The Student Newspaper of The Loomis Chaffee School

The Loomis Chaffee Log

The Student Newspaper of The Loomis Chaffee School

The Loomis Chaffee Log

The Student Newspaper of The Loomis Chaffee School

The Loomis Chaffee Log

A Farewell to Longtime Faculty Member Mr. Nat Follansbee

After serving the Loomis Chaffee community for 41 years, Mr. Nat Follansbee will be retiring at the end of June. From a teacher, coach, and dorm head to a member of the administrative team, Mr. Follansbee has experienced Loomis from a variety of roles and perspectives, watching the school transform and evolve as he has.

Mr. Follansbee joined the Loomis community in the fall of 1975 as a member of the English faculty. In addition to teaching English, he coached JV soccer and intramural hockey. He became the Commissioner of Intramural Hockey, a role which faded away as girls varsity and JV hockey developed on the Island. Mr. Follansbee eventually began coaching club lacrosse in the spring and later transitioned to coaching in the tennis program at both the varsity and JV levels. Mr. Follansbee also held the role of Dorm Head while living in Batchelder Hall and Taylor Hall.

“The first 11 years … I taught, I coached, I ran dormitories, and I lived on campus. It was great. It was fabulous,” Mr. Follansbee said.

For his next 11 years, Mr. Follansbee served as the Director of Development. Mr. Follansbee was not expecting this opportunity at the time because he was planning to go on sabbatical, but he happily accepted after former Head of School Dr. John Ratté made the offer.

“I was ready to try something new and different, so it was a good decision,” Mr. Follansbee said.

Mr. Follansbee and his team found great success while fundraising and providing for the school. He later transitioned into a new position as the Associate Head for External Relations in addition to serving as the Secretary of the Board of Trustees. In these administrative roles, Mr. Follansbee grew as a relationship builder, a conversationalist, and a public speaker.

After being part of the Loomis community for 22 years, Mr. Follansbee temporarily left the Island and worked as the President of Browning Associates, a consulting firm for independent schools. Through this job, Mr. Follansbee gained an insider’s look into every aspect of campus life at peer schools, from the admission process to development work to roles of administrators.

“What was fascinating about it was I learned how well-run Loomis Chaffee is,” Mr. Follansbee said.

Meanwhile, his daughter Mrs. Laura Milligan ’99 lived in Batchelder Hall with her husband and two children. She coached girls varsity lacrosse at the time and convinced her father to return to campus to catch a game. During his visit to campus, Mr. Follansbee’s close friend Mr. Fred Seebeck introduced him to current Head of School Dr. Sheila Culbert.

“The person who really persuaded me to come back was Dr. Culbert. I knew when I first met her that she was incredibly dynamic, that she wanted to take the school somewhere it needed to go; and for me and for her, it’s been a great partnership,” Mr. Follansbee said.

After Commencement and Reunion Weekend this year, Mr. Follansbee will officially retire from Loomis Chaffee. Shortly after, he plans to travel to Greece with his family. In addition to traveling in the years ahead, Mr. Follansbee will serve on various school boards.

Mr. Follansbee is also interested in decreasing homelessness. Traveling across the country on behalf of the school, Mr. Follansbee said, “the homeless problem is huge in this country.” During his retirement, he hopes to work with an organization helping homeless families in the Hartford area.

In his time at Loomis, Mr. Follansbee embraced the school community, finding mentors and forging strong relationships.
“Working for John Ratté was just incredible. He’s still a father figure to me. He’s been my mentor for a long time. My own father passed away, and John is still alive, so I go to see him for lunch. Working for him was so inspirational,” Mr. Follansbee said.

Mr. Follansbee is also grateful for Dr. Culbert and the work she has done for the school.

“Dr. Culbert has been a fantastic head of school … She’s really taken the school a great distance,” Mr. Follansbee said.
Moreover, Mr. Follansbee was a mentor to others, consistently supporting those around him.

“Mr. Follansbee hired me in 1996, so he has been my mentor for 27 years … Nat has been my cheerleader, supporter, and friend,” Mrs. Lisa Ross, Director of Alumni & Parent Relations and Senior Class Advisor, said.

Mr. Follansbee has also formed close connections to students in the community and will miss working with them.
“I’ll miss the smiling faces of students. Working with young people keeps you young — it’s really true,” Mr. Follansbee said.
When reflecting on the lessons he has learned in his time at Loomis, Mr. Follansbee emphasized the importance of creating a shared vision across the various departments on campus.

“The whole school has to work together to become the best it can be,” Mr. Follansbee said.

Mr. Follansbee has witnessed and experienced changes to both the physical school appearance and the overall campus atmosphere. Still, he feels the Loomis Chaffee mission will live on.

“We are a very egalitarian school, which is what the Founders wanted. They wanted us to treat each other with dignity and respect and to treat each other as equals. We make mistakes, but generally speaking, we have a different culture than a lot of other places,” Mr. Follansbee said. “We need to continue to excel and be a kind and thoughtful place.”

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