Over the past 26 years, Katy Keefe-Hancock has worn a variety of hats at Derryfield: science teacher, director of academic scheduling, overseer of substitute teachers, administrator of AP testing--the list goes on. She described her various positions as “roles that are normally under the radar,” but she leaves a tangible impact on the School after retiring from the faculty at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.
Her decades-long tenure as a member of the Derryfield community began back in 1993 when a friend who worked at the School called to tell her that there was an opening for a biology teacher and a director of studies. Ms. Keefe-Hancock, who earned a bachelors and a masters degree at the University of New Hampshire, was then working at St. Paul’s School as the director of the Advanced Studies Program. However, she had grown dissatisfied in her position, “so this call was great,” she remembered.
Ms. Keefe-Hancock would remain on the science faculty for the following two plus decades, expanding her course offerings from biology to her trademark “Diseases” elective that was a perennial favorite among students. She enjoyed teaching both biology and Diseases, and regardless of the subject, she fostered a lifelong love of science in many of the students who spent time in her classroom.
“I know I contributed to many students wanting to go on into a biological field in college and beyond,” she said. “I’m also very proud of creating my Diseases course. I created it to appeal to students who liked science but did not want to take upper level AP courses. I know many, many students benefited from the course and increased their love of science.”
KKH, as she was affectionately nicknamed, is adamant that she does not have an all-time favorite memory from her time at Derryfield. “That is impossible to answer,” she shared. “There are so many wonderful moments.” Rather than a singular fond experience, she recalled learning from her many students over the years “that being an open, caring, and approachable teacher is far more important than anything else.”
From discussing the history of pandemics and epidemics with her students to traversing the halls to ensure that every class was supersived to managing the gargantuan task of tailoring every upper school student’s schedule, Ms. Keefe-Hancock has truly done it all. Retirement offers a welcomed opportunity to step back and breathe. “I’ve always been a very busy, type A personality and now I need to focus on other opportunities to fill that void,” she said.
There’s no need to worry that you’ve seen the last of Ms. Keefe-Hancock at Derryfield. “I still have good friends there and will continue to visit to stay in touch,” she pointed out. “I also hope to attend some of the theatrical productions, which are always amazing.”
Congratulations are in order for Ms. Keefe-Hancock’s 26 years of service to the Derryfield community. Her steady presence will be greatly missed next year, but we look forward to keeping in touch.