A History of Princeton Day School in 12 Stories: Susan Reichlin
A History of Princeton Day School in 12 Stories: Susan Reichlin

Twelve senior members of Princeton Day School's faculty and staff have shared plans to retire in June. This profile of Visual Arts & Design Department Chair and Middle School Art Teacher Susan Reichlin is the fourth in our series on these long-serving and much beloved faculty and staff members. (The most recent profile is of fourth grade teacher Chris Hart, which you can read here.)

Head of School Paul Stellato wrote in the most recent issue of the Journal, "Consider the impact of a group whose years of service on our campus reach into the hundreds, whose guidance, care, and direction have enriched the lives of thousands of students, parents, colleagues, and friends, and whose influence on the course and culture of our school can be measured in her unbridled prosperity, her national reputation, and her unwavering optimism." Here are stories of these esteemed members of our faculty and staff as told by their colleagues: Susan Reichlin, by Jody Erdman, Director of the Anne Reid '72 Art Gallery.

"For the past three decades, Susan Reichlin, a talented teacher and artist, has made remarkable accomplishments to the arts at PDS and to the thousands of middle school students she has taught. Susan's great strength and what sets her apart is her ability to really care, to listen, and to make meaningful connections. She has a deep dedication to the arts and she loves to share that passion with everyone. For Susan, commitment to her students is essential. She truly believes each student is an artist and every child leaves each grade more certain of that belief themselves. Their four years of Middle School is not complete until Susan has fostered their path for success as they enter Upper School.

The highest quality of her teaching, according to her colleague Middle School art teacher Karen Stolper, as well as parents, is that Susan is dedicated, committed, and caring. She knows how to encourage each student as an individual and give valuable support. She is able to have them take ownership of their work by being both gentle and strong at the same time. Susan commits fully to knowing and engaging all of her students and advisees and she gets the best out of them. Susan has also displayed these qualities in the past few years in her tenure as Chair of the Visual and Design Arts Department.

Thanks to Susan, Princeton Day School has its own Permanent Collection, a remarkable and massive student art collection that extends throughout the entire school. Decades ago she conceived of this lovely way to honor our students, and it sets our school apart. As a result, one of the first things visitors notice about Princeton Day School is the volume of student art, which is beautifully curated by Susan and her friend and colleague Upper School architecture teacher David Burkett, and displayed in the Campus Center, in hallways, offices, and on the walls in Colross. These drawings and paintings are remarkable, and the quality of work she achieves with her eighth grade self portrait class would make an arresting exhibit in our art gallery. The Permanent Collection is the epitome of Susan's success and illustrates the importance she places on teaching young children and honoring their work as individuals. This is one of many ways her students proudly take ownership of the halls and feel that everyone is valued.

If you've ever gone on a school trip with Susan you will know that she spends months in preparation. If she's taking her students to a museum, she'll focus on the most relevant exhibit, study that exhibit intently, and bring back that knowledge. She'll collect volumes of books and videos to share with her students to make sure that they know everything about the exhibit weeks before they get there. She asks great questions of them. Susan ultimately helps the students understand the importance of why they are there as they open their eyes to art and culture. Her trips are unforgettable.

We, her friends and colleagues at PDS, have been fortunate to have Susan with us for so many years. She's inspired and impacted our students for decades and carved their paths in the arts. Her dedication to her craft and to each student gives them respect and dignity. She has excelled at making them both confident in their artistic abilities and effective stewards of the arts for life. Thank you, Susan, for advancing Middle School arts and for lighting the path forward."