The Masters Awards ceremony, held annually to honor exceptional teaching at Lawrenceville, always draws a large crowd of alumni supporters, but attendance is usually limited to those former students who live within easy driving distance of campus. This year, however, holding the ceremony during the heart of Alumni Weekend ensures that Lawrentians from around the world will have the opportunity to recognize the faculty honorees for their contributions to student life and learning.
This year’s recipients are former English Master and Dean of Students Martha Gracey H’92 ’93 ’07 P’18, retired History Master Lawrence L. “Rusty” Hlavacek, Jr. H’95 ’17 P’06 ’08, and, posthumously, Science Master Marshall H. “Marsh” Chambers H’62 P’77. Mrs. Virginia “Ginnie” Chambers H’59 ’60 ’61 ’62 ’66 ’80 ’89 P’77 will be accepting the award on her late husband’s behalf.
Martha Gracey, now an English teacher at the Groton School in Groton, Massachusetts, served Lawrenceville from 1989 to 2007 in the classroom as well as on the field, where she was a skilled coach of field hockey and girls’ lacrosse. Under her guidance, Big Red field hockey became a local powerhouse. She was Dean of Students at the time she left to join husband Ian “Jock” Gracey, who was appointed Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Groton in 2007.
Rusty Hlavacek is following in his father’s footsteps as a recipient of the Masters Award. Lawrence L. “Larry” Hlavacek H’55 ’61 GP’06 ’08, also a History Master, received the award posthumously in 2010. Rusty first joined the Lawrenceville faculty in 1981 and retired in 2017 as History Master on the Wilbourn S. Gibbs ’27 Distinguished Faculty Chair. During his tenure he also served as boys’ lacrosse coach and girls’ ice hockey coach.
Marsh Chambers holds several noteworthy distinctions in Lawrenceville lore. With his wife, Ginnie, he served as master of Cleve House for 36 years, from 1954-1990, one of the longest-serving housemasters in School history. In addition, he founded the lacrosse program at Lawrenceville, serving as varsity coach from 1959-1990. Chambers came to Lawrenceville in 1951, fresh out of Columbia Teachers College, and stayed for his entire career, retiring in 1990.
The Masters Awards recognize “masters who are retired or have in the past distinguished themselves as teachers for a prolonged and sustained period of service” and who have left behind a legacy of “remarkable and exceptional classroom teaching and mentoring.” Over the years, the awards ceremony has become a paean to the art of teaching itself, and in particular, the distinctive, all-encompassing, rewarding art of teaching at Lawrenceville.
Gracey, Hlavacek and Chambers will join the ranks of 47 faculty colleagues who have been similarly recognized since the Masters Awards were first presented in 1996. The ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 5, at 2:00 p.m. in the Kirby Arts Center auditorium.