Sewickley Academy Senior School English teacher named the 17th Clark Faculty Chair

Friday, August 30, 2019 | 3:45 PM

During Sewickley Academy’s annual opening assembly, Mrs. Ann Russell, Senior School English teacher, was named the 17th Clark Faculty Chair by the Board of Trustees and Head of School Kolia O’Connor.

The Clark Faculty Chair was established in 2003 by Sewickley Academy’s Board of Trustees in honor of Ham Clark’s 15-year tenure as Headmaster of Sewickley Academy and his wife, Ceci Clark’s, many contributions to the life of the school.

The Clark Faculty Chair honoree is an individual who best exemplifies the teaching qualities that Mr. Clark most admired: a mastery of his/her subject matter, a love of teaching and interacting with young people, and an engaging and effective teaching style. In addition, the recipient is respected by his/her colleagues and the school community, regularly seeks personal and professional growth opportunities, and is fully engaged in the life of the Academy.

This year’s honoree exemplifies the qualities of the Clark Faculty Chair. “Students find this year’s honoree a calm, unfussy, thoughtful, and always student-centered teacher, seeking to support students in their intellectual and emotional journeys,” said Kate Pigman, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “They know this teacher as innovative but also as someone who understands and appreciates when the tried and true methods work to support student learning. This teacher promotes the idea that student exchanges are just as valuable as those with the teacher. By opening doors into worlds beyond many students’ familiarity, she works hard to extend and expand the perspectives of each student even as students are challenged to think critically about the world and their place in it.”

Mrs. Pigman continued, “With over 19 years of teaching at Sewickley Academy and 41 years as a teacher overall, Mrs. Russell is clearly a master who uses reading and writing and discussion as primary tools of exploration. Reading includes exposure both to well-known and lesser-known works by a range of writers in a variety of genres. Writing is a process of discovery, and the production of papers is one that allows students both to understand more fully what they know and refine their way of articulating those thoughts and hone their skills of creative and critical analysis. Well beyond just having students write and rewrite papers, however, this teacher also works with students to read, interpret, and ultimately create their own documentary films. She has also been instrumental in the development of the Senior Seminar, in which students create podcasts modeled on NPR’s ‘This I Believe’ series and complete a capstone multimodal presentation that asks students to reflect on and share with others their journey as a reader and a thinker.”

In support of her students beyond the classroom, this year’s honoree regularly attends plays, musicals, recitals, and Ephemera Live, a student-lead evening of live music, displays of visual art, and poetry reading, reveling in the creative talents of her students.

Mrs. Russell is recognized as a leader at school, supporting major student undertakings, including the yearbook, and serving as a distinguished and invaluable department chair. She has been exceptionally astute in guiding her department’s work and in strengthening their course offerings over the years. Of equal note, she has also been instrumental in welcoming new colleagues to the school and ensuring they are supported as they make their transition to Sewickley Academy.

Congratulations, Mrs. Russell!

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