Kate Turner and Raylene Davis (shown above at Commencement 2022 in May) have worked tirelessly—and we mean tirelessly—for the betterment of students at Brewster for a combined 60 years. When they each announced their retirements at the close of the 2021-22 academic year, our community knew two truths immediately: 1.) Brewster will not be the same without these formidable women, and 2.) they deserve the most wonderful retirement adventures ahead! Here we have highlighted just some of their amazing contributions to our community.
Devoted. Student-focused. Friend.
These are words that have long described Raylene “Ray” Davis during her 25 years at Brewster, and words that have been used repeatedly in recent months while our community prepared to say farewell as she steps into retirement.
Ms. Davis joined Brewster 25 years ago as an ESL teacher, when she earned a reputation as a passionate advocate for her students and a professional committed to staying on top of emerging best practices in education. She became the department’s chair, and was twice honored with Brewster’s highest teaching awards: the Career Growth Award in 1998 and the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2005. Her dedication to students and their growth shone brightly in the summer months as well, when she served as Director of Summer Programs. Along the way, her two sons, Scott and Paul, graduated from Brewster in 2005 and 2007, respectively, and her leadership skills were increasingly recognized.
Ms. Davis was also on deck as Brewster’s leaders researched and implemented the processes that would carry the school community forward during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not too long ago, a large group of colleagues shared their gratitude for her work on that difficult front. Alicia Wingard said, “Your dedication has been an inspiration to us all. The preparation and perseverance of you and your team made it possible for Brewster to pull off what seemed impossible,” and from Chris Brown: “Raylene, your dedication as an educator and administrator has been put to the test countless times, but yet, you rise to the occasion.”
In our Moving Up Day ceremony in May, Head of School Kristy Kerin said of her friend and colleague, “In Summer Programs, Ray seized opportunities to expand the breadth of our offerings for the benefit of youth, and through these efforts, she also significantly increased auxiliary revenue for the school.” In 2017, she was promoted to Assistant Head of School for Academics, taking on responsibility for overseeing Brewster’s academic program. This role placed her in a mentorship position for faculty, and seemed like a full-circle moment of the best kind. You see, Ms. Davis was here when the Brewster Model was first introduced to Brewster Academy. She was part of laying that foundation, which guides our community to this day and is now being mirrored in Brewster’s largest venture—the opening of new schools through BA International.
Through the years, Ms. Davis has traveled extensively on behalf of Admissions and Advancement—and as a citizen of the world—which longtime colleague Lynne Palmer appreciated, telling us, “Having Raylene accompany you on a trip to Asia is like traveling with Rick Steves! Her knowledge of any area combined with her enthusiasm to share it makes a work trip feel like a vacation. She is eager to shine a light on the people and the cultures that she cares so deeply about. Brewster will miss this incredible champion.”
On Moving Up Day, Ms. Kerin also reminisced about the relationships Ms. Davis forged during her frequent travels: “She maintains close connections with a vast network of alumni. It’s such a pleasure to see alumni all around the world greet her with huge hugs and squeals of ‘Ms. D!’ It was a reflection not only of the deep bonds she built as a teacher, but also her commitment to ensuring that international students feel fully included and served in their Brewster experience. An international transplant herself from Australia, Ms. Davis understood the value in making the extra effort to make those traveling from so far away feel more at home in this new country and community.”
Closing out her remarks, Ms. Kerin made a special announcement: “In recognition of Ms. Davis’s deep devotion to faculty growth,” she said, “going forward, faculty professional development funds at Brewster will carry her name, as the Raylene Davis Faculty Professional Development Funds.” Faculty will be able to apply each year for “Davis Funds” to further their professional learning and growth as teachers, an important tenet of Brewster’s culture. Upon the announcement, faculty and staff at the MUD ceremony led students in a standing ovation for a woman whose devotion, wisdom, and keen humor are all going to be sorely missed.
Supportive. Dedicated. Mentor.
These words are but a few of the descriptions that come to mind when thinking of Kate Turner. Her 35 year-tenure at Brewster is incredible, as are the bonds she has created among our student athletes, coaches, families, and colleagues. Ms. Turner began as Assistant Athletic Director in 1986, when she also founded our field hockey program. She became our venerable Associate Director of Athletics, and throughout her years at Brewster, when not sharing in the responsibility of oversight of our athletics programs, she has coached alpine skiing, lacrosse, JV tennis, field hockey, and most recently JV field hockey. Many admire the way she has promoted and supported our JV teams, making sure every student had a chance to shine—and to experience the competition and camaraderie of athletics. She once told a new employee that one of the best ways to really get to know the heart and soul of Brewster was to simply swing by the field and watch a JV practice.
For more than two decades, Ms. Turner, whose son Peter graduated in the Class of 1990, served on the board of our governing athletic body, the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC), and in 2017 that organization recognized her with its Distinguished Service Award.
Like her fellow retiree Raylene Davis, Ms. Turner is a double honoree at Brewster. Students dedicated the yearbook to her in 2011 and again this year in 2022. Both times, students cited her listening ear, strong advice, constant smile, and willingness to help students as just some of the reasons that the class selected her for this honor—and honor that comes with receiving the very first Winnipesaukean off the presses and reading all the graduates’ names at Commencement.
“Kate has truly dedicated herself to making Brewster's athletic programs respected both internally and externally,” longtime colleague Lynne Palmer shared recently. “She is a tireless advocate who cares deeply about the traditions and the details and never hesitates on either.”
Former Head of School Craig Gemmell also recalled Ms. Turner’s dedication to Bobcat Nation when he told us recently, “Kate, in her relentless devotion to students and to our athletic program, manifested the very grit and teamwork our athletic program has long aspired to instill in our students. She thus lived and taught and led by example—no better way to leave a legacy!”
This year, as Commencement drew closer, Athletic Director Connor Wells said: “Kate Turner is one of those special boarding school educators whose consistent presence and good work has come to personify the institution. In our one year together, I have been blessed to work with not only a dedicated professional who loves her school and community, but, even moreso I have witnessed and learned from a veteran mentor, who above all else, loves the students she works with. Kate inspires me every day to be a more driven coach, a more compassionate teacher, a more reflective Director, and simply a better person. The passionate love Brewster’s community has for its school is because of folks like Kate Turner.”
At the 2022 Moving Up Day Ceremony, Head of School Kristy Kerin announced that Brewster’s annual Athletic Director’s Award will forevermore be called the Kate Turner Athletic Director’s Award. At the moment the announcement was made, the stands of the Smith Center, filled with Bobcats, erupted into an ovation that shook the rafters!
Truly, thank yous and awards are simply not enough to express the deep gratitude our school and its community feel for these two women. What we can do is continue their legacy of excellence, and wish them the happiest of retirements.
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