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Lt. Mark Forrester (’12) teaches his students at Holy Family Academy remotely from a COVID-19 testing station.

 

The Diocese of Manchester, N.H., has presented its annual St. Joseph Award for teaching excellence to a graduate of the College who couples his extraordinary devotion to his students with service to his family and country: Mark Forrester (’12).

 

Mark Forrester (’12)Last December, Mr. Forrester and his wife, Clare, welcomed their first child, little baby Isla. Three months later, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Charged with overseeing a sudden shift to online learning at Holy Family Academy, where he teaches math and theology, Mr. Forrester was able to get his colleagues transitioned to Google Classroom in just four days. Then, less than a month later, the New Hampshire National Guard — where Mr. Forrester serves as a lieutenant and firing platoon leader —called him to active duty at a COVID-19 testing site in northern New Hampshire. What was supposed to be a one-month assignment soon stretched out to three months away from his young family and home.

 

Throughout that time, however, Mr. Forrester never abandoned his students. “He taught classes in his National Guard fatigues from inside a tent or out in a field — often with a whiteboard propped on one chair and a laptop propped on another,” writes Mark Gillis, Holy Family’s Head of School. “When Mark could not be there for the regularly scheduled class during the day, he scheduled help sessions for students in the evening. He continued the dual task of administering COVID tests and moral theology tests until the end of the school year.”

All the while, Mr. Gillis adds, Mr. Forrester “kept up his joyful spirit and sense of humor” while continuing to assist his Holy Family colleagues in whatever ways he could. “Mark Forrester — National Guard lieutenant, Holy Family Academy teacher, and father of a beautiful family deserves a special tip of the hat,” observes Mr. Gillis. “If witness of Christian discipleship is the most powerful form of education, then Mark Forrester is a master teacher.”