New Academy Health and Wellness Center to Honor the Rutherford Family
Amy Marathe/Lee Owen
Mercersburg Academy is thrilled to announce that the school’s new health center will be named the Rutherford Health and Wellness Center in honor of longtime faculty members Frank ’70 and Debbie Rutherford. Click here to see photos of the building.
The 100-year-old building is being renovated on the site of the school’s previous health center off McFarland Road in the northeast part of campus (near Nolde Gymnasium) and is scheduled for a full opening in fall 2018. The historic building has evolved over the past century from an infirmary that specifically tended to the wounded and critically ill to a full-service health center providing acute medical care and guidance with student matters ranging from counseling services to nutrition and overall wellness and support.
Debbie Rutherford was appointed assistant head of school in 1991, and became Mercersburg’s first associate head of school in 1997. She first joined the faculty in 1977 as a Spanish teacher and has also served as the school’s director of counseling. Frank Rutherford has taught in the science department at Mercersburg since 1976; he attended Mercersburg for three years (setting three school records in track & field), and has coached track & field at the Academy for more than 35 years.
In their more than 80 years of combined service to Mercersburg, Debbie and Frank have embodied and championed the school’s core values and mission, supporting students and helping those students develop and care for the mind, body, and spirit. The Rutherfords’ steadfast approach and tireless work on behalf of the school drew together a group of donors and drove the Board of Regents to affix the Rutherford name on the new facility.
While the entire Academy community celebrates the new building and its namesake, the moment is somewhat bittersweet, as Debbie and Frank announced last month that they will retire from Mercersburg at the end of the 2018-2019 academic year.
“Debbie’s and Frank’s fingerprints are all over this campus, literally and figuratively,” Head of School Katie Titus says. “It is only fitting that we can place their names on the health and wellness center to acknowledge their legacy of deep care for our students. Every day of their lives, Debbie and Frank put the needs of the school community first, guiding us to be the strong community we are today.”
The Rutherford Health and Wellness Center will provide greater efficiencies for the school’s Health Center staff and Counseling Department. The center will continue to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the academic year and when summer programs are in session. The new building will house separate girls’ and boys’ wards and will include exam rooms, private rooms, a kitchen, work areas, and counseling offices.
Health Center Director Rita Barone leads a team that includes three registered nurses and a nurse practitioner. Outpatient and inpatient care is available, as is consultation with a group of physicians from nearby practices.
The Counseling Department is also located in the facility and includes Director of Student Counseling Services Susan Rahauser and School Counselor Paul Galey. The department is available to assist students with matters such as homesickness, anxiety/stress management, grief and loss, and relationship and family issues.
As associate head of school, Debbie Rutherford oversees the school’s residential program and student counseling services. She was among the first faculty members to work with Mercersburg’s Peer Group program when it began in 1985, and has worked as a dormitory dean, department head, teacher, coach, and adviser, in addition to her administrative duties. Debbie Rutherford is past chair of the Commission on Secondary Schools of the Middle States Association and is a graduate of Saint Mary’s [Ind.] College and Middlebury College.
“It’s very meaningful to me, because I know that health and wellness are at the core of our students being able to thrive and do their very best,” says Debbie Rutherford. “The new facility will be such a space of light for the students and the community.
“We’ve had the program and the people in place, and now the facility will give talented and dedicated people the ability to do their very best in caring for our students.”
Frank Rutherford was a standout track & field athlete at Lebanon Valley College, where he competed in the NCAA Division III National Championships. He holds Mercersburg’s Archibald H. Rutledge Chair and is a past recipient of the Zern Excellence in Teaching Award. He previously served as the school’s registrar and director of instructional technology, and (in addition to track & field) has also coached cross country, basketball, swimming, and field hockey and worked with outdoor programs. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Lebanon Valley and a master’s from the University of Delaware.
“I see us as regular school people going about our business each day trying to develop the talents in each student,” Frank Rutherford says. “That is our job, nothing special. To be honest, I feel a little embarrassed by having our name attached to a permanent building, but we feel very honored.”
Mercersburg is a family affair for the Rutherfords: their three sons, Matt ’03, Paul ’06, and Stephon Fullerton ’06, are all alumni of the school.
Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 435 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $7 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center. Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance of New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. 300 East Seminary Street, Mercersburg, PA 17236 GPS Address: 10951 Buchanan Trail West, Mercersburg, PA 17236 717-328-6173