Susan Erba, who has dedicated her career to helping girls not only understand and excel in math, but also to inspiring them to become passionate learners in a subject traditionally regarded as one in which boys perform better, and Yvette McCarty, R.N., who works around the clock to care for students in myriad ways, received special honors recently at Foxcroft School’s annual Awards Assembly.
Head of School Catherine S. McGehee presented Erba with the second Mary Louise Leipheimer Award for Excellence in Teaching and McCarty became the fifth recipient of the Jane Lockhart Service Award. Both honors come with cash awards, and both honorees received standing ovations and enthusiastic applause from the gathering of 400+ students, faculty, family, and friends gathered in Engelhard Gymnasium on the eve of Foxcroft’s 102nd Commencement.
“There could be no better role model for teaching girls than [Susan Erba],” said McGehee. “Many Foxcroft girls have been empowered to pursue majors and careers in what are still male-dominated fields thanks to Mrs. Erba’s leadership and belief in them. All of her students have benefited from what her colleagues describe as her ‘infinite patience,’ her willingness to provide extra help outside of class at all hours, and her ability to explain a concept in different ways to reach all learners.”
Erba, who holds statistics degrees from Hollins University and the Medical College of Virginia, came to Foxcroft in 1989 after teaching college for nearly 10 years. Since becoming Math Department Chair in 2007, she has teamed with colleagues in Math and Science to create a cutting-edge STEM Program that engages girls with innovative, hands-on activities in and out of the classroom. Her greatest legacy is, perhaps, the wildly popular K2M STEM Summit, a fun, girls-only competition that draw some 175 girls from 20+ middle and high schools annually.
A standout tennis player on youth and college circuits, Erba has also coached at Foxcroft, most recently leading the Varsity to a 34-7 record and two conference titles in the past three years. A woman of great integrity, she has taught her players exceptional sportsmanship and life lessons along with tennis skills and strategies.
McCarty, or “Nurse Yvette” as she is known to the girls who flock to her for comfort and counsel as well as for band-aids and bruises, has been at Foxcroft since 2007, when she moved from Colorado with her husband, Steve, an English and Economics teacher at the School, and their son, Liam.
“She makes sure that all students feel known and valued, and advocates for their success in their academic, residential and extra-curricular activities,” said McGehee, noting that Miss Yvette’s care extends well beyond her stated responsibilities. “Yvette has been a mother away from home to countless students, a thoughtful colleague to her peers, and, yes, a nurse to all of us. With patience and genuine caring, she has tended to our colds, our bouts with flu, our cuts and bumps.
“It is with great pride and affection that I announce the recipient of the Jane Lockhart Service Award is Yvette McCarty,” she said.
The Lockhart Award was established in 2012 by Foxcroft parents and students in appreciation of the dedication, commitment, and passion of Jane Lockhart, who is retiring this year working at Foxcroft for 50 years. It honors a staff or faculty member who “exemplifies a personal commitment to and understanding of all of our students,” with an emphasis on all.
The Mary Louise Leipheimer Excellence in Teaching Award was established in 2014 by Foxcroft’s Board of Trustees to honor the retiring Head of School who had spent 40+ years at the School as teacher and administrator. It recognizes a classroom teacher with a tenure of at least three years who “connects with and challenges each student to develop her analytical ability, critical and independent thinking, communication skills and personal integrity.”