Leaving a Legacy of Service, Ms. Pashley Departs

Photo courtsey of Judy Donald

Seen here with Paul Grabowski, Ms. Mary Pashly attends octoberfest in 1986.

“It feels as though everything I’ve done here has been a natural flow of succession based on my interests and desires, as well as where the school has been going,” reflected Ms. Mary Pashley, whose retirement will conclude 33 years of service to Choate. A Wallingford native, she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern Connecticut State University. As part of her graduate coursework in sociology, she visited Choate and fell in love with the school on her first visit. She applied for and accepted an open position at the Student Activities Center in 1983, where she worked for 10 years while teaching psychology.

Ms. Pashley is well known on campus as the current Director of Community Service. “When the administration was creating the community service requirement, they were looking for someone to build the program and inculcate that into the culture of the school,” she explained. After receiving the position in 1995, she worked to define the program and requirement, as well as monitor and facilitate student service involvement.

Ms. Pashley said, “I loved the educational environment, I loved my own high school experience, and I realized that though Choate was a good high school, kids here were searching for connections with each other and with adults around them. It reminded me of my high school experience because I had great relationships with my teachers and a strong peer group. When that happened for kids here in a residential, communal environment, I thought that was the best place to learn. So I didn’t really want to leave since I was more curious about how the place worked – and before I knew it, thirty-three years had gone by.

Ms. Pashley is also involved in the Navajo Nation student exchange, through which Choate students have had the opportunity to travel to the Four Corners region to experience life on a rural reservation. In addition, she helped develop the Gakio-Walton International Scholars Program.

Interacting with students and being able to build close interpersonal relationships has been one of her main focuses. She said, “It’s been interesting for me to come across so many different kids from so many different places. I’ve learned so much about the world from teaching at such a diverse school.”

Students value Ms. Pashley as a kind and jubilant presence on campus. Keziah Clarke ’16, who has worked with Ms. Pashley on various community service endeavors and is one of her advisees, observed, “It’s a youthful energy that she has, which I think is incredible, especially after being here for so long.” Maria Cabrera ’17 added, “She really cares about making others feel better, and she gives without expecting anything in return.”

Ms. Pashley will be greatly missed on campus by the students whom she has so fully devoted herself to during her time here. Clarke explained, “I’ll miss her joy the most. There’s no situation that Pash cannot find a bright side to. I think she’s had so much experience that she knows how to guide you through most situations. Just knowing that I was able to go to Pash with anything and she’d be able to reassure me was something that I will greatly miss, but of course, I know that she’s still just a phone call away.”

Ms. Pashley shared some of her most cherished advice. “There may have been some unpleasant moments, but I think that comes with the territory and makes the experience richer,” she said.

Ms. Pashley plans to move to Florida to reconnect with her family members. She remarked, “I don’t think that there’s anything I regret. If you talk to me in a year, I may say that I regret the day I decided to leave Choate, but I know in my heart that it’s time for me to go to get back to my connection with my family.”

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