BRIDGTON – Bridgton Academy has announced a $250,000 pledge to create and endow the James “Jake” Laferriere Chair of Excellence in Teaching.

The pledge from Edward, Nancy and Andrew Barr of Shelter Island Heights, N.Y., is meant to establish a faculty chair in honor of the late Jake Laferriere, a former academy teacher.

Laferriere, died in 2000 after a battle with cancer. The Barr family felt it was important to create an endowment that would continue to honor a teacher who was extremely influential in the foundation of their son’s education, as well as support the professional development of current teaching faculty members, according to a release issued by the academy.

During Andy Barr’s year at Bridgton Academy, he took an actual college English course taught on the academy’s campus by Laferriere. In this course, Andy Barr discovered not only that he was expected to grow as a student, but also that he had the capacity for this type of growth, the release stated.

Currently enrolled in the Master of business administration program at New York University’s Stern School of Business, Barr attributes his academic self-confidence to Laferriere.

Recognizing the impact that Laferriere made on their son, the Barr family chose to commemorate him by establishing and endowing an award in his name, the release stated.

“The masterful ability of Jake Laferriere to impart his knowledge profoundly impacted both his students and the quality of a Bridgton Academy education,” Edward Barr said in a prepared statement. “We are grateful for the mentoring that Andy received from Jake Laferriere, and we wish to honor his memory by supporting the professional development of other teaching faculty members.”

The endowed chair will be awarded every five years to a current faculty member who embodies the qualities that Jake Laferriere demonstrated as a teacher, including mastering his discipline, fostering academic courage in his students, and showing a genuine concern for the well being of the young men entrusted to his care.

Recipients will be chosen by a committee that will consider nominations from alumni, current students and faculty members, and hear presentations from each nominee regarding the candidate’s educational philosophy and goals.

In August of 2006, Peter Gately of North Bridgton was chosen as the inaugural recipient of the Laferriere Chair of Excellence in Teaching. Currently in his 29th year at Bridgton Academy, Gately has served in a variety of roles. Gately plans to explore opportunities of professional growth that will benefit the entire teaching body at Bridgton Academy.

“In receiving this award, I am extremely honored and humbled,” Gately said. “Through its generosity, the Barr family both recognizes the powerful impact that a teacher may have on a student, and ensures that the Bridgton Academy faculty continues to strengthen the academy’s mission and to maintain our tradition of excellence in teaching.”

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