Over his 12 years at the Upper School (US), US Director Geoff Theobald could be found in the classroom, on the playing field, and in the upper school office adjacent to the Commons.
Mr. Theobald said his love of teaching and mentoring have guided him in every position he has held at the school.
“Every adult here, regardless of their role, starts with a deep love for teaching and learning,” he said. “In my core, I have loved everything about trying to teach well and it has driven me in every role I held at the school.”
Mr. Theobald has worn a lot of hats during his time at the US. He began his career as US director but has also been a teacher in the Mathematics and Computer Science department. He taught Advanced Algebra 1 on and off for eight years and coached Girls Varsity and Junior Varsity Soccer when he was not teaching math.
Working at a school isn’t only about teaching, though, Mr. Theobald said. Another aspect he enjoys about his roles, he said, is learning from the students and faculty he works with every day.
“Students, throughout, have taught me the tremendous power of curiosity,” he said. “And the adults in this community have taught me that so many of the best learning moments happen when we collaborate well with each other. These are life lessons I try to use every day.”
Mr. Theobald said his favorite moments of the job were when he was able to celebrate the achievements, hard work, and dedication of those within the school.
“My fondest memories are usually those quiet, unpredictable, ‘surprise you’ moments,” he said. “The joy when students achieve a moment of breakthrough, or when faculty get their earned recognition for all the work they do on behalf of students, these are little moments where I feel tremendous gratitude.”
Meredith McDermott ’22 was one of Mr. Theobald’s advisees and described Mr. Theobald as “caring, funny, and supportive.” She said she has appreciated Mr. Theobald’s dedication to his advisory’s well-being.
“He’s always there with every single aspect, including academics,” she said. “He always checks in if we’re struggling in a class and even came to our Girls Varsity Soccer games to support us.”
When asked to describe Mr. Theobald in three words, each of the six faculty members asked chose a form of ‘kindness’ as one of their words. US Dean of Students Rory Morton ’81 echoed these sentiments and said he appreciates Mr. Theobald’s tendency to ask what he can do to help.
“I don’t think that’s necessarily what everybody leads with when you come to them with a problem,” he said. “They might be sympathetic; they may wish you luck; but he always led with asking how he could be helpful, which is a noble quality.”
Former US World Language Department Head and French teacher Cecile Roucher-Greenberg said Mr. Theobald made a positive impression on her since his first day at the school.
“I had gotten into a minor car accident that morning,” she said. “I thought to myself ‘not good to start with a new director like that,’ so I sent an email saying how sorry I was that I was going to be late. I remember the kindness and understanding he showed that morning. I’ll remember his kindness and how he cares about people. After working closely with him for ten years, I’ve seen how he always put the students in the center.”
World Language Department Head and French teacher James Sennette said he sensed Mr. Theobald’s emphasis on students in his job interview.
“When I interviewed with him for my teaching position, I was so very struck by what he found important with faculty: the ability and requirement to know your students well enough to see them for more than students; to know each student as a human, and what they bring to the table. It was at that point I knew that I had to be a part of this community, and he shaped that view for me.”
In his role as an administrator, Mr. Theobald effectively navigated tough decisions and helped faculty reach solutions, Former US Science Department Head and Science Teacher Leah Cataldo said.
“Mr. Theobald guided me toward becoming a more effective leader by partnering with me to always consider multiple perspectives of any problem, challenge, or decision,” she said. “He is a fantastic devil’s advocate, revealing dimensions of an issue through conversation that may not immediately be apparent.”
Even though she has only worked with Mr. Theobald since February of this year, Administrative Assistant to the US Director Rachel Efstathion said she has already noticed his positive demeanor.
“He comes in with a smile every day, happy, excited, and telling a joke,” she said. “Working with him is always fun and lighthearted, even when our work isn’t.”
After countless interactions with faculty, staff, and students, and innumerable memories, Mr. Theobald will be passing the baton to the current Director of the Upper School at Dana Hall, Jessica Keimowitz, in July.