Mark Foster, a 27 year member of the Middlesex faculty, recalls finding Middlesex as a happy accident. While teaching English at the nearby Concord prison, Mark went for a lunchtime drive past campus, and remembers his coworker pointing out the window and saying, "Now there is where you should be working." The next day, Mark called the School, and interviewed soon after with interim Head of School Hugh Fortmiller and former English Department Head Kit Cohane. For the next two and a half decades, Mark worked as an English teacher, dorm parent, Crew Coach, Judiciary Committee Chair, and father to three children of his own-- Chris '90, Mark '01, and Suzy '04, with his wife Lee.
In addition to teaching freshmen and sophomore English, which he loved, Mark created and taught a number of Senior electives, which he says were important in renewing his own personal study of the discipline and trying out new concepts and methods in the classroom. His favorite among these courses was a Sonnet Writing Workshop, where seniors performed and critiqued their work as a class. "Technique frees you-- whether athletically or expressively," Mark explains, so by studying a difficult medium such as a sonnet, his students were able to find and develop a new voice.
Among Mark's fondest memories of his career at Middlesex are moments of adolescent fun in the dormitories. As Head of Bryant Paine and Hallowell houses for 12 years, Mark loved enjoying the refreshing moments of silliness and creativity that dorm life fostered. He remembers fondly one year when the boys in BP came to him with a request for Christmas lights in the dorm around the holidays, leading to an elaborate decorative display that, as Mark describes, transformed the brick dorm into "a wedding cake that would have been visible from the moon."
Over the course of his time, Mark has been an unwavering presence in the Boys' Crew program, coaching at every level from Novices on Bateman's Pond to the Varsity boats on the Concord River. His work out on the water each spring instilled in him a deep love of nature at Middlesex, and he remembers fondly many afternoons spent chopping wood with Al Nelson in the Estabrook Woods surrounding campus.
"I am proud of having taught here," Mark asserts. He refers to his colleagues as "truly first-class people" and lauds the "emulation and admiration" the faculty have for one another. After 27 years among those colleagues, Mark has absolutely earned back this mutual respect, and he will be fondly remembered for years to come after his retirement in June.
Written by ahanken on May 12th 2014