News & Photos - Media Hub - McDonogh School

News & Photos

Endowed Chairs Awarded for Teaching, Commitment

At McDonogh, the most prestigious honor an educator can earn is an endowed chair. At the annual winter faculty/staff meeting on Wednesday, March 1, two deserving members of the community were celebrated for their teaching and commitment to the school. Following McDonogh’s traditional format, Head of School Dave Farace ‘87 described the qualities of each recipient without sharing their names, keeping the Horn Theatre audience in suspense for as long as possible.

Dutch Eyth Teaching Chair Awarded to Erica Seaman
Recognizing that the recipient of the Dutch Eyth Teaching Chair had been at McDonogh for more than two decades, Farace spoke about her professionalism and dedication to the entire community—more than 1,600 students and staff. He said, “She possesses a strong and varied skill set and a work ethic that few could hope to match. She approaches her responsibilities each day with calm confidence, a kind-hearted manner, and a genuine tenderness toward every student she encounters.”

Farace established that the recipient was, in fact, School Nurse Erica Seaman when he described her working conditions prior to the construction of the Infirmary in the Edward St. John Student Center. “She was the only nurse on duty and the infirmary was located in a small space in Jane Bay,” he said. “When called for an emergency, she would grab the med bag and literally run to the site—wherever it might be on campus.”

He described her as a “healer, listener, teacher, counselor, advocate, and friend to all” and reflected on how her role changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. ”Her learning curve was steep and sudden, but she confronted it and conquered it,” Farace said adding, “She kept pace with ever-changing public health education, lab testing, social distancing guidelines, quarantine monitoring, and vaccination management. She also responded faithfully to the open floodgate of emails and phone calls seven days a week.”

Before officially announcing that Seaman was the recipient of the Dutch Eythe Teaching Chair, Farace quoted another administrator who said, “In any kind of emergency, I would want her to be by my side, taking charge, providing care, and supporting us through a traumatic time.”

W. Wright Abbot lV Master Teaching Chair Awarded to Susan Scherz
The W. Wright Abbot lV Master Teaching Chair, endowed in 2020 by Dr. Susan Cummings and Dr. Kris Jenner, parents of three McDonogh alums, recognizes excellence in teaching and is named in honor of Wright Abbot—one of McDonogh’s true “mission keepers.”

Farace began, “This educator is known for her energy, creativity, and willingness to do more than is asked or expected.” And then, keeping with the theme of mission, he said, “This teacher describes her mission as ‘fully using my passion and creativity to assist students in developing their passion for world languages and cultures, pursuing academic excellence, and discovering pride in their accomplishments.’”

The identity of Susan Scherz, the chair recipient, became apparent when Farace said she is “truly multicultural in her background and perspective,” and noted that she is proficient in six languages: English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. He shared that her daily practice is to greet each student individually at her classroom door and, engage them in a brief exchange in the target language before they enter. “This is their entry ticket to class,” he said.

Farace spoke about the other ways Scherz engages her Middle School students sharing that last year, she encouraged 120 students to make 1,000 origami cranes that were strung across the Bavar Commons, and that during the recent World Cup, she posted and updated the entire tournament bracket in the hallway near her classroom. “The morning after Argentina won, she hung a huge, construction-paper replica of Leo Messi’s jersey in that hallway,” he said.

Scherz was also described as “supremely organized” and “a consummate planner”—qualities that not only enhance her teaching but also expedite the scheduling of class trips, grade-level events, and all sorts of special activities and celebrations. Farace added that she has a commitment to professional development and said she is always searching for ways to hone her craft.

He concluded the announcement by saying, “Our honoree is kind, calm, compassionate, and generous and as one of her colleagues says, ‘one of the most intellectually and emotionally intelligent individuals I have ever met.’”

Ten endowed teaching chairs have been established at McDonogh. They have been named in honor of “Dutch” Eyth, Ray Oliver, Tom Harper, Doc Lamborn, John Grega, Charles Kinard, Sue Newton, Wright Abbott, Paul Smith, and the Rollins-Luetkemeyer Foundation.