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Marlborough School Student Newspaper
The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

Lizze Small Contributing Illustrator
How to help our Earth
April 12, 2024

Forsheit retires after 23 years


FAREWELL: Arleen Forsheit has inspired generations of women to study science. Photo by Tess '14

Science instructor Arleen Forsheit, Ph.D. will retire at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year after 23 years at the School, having taught Middle School biology, served as Science Department Head and Dean of Fac­ulty and established the nationally-renowned Leonetti/O’Connell Family Honors Research in Science Program.

Forsheit’s greatest legacy will likely be the Leonetti/O’Connell Family Honors Research in Science Program, which she single-handedly created during the 1997-1998 school year after a series of conversations “with people around the country about what really engenders high interest in science beyond high school,” she said.

Each Honors Research student is paired with a mentor in a field re­lated to her interests who guides her in a project researching a question the student develops herself. Past projects have studied issues rang­ing from the dynamics of bacteria during changing tidal conditions to the causes of the rise of a televi­sion station. Forsheit pairs students with mentors, advises them in their research and helps organize events, including the annual Mentor’s Din­ner in February and Poster Presenta­tion in the spring.

Over time, Honors Research grew exponentially, with more and more students looking into research op­portunities. Almost 200 students have passed through the Honors Research Programs in the Sciences, Social Sci­ences, and Humanities, 59 in the past three years alone. Currently, 27 stu­dents are enrolled in Honors Research in the Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities Programs. Application numbers this year were the highest they had ever been, with a good deal of expansion in the Social Sciences and Humanities Programs, a newer branch of the program allowing stu­dents to experience research in fields other than the traditional clinical and laboratory sciences.

“I don’t think she anticipated the growth,” said science instructor Stacy Sjoberg, who has worked in the Science Department for 21 years with Forsheit. “She was always dedi­cated, [but] it’s been well beyond what we imagined or what she envi­sioned.”

Forsheit said that if she wished to continue teaching, she would remain at the School.

“There’s nowhere else that would be worth going [to],” she said.

The students she works with said they rely on her, drawing on her wealth of experience in scientific re­search. The night before Honors Re­search students needed to submit their papers to science competitions such as the Siemens Competition in Math, Science, & Technology, many bombarded Forsheit with calls to both her home and cell phones, accord­ing to Kathleen ’12, a senior in her second year as an Honors Re­search student at the House Research Institute, where she studies biofilms.

“She understands,” Kathleen said. “She’s known the joys and the hardships [of research], so she is able to connect.”

Although Forsheit is admired for paving the way for a more interac­tive and engaging science curricu­lum, as well as for being one of the first AP Biology teachers, science instructor Lisa Ellis said she will just miss Forsheit’s warmth and friendliness.

“The Department had a holiday party, so she made a batch of mulled cider. She is just the kind of person who would do something like that,” Ellis said.

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