Honoring Decades of Service to St. Stephen’s

One of the beautiful traditions at St. Stephen’s is to honor staff and faculty members who’ve given decades of service to the school. Together, we recently celebrated three members of the community, theology instructor Jim Woodruff who has served 34 years, Robert Whyburn, technical director of the Helm Fine Arts Center who has worked at St. Stephen’s for 30 years and Allison Center, associate director of admission and marketing was recognized for her 23 years of service.

During these recognition ceremonies, speakers are invited to share stories of appreciation about each of the recipients. Robert’s two children, Monroe ’15 and Brendan ’18, were in attendance and spoke about their dad.

“The real key to enjoyment is challenge and he’s always pushing himself to be better for this community to create these beautiful works of art. He really puts his full potential into everything he does,” said Brendan.

“He’s always behind the scenes making sure everyone’s voices are heard,” said Monroe Whyburn. “I can honestly say that any student who has done theater at St. Stephen’s would agree that they have created some of their proudest work because of my dad’s commitment of taking dreams and manifesting them into the world through grueling physical labor.”

One of Mr. Whyburn’s colleague’s Jeremy Sweetlamb also spoke about the 11 years they’ve worked together on The Hill.

“Nothing shakes this man. Nothing shakes him out of his demeanor. He’s so comfortable with the creative process that he’s even able to stay calm when I make a mistake or when his students make a mistake,” said Jeremy Sweetlamb, director of Middle School Theatre. 

Jim Woodruff was honored by one of his former students Nathan Goldberg ‘14 who was in Mr. Woodruff’s theology class. Nathan spoke about the lessons he learned from Mr. Woodruff that still shape who he is today.

“In our journey through some of the world’s most preeminent, spiritual and religious texts both holy and academic, we learned about how people from different faiths conceive of their relationships with themselves, to each other and the universe,” said Goldberg. “And for me, a Jewish student at an Episcopal school, I felt that this approach embodied everything about what made my education at St. Stephen’s so special. Today it is my honor to thank Mr. Woodruff for helping me cultivate this human-centered perspective and for showing me the power of self reflection as a tool to lead a happy and fulfilling life.”

The entire Admission team was in Chapel to share some of what they love about Allison Center. Allison’s husband Michael was also in attendance.

“Allison is a gift to our office and the St. Stephen’s community,” says Lawrence Sampleton, associate head of school for enrollment management and financial aid.

Each team member held up a prop that embodies and exemplifies Allison and her work ethic. Holding a mold of a brain, Peter Menacker, assistant director of admission, talked about how Allison’s brain is always full of ideas.

“Mrs. Center’s creative mind works 24/7 when it comes to new ideas of how we can love new visitors and attract applicants to St. Stephen’s like no other,” said Menacker.

Katie Marye, admission assistant, held a teddy bear and described Allison as a “mama bear” to her two sons Ben ‘22 and David ‘21, and all of the St. Stephen’s students.

A hand weight symbolized Allison’s mental and physical strength, “whether it’s her 5:30 a.m. workouts or her long hours at the office,” said Sara Tahir, assistant director of admission.

From a lip-shaped telephone because she loves to talk to a heart-shaped flower bouquet symbolizing Allison’s huge heart, each item told a story about why the Admission team was excited to celebrate Allison and her 23-year tenure at St. Stephen’s.

Congratulations to each of those honored and thank you for your decades of service to St. Stephen’s.
Address: 6500 St. Stephen's Dr., Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 327-1213