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Rollin Wakeman 1760 Announces Retirement

Tenure: 33 years

Positions Held at GA:

  • Middle School Science Teacher
  • Middle School Science Department Coordinator
  • Middle School Co-Advisor to the Student Government Association (with Jay Wright and Heather Galante)
  • Middle School Math Teacher
  • Upper School Physical Science Teacher
  • Upper School Astronomy Teacher
  • Upper School Geology Teacher
  • Day Camp Director
  • Assistant Day Camp Director
  • Upper School JV Girls Soccer Coach
  • Upper School JV-B Boys Soccer Coach
  • Upper School JV Boys Tennis Coach

Honors Conferred:

  • Honorary Alumni Class of 1760
  • Distinguished Achievement Award
  • The Bob Arnot Award for Excellence in Mentoring Science Research (awarded by the Montgomery County Science Teachers Association).

Why I Stayed:

  • After teaching in four other schools, GA felt like home. It still does, and I will miss the teachers, staff, and students immensely. GA holds many good memories for me, and I will never forget all the good times.

Lasting Memories:

  • Taking the Upper School Varsity and JV Boys Tennis teams to Hilton Head, South Carolina, for spring training with Phil Rittenhouse was such a pleasure. We had some great years.
  • Many trips to Williamsburg and Washington with Sandy Frazier, Joan Harrington, Emily Wagner, Debbie Mersky, Romy Burkus, Mark Stephens, Sue Johnston, Emily Rubinfield, and many others.
  • The love and support from the current and past members of the Middle School Science Department – Jim DiFranco, Maura Saurman, Kate Cassidy, Cory Eklund, Rachel Kloecker, Sarah Zimmerman, Joe Xiong, Debbie Williamson, Sue Johnston, and Eva Petrecca, among others.
  • Coaching Upper School Girls Varsity and Junior Varsity Soccer with Alex Frazier.
  • Teaching Astronomy and Geology courses as Upper School Science electives for several years. I had some great times with some great young people, who taught me at least as much as I taught them.

Gifts to the Community:

  • A strong and steady pulse, pumping goodwill and a love for all things science into every student he encounters
  • A scientist's brain, a philosopher's mind, a poet's heart, and the soul of a saint
  • A master teacher who understands and supports the different needs of different students
  • Our go-to guy for (Quick, I need to know this now!) explanations, ranging from how to spin cotton, fathom the colors of the rainbow, and identify the hickory horned devil caterpillar
  • A redesigned and vibrant Middle School science curriculum that welcomed the sixth grade to the Middle School in the mid-1990s
  • Legions of inspired Science Fair Award winners
  • A gentle, kind, and genuinely calm spirit that draws students and colleagues alike to him: the model of the consummate gentleman
  • Numerous Middle School lunches organized and catered by Rollie himself just to bring his colleagues together to break bread
  • Conscientious completion of whatever role he assumed: teacher, advisor, department coordinator, coach, colleague, club facilitator, archeologist, biologist, meteorologist, and mentor

What Rich Schellhas Will Remember Most about Rollie:

Rollie is one of the most consistently gracious human beings I have ever met. Whether he's donning his fluorescent traffic vest during carpool duty or his lab coat during an explosive experiment, Rollie exudes kindness, thoughtfulness, an easy smile, and an honorable gallantry too seldom seen in the world. What I remember most fondly about a recent visit to his classroom was how we seemed to know everything and was able to answer eighth grader questions zinging his way from every corner of the room the way an expert wields a flyswatter. What's the temperature of space? Swat. Rollie is a superb, humble, hard-working colleague and a personal role model to so many of us. May his legacy of civility and intelligence inspire us for many years to come!

I am thankful for:

  • My three children; Jeremy Wakeman ('97), Amy Wakeman Gates ('99), and Mark Wakeman ('05) each of whom received a great education from GA. Each one of them is contributing in substantial ways to society. They learned from the best and are now carrying on the tradition by teaching and mentoring the next generation in their own spheres of influence. I could not be prouder of their accomplishments and their selfless sacrifice to be sure that those in need have a strong and powerful voice speaking for their benefit. I am very thankful to GA for giving me the opportunity to give my children that gift.

Memorable Quotes:

  • "Germantown Academy has cultivated an exciting, nurturing, and challenging environment that motivates me to pursue excellence every day." Rollin D. Wakeman
  • "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." Albert Einstein
  • "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." Albert Einstein

Next Page of Life:

  • Acting as General Contractor in renovating our kitchen
  • Spending more time with grandchildren
  • Caring for my dad and Laurie's mom
  • More traveling
  • More active involvement at our church
  • Donating time and energy to non-profit organizations

What I Will Miss Most:

  • The kids most
  • My faculty and staff friends
  • The exciting, nurturing, and challenging environment that motivates me to pursue excellence every day

CLICK HERE to share a memory with Rollie

CLICK HERE to make a gift to the Annual Fund in honor of Rollie

From the email to the community:

A good metaphor is worth its weight in gold. Our next (and final!) retiree this year, has, over the years, inspired several striking images, blood and rock among them. At his twenty-five year celebration I suggested that he was the strong and steady pulse of the Middle School, pumping a love for all things science into GA's Middle School science curriculum. On the occasion of his Distinguished Achievement Award, Richard House, then Middle School Head, told us: "He is a the matter of integrity, he is like granite."

Today I'd like to suggest that Rollie Wakeman, Middle School science teacher, advisor, mentor, member of the honorary alumni Class of 1760, and GA meteorologist carries with him a perpetual high pressure system, spreading blue skies and warm sunlight wherever he goes. In the late 1980s Rollie was instrumental in setting up a weather satellite station in GA's Middle School science lab, making GA, for the next five or six years, an official weather station for NOAA. Rollie designed and implemented Project Based Learning activities that engaged students in real world situations ~ long before PBL infiltrated the educational landscape and lexicon. Turning students on to science has always been his goal.

Students love Mr. Wakeman and bask in his consistently temperate climate. They love their Wacky Wednesday Waffles with Wakeman. They love that Mr. Wakeman "gives back grades the very next day after a test." They appreciate his deep knowledge of science that ranges from rocks to the stars. They thrive under his unhurried, gentle disposition. One Community Commendation reads: "He has made our passage through life a little kinder."

Rollie Wakeman, the quintessential gentleman, has infused GA culture with warmth, an easy laugh, a kind spirit, and a persistent and genuine love of science... all underscored by an abiding commitment to his faith and his family. Rollie, may your future hold just the right balance of sunny skies, gentle rains, and winds that blow you back to us.


Maggie McVeigh 1760
Director of Professional Development