Farewell to a Foundation of Léman: Mr. Hawthorn

By Tabbie Brovner & Jotham Kriakos

Headshot of Mr. HawthornLili Sposato
Mr. Hawthorn has been the foundation on which the Léman Middle School has stood for the past several years. Even with all of the uncertainty and chaos that occurred throughout the pandemic, Mr. Hawthorn stayed through it all and brought certainty and reassurance, not just to middle school students, but all of the students with whom he has interacted. As Ms. Khan describes it, “He helped to build our growing school and navigated our Léman sails through many storms and sea changes.”
Indigo Albert, a freshman at Léman said, “He is a pretty chill principal and I appreciate him for that because he also solves a bunch of problems in my grade”.
Mr. Hawthorn’s lasting impact is evident through his effort to support both students and his colleagues. Coach Len, who has worked with Mr. Hawthorn for the past 20 years, recalled being “a brand-new teacher, inexperienced teacher, he was such a great support, a great role model for me as well.” She continued, “He’s always, always there if you need any support, advice, et cetera. So he’s very constant with that.”
Maya Clarke added that “when there’s a problem he knows how to see their [the students’] side.” For many, Mr. Hawthorn’s sense of humor has relieved stress during difficult times.
Dr. L explained that he “will never forget his unique sense of humor. Mr. Hawthorn makes me laugh even in the most difficult moments.”
Coach Len adds that “always laughing, seeing the funny side of stuff, and really just supporting and encouraging” is an enduring memory.
Pilar Douglas mentioned how helpful this support was during transition periods, “Mr. Hawthorn helped transition my sons from the lower to the upper school by checking in with them, and with all of the other students, to make sure they are comfortable and safe. His witty sense of humor is perfect in getting his point across while making the students feel comfortable sharing their experiences - good and not so good - with him.”
Even more Marguerite Cherfils, a senior who is graduating soon said “He is a person, I can tell, who takes great pride in getting to know the students and is very, very funny.”
Beyond helping individuals at Léman, Mr. Hawthorn’s influence extends to the school as a whole. Ms. DelGadio remembers that “for students who stayed back [from Global Games], Mr. Hawthorn and I worked on creating really fun and interesting experiences and adventures in New York City so that students didn’t feel that they were left out and missing too much.”
Dr. L says, “The only thing I would tell him is to never doubt his capability and judgment. He is an excellent administrator with good judgment and has the best interests of teachers and students in mind.”
Upon reflecting on Mr. Hawthorn’s time here at Léman, it's clear that he has had a positive influence on nearly everyone he has worked alongside and all the students for which he helped.
Whether it's recounting a crazy story from his past, buying donuts for students, or taking the time to praise a student’s actions during an assembly, Mr. Hawthorn made a constant effort to help all students both academically and more importantly by making students be the best people they can be. Mr. Hawthorn truly cares about instilling good qualities into all the students he works with and truly cares about all the students. Dr. Leonardatos called Mr. Hawthorn “one of the kindest, fairest and most reflective people I have ever met” and that “he is an excellent administrator with good judgment and has the best interests of teachers and students in mind”.
Mr. Hawthorn was praised for his ability to handle difficult situations and discussions while providing support and advice. Ms. DelGadio has said, “I think Mr. Hawthorn is a really great administrator in the aspect of while he’s not in the classroom day to day, his door is always open and he’s very supportive and understanding, and a really good listener. So not wanting to just give you that response, but actually listen to what you’re saying and then think of what’s the best piece of advice or the best support that he can provide”.
Alex Albert, a sophomore at Leman, when asked if he considered Mr. Hawthorn as someone who is reliable and someone he could go to said “100%, I feel like I can go, with any situation difficult or not, I can go to him whenever I need him and he’ll be able to handle it and solve the issue.“  
Ms. Khan, who has worked with Mr. Hawthorn for over 8 years said, “Eric has a wonderful ability to navigate difficult topics with grace and experience, and he’s good at balancing professionalism with vulnerability. He comes into those conversations with the learner’s perspective and that's not a common trait, that's a very unique gift that he has that he's able to share with our community, and it's really special.”
Likewise, Coach Len, who has known Mr. Hawthorn for over 20 years, commended him on the constant and reliable support he has provided to students and staff alike, saying, “In terms of his support, he’s very very steady and calm. One of the things I appreciate very much about Mr. Hawthorn is if there’s a situation you don’t know how to approach or you want advice on how to teach something, or how to deal with a specific situation, whether it be in the classroom or coaching, he is such a reliable source of knowledge and one of the things that I really admire about him is he always approaches it from a, a very kind of calm, “ok here’s what you should do”, a very calm and neutral perspective, which I think is so very important.
Whether it is his tact handling difficult situations, his enduring support made more effective by his sense of humor, or his influence on the school as a whole, Mr. Hawthorn has made a noticeable difference at Léman. As Ms. DelGadio put it, “When I think of people leaving that are monumental or pillars of the school community… I think it’s important to recognize and celebrate their achievements and accomplishments, but then to honor things that they did while here, even when they’re not here anymore… and celebrate them but continue their legacy to some extent.”
Marguerite hoped Mr. Hawthorn would “keep being funny, keep telling jokes, and thank you for everything!”
Likewise, Coach Len concluded,  “I shall miss working with him, I don’t know what I’m going to do, having worked with him all this time it’s really crazy. I wish him all the best and his new school is very lucky to have him!”
Contributing writers to the reporting for this article were Paloma Alonso, Zander Sargeant, and Sofia Anna Zullo.