The Vernon L. Greene Award for Faculty Excellence, presented by Head of School Bob Henderson '76

My responsibility at this moment is to honor a member of the faculty whose care and attention have helped to make Nobles a special place.

The Vernon L. Greene Award for Faculty Excellence was established in 1982 by David Arnold of the Class of 1940 in honor of Vernon Greene, who for many years and many people embodied faculty excellence.  The award is presented yearly to a member of this faculty who encourages and nurtures academic excellence, whose pedagogy is distinguished and whose commitment to students and school community is thorough.

Over fifteen years ago I had dinner with some graduates of Nobles from the 1940s. At one point, I commented that excellence in teaching and the relationship between students and faculty were still at the heart of this school. One of these men then asked if everyone would comment on a teacher who had made a significant impact on him. Almost to a person, these men then spoke about Vernon Greene. Sixty years after the fact, these men remembered Vernon Greene as one of the great models and inspirations of their lives. No award can speak more deeply about the soul and value of the Nobles experience than this one. Indeed, we are today gathered on Greene Field, named in his honor many years ago.

I would like to ask this year’s recipient of the Vernon Greene Award to please come forward and join me here on the podium while I say a few words about him. Please congratulate Dan Halperin.

This is Dan’s seventeenth year on the Nobles faculty. He was hired originally as a one-year sabbatical replacement teacher of drama. Then he was retained for a second year as a one-year leave-of-absence replacement teacher of drama. In his third year at Nobles, Dan was finally offered a contract to stay as the director of the drama program.

There has been no looking back. The Nobles drama program under Dan’s leadership has thrived and adapted brilliantly to its superb new facilities. Dan has been daring, original and inspired - so daring, original and inspired, in fact, that the head of school has upon occasion had his struggles with the drama director’s choice of material, although in the end my inclinations to support free expression and trust my employees have been well rewarded with excellence and extraordinary learning opportunities for kids. And Dan does sometimes pick things like “The Sound of Music” to give me a break.

When Dan hits the stage for an assembly announcement or skit, the whole school knows it will be entertained and attention will be fully captured. He is jolly yet, at the same time, demanding; he sustains exceptionally high expectations while projecting genuine empathy; and he upholds high personal and intellectual principles even as he invites discourse and difference from others.

I’ll share words from both of his last two formal professional evaluations to summarize the respect and affection with which he is regarded in this community. First, “Dan is a commanding presence at Nobles and he exudes mastery and confidence in all he does. He cares about his students as individuals and helps them to stretch personally in ways that are often carried out quite publicly.” And this: “Everywhere Dan serves the institution he brings an emotional openness, democratic sensibility, and keen intellectual acuity to to his energetic interactions with students and colleagues.”

A craftsman and gifted teacher, Dan sweats the details every day in his passion for the Nobles Theatre Collective while demonstrating remarkable ability to lift his perspective and see the needs and imperatives of the school from a high altitude in his role as the chair of the Performing Arts Department. He is also an utterly dedicated husband and father of Oliver, Class of 2017, and Max, who is graduating from Nobles today.

Dan is, in sum, a remarkable human being who makes a tremendous difference for the better in the lives of his students and colleagues. President of the Board of Trustees Beth Reilly will present the Vernon Greene Prize for Faculty Excellence to a master teacher, a wonderful mentor, a dedicated citizen of this community and the community beyond our walls, and a role model for all of us, Dan Halperin.

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The Vernon L. Greene Award for Faculty Excellence, presented by Head of School Bob Henderson '76