HRA honors 10 faculty and staff members during Founders’ Day

Hampton Roads Academy’s annual Founders’ Day celebrated the school’s past, present and future. Distinguished, dynamic and dedicated faculty, staff and volunteers were recognized for their service and the school community honored and remembered special individuals in the history of HRA.
Ten faculty and staff members were recognized for their years of service; three for five years of service, two for 10 years of service, three for 15 years of service, one for 20 years of service, and Upper School science teacher, Gene Arcand, for 35 years of service.

“The longevity of our faculty really speaks to the health of our school community,” said HRA Headmaster Peter W. Mertz. “We value the positive student-teacher relationship that is unique to HRA and these faculty members have made an impact on hundreds of students.” Mr. Mertz also recognized Elaine McDermott who is retiring after 27 years of service to HRA.

Mr. Mertz then took a few moments to remember three special faculty and staff that passed away this year. Blanche Rabinowitz, pioneered the drama program at HRA during her nine years at HRA. She encouraged her students to act, direct, create and grow in their dramatic skills from 1974-1982. She energized the campus and challenged both the students and the administration to grow. Thanks to her initiatives, Mrs. Rabinowitz helped make the drama department the thriving environment that we have today. She was inducted onto the Wall of Honor in 2009. Her son, Arthur Rabinowitz ‘78 joined for the special assembly.

Mr. Mertz also remembered HRA colleague and friend, Susan Brookman, Lower School Administrative Assistant who passed away on March 9, 2019. In the words of her close friend, HRA Head of Lower School Susanne Swain, "She was a dear and wonderful person who so many of us loved deeply." Susan shared moments of joy with so many children in her Lower School office for the past 14 years with the faux skylight and the numerous puppy pictures. She was everything that a loving, kind and compassionate person should be.

And, Mary Blalock, Director of Advancement who passed away on April 13, 2019. Mr. Mertz commented that we all will miss her tremendously for, among many wonderful qualities, her warmth, graciousness, wit, and courage. Mary’s connections to our greater community were abundant. She touched so many lives so very positively. As the spouse and mother of alumni, as the primary connection within the HRA alumni society for many years and finally as the steward of our community outreach as Director of Advancement, Mary consistently represented Hampton Roads Academy at its very best for 15+ years. We simply cannot adequately measure the impact of her commitment to HRA during her years of service to our school, to her school.

Finally, Keith Vander Vennet ‘83 recognized Wendy C. Drucker `76. Wendy was added to HRA’s Wall of Honor, joining 24 other dedicated members of HRA’s community, including her late mother. Wendy has served Hampton Roads Academy from a young age. She became a Class Agent upon graduation, representing her class as the point person for communications. In 1995, she joined the Alumni Council, where she still serves today. Wendy's board service includes two periods, 2001-07 and 2008-18. During those times of service, she served as Chair of the Board, and served on the Development Committee and Executive Committee, among others. Wendy has chaired two capital campaigns and is instrumental in securing leadership gifts for the HRA Annual Fund and other special projects throughout the school. She is not just a fundraising volunteer. She serves in other capacities as well, lending her business expertise and spreading her HRA school spirit throughout the Hampton Roads community. Her dedicated leadership has carried on the Drucker family legacy for more than 43 years. HRA’s Wall of Honor was created to honor individuals who have influenced in a lasting way the direction and quality of HRA.

Wendy eloquently addressed the students and those in attendance about how each member of the faculty and staff, especially those recognized during the assembly, exemplified to her what service to a community really stands for and how we should look to them as examples of “how to overcome obstacles and surpass goals through dedication, perseverance and inner strength.”

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