Judy Bartella will retire at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year after forty-five years of work, love, and service she has devoted to our school and community. We congratulate her on a distinguished career in education.
With a BA in Fine Arts from Swarthmore College, Judy first joined the George School faculty in 1967 to teach art history, ceramics, and painting and drawing. The ever-capable Judy also designed costumes and theater sets for plays, worked in residential life of the school as an engaged and empathetic dorm parent, coached basketball, and co-led a service trip to Tanzania.
From the very beginning, it was clear that Judy had the innate gifts of teaching across grade levels and for working with diverse student personalities with a wide range of skills and approaches. With her calm demeanor, Judy consistently encouraged creativity while pushing for high quality, creative student outcomes. She impressed all with whom she worked—students and colleagues alike—as a pleasant and genuine person of integrity.
After three years at George School, Judy left for a time, putting her many talents toward developing a career as a professional graphic artist and preparing to become co-owner and manager of the Chalfonte Hotel in Cape May.
In 1978 Judy returned to George School where she has since consistently “let her life speak” by embodying the Quaker philosophy of George School through excellence in the classroom and by becoming an anchor in the community at large and for many an individual or family in need.
The hallmark of Judy’s teaching has been her patience and sensitivity to giving equal time to all her students, gently guiding and enabling them to let their natural creativity flow freely. With the skill of a master teacher, Judy found ways to encourage everyone. In the Ceramics Studio, she has been a calm, guiding presence, moving from person to person easily, balancing playful humor and wise instruction.
She enjoyed challenging advanced students and guiding them to find their own way of resolving the creative process with the more prescribed and rigorous standards of the IB Program. While purposely not setting as strict standards for beginners, she encouraged all to explore their inner child and have fun. Expressing an important truism for the times, Judy has said, “It is a good thing for students to get away from their devices and sink their hands in clay.”
Beyond the classroom, Judy’s administrative talents and concern for equity and inclusion were recognized in 1990 when she became our first diversity hiring coordinator, a position she held for over a decade. Serving as head of the Arts Department from 1994 to 2000, she cemented the school’s reputation as a leader in secondary arts education. In 1995, while David Bourns was on sabbatical for a term, Judy was appointed to help Fran Bradley hold down the fort, deftly managing the complex issues managed by the Head of School’s office.
Judy had a knack for quietly perceiving the complexity of all things. With prescience she saw that technology would become an important, life changing part of our world, and she helped to pioneer the merging of the arts curriculum and technology. Though ultimately taught by another teacher, she saw the need and did the critical preliminary work developing the video and film program at George School.
In addition to her teaching and leading the Arts Department, as our assembly coordinator for many years, she has made Walton our largest classroom, deepening our connections with one another and the world beyond us with a creative range of poignant, provocative, and entertaining assemblies.
Among other things, Judy has also been a Technology Investigatory Committee grant recipient, a two-time holder of the Swayne Preceptorship, and a sabbatical recipient. Additionally, Judy has served on the Foundational Skills committee, was an academic assistant study hall proctor, a dedicated advisor to her advisees, and a great listener and mentor to her colleagues. In 2014, along with a committed band of students, staff, and faculty, she worked for eco-justice and a petition for George School to divest from fossil fuels. To make sure we were having fun and finding time to play with clay, she offered her well-loved Clay Club for the community children, students, faculty, and staff.
Judy has been an outstanding role model for faculty with her thirst for professional development, desire to try new approaches in the classroom, and trust in the wisdom of the collaborative process. When the former Head of School Nancy Starmer began her tenure, Judy was selected for the role of Nancy’s “super-buddy” because “she was someone whom everyone trusted to be sensitive to the feelings and perspectives of everyone in the community.”
“Judy has been an exemplar of what it takes to keep this Friends school honest and true to its mission and values. Thank you, Judy, for your forty-five years of dedicated work and love in this community,” said Associate Head of School Scott Spence. “We are especially grateful for the many ways you have taught our community to communicate creatively, artfully, powerfully, and authentically. We will miss you and wish you and Riley all the best in your retirement.”