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Endowed Chairs Awarded at Opening Meeting

After a rejuvenating summer, faculty and staff gathered on Monday, August 21 for the opening meeting which set the tone for the 2023-2024 school year and McDonogh’s 150th Anniversary. Among the highlights of the morning meeting was the awarding of two of McDonogh’s 10 endowed chairs—the most prestigious honor an educator can earn at the school. As is tradition, Head of School Dave Farace '87 shared the good news by describing the recipients without naming them until the very end of each presentation.

Lee Shang Awarded Teaching Chair Named for Charles C. Kinard, Sr.
“This educator is a true measure of what it means to be a master teacher,” Farace began in his description of Upper School Chemistry teacher Lee Shang, the recipient of the teaching chair named by the Class of 1952 in honor of Charles C. Kinard, Sr. “He possesses an astonishing intellect, has an enormous background of knowledge in many subject areas, and is completely devoted to the art of teaching and learning. Plus, he can solve a Rubik's Cube puzzle in under 20 seconds without even looking.”

After enumerating Shang’s academic credentials and work history before coming to McDonogh in 1988, Farace gave examples of his impact on students and his colleagues. He shared the words of a former student who said, “His [Shang’s] success as a teacher lies in the way he challenges his students to discover the answers for themselves, rarely giving direct responses to students’ questions. While some students find this frustrating, I respect how this technique forces me to think harder than I may sometimes wish to and to discover the answers for myself.”

Before officially announcing the recipient of the Kinard Chair, Farace described the many ways Shang also supports his Science Department colleagues, quoting one who said, “He has taught, cared for, challenged, and inspired legions of students to great heights in science. An untold number of students have become scientists, doctors, and researchers in large part due to his influence. He epitomizes what it is to be a great teacher!”

Tom Harper Chair Awarded to Carol Schmelz
As Farace began to reveal Carol Schmelz as the recipient of the Harper Award he spoke about her journey to and around McDonogh. In her 25-year career at the school, she first worked in the College Counseling and Development Offices before taking “the job that made her famous.” Since 2005, she has been the constant in the Middle School throughout the many transitions that occurred among the people and the buildings.

Farace compared her to an air traffic controller at the helm inside the doors of the Greenebaum Building. He described her command of the middle schoolers' comings and goings and added, “Our honoree also possesses vast institutional knowledge which she draws upon to support students, parents, and colleagues. Simply put, she knows all. The result is that dozens of people pepper her with questions all day long.”

Farace also recognized Schmelz’s “quick wit and a sassy sense of humor” which he said, “brightens even the most difficult day.” He noted how her sense of fun reveals itself in her writing and described how she entices her Middle School colleagues to read emails and memos with clever subject lines. Farace also read a poem she sent to an administrator, pleading for snow days with a bribe of chocolate.

Although Farace waited until the end of his remarks to officially announce Carol Schmelz as the recipient of the Tom Harper Award, there was no question who deserved the honor.