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

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 a decade ago I had dinner with some graduates of Nobles from the 1940’s. 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 her. Please congratulate Karen Gallagher.

Karen is a total school person. She has built her life and, indeed, her family around life on this campus. Over her years at Nobles she has emerged as a master teacher, combining great pedagogy and knowledge with relentless effort, wisdom, pragmatism and deep care for her students and colleagues. She offers all this along with a marvelous sense of humor, making great use of her hilarious wit, self-deprecating manner and profound insight into the foibles of adolescence to communicate her subject matter.

She knows her students well and can connect with kids of all backgrounds, abilities and interests. She holds them to high behavioral and academic standards while, at the same time, communicating her care and compassion. She meets kids where they are, helping them to reach for the next rung in the educational ladder regardless of their preparation for Nobles or their confidence with mathematics.

The boarding program under her leadership has coalesced into a tight community; she is a fantastic director of residential life. Her many initiatives and insights have made boarding safer and stronger, and she is always looking for the next means to improve the experience for everyone. When needed, Karen raises her hand and volunteers to serve the school, whether as a class dean, as an admission reader, as a summer Upward Bound instructor, or as a mentor for less experienced teachers. Collaborative, thoughtful and empathic, she is also forthright and clear, willing to call out students and engage her colleagues as necessary and appropriate.

Karen is, in sum, a remarkable human being who makes a tremendous difference for the better in the lives of her students and colleagues. President of the Board of Trustees Beth Reilly will present the Vernon Greene Award 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, Karen Gallagher.

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