Some Remarkable People Are Retiring

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From the Winter 2010-11 Caller

JOHN WISER

John Wiser has taught at Catlin Gabel for 40 years in history, English, theater, and science, and he also coached basketball and soccer. John is humble about his retirement: “People and institutions live, breathe, and go on. I don’t believe much in legacies, and so much of what I’ve done has been an act of faith. If it mattered, it will be in the occasional memory of the students and colleagues I had the pleasure to work with. What is important to me is that others realize that I did the best I could with what I have, and that I had enough respect for my students to set the bar high.”
 
His colleagues are more willing to laud John. Science teacher Paul Dickinson had this to say: “This is truly the end of an era. John leaves a legacy of principles he clarified and championed for the benefit of us all. For one, he taught me the important concept of a student’s engagement with ideas, rather than just moving their eyes over the words as they try to complete their reading. Helping them realize the difference helps them to improve their skills as readers, their gathering of facts for knowledge of the subject, and their sophistication as literary analysts.
 
“John was one of the major producers of Catlin Gabel’s reputation as a school where students learn to write exceptionally well. He will be gone next year, wandering about Europe taking in many of the sites of the famous events in European history about which he taught for years, accompanied by his multilingual guide (and wife) Harriet. The skills he taught and his attitude toward intellectual endeavor will remain with many of us, young and old, his students.”
 

MIKE DAVIS

Mike Davis has become an unforgettable and beloved figure in his 24 years at Catlin Gabel as soccer coach, PE teacher, and athletic director. He came to the school with an extensive background in coaching and education, including a PhD in physical education, beginning in his native England and extending into local colleges and universities. His students speak best about the lasting effect he had on their lives:
 
Roger Gantz ’89 wrote, “On behalf of all your players, thank you for fostering the best and purest sporting experiences in which we will ever participate.” Peter Gail ’96 says, “I still play and coach soccer. It’s a huge part of my life, but I just can’t seem to get enough. In many ways, I still feel like that 16-year-old kid, the ‘junkie for the game’ sprinting through the Catlin forest to get to those majestic fields below. And I owe this passion for the game, in many ways, to Mike Davis. He fostered a love of the game, and my development both as a soccer player and a young man. I wish to thank him for that.”
 
And Greg Bates ’96 wrote, “Unequivocally, I can say Mike was one of the great influences in my life. He was a fantastic coach and mentor. Mike brought out the best in his players. (Sadly, very few coaches actually do that.) Mike had a way of getting his teams to play as one, to make the last player on the team feel just as important as the MVP. The life lessons we learned running hills, playing keep away, of beating OES, stay with me today. Mike is one of a kind. Cheers, Gaffer.”
 
 

KATHY QUALMAN

Kathy Qualman, director of Catlin Gabel’s learning center, is retiring after 20 years at the school. Kathy has special thanks for one way Catlin Gabel provides for faculty-staff: “What has kept me up to date meeting the needs of today’s students has been my professional development education, particularly conferences on learning and the brain. I’ve learned from these how to explain to students what’s happening with their brain circuitry. Professional development keeps teachers on top of their game.”
 
She wrote to her faculty-staff colleagues, “Thank you for the intellectual richness and joy that I have experienced with you these past 20 years. We have shared a precious vision of how children can be nurtured, challenged, and encouraged as they grow into capable active and moral citizens of the world. What a mission we are living. Some people retire from a joyless job. I am retiring from a joyful one.”
 

 

BETSY McCORMICK & SUE HENRY

Kindergarten teachers Betsy McCormick and Sue Henry are retiring, Betsy after 28 years and Sue after 17 years with Catlin Gabel. They sent a joint note about their transition: “We met when our sons were in the Middle School here at Catlin Gabel and we’ve taught together ever since. . . . . As we looked around on Grandparents’ Day, we realized that we were older than many of the grandparents, and that it truly was time to pass the kindergarten program on to a new generation of teachers.”
 
Betsy McCormick came to Catlin Gabel, with experience teaching in public schools, when her youngest child was a kindergartner. “Five- and six-year-old children have such a wonderful perspective on life in general—their desire to make and be friends, understand their world, and spend part of each day with a sense of laughter and creativity has always inspired me,” she says. “I also feel blessed to have had my two sons be CGS lifers.”
 
Sue Henry taught kindergarten at several schools before starting at CGS. “An important reason I love teaching here is having the autonomy (which includes the challenge to ‘think out of the box’ and the vital collaboration of my colleagues) to design and implement a curriculum that supports the many ways young children develop and learn. Catlin Gabel is a school where children are given many gifts by caring teachers and staff, and I am so grateful that my youngest son, Travis ’95, was able to attend Catlin Gabel from the seventh grade until he graduated. The education he received helped him become the capable and caring adult he is today.”
 

EVIE WALTENBAUGH

Director of human resources Evie Waltenbaugh is retiring after 30 years at the school to travel with her husband and spend time with her family. Her positions have included Upper School administrative assistant, receptionist, and assistant to past headmaster Jim Scott. She was the school’s first dedicated human resources professional. “Catlin Gabel will always occupy a large place in my heart, the quality of education provided for my children, the wonderful colleagues I have had the privilege to know and work alongside, and a very special place to work,” she writes. “It has truly been a great journey!”
 
If you would like to make a gift in honor of any of these retirees, please call annual giving program director Sara Case at 503-297-1894 ext. 423.