Alumnae Weekend provides the perfect venue to celebrate beloved faculty.
During the recent Alumnae Weekend celebration, friends and colleagues gathered to honor three GPS teachers: Jane Henegar, Isabel Bryan McCall ’69, and Glen Vey. Initiated in 2015 by Dr. Autumn A. Graves, Head of School, the Faculty Emeriti program honors retired and retiring faculty for their outstanding service to our school and its students. On Saturday afternoon, April 14, friends, family members, and colleagues crowded into Caldwell Commons to reflect on the long careers of Henegar, McCall, and Vey and their service to the girls of GPS.
First to be honored was Jane Henegar, who started working at GPS in 1982 with daughter Emily Estep ’88 as a student; Henegar retired in 2012. She taught Hebrew scriptures, New Testament, and global issues. Estep was on hand to pay homage to her mother, calling her hiring at GPS providential because it allowed her to attend GPS and her brothers to go to McCallie. “From that room under the stairs, she began the work of doing justice to the most important textbook her students would ever have,” says Estep. “She taught them, and she loved them, even the ones who tried to be difficult to love. She did that well.”
Henegar is the GPS 1991 Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award recipient and won the Hubert Smothers Award from the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools in 2010. Her book of GPS prayers, “Praying Life,” was edited by former colleague Sara Gahan. She believes there is nobody like a GPS girl, and no place like a GPS classroom, and she transformed her classroom into a sanctuary for learning. But she wasn’t teaching only students. In 2008, David Cook went from teaching Middle School history at GPS to Upper School English. His new classroom, perhaps providentially as well, was situated next to Henegar’s.
“We developed an open door policy,” Cook says. “She or I would stroll into the other’s classroom, just to listen. I could hear her teach through the walls. Soon, I realized she was also teaching me. She taught me that questions matter more than answers.” Cook described Henegar’s classroom as both safe and sacred. “Over the years,” Cook adds, “I would hear Jane speak hundreds of millions of words, but there were always three that I heard the most. Three she would always tell students and faculty and staff. I and love and you. Jane taught me that love is the most important thing in a classroom.”
Isabel Bryan McCall ’69 was honored by her two daughters, Claudia McCall Polancich ’99 and Betsey McCall ’95 (via Skype), and her Fine Arts Department Chair Meg Brock ’79. McCall returned to teach at GPS in 1988 and taught art, ceramics, and sculpture classes for nearly 30 years. She will retire from GPS this summer. In her introduction, McCall’s daughter Claudia recalled being a model for her mother. “One of my earliest memories was being told to sit still so she could cover me with cloth and plaster,” Polancich recalls. “She covered my arms, my legs and chest, and even my face.”
Brock remembers her colleague for her way with the girls fortunate enough to take one of “Miz McCall’s” classes. “Isabel doesn’t take credit for the fact that she has inspired her students, that she pushed them further than they thought they could go,” Brock says. “She has given them the knowledge they will keep for the rest of their lives. She gives focus and direction that they may not easily find in their academics.”
McCall worked interdisciplinary initiatives such as the Japanese Tea Ceremony and the environmental science and ceramic classes. Isabel sponsored the Investment, Art, and Art Honor Society Clubs and has exhibited her work in several cities including Chattanooga and Chicago. She has received honors from Public Art Chattanooga and the Lyndhurst Foundation. As part of Alumnae Weekend, McCall’s friends and family were invited to a special reception and art exhibit at Founders House to commemorate her “35 Years of The Dress.” McCall is known for her artistic medium of transforming ordinary pieces of clothing—some worn by her family members—by dipping them in resin and often covering them in a patina. Her works are currently on display in Frierson Theatre Lobby.
Laurel Moore Zahrobsky ’90 employed a series of Star Wars references to roast/pay tribute to her colleague Glen Vey, GPS history teacher. Vey came to GPS 30 years ago after a brief career as an attorney to teach seventh-grade civics and American studies before moving to the Upper School, where he taught a variety of world history courses. Vey’s students affectionately recall his teaching history to the tune of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” teaching history through Disney movies, and comforting them with Little Debbie snack cakes and Oreos.
Zahrobsky cleverly compared Vey to various Star Wars characters, assigning his most admired attributes to those of the popular sci-fi franchise heroes (and even the villain, Darth Vader, because of Vey’s focus). “Glen awakens The Force in each of his students,” she says. “It comes from deep inside, and Glen calls it out of them and helps them understand exactly how powerful it is. He empowers the girls.” In comparing Vey to Obi Wan Kenobi, she adds, “Obi Wan was in retirement when Luke found him, and he still had his uncanny powers and Jedi skills. I can only imagine Glen will be the same.”
After receiving the GPS Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award in 2006, Vey returned to the Middle School to finish his career with his favorite subject, ancient civilizations. He has coached several sports throughout the years and served as advisor of the Honor Council and the highly successful Model United Nations program.
Vey’s son, Alex, paid tribute to his father with myriad recollections of being on college tours, only to be bombarded by former students thrilled to see their beloved teacher once more. “Because when it comes to Glen Vey, there is no song, pun, or truly terrible dad joke too bad to be left out of his educational toolbox,” Alex Vey says. “And, at the same time, there is no effort too great when it comes to helping students learn. Though this be madness, yet there is method in it. His teaching, in the end, reflects himself: a little ridiculous, but a lot passionate, compassionate, and devoted to his craft.”
As a special thank you, each of the Faculty Emeriti inductees were presented with giclee art prints created by current GPS students.
GPS Faculty Emeriti
Betty Jo Horton
Linda Moss Mines
Isabel Bryan McCall ’69