage, and to lift their voices for equity and justice.
Megan Hess began teaching at GFS in 1989, and is now retiring after 29 years.
Megan is particularly known for her immersive social studies work, including her Lenape and Yoruba curricula. During her tenure, she has taught 6th grade, a vertical 2nd/3rd, and is ending her career teaching 2nd grade. She has taught the Middle Ages, the European Renaissance (complete with yearly Renaissance feasts and entertainment), Africa, the long-ago Lenape, and colonial America.
For the last three years, the entire 2nd grade has worked on the cross-curricular plays in Spanish. She has loved working with the kids and her colleagues, helping 2nd graders learn to work together and to be comfortable on stage. For a long time before that, she wrote plays for just her class. When studying Africa, she adapted for the stage a number of West African trickster tales. Other years, she adapted fractured fairy tales from the old "Rocky and Bullwinkle" shows, and young thespians grew into experienced actors over the time she worked with them.
Megan has been a committed, collaborative teacher who enjoys sharing ideas and creating curriculum with colleagues. She has served on many committees, including the Lower School Program Balance and Schedule Committee, Faculty Evaluation Committee, and multiple curriculum committees. She has also served many years on the Faculty/Staff Stewardship Committee, and she pioneered several environmental initiatives in the Lower School, including recycling granola bar wrappers and dried-up makers and organizing the Lower School compost.
Megan's husband, Sid Cook, served on School Committee and was a long-time GFS Archivist. Their two children, Custer Cook '06 and Kiri Cook '04, both graduated from GFS.
Steve Kushner will be retiring from GFS after 12 years with the Music Department.
During his tenure, Steve served for nine years as Director of Studies. He led faculty hiring and evaluation, professional development, and clerked the Academic Leadership Group and the Department Heads committee. Steve also led the 10-year re-accreditation process.
Within the Music Department, Steve directed the Choir and Chorus. He led many successful concert tours, including trips to Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Italy, and within the U.S. (including a project with Habitat for Humanity, helping to rebuild homes that were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.) He conducted joint concerts with Singing City Choir and the Yale Glee Club.
His repertoire included Philadelphia premieres of Paul Mealor's "Stabat Mater" and "somewhere I have never travelled, gladly beyond" by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon. Steve created the Festival Chorus, which included faculty, staff, and parents in concert.
Steve also coached both JV and Middle School basketball and baseball.
Rosario Manion has taught Spanish in the Middle and Upper Schools for 22 years, and is now retiring.
During this time, she has inspired students with anecdotes about her beloved San Sebastián, life under Franco, songs, poetry, films, contemporary issues, while incorporating innovative pedagogy into her classes. In addition to her energetic teaching, Rosario has been instrumental in maintaining the 9th-grade exchange program with Tlaxcala, Mexico. She has supervised several clubs, among them Spanish Conversation, Sewing for St. Christopher's Hospital, and Human Rights.
She also served on the Junior Project Committee as a liaison and advisor, and coached Middle School Cross Country and Track and Field. Students know her as their number one fan; she can be seen in the audience of a school performance or on the sidelines of an athletic game or match, often brandishing her GFS pompoms.
Rosario's career here at GFS has had a profound impact on both faculty and students. Her friendship, patience and genuine love of life have been shared with us all on a daily basis.
Candi Root will be leaving GFS to assume leadership of her family's businesses in California.
Candi has been a part of GFS for 19 years—nearly 20!—and we must take a moment to honor her contributions to the school as we reflect on our other departing long-term colleagues.
Candi has led after school and summer camps programming for students in ECP-Middle School. She also worked alongside Daniel Rouse for most of her years at GFS as an assistant teacher. Known for her kindness and creativity, Candi has been a light in the lives of countless people in our community and an ambassador of the GFS mission and values.
Beyond her generous smiles and strong work ethic, Candi is unfailingly supportive of her students and colleagues—committed to seeing and nurturing the whole person and to supporting others in difficult times. As a teacher and caregiver, Candi has always been a deeply empathetic and an attentive listener.
Michael Williamson has accepted an opportunity to become Head of School at The Oxbow School in Napa, California. The Oxbow School is a boarding school for juniors and seniors, focused on studio art and interdisciplinary humanities.
Michael joined GFS in 1990, immediately demonstrating great talent as an educator as well as a thoughtful, open leadership style.
In addition to teaching Studio Art, Art History, a Junior/Senior Seminar on Art and Design, and Essentially English offerings, Michael has served in a variety of roles, including Director of Student Activities, Clerk of the Space Planning Committee, Art Department Head, Dean of Faculty, College Advisor, Interim Head of Upper School, and Clerk of Living Systems in last year's Strategy Through Inquiry project. He has also authored many publications and received numerous accolades and awards for his art.
Michael's classroom has been a place of understanding, solace, and creative inspiration for generations of students and colleagues. While his absence will be felt on our campus, we are comforted knowing that his leadership and love of teaching will continue to yield tremendous gifts to many more educators and young people going forward.