At the end of the 2014-2015 school year, Collegiate endured the departure of more than 15 appreciated and beloved faculty and staff. In the spring of 2015, many assumed the following school year would be tragic, bland, and lacking the student-teacher relationships from years prior. Tim Lengel, who taught U.S. History, A.P. U.S. Government, and a plethora of history electives, was a friend to many students. His thunderous voice and bellyful laugh were unmistakable. The faculty and staff who departed left behind some massive shoes to fill.
As the 2015-2016 year has progressed, students have built and strengthened relationships with new faculty. It is both exciting and slightly concerning to have a new faculty member as a teacher. You can’t help but wonder if the teacher will be interesting and entertaining and teach in a way that will help you succeed in the class. Courtney Schweickart came to Collegiate this year as one of the new Upper School U.S. History teachers. I doubt Mrs. Schweickart knew she had so much to live up to upon her arrival at Collegiate, but she is doing an excellent job of navigating all that happens here at Collegiate.
Schweickart was born in Annapolis, Maryland in 1983, as the youngest of four children. “All of my sisters are between 8 and 12 years older than I am… I was kind of an accident,” says Schweickert. She claims her parents raised her accordingly, encouraging her to spend the majority of her childhood with her sisters and her parent’s friends. Schweickert attended Arnold Elementary, “I could sing you our fight song if I knew how to sing.” Her memories of her childhood revolve around her mother’s love for sports and her father’s love of history. Schweickart and her father have an annual history topic that they follow and read about together, “This year we’re reading about the New England colonies.” One of Schweickart’s fondest memories is when “[her] mom used to pull [her] out of school to see the opening day of the [Baltimore] Orioles.” To this day, Schweickart is still a history and sports fan, as shown by her Maryland Terps tervis tumbler that she brings to her U.S. History class nearly every day.
In high school, Schweickart remembers doing “normal high school stuff.” She was an avid swimmer and worked in The Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court: “my mother made me work, I didn’t really get any special treatment… but my sisters may argue that I did.” After graduating high school in 2001, Schweickart went on to attend The University of Maryland. “I always knew I wanted to go to Maryland… When I was seven years old, my sisters would sneak into games and have me reserve the best seats for us.” At Maryland, Schweickart majored in Government and Politics. “I never imagined I’d be a history teacher because I am kind of a shy person. I didn’t think I’d ever stand in front of a class and speak.” One of Schweickart’s most dramatic memories of her time at Maryland was the devastating tornado that struck one of the dorms, killing three in September of her freshman year, “Between 9/11 and the tornado that struck my quad, September of 2001 broke forever a pattern of predictability in my life.” A more positive memory Schweickert has from her time at Maryland was when “I got to see the Terps win the National Championship in 2002 with [her] sister instead of going to get [her] wisdom teeth out.”
After graduating from Maryland in 2005, Schweickart worked first at a research center at Maryland, then at Queen Anne’s school in Maryland as the Director of Admissions, and later as the head of the History Department. After Queen Anne’s closed, Schweickart was looking for jobs and found one right down the road at The Steward School. At Steward she enjoyed teaching AP U.S. History. She appreciated her past AP U.S. History teacher incredibly, saying “he was a genius,” so she worked hard to “do Coach Mac justice” at Steward. “I made instant friends in Richmond. I loved the juniors and seniors that I taught but I didn’t love the senior slump…” Schweickart later found her husband here in Richmond, and after a few years at Steward, she left to be with him in Maryland and New Jersey. In the fall of 2014, Schweickart made her return to Richmond and worked as a 6th grade teacher in Brookland Middle School here in Henrico. “It was very germy… we talked a lot about deodorant and hand sanitizer.” After a year at Brookland, Mrs. Schweickart found her way to Collegiate. She had become friends with Brad and Shayna Cooke during her time at Steward: “we used to have History department Jeopardy nights… Collegiate usually won.” When the Cookes knew the position was available at Collegiate, Mr. Cooke sent her the application.
This past fall, Mrs. Schweickart began working at Collegiate as a World History teacher for freshmen and a U.S. History teacher for the juniors. She was glad to have transferred in with another new history teacher, Nate Jackson, who also teaches micro- and macro-economics. “I love my freshman, and I love my juniors for the most part.” Her first impressions of Collegiate were, “Oh my gosh, [Collegiate] has a busy and crazy schedule, but the kids are awesome and the people are friendly.” My fellow U.S. history students rightfully gave Mrs. Schweickart the nickname “C-Swikes” because “Mrs. Schweickart” was far too formal and also quite a mouthful. C-Swikes is not only a teacher in the classroom but also a friend. Every day is eventful, entertaining, and productive (for the most part) in U.S. History, and that is all thanks to the great C-Swikes.
All photos courtesy of Courtney Schweickart.