Students, faculty, and staff gathered May 5 to celebrate retiring Middle School science teacher Thomas Malcolm and an educational career that has changed hundreds of lives over 41 years and helped define the MPA experience for generations of students.
School leaders praised Malcolm’s contributions, played a thank-you video featuring messages from colleagues, students, and alumni, and unveiled red T-shirts for a new addition to the MPA house system: Malcolm House.
Passionate about helping others — especially students in that crucial, often tumultuous stage between childhood and young adulthood — Malcolm was Middle School head teacher for 30 years and coordinated activities related to student life and school spirit for nearly as long. He was inducted into the MPA Hall of Fame in September 2016.
“Those are just some of Mr. Malcolm’s official titles,” Head of School Mercedes Z. Sheppard said at Friday’s celebration. “Most of us also know him as the person who ensures that our American flag is hung and stored appropriately, the person who maintains the school garden, a cheerleader for every sporting event, the champion of every student, and most important, the keeper of our mission and vision here at Morgan Park Academy.
“He is Mr. MPA.”
Malcolm greeted well-wishers on Jones Bowl long after the program officially ended.
“Thank you for this honor,” he said after the announcement of Malcolm House. “Education is a team sport. Without wonderful, generous partners over the years — current and past students, parents, staff, faculty, administrators, friends of the Academy, and community members, all who value service to MPA — nothing would have been accomplished. Every once in a while, we started a fire, which continues to burn. Thank you, all.”
Malcolm also was celebrated at the annual spring concert, as Upper School and Middle School choruses, joined by several teachers, closed the show by singing “To Sir With Love,” the chart-topping theme from a 1967 film in which Sidney Poitier plays a life-changing teacher.
“The students, faculty, and families that he has impacted over the years are too numerous to count, and I am personally thankful to have had the opportunity to work alongside Mr. Malcolm for 20 of his 41 years,” Sheppard said. “He will be sorely missed.”
In lieu of gifts, Malcolm encourages well-wishers to donate to the MPA Faculty Professional Development Fund.