November 12, 2020

Longtime Abbot Academy and PA employee Liz George retires

George was the last employee to have worked at both Abbot Academy and Phillips Academy
by Nancy Hitchcock
Liz George

After nearly 50 years with Phillips Academy, Liz George retired on October 2—she was the last employee to have worked at both Abbot Academy and Phillips Academy.

Abbey Siegfried, instructor in musical theatre and dance, worked with George for six years as the liaison to the Abbot Academy Fund (AAF). “Liz is an amazing woman,” says Siegfried. “She is smart, organized, kind, connected, and has the amazing ability to listen to—and give help to—anyone.”

George was first introduced to Abbot Academy through close friend Marion Finbury, who was the school’s college counselor. She asked George if she wanted to apply for a position as her secretary. “Marion only asked that if I accepted that I would stay for two years,” says George. “That was in 1972!”

After the two schools merged in 1973, George went on to work in Phillips Academy’s College Counseling Office (CCO) for 32 years. In pre-computer days, she used a typewriter, carbon paper, ditto machines, paper, and pens. “Desks were covered with stacks of paper,” she says. “We all spent so much time in the mailroom—stuffing mailboxes with appointments, appointment notes and reminders, weekly newsletters, and so forth.”

George appreciated that every day was different from the next in the CCO—she worked with counselors and students, arranged visits and interviews with college admissions officers, typed college recommendations, and produced a weekly newsletter. She also organized the first on-campus college fair. Even though the environment could be stressful—with students anxious about the college process—George tried to create a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere.

George (left) outside the College Counseling Office

“College Counseling was my second home,” she says. “I was so fortunate to have many amazing colleagues throughout the years. We worked hard; it could be very stressful, but we managed to laugh a lot and take the time to care for one another and celebrate one another.”

“Liz was the treasure of the College Counseling Office for many years—lucky us,” enthuses Alice Purington, faculty emerita, who worked with George in the CCO from 1985 to 2008. “Wise, kind, intuitive, determined, and a true partner to each member of the office. She knew students amazingly well and was always ready with advice and encouragement during the college search and application process.”

George first “retired” in 2004, but then soon began assisting in other campus offices, including the dean of students, head of school, and Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD). In 2008, she took on the position of staff assistant to the board of directors of the Abbot Academy Association (now known as the Abbot Academy Fund). She was the administrator for the Abbot Academy Grant application process, arranged meetings for the board of directors, and maintained the database of grant proposals, while working closely with the Abbot and Andover alumni who served as members of the board.

“In her role with the Abbot Academy Fund, Liz literally impacted every aspect of Phillips Academy life, from assisting students on their grant applications to working with the amazing alumni from Abbot and PA in helping them feel connected to the school and allowing them to contribute the funds of the AAF to make all of our lives at Andover richer and dream filled,” says Siegfried.

During her many years at PA and Abbot, George recalls a few poignant moments: attending a reception for George H.W. Bush ’42 during his visit to campus in 1989 and speaking on the phone with Jackie Kennedy when her son, John F. Kennedy Jr., was a student.

In retirement, George plans to spend more time with her husband of 58 years, Howie, who also recently retired, and with her two children, three adult grandchildren, and extended family and friends. She also hopes to eventually spend the winter months in a warmer climate and volunteer in her community.

“I enjoyed my work,” she says. “I was fortunate over the years to be a part of a vibrant, supportive, caring community with so many wonderful colleagues, many of whom remain good friends. The people at Phillips Academy and Abbot Academy were a second family.”

Categories: Academics

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