Professors Beams, Owczarek, Weinstein: 105 Years of Service to PMC

Three of the College's senior faculty members —Mahala Tillinghast Beams '66, Professor of Music and Dance; Robert J. Owczarek, Professor of Drama; and Joan R. Weinstein, Professor of Mathematics and Computers— are in the College's phased retirement plan after giving over 100 years of combined service to PMC. The three have been carrying a reduced load of classes an in May, Owczarek and Weinstein will retire, while Beams will continue teaching a lighter load until her retirement in the spring of 2011.

Following are reflections by former and current students of the three retirees. Readers are encouraged to share their thoughts to be added to those below. To submit a thought, reflection, or meaningful story, please fill out this form.

Reflections of Mahala Tillinghast Beams '66

Yuki Asaka '05: Mahala was my best teacher. She supported me as a teacher, musician, and mother. I could not have completed college life without her, and she is always in my heart. I am pretty sure we can be connected by music anytime. That is and always will be our language. The best memory that we have is all the songs that we practiced together in Ellsworth. I especially appreciated that she accompanied all songs I sang at my graduation solo concert. Best wishes for many more years of success as she begins this new stage of her life.

Mahala Beams teaching

Tracy Fogler Busyn '89: I worked with Professor Beams for four years doing musicals. Although I never took one of her classes, those of us who worked with her putting on the shows felt that we were part of a family. She was so much fun to be with, particularly as she taught us our dance routines. I particularly remember her work on Guys and Dolls; I was one of the "hot box girls" and she had to spend a lot of time with us because of the number of dances we had to learn. She was encouraging, energetic, and always enthusiastic.

Keri Ann Marcouillier '07: Professor Beams is a lovely woman who is passionate about what she does, and does a great job of sharing that passion with her students. She is a great teacher who embraces the talents of her students, and pushes them to be their very best. She was always available to lend me support in any way possible. I'm sure that she will be sorely missed by the entire PMC community. I wish her the very best retirement has to offer.

Mahala Beams at her wedding, held at PMC

Tammy Smith '01: I am honored to write about Mahala Beams. There are so many things I want to say, but I can't find all the words that express how much Mahala Beams means to me. She is such an inspiration, a ray of light and unconditional support. Mahala was always there for me when I was a student at PMC. When I was feeling down her kind words and strength lifted me up. I was lucky enough to not only have her as a professor but also as a dance teacher. I loved dancing her choreography. She is truly a remarkable woman, a gift to the world. I am truly grateful that our paths crossed. Not only was she my mentor and dance teacher; now she is my friend.

Jushea "Shea" Rose '98: Professor Beams was one of the first people in my life who helped me tap into my gift as a writer. For this, I am so very grateful. Her encouragement, gentle nature, compassion for the human condition, and understanding of how we can express it through words, prose, poem, and song set the foundation for the artist, musician, and writer I am today.

Reflections of Robert J. Owczarek

Tracy Fogler Busyn '89: I don't think that I could come up with enough words to explain the impact that Professor Owczarek had on my life at Pine Manor. He was a teacher. He was an advisor. He was a director. He was a friend. He was a father figure. I would do anything for him. While I was at PMC, I worked with him on many of the musicals and plays, and I also actually worked for him as his intern on the work-study program. Whenever I needed advice, I knew that I could always go to him. He most definitely will be missed at Pine Manor.

Nadege Manigat '05: I remember when I was in high school I always wanted to audition for the school plays but was always afraid that I was not good enough and thus never auditioned. I made a vow that when I went to college, that, no matter what, I would audition. My freshman year audition for A Comedy of Errors, was one of the best moments of my life because of Bob Owczarek. He made me feel so comfortable and confident. For the next four years, Bob was a very important part of my life and fostered my love for the theater arts. His passion for theater and teaching inspired me every day. I miss him and those days very much.

Bob Owczarek and the cast of A Comedy of Errors

Kathryn Gracey '88: Professor O, a fellow Michigander, is not just an influential teacher in my life but he is also a good friend. I had the pleasure of studying and working with him during my years at PMC, from my first play, Crimes of the Heart, to numerous acting classes. He was a great influence on me. Even after graduation he continues to support my acting, attending my productions in NYC and even writing articles on my theater company. Sadly, incoming students will not have the opportunity to learn from a truly fine teacher who gives so much to his students.

Enku Gubaie '96: What I remember the most about working with Professor Owczarek is the way he directed each actress. He had a way of helping you bring a character alive without demonstrating or telling you how it should be performed. He knew exactly what information you  needed to know about the character so you understood how it should be performed. This really helped bring out the best of your performance. He really helped me feel comfortable on stage and I had a great experience working with him.

Bob O working on The Laramie Project

Lori Sylvia '93: Bob Owczarek has been a teach, a mentor, and a dear friend for over twenty years. He taught me how to speak persuasively and publicly, which serves me well as my company's chief spokesperson. He mentored me in starting a chapter of Alpha Chi and serving as student president of PMC's Women in Communications, fostering my leadership ability and entrepreneurial spirit, which prepared me for my career in high-tech start-ups. He let my then boyfriend, Mark sit, sometimes not so quietly, through film class with me, and later celebrated with us at our wedding. Through the many lunches and dinners and Christmas cards since, he has enriched my life with his guidance and friendship. I feel so lucky to have remained friends with him through the many stages of our lives, and I wish him all the best as he enjoys this well-deserved next stage.

Keri Ann Marcouillier '07: What can one say about Bob Owczarek? I'm one of the lucky people who is glad to call him a friend and mentor. He was probably the most important part of my college experience. Bob O. (as many lovingly call him) has always pushed me to do my best and grow on both artistic and academic levels. I'm not sure that he will ever know exactly what an important he has played in my life thus far. He is an incredibly caring and talented being who is sure to continually make the world a bit brighter with his laughter and passion for the performing arts. I am forever in his debt. Bob, thank you for making me a better actor, and for pushing me to pursue my dreams and my vision.

Robin Cain Strickland '93: When I stepped foot on the beautiful campus of Pine Manor, I knew that I was home. At the end of the tour I told my mother that this is where I wanted to attend college and she said “Honey I’m sorry but we can’ t afford it.” My guidance counselor Dr. Robert Sutfin of Brookline High School said that we needed to investigate scholarships. Shortly after, I was awarded a full tuition scholarship and took out loans to pay for my room and board. When I walked on campus I was a seed that was ready to be watered, a seed that was waiting to be nurtured to grow into something amazing.

There was one person that was more than just a professor. He was a guide, a teacher in life, a coach that made you believe you could do anything. Of course every person that came into contact with him was drawn to his silver beard, sweet smelling cologne and his contagious smile. He is our Professor Owczarek.

Professor O talked about a musical that he was doing, “A My Name is Alice.” It sounded intriguing but I wondered if I could live up to something that seemed larger than life. Professor O convinced me that I could. Almost 19 years later I remembered my opening line, “A My Name is Alice and I…” In the musical, I was in love with a loser named Frank and in my monologue I wanted to kill him. After the opening night my father stood in amazement and said how proud he was of me.

19 years later, this is my monologue, my real life story…

A My Name is Alice…

and I beat all of the odds. I was the first in my family to graduate from a 4-year college. I broke the generational curse and was not a teenage mother. My mother fought for me and I knew that I had to fight for myself.

On the first day of college I met my good friend Gloria and realized that we grew up 5 minutes from each other in Dorchester, MA. During school we leaned on each other often cramming for exams, driving off campus in the middle of the night for our favorite exam treats (remember we used to put our dollars and scents together to get one order!). We encouraged each other after graduation and we have the best laughs to this day.

My real life “Frank” is David who is the most amazing husband of 16 years. We’ve built an awesome life together and are best friends. I’ve been able to accomplish so much knowing that he supports me all the way. When I’m at my lowest, he is there to wipe the tears and when I’m flying high, he is in the clouds with me celebrating.

My passion for special events has afforded me a perfect and adventurous career that has lead me to breaking the glass ceiling with the Ritz-Carlton (a 90’s term), working for exclusive clubs, traveling to Bangkok and Hong Kong to become more familiar with the Asian culture to better equip me for my dream job with the Mandarin Oriental. When I was a catering assistant for the Ritz-Carlton climbing the corporate ladder, I wrote in my journal that I wanted to be a Director of Catering for a 5-star 5-diamond hotel with outside space. When that dream came true at the Mandarin Oriental I realized that I had to dream another dream.

My current dream is to start a family, ensure that my time is my own and find myself in my oceanfront beach house summering and laughing with friends and family. Thank you Professor O for watering this seed and nurturing it knowing that something amazing was on the inside.

Here is to you and all of the lives and hearts you have touched. What an amazing human being you are. We love you!

Reflections on Joan R. Weinstein

Shou-An Liu '07: Professor Weinstein is always availbe for her students and has wonderful teaching skills that make it easy for her to explain hard subjects, such as Statistics. She supplies plenty of opportunities and resources for students to explore new information outside of the classroom so that they can apply what they have learned from the textbook and lectures to real-world situations. She is a wonderful professor who really cares about her students.

Lindsey Segal-Bator '12: For any incoming college student, the first year can be the most overwhelming time of your life. There are so many new challenges, experiences, friendships, and education topics you must adhere to in order to be successful. In college, math is no exception to this list and Professor Weinstein is the best math teacher I have ever had in my life. Unlike many professors, she goes above and beyond the textbook topics and individualizes the lessons in the chapter to relate to a student's daily life. These lesson plans that she teaches may, for some students, be challenging, but life is the ultimate challenge. Furthermore, she shows compassion and understanding to her students that go beyond the classroom. On behalf of Professor Joan Weinstein's current and previous students, I would like to thank her for everything she has done for the students at PMC. I wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors and hope that she gets to travel and explore the world!

Joan Weinstein Teaching

Debbie Tribley-Shuman '75: Joanie's a wonderful person - so much more than a professor to me. We both began our PMC experiences in September of 1973, she as a professor and I as a freshman. She became my mentor, friend, and inspiration at Pine Manor, and long after. In addition to teaching math courses, Joanie helped me through so much more during my years at PMC. She has always been available for her students for extra help and advice at any time and has always been willing to give all that she can for her students. After PMC, I became her babysitter for her first son, Seth, who still holds a special place in my memories. I wish Joanie lots of relaxation and enjoyment in her retirement.