Artist, World Languages Expert, Librarian Receive 2021 Perry Awards
The Webb Schools honored art teacher Jackie Leishman, world languages teacher Joseph Vincent and assistant librarian Melissa Mani with Perry Awards on Oct. 8 for their dedicated service to students.
The awards are named for longtime Webb teacher Les Perry and his wife, Barbara. The two served Webb from 1946 to 1976 in an array of roles. Les served as athletic director, head football coach, head basketball coach, head baseball coach, advisor to the Block W Club, math teacher and assistant headmaster under Steve Longley and Fred Hooper. Barbara was a committed dorm parent, providing students with much needed support.
“For 100 years, The Webb schools have remained steadfast to the standards of distinguished academic and athletic achievement, complemented by a dedication to principles of unwavering ethical behavior and personal responsibility,” Head of Schools Taylor B. Stockdale said. “These are the ideals upon which the school has been founded, ideals which have been embodied by Les and Barbara Perry.”
Perry Awards can be used for a variety of purposes: sabbatical support, study abroad, conference attendance, research, continuing education and more.
For Jackie Leishman, who teaches Webb’s Advanced Art course, art is life and life is art. She approaches art as a way of seeing, interpreting and living in the world. For her, art is a way of asking and answering serious questions – as demonstrated by her recent work addressing climate change.
Leishman teaches that creativity is a skill we cultivate, practice and enjoy daily, and that success and failure are both legitimate aspects of the creative process.
In summer 2022, Leishman will continue her education through an art residency in Italy, studying such artists as Michelangelo, Bernini, Raphael, and Caravaggio and creating a new body of work inspired by the history of Rome.
This contextual understanding of the development of western art will inform her class discussions and aid her in cultivating student voices, vision and studio practice – as well as her own skills.
Joseph Vincent dives into the study of World Languages – personally and as a teacher. Not satisfied with written and verbal fluency in Chinese and Spanish, he spent the summer at Middlebury College’s prestigious graduate program in French studies as a recipient of the Davis Fellowship for Peace.
He approaches his classes the same way, making the student experience his priority. In his classes, don’t expect to just learn vocabulary and conjugations. Expect to fully experience the language through highly deliberated and detailed class blocks.
Outside of the classroom, Vincent enriches Webb’s community with his characteristic charm and wit, whether he’s supporting our international students, leading a hike and orchestrating a trip into Los Angeles.
This Perry Award will allow Vincent to return to Middlebury and continue his studies as he cements his understanding of French and further strengthens his ability to serve Webb’s students.
Melissa Mani is perhaps the ultimate utility player at Webb, providing support in our library, substituting in classrooms and championing students as an advisor and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) advocate.
As Webb’s assistant librarian, her multifaceted skillset ranges from running an independent study in Arabic to ensuring students have a conducive place to study and the resources they need. Beyond this, she is dedicated to creating a true sense of belonging for Webb’s students. Mani guides students with empathy, care and compassion.
The reality is that no task is too large or too small for Mani, and she handles each of them with professionalism and grace. Mani never seeks individual recognition or credit, as she truly does all these things for Webb because of how much she values and loves the work.