Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

The Hill News

Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

The Hill News

Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

The Hill News

Mark Nelson retires after 44 years at Hill

Media: Caylie Zigner ’25

After 44 years of teaching and coaching at Hill, Mark Nelson, the Philip Rogers Mallory Senior Master Teacher of Science, announced his intention to retire from Hill following the completion of the 2023-2024 school year. 

Numerous students and faculty members have created powerful bonds with Nelson over the years. Many are perturbed by the news and wish to cherish the last few months studying and working with him. 

The departure may be abrupt and sudden to the Hill community, however, the discussion regarding retirement among Mark Nelson and his wife, Ellen Nelson, Senior Master Teacher of the Arts and Boyer Gallery Coordinator, began several years ago.  

“Mrs. Nelson and I have been talking about it since years ago. It was last year that I was thinking about retirement after Mr. Lehman left Hill. I decided to stay for another year to help Ms. Devaney transition smoothly,” Mark Nelson said. 

In the last 44 years, Mark Nelson created special and uplifting connections within the Hill community. He viewed his relationship with students as the most essential and memorable aspect of his Hill career.  

“No matter if it’s in class, on the team, or seeing people for the first time, the relationship you build with everybody is lifelong,” Mark Nelson said. “Even once they graduate, they are still Hill alumni.” 

Every person in the community who has talked, interacted with, or simply received a smile from Mark Nelson has felt the sense of belonging and notion of family at Hill. 

Jay Spencer ’84, Athey Family Master Teacher of Mathematics and Head Varsity Swimming and Diving Coach, was an athlete on Mark Nelson’s water polo team while a student at Hill.  

“He cared about us both in and out of the pool,” Spencer said. “He was able to give us the mutual respect that we wanted to receive as student-athletes and support us as much to make everyone more successful.” 

Spencer praised Mark Nelson’s coaching style. “He saw developing the character of a player as more important than wins and losses,” Spencer said.   

It has always been Mark Nelson’s goal to make people great citizens and the world a better place. As a result, students from his classroom and on his team both agree that they have grown to be more resilient and positive. 

“Mr. Nelson will always be that ray of sunshine melting any negativities whenever I see his face. As my water polo coach, he is harsh when needed, but remains composed and responsive when I need help,” expressed Chelsea Kuang ’25.  

“It is always fun to talk to him both in class and practice,” Alyssa Diwale ’25, manager of the Girls’ Water Polo team, exclaimed, “I really admire Mr. Nelson’s personality since he knows when to be funny and when to be serious. He is just a pleasant person to talk to.”  

Similarly, Mark Nelson is also described as empathetic and passionate in the classroom. Saoirse Harlan ’27, a student in his Biology 1 class described her favorite memories with Mark Nelson during flex periods.  

“I love talking to him about life,” Harlan said. “I was really sad when I heard the news of him planning to leave next year. He is so deserving.” 

Ellen Nelson is the person who has supported and stood alongside him for the longest as a family member on campus.  

“His departure will grant me a new appreciation of the place,” Ellen Nelson said. “I will miss our lunches together, sharing lives, and his bright smile that lifts my mood. After realizing a person who has been through most of your life with you is leaving, I tend to look at my life as a camera that will focus and capture the final beautiful memories together.” 

Mark Nelson’s contribution is beyond the education given to people, but rather the pursuit of a better human being in general. Next year as Mark Nelson retires, he plans to be around campus and mostly help with the Alumni Association at Hill.  

His involvement in Hill’s history is tremendously impactful. Last year, the Class of 2023 dedicated the Dial to Mark Nelson because of his legendary companionship and exemplary devotion to Hill. Even though Hill will progress in the absence of a revered icon, Nelson hopes that “Hill will continue being as welcoming and warm as it is currently.”  

The outpouring of love from the Hill community to Mark Nelson is immeasurable. “A huge piece of the Hill School is departing. It doesn’t happen every day,” Spencer said. 

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