Mark Luff, English
Mark Luff, English

Hometown: Merion, PA. I attended EA from PreK to 1st Grade. I still remember sitting in front of Wetherill House on the old campus, watching John Glenn splash land in the ocean.

College(s)/Degree(s): 1974 Bachelors in Music from Washington College; 1987 Masters in Elementary Education from Villanova University


You are the longest-serving faculty member at EA. In what ways has the school changed, and in what ways has it stayed the same?

When I was first hired, I was a 23-year-old camp counselor. EA was four years into its move to coeducation from an all-boys school, and it had 1,000 students. In so many ways, the school has grown, changed, and strengthened since then.

We are a larger, more powerful, and more skilled faculty now. We are also a larger school with marked increase in enrollment, program, and athletics.

Our move from Merion to Newtown Square was brilliant, and gave us the opportunity to have room to grow. We took a blank piece of paper and said, "What do we want our campus to look like?" Today, that vision is realized with our incredible facilities, technology, and grounds.

However, at the core, we're the same. EA is still a school of academic rigor with the proper support. The Chapel program enriches our personal being – socially, intellectually, and morally. It's either a time for reflections or celebrating your religion, whatever your religion may be. We dive into ethics and morals because we have the opportunity to explore our faith.

Institutional memory and knowledge are important for schools like Episcopal. It's important to hold onto that which we value most as a community: academic rigor, support, and the sheer love of learning.

What is your favorite lesson to teach?

Whenever anyone asks me this, I always say, "The one I am teaching right now!" I truly enjoy each lesson. I love what I do and couldn't image doing anything else.

How do Middle Schoolers benefit from a coeducational learning environment?

Boys and girls benefit greatly from coeducation. Their varying ability, interests, and mindsets enrich the learning experience. Co-education insures that both boys and girls mature at or near the appropriate pace. Their interaction with each other is not a distraction as some single sexed schools may suggest, but rather a contributor to their growth as a person learning how best to communicate with others particularly those of another gender. Co-education strengthens their understanding of and compassion for others. It also bolsters their confidence in public speaking skills and interpersonal skills. With coeducation, the school's environment is more closely linked to their college years and ultimately their arrival in society.

In what ways do you see students advance through Middle School?

Socially, students learn to communicate is better because of group work, committees, and leadership opportunities. In Middle School, students are starting to formulate their own opinions on life matters and increase their dialogue.

Developmentally, the students begin to take more ownership of their learning and academic workload. They learn what study skills and habits work best for them. They gain the necessary self-esteem and self-confidence to succeed in Upper School.

Intellectually, their Middle School teachers have taught the necessary material for success in Upper School - that's a given. We have also instilled in them a stronger interest or love in a subject they like and the perseverance to work in a class of less interest to them. We have helped them see the value in asking effective questions, listening attentively, and managing time responsibly. This learning process is different for everyone, but the teachers at EA are more than willing to provide the support that students need.