The Gray Pedersen Fund for Teaching Excellence

The Gray Pedersen Fund for Teaching Excellence is the heart of SEGL’s professional development program. Originally intended to help develop young teachers, the program now serves the entire SEGL faculty community. The fund honors SEGL’s founding Academic Dean and History/Government Teacher Gray Pedersen (above at left).

Professional development is an essential part of an academic community. This is particularly true at an innovative, intense, and impactful institution like SEGL. Ensuring that our teachers understand cutting-edge pedagogical techniques, interact with thought leaders, and receive meaningful mentoring ensures that our students receive, as our Mission states, “the best possible opportunity to shape themselves into ethical leaders who create positive change in our world.”

Generous parents and graduates seeded the Fund at the end of SEGL’s second year and have continued to grow its resources in ensuing semesters. For more information and/or to donate to the fund, contact SEGL Director of Development Natalia Straus at or visit our Donate page and select the Fund from the appropriate pull-down menu.

SEGL Founder and Director Noah Bopp announced the Fund at the Spring 2011 Closing Ceremony with these words:

It is my honor and privilege to call up Gray Pedersen, SEGL’s founding Academic Dean and History teacher.  This moment marks the official end to a truly outstanding 42-year teaching career.  For most of that career Gray served with distinction at the Lakeside School in Seattle, Washington, winning many awards, serving as department chair, and, from 1990-91, teaching me 11th grade United States History.  I wasn’t always the best student, but he brought his best every day to the classroom.  His good humor, his high standards, and his unassumingly powerful way of making material come alive is certainly one of the reasons that I became a teacher and one of the reasons that I began to care about international events.

When Gray told me in 2008 that he was interested in finishing his teaching career at SEGL, it was all I could do to avoid hiring him on the spot at any price.  Since he has been here, his classroom teaching has exceeded all my greatest expectations.  He is that rare teacher who can inspire, educate, and laugh with you simultaneously, and his teacher evaluations regularly call him “the best teacher I have ever had.”  Gray has also had a remarkable impact on SEGL as an institution.  He brings instant credibility, not only because he is the only one with gray hair, but because he knows his stuff.  Perhaps more important, he is a mentor for all of us.  Formally and informally, Gray shared his wisdom, his experience, and his calm messages that despite the chaos of start-up, everything was as it should be.

We do not want that legacy to end.  With that in mind, it is my honor to announce this morning the Gray Pedersen Fund for Teaching Excellence.  The Fund, which has already been seeded by a number of anonymous and graduate parent donors, will allow young faculty members the opportunity to attend conferences, participate in workshops, travel abroad, and one day, we hope, attend summertime Masters programs in teaching.

I also want Gray to know that a new chair with your name engraved on the back will soon arrive and be placed at the head of the Lacy Room table.  It is our hope that many distinguished teachers will sit in that chair and be inspired by your good and noble work.  Isaac Newton once said he stood on the shoulders of giants and we will know every time that we sit in that chair that we stand on yours.