A Fond (and Reluctant) Farewell to Len Whitaker
August 27, 2021
Len Whitaker, beloved TA Science and Social Studies teacher, made a big move back to his home state of Rhode Island this summer. This was not an easy decision to make. As Len shared, “Thetford Academy has been my world for most of my adult life. (Head of School) Martha Rich took a chance on me all those years ago, and every day for 25 years I tried to bring my best to TA and the students. I love this place and the people.”
Len’s impact on the TA community spanned a quarter century. He joined the faculty at TA in the fall of 1996, hired to teach Forestry, Horticulture, and Vocational Agriculture. Over the course of his career at TA, he also taught Astronomy, 8th grade Science, and Conceptual Physical Sciences. Most recently, with a foray into the Social Studies department, he taught 9th grade World Civilizations as well.
Len was (and is) an expert, engaging, and innovative teacher, memorably turning his classroom into a forest ecosystem every year with trees, leaf litter, native plants, insects, and animals on every surface. His passion for the wonders of the natural world has inspired generations of TA students to pursue further studies in the Sciences, and to approach learning with curiosity and a sense of adventure. Inside and outside the classroom, though, it was Len’s commitment to compassion and connection that made his teaching transformative.
When honoring Len as Employee of the Year in 2019, an award he received twice during his tenure, former Head of School Bill Bugg described Len as a teacher who “worked tirelessly to help students overcome adversity, find joy in the world, persevere, become successful in school, and have the courage, compassion, and strength to love and serve one another.”
All of us at Thetford Academy have learned a lot from Len and the way he moves through the world with an open mind and heart. With deep gratitude, we bid Mr. Whitaker a bittersweet goodbye and wish him all the best in life’s next adventure. And Len’s message to all of us – his many former students, parents, and colleagues: “It was absolutely the highest honor for me to work with you and to have your trust. I am and always will be extremely thankful for your support.”