Country School Recognizes Excellence in Teaching through Endowed Chairs

New Canaan Country School celebrated excellence in teaching by naming three faculty chairs at the school’s Annual Meeting & Dinner on Sept. 13. Middle School Spanish teacher Abby Cali, Kindergarten teacher Darby Webber and Upper School science teacher Scott Lilley were presented the awards by Head of School Aaron Cooper in front of a large gathering of parents, faculty and staff members.

Awarded every two years, faculty chairs have been endowed by three former Country School families: the Holmes Familythe Laverack Family, and the Williams Family. The chairs recognize exceptional full-time faculty who demonstrate a commitment to engaging and inspiring students, creating curriculum to reach all learners, and seeking ongoing professional development. They also provide financial support for growth in academic research, teaching or service.
The Holmes Family Faculty Chair, established in 2008 by Max Holmes, P’10, P’11 and P’13, was presented to Abby Cali.
In 2011, Abby joined Country School in a part-time role teaching Spanish in the Upper School and quickly moved to her current role teaching Spanish in Middle School. She also currently serves as the World Language Department Chair and is the parent of Ben, in 2nd grade and Tommy, in kindergarten.
Abby is a valued colleague throughout the school. One wrote: “As department chair, she is extremely encouraging and constantly supporting professional development opportunities for others. She has worked tirelessly to improve the transition of language study between the divisions and she is always willing to share lessons and materials with colleagues.”
In addition to her teaching and department chair responsibilities, Abby coaches field hockey, volleyball, leads Middle School clubs and is always eager to help in any way she can, whether it’s running one of the Kyle Markes Day of Service volunteer groups or offering to drive vans for Middle and Upper School away games. Last year, she attended the People of Color Conference and chaperoned the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, such is her commitment to helping all students feel a sense of belonging at NCCS.
The Laverack Family Faculty Chair, established in 2008 by Cory and Bill Laverack, former President of the Board of Trustees P’03, P’07, P’08, P’11, was presented to Darby Webber.
Darby first joined us as a Kindergarten apprentice before taking on the role of lead teacher, and she is currently in her 8th year at NCCS. Darby recently completed her masters with a double major from Manhattanville College.
Darby has taken advantage of nearly every professional development opportunity that has come her way and has actively sought out ways, both on and off campus, to grow her practice. Darby has visited peer schools to learn more about innovative ways to teach math, project-based learning, and literacy.  She fully embraced the work of RULER and was an early adopter of the mood meter and the classroom charter, cornerstones of our social-emotional curriculum. Darby is also part of the team that designed the full day Kindergarten program.
She immerses herself in the Country School community beyond Thacher, gathering once a month with cross divisional colleagues to talk about teaching and learning. She also serves as a member of the sustainability committee.
Colleagues say: “Darby exemplifies our mission in every way. She is the embodiment of collaboration and positivity. Her approach to teaching and promoting children is what every 5-year old needs to be successful at Country School and beyond.”
The Williams Family Faculty Chair, established in 2008 by Joanna and Robert Williams, P ’14, was presented to Scott Lilley.
Scott began his career in education here at NCCS as an apprentice teacher. He went onto teaching science in the Middle School before moving the Upper School where he teaches 7th and 9th grades. He has been instrumental in connecting our students to nature, whether by fully exploring the resources of our 75-acre campus, or leading them in off-campus trips all over the region, country, and hemisphere. As the varsity football and girls' hockey coach, Scott's relationships with his students extend far beyond the classroom.
He inspires 7th graders to take their skills as public speakers and apply them in the Environmental Debates, a platform that emphasizes civility, listening, and respectful disagreement as pillars of discourse. He brings in scientific books that he loves and asks his 9th graders to read one over a school break. If they propose a book he hasn't read, Scott reads it along with them, always looking to inspire and to be inspired by the students for whom he cares so deeply.
Colleagues says: “Scott Lilley is one of the most caring and thoughtful educators I have encountered. Scott is innately (and insanely) curious. He is always integrating current events, Twitter insights, and books that he's reading into his 7th and 9th grade science curricula.”
With a keen eye for sustainable practices in all his ventures, Scott also holds his students to a high standard of excellence and inspires them to do good in the world.
Previous Recipients:
Jeannie Staunton Bean ’83, The Williams Family Faculty Chair
Will McDonough, The Laverack Family Faculty Chair
Abigail Manny Newport ’89, The Holmes Family Faculty Chair
Kathy Kravec, The Holmes Family Faculty Chair
Liz Pepe, The Laverack Family Faculty Chair
Kristin Quisgard, The Williams Family Faculty Chair
Lauren Romeo, The Holmes Family Faculty Chair
Caryn Purcell, The Laverack Family Faculty Chair
Aron Back, The Williams Family Faculty Chair
Carin Walden, The Holmes Family Faculty Chair
Fraser Randolph, The Laverack Family Faculty Chair
Gretchen Tapscott, The Williams Family Faculty Chair
Melissa Heus, The Holmes Family Faculty Chair
Sue Friborg, The Williams Family Faculty Chair