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Remembering Lavern McDonald


It is with deep sadness that we share the news that Lavern McDonald, a longtime and beloved educator at Calhoun, passed away on February 22 after a long battle with cancer.

Lavern’s impact on our community, from students to colleagues, to alumni over more than two decades, cannot be overstated. Serving as a role model for generations of students, especially students of color, she was the inspiration for and inaugural recipient of the Alumni of Color Network’s Award for Advocacy and Mentorship in Diversity in 2022. She also played an important role in Calhoun’s Progressive Education Tradition courses, and was a beloved cluster advisor who kept in close touch with many of her alumni clustees. Lavern's love and care for our students extended beyond graduation, and this connection went both ways — she would regularly have visits from alumni who needed a “cluster conference” or just a moment with a dear friend.

Lavern often reminded listeners that her first instructional day at Calhoun was September 11, 2001. Since then, she taught World History, US History and many electives, including Media in America, Labor in Film, US Migration History, US-China Relations, Punishment Politics and Culture, and Calhoun Social History. She served as Associate Director of the Upper School for many years, reenvisioned and ran our senior internship program (now known as Senior Work), and frequently crafted opportunities to connect Calhoun students to experts and activists across New York City (and well beyond) to expand and enhance their learning.

Lavern believed in centering joy at all times. She brought that energy to everything that she did, and she will always be remembered by her colleagues for her dedication to her students, her insatiable thirst for learning, and the warmth and care that she exuded every day. Her boundless optimism was an inspiration to all of us to the very end of her life. She will be dearly missed.

We will be organizing spaces for all our community members to process this news, and we will continue to make sure our students are held during this difficult time. 

Memorial details:

Memorial Service for Lavern McDonald
March 8, 2024, 5pm
John Wesley United Methodist Church
260 Quincy Street 
Brooklyn, NY 11216

Join Zoom broadcast of memorial service:
Meeting ID: 289 953 2836

Funeral Service for Lavern McDonald 
March 16, 2024
Viewing at 10am; Service at 11am
New River Wesleyan Church
1545 N Andrews Avenue
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33311

Additional details about memorials and other ways to remember Lavern McDonald will continue to be posted as they become available.


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