In May 1953, two men became the first in history to climb to the top of Mt. Everest: Edmund Hillary, a New Zealand beekeeper and explorer, and his Sherpa guide from Nepal, Tenzing Norgay. They reached the summit together and attained instant international fame.
On the way down from the 29,000-foot peak, Hillary slipped and started to fall. He would almost certainly have fallen to his death, but Tenzing Norgay immediately dug in his ice-axe and braced the rope linking them together, saving Hillary's life.
At the bottom, the international press made a huge fuss over the Sherpa guide's heroic action. Through it all Tenzing Norgay remained very calm, very professional, very uncarried away by it all. To all the shouted questions he had one simple answer: "Mountain climbers always help each other."
In 1985, one man joined Foxcroft's English Department and in his "climb" as the successes have mounted, he, too, has one simple response to the shouted accolades: "Keep moving!"
Yes, a "schoolman" in every sense of the word, Paul Bergan balances grace with humility, brilliance with wit, and high expectation with an understanding heart — all hallmarks of a master teacher and all great gifts to everyone around him. A love for students and a passion for English language, literature, and poetry, Paul captures students' interests, hones their language/writing skills, and stretches their intellects. Serving on every possible School committee, giving yeoman time and attention to the Judicial Council, stepping up to go the extra mile in an emergency, speaking on behalf of Foxcroft at open houses and reunions, he makes a difference whenever and wherever in ways great and small.
Having a nickname for every student, figuratively speaking as many foreign languages as we have represented in the School at any one time, giving new meaning to the "Brooks Brothers" style, entertaining colleagues and students at the "early morning" show — known to others as breakfast — searching diligently for the world's "freshest" flowers for his wife's birthday, or sharing his poetry on "the rib," our Mr. Chips brightens all our days!
His expectations for academic rigor and his exceptional ability "to connect" combine to make his impact unparalleled. Since he teaches Foxcroft's Freshman English, the Curriculum Committee ponders alternative programs for new sophomores and juniors to adjust for the missing "Bergan Factor."
Forty-one years in the classroom, twenty-two of them here at Foxcroft School, Paul Bergan, the H. Lawrence Achilles Scholar, is a legend in his own time. Therefore, upon his retirement, the Board of Trustees and Mary Louise Leipheimer honor Paul K. Bergan for his outstanding service to education in general and to Foxcroft specifically by presenting to him Foxcroft's highest honor, the Anne Kane McGuire Distinguished Service Award.
April 20, 2007