Good teachers, really good teachers are rare; master teachers are few at best, a phenomenal teacher is a gift. Celeste Bergan is a treasure!
For forty years, twenty-two years at Foxcroft School, Celeste has challenged her science students with the highest expectations, with extraordinary knowledge, with open dialogue, and with genuine interest. Known for their difficulty and rigor, her classes are always full and the accolades are endless:
- "I never had a class in medical school as thorough as Mrs. Bergan's Physiology and Anatomy." - an orthopedic surgeon, Class of '92
- "My science courses-all seven of them-with Mrs. Bergan were the most influential of all my classes anywhere." - a veterinarian, Class of '92
- "Any question gets a thorough answer in Mrs. Bergan's class; she wants us to understand but mostly to be curious." - a current senior
- "My 'B' from Mrs. Bergan is worth more than any 'A' I got at Tufts." - an engineer, Class of '95
Despite these raves, Celeste is never, never satisfied. Always the learner-teacher, she continues to study, to research, to redo her syllabi, and to create new courses. Engaging, grounded, curious, available, knowledgeable, and talented, she, nonetheless, remains humble and unaffected.
Perhaps this latter trait is the key not only to her success with students but also to her achievements as the Chair of the Science Department. Simply stated, in her nineteen years as the Chair, she has revolutionized a staid and underutilized department into a vital, overtaxed, nationally-known program. Last year, 94 percent of the graduating class took at least four years of science, and 42 percent took more than four years—statistics that far exceed the national average for either gender. Her students are welcome observers in the Neurobiology Laboratory and in the Anatomy Laboratory at the George Washington University Medical Center and in the Plasma Physics Laboratory a Princeton University. And yes, her department colleagues emulate her rigor and creativity. Accreditation teams, visiting teachers from other schools, funding foundations, colleges, and medical schools — all recognize the quiet strength of Celeste the teacher and of Celeste the department leader.
Teaching for Celeste, however, does not end in her classroom and/or her department. Living in the community of a boarding school, she models good citizen, good neighbor, and caring friend. The door of her home is as open as that of her classroom to students, to colleagues, and to parents. Encouraging and helpful, never enabling or indulgent, she listens willingly, challenges gently, laughs and cries appropriately, and ultimately embodies the School's highest value, the understanding heart. Schools have titled leaders and untitled leaders. Celeste is Foxcroft's latter, soul.
The person least likely to expect and/or to imagine receiving Foxcroft's recognition is Celeste Bergan. Therein lies her magic. While she may not see herself in context, anyone — past or present — who has been touched by her gifts will applaud. Therefore, upon her retirement the Board of Trustees and Mary Louise Leipheimer honor Celeste P. Bergan for her outstanding service to education in general and to Foxcroft specifically by presenting to her Foxcroft's highest award, the Anne Kane McGuire Distinguished Service Award.
April 20, 2007