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Rectory Alumni Awards

2021 Distinguished Service Award: Lisa Levesque
Presented by Fred Williams, Head of School
Lisa Levesque’s Distinguished Service Honors Rectory’s History and Promotes Its Brightest Future

There is a hot new title called Range going around the independent school world of educators. This book by David Epstein posits that being a generalist, versus specializing, in a particular area offers the greatest chance for an impactful contribution and notable success in life. Epstein goes on to state that one’s greatest accomplishments, which are the result of our collection of experiences, occur later in one’s career. Nowhere is this argument better supported than with this recognition of Lisa Levesque, a most deserved recipient of Rectory’s Distinguished Service Award for 2021.

After earning both undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Educational Psychology, Lisa’s career prior to Rectory School included work as an accountant, a travel agent, a computer archives developer, a restaurant manager, an insurance claims adjuster, a research assistant, a chicken brooder, a teacher, a sales assistant, and a program coordinator. Having watched her wield power tools while engaged in some community service construction projects, she also could have been a carpenter if so inclined. No doubt, this “range” of experiences surely sharpened Lisa’s skill set for her most important and accomplished work, which continues to occur amid her nearly three decades of service to Rectory School.

Like her pre-Rectory career, Lisa’s work at Rectory has taken on many forms, and her skill set and responsibilities continue to evolve. Originally hired as a teacher, Lisa excels as an educator. As a former supervisor noted, “Lisa is a model teacher. She understands how students learn and crafts lessons to inspire students to think, create, and reflect.” Her QR code history lesson is just such an example. For this activity, Lisa’s students collaborated with high schoolers on a local history project that introduced critical research skills and featured engaging and effective use of educational technology.

This innovative instructional approach should be no surprise as Lisa always has been a bit cutting edge, particularly when it comes to computers. In fact, in 1996, she and Joy Daentl took it upon themselves to learn HTML as they became the primary architects for Rectory’s first website. Not satisfied with simply creating a presence on the still-new Internet, Lisa then helped develop Rectory’s first database. While new modules have been added and updates implemented, the base structure for our data information system maintains much of Lisa’s initial work.

No matter the task, Lisa brings a range of invaluable qualities to her work. She is informed, and in the rare cases where her knowledge is limited, she is fastidious about immediately engaging in thorough research to bring herself up to speed. She is meticulous and detail-oriented, holding herself, and others by example, to the highest quality standards. She is thoughtful and often the last voice I go to when debating an issue with the Senior Administrative team, as her carefully considered assessment carries significant weight. She is supportive and mentoring, guiding peers through a range of instructional, administrative, and office work efforts.

Lisa has employed these most impressive qualities across a range of responsibilities at Rectory. At different points in her Rectory career, Lisa has served as chair of the reading department, Director of the Individualized Learning Program, Co-Chair of the MELP Committee, and Director of Studies. In these academic leadership positions, Lisa has managed to bring colleagues together under a shared pedagogical roof, enhancing the student learning experience significantly in the process. Lisa is also successful beyond the Rectory campus, where she has been a long-serving member of the Connecticut Association of Independent School’s (CAIS) Commission on Professional Development.

The CAIS Re-Accreditation process is one of the most important school improvement opportunities available. This process, which occurs every ten years, involves a lengthy self-study followed by a visit from peers at other CAIS schools. For the past three re-accreditation cycles, Lisa Levesque has been intimately involved, chairing two of Rectory’s self-studies and serving as the senior advisor to the third. These reports are, by CAIS Director of Accreditation Guy Bailey’s own words, “a model for others to follow.” In all cases, the impeccably thorough, thoughtful reports Lisa generated mirrored the quality of discussions Lisa facilitated. Ultimately, due to her leadership, Rectory’s reports reflected deep and honest self-reflection that assured a meaningful assessment of the state of the school and clarity of institutional direction.

More recently, Lisa has created quite a buzz around our Centennial Celebration. In addition to chairing the Centennial Steering Committee, Lisa is responsible for founding our archives and serving as Rectory’s first archivist. Her interest and enthusiasm for Rectory’s past and this milestone moment have helped resurrect beloved traditions of yesteryear, like the recently re-established Winter Carnival. At the same time, Lisa’s Rectory Roots series provides fascinating reporting on the founding of our school and the evolution of Father Bigelow’s vision.

This year—and next year as well, “thanks” to Coronavirus—Rectory celebrates our Centennial. How fitting that alongside this school milestone, we acknowledge the immense contributions of an individual who has done so much to honor Rectory’s past while being such a standout part of its present. It is with great pride and appreciation that Rectory presents this year’s Distinguished Service Award to a person who applies a love of Rectory and her stamp of excellence to everything she touches. Congratulations and thank you to Mrs. Lisa Levesque.

  • 2021
  • Distinguished Service

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