By Michael Kaplan
Eric Schrode, who during 14 years teaching English and history at the Upper School instituted both the One-Acts Festival and a program that over several summers took hundreds of Harvard-Westlake students to perform in Edinburgh, Scotland, told his students today that he would resign effective Jan. 28.
âI write those words â formally acknowledging that Iâm moving on â with a great sense of sadness and with a great sense of fondness, because my time at Harvard-Westlake School has been filled with wonderful memories, so many of them spurred by students like yourselves,â Schrode wrote in the email.
Neither Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts nor Head of the Upper School Harry Salamandra could comment on the reasons for Schrodeâs departure, but said that his presence will be missed.
Dr. Ron DiCostanzo will take over Schrodeâs four sections of AP English Literature at the start of second semester on Jan. 30, while Darcy Cosper will teach Schrodeâs second semester Creative Writing sections.
âWe feel that we have picked two people who are highly qualified for their respective positions,â Head of the English Department Larry Weber said. âThey are just interim positions and Iâm not sure how exactly itâs going to play out.
DiCostanzo, who was English department chair at Westlake School for 10 years, has taught high school and college students for more than 39 years, most recently at Long Beach City College before retiring 2004. Cosper is an author, editor and book reviewer. Her novel, âWedding Season,â has been translated into seven different languages and has sold 70,000 copies.
âI know we are losing a very talented and dedicated teacher,â Huybrechts said.
In early December, Schrode informed Huybrechts and Salamandra, along with President Thomas C. Hudnut and Weber about his departure. After learning of Schrodeâs plan to resign, Weber and Salamandra set out to replace him for the second semester.
âWe wish he would stay on until the end of the year,â Salamandra said. âYet I understand why he didnât decide to stay. We are going to miss him.â
Salamandra also sent out an email today to the parents of Schrodeâs students informing them of his departure, and his replacements.
Although Schrode ruled out anything tragic, the reasons for his departure are âhighly personal,â Weber said.
Schrode plans on spending a lot of time writing, working on a mystery novel and his screenplay, âThe English Teacher.â
âAfter 14 years of being kept busy here, it will be nice to have a break,â Schrode said. âIn my last few days I will try to catch a few Harvard-Westlake basketball games and finishing âPride and Prejudiceâ with my [AP English Literature] classes.â He added that he is not going to immediately go back into teaching.
âI look forward, with apologies to my favorite poet T.S. Eliot, to our finishing our studies together not with a whimper but a bang,â Schrode wrote in the conclusion his email to his students.