June 6, 2020. Two authentic legends are retiring from the classroom at The Greenwich (CT) Country Day School this coming week – Jack Jepson and Jon Bates. Despite their desires to fade into perpetual mist, both master-teachers are not going to quietly depart to the confines of Stratford, Connecticut and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts without some des acclamations from me.
Jack Jepson: For those who know and love him, there is absolutely no subtly to Mr. Jepson. He is like a persistent tsunami who washes over everyone he comes in contact with every day. Whether it’s a wellspring of trivia-facts, a bevvy of enthralling anecdotes, or Midwestern-laced, commonsense advice, Jack is a rock in the surf who is there to help ground you in every way imaginable. In reality, “J, J.” has been my go-to person for the past 29 years – not only concerning teaching, coaching, and dealing with students – but in dealing with life’s unexpected twists and turns. His wisdom is unquestioned; ultimately, Mr. Jepson has served as our school’s philosopher king since 1977.
Even though Jack’s deep-seated insights and wealth of knowledge are without rival, it is his expansive heart that makes such a beloved and irreplaceable figure at GCDS. In boxing terms, Mr. Jepson leads with his head but characteristically finishes with his heart. Not surprisingly, I have never witnessed a more respected faculty member among students than Jack Jepson (who reverently call him, “Jeppy”). Ultimately, there are very few people who have ever worked at Country Day who know as much about the place. Like a fixed star, Jack Jepson is a constant reminder of how one teacher can truly make a sustaining difference in the world.
I look forward to future walks with him in his new home in Stratford, Connecticut and for visits to our house on the Cape. Thank you, Jack, for being such a discerning, steadfast, and benevolent older brother and comrade-in-arms to me, and a second father to my two children, especially to my younger son, Max. Tu me manques.
Jon Bates: “Mr. B.” has long been Country Day’s Sequoia, a majestic, robust, steadfast, and graceful tree whose sturdy branches have protected all of us for nearly 40 years. An active listener and a sagacious colleague, Jon’s ample wisdom has been a difference-maker to both to my esteemed colleagues and me. There have been innumerable times that I have approached Jon for advice, and he has generously given both his time and his thoughts to me through the bookends of both humility and astuteness. Ultimately, he is a positive role-model extraordinaire for people from 10 to 99. “If Jon Bates approves this, then I’m on board,” is a constant refrain heard at faculty meetings over the years.
Jon’s enduring passion for his students, his players, his colleagues, and his school have helped fostered the long-held notion that he has made our school a much better place. My oldest son, Sam, once exclaimed to me, “Mr. Bates makes the complex explainable.” If teaching is the highest form of understanding, then Jon Bates has served as an example for all of us to emulate. Like his esteemed colleague, Jack Jepson, he is the ultimate difference-maker.
A thriving new beginning should be a time for newfound engagement, positive growth, fascinating connections, continued contributions, and astonishing possibilities. The good people of Martha’s Vineyard are so fortunate to have you in their midst. Thank you and Godspeed, Mr. Bates!