Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Tribute to Shelley Jackson, Head of the Bement School for 16 Years

How do you say good-bye to an educator, who gave  her time, energy, intelligence, great character, wisdom, warmth, kindness, and friendship to a school, its students, faculty, and staff and even their families,  for 16 years?

Last Friday, close to 300 people honored Shelley Borror Jackson, the Head of The Bement School in Old Deerfield for the past 16 years. Shelley came to Bement with her husband, Rob, and children, the same year that my daughter matriculated in kindergarten and her classmates left their palm prints in cement on the school grounds. Now that cohort is thriving in many colleges around the country.

Shelley saw scores of children graduate after 9th grade, and set them off to many high schools, including some of the most elite ones in the U.S.  She was a role model for both day students and the boarders who come from many countries, including China and South Korea.

Lisa and Michael Kittredge, the founder of the renowned Yankee Candle company, which he sold a few years ago,  hosted the dinner gala in honor of Shelley and Rob Jackson at their beautiful estate in Leverett. We were let in through the gates, drove past the golf course, and valets then took care of the parking of our cars.

At the gala event we got a chance to talk to many teachers that our daughter had had, administrators, and staff, even custodians, who had since left. Parents, students, and alums were there, some traveling thousands of miles.
From the delicious dinner, prepared by none other than Craig White, who used to run Bement's cafeteria, to the video recollections, to the singing by students and teachers, the Jacksons were honored in a very fitting tribute. Lisa Kittredge was a fabulous emcee and organized an event that noone will ever forget.
There were even special tissue boxes with the images of Shelley and Rob on the tables and, as we entered the building before the banquet area,  the hall was decorated with photos of Shelley, some of them with quotes.

Shelley is moving with her husband to NYC to head a new school, The New York International School, in Manhattan, and her photo graces its home page. Early next month, she will be officiating at her last Bement School graduation, a cherished and beautiful tradition and I still remember my daughter's graduation of almost 6 years ago.

We wish the Jackson family all the best on their new adventures in NYC and The New York International School is very lucky to have them! 

And for those of you who are wondering who will "replace" Shelley - Frank Henry, a long-time educator at Deerfield Academy, which is located across the street from Bement, will be the Interim Head next year. My husband is on the Board of Trustees of Bement and we are following to search for the permanent head closely.