During one of my first Halloweens at The École, Benoît arrived covered in a simple white sheet. His tall silhouette cut a rather imposing figure on the sidewalk and in the lobby. Unlike today, when he is a reassuring presence at the door, at the time, no one expected to see him there—we were still in the middle of COVID, and social distancing was very much de rigueur.

Although the children arrived at school that morning expecting everyone to be dressed up, they had a hard time figuring out who was under the giant ghost costume. Some even started to wonder if it was, in fact, a real ghost. Some laughed nervously at the idea and gave the ghost a wide berth. You could see the relief in their eyes when Benoît revealed that it was him lurking under the sheet.

Back in January, I announced that Benoît would be returning to Bruxelles at the end of this school year. He will leave an indelible mark on the school, and a simple list of his accomplishments will not do him justice. Nonetheless, I will cite a few, knowing that I run the risk of omitting plenty. Benoît reorganized the Elementary schedules; he orchestrated and supported the flexible classrooms initiative—ensuring that the personalization of every child’s learning experience was always at the heart of the project; he developed and hosted the assemblies every month—now indisputable rituals that everyone looks forward to; and he founded the recess debate club whose members showcased their recently acquired public speaking skills during our most recent assembly (fittingly enough).

More than these select concrete examples of his achievements, I believe Benoît’s greatest success has been fostering unanimity in the Elementary teaching team. His ability to listen, his availability, his humility in the face of the vastness that is the teaching profession (a role he knows like the back of his hand), and his unflappable calm have all won his colleagues over—French and American alike—and we are all sad to see him leave.

Benoîts’s role at my side has been crucial. On a daily basis, he personifies the spirit I want for this school. He has transformed my desires into actions; I can always count on his expertise and encyclopedic knowledge of the French curriculum and its outcomes; he has the patience to read between the lines and provide a framework for my, at times, vague ideas and to listen to me talking about The École over and over again, to the point that I’m hoping that it isn’t my relentlessness speeches and impromptu conversations that are making him leave. I’m going to miss him.

We’re going to miss Alice, his daughter, who is finishing 7th Grade. We’re going to miss William, his son, who is in 9th Grade at Léman but still drops by to see us. We’re going to miss Kate, his wife. We’re going to miss Benoît. We tell him every day to make sure that he believes us and knows we’re not just saying it. We have two more weeks to keep telling him – so do it every time you get the chance (it’ll embarrass him because he’s shy and discreet, but we like to make him squirm a little!)

Sophie will take over in September. She will be great, and she will be able to count on all of us, of course, and also on Benoît, whose kindness, talent, and generosity will continue to haunt the corridors of The École for a long time to come.