“We are thrilled that Leah will become our first dean of experiential programming,” says Julia Stojak Maurer ’90, assistant head of school for academic affairs. “Her vast experience and success as our inaugural director of global programs and initiatives makes her a compelling choice. Leah excels at organization, problem-solving, and collaboration. She connects with faculty and students alike and she is well-respected by her colleagues.”
The dean of experiential programming is a new role at the school that will oversee all school programming related to experiential learning of students, which includes the arts and athletic departments, outdoor education, global programs, and community engagement. Rockwell will manage program leaders for all performance-group activities and will support initiatives across the curriculum that provide experiential learning for students outside the classroom.
“I was very drawn to this position because I firmly believe that the learning that goes on outside of the classroom is crucial to a student's development, as this is the time in which students can discover passions and talents and then apply how these discoveries allow them to contribute to community,” says Rockwell. “It's a reciprocal process—self-discovery and giving back—and I wanted to serve in a guiding role in facilitating this for students.”
Rockwell began her Mercersburg administrative career in 2005 as the assistant director of annual giving in the school’s Advancement and Development office before transitioning into the role of dormitory dean of Tippetts Hall and later Fowle Hall. She is currently the director of global programs and initiatives for the school, facilitating travel for faculty and students to more than 10 different countries in the past several years. She is also the dean of Mercersburg’s Class of 2021, serves as a dean on duty, and teaches human development to 10th-grade students.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond and a master’s of education in counseling from Shippensburg University, Rockwell spent four years as a counselor at Wilson College in nearby Chambersburg, Pa. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), and has also worked for the Maymont Foundation in Richmond, Va., taught Spanish at the Asheville School in Asheville, N.C., and served as a counselor for the Summer English Program at Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda, Md.
“Mercersburg Academy, for me, has always been a place in which I have felt fully supported in discovering how my gifts and talents can best be used to serve others and to grow and enhance our community,” says Rockwell. “As a student here, I was someone who needed to "try things out," from softball in ninth grade (in which I was excellent on the bench) to becoming a peer group leader (much more my style) in my senior year. Mercersburg allowed me the time, space, and grace to uncover what felt right; I'm deeply honored to be part of a team that will maximize this type of exploration for today's students.”
Rockwell, a native of the borough of Mercersburg, lives off campus with her two daughters. Her sister, Liza Rockwell Patterson ’08, and two cousins, Ethan Strickler ’08 and Greta Strickler ’12, also graduated from the school. Additionally, she is a distant relative of faculty emeritus and former dean of students Tim Rockwell, who served on the Academy faculty from 1970 to 1996.