Alumnus honors Ted Walch on NBC Today Show


Chloe Park/Chronicle

The Today Show segment features a clip from the school’s event celebrating Walch.

Chloe Park and Grant Park

Jacob Soboroff ’01, a correspondent for National Broadcasting Company (NBC) News and Microsoft National Broadcasting Company (MSNBC), honored former Performing Arts Teacher Ted Walch’s career on NBC’s Today show Aug. 29.

Although Walch recovered from lung cancer several years ago, the cancer has now spread to his brain and become leptomeningeal disease. The disease has debilitated Walch’s physical condition, but his mind and memory remain unaffected, according to President Rick Commons.

The Today Show featured clips of Walch’s students speaking about his impact, including Hollywood actors and producers like Tristar Pictures President Nicole Brown ’98 and actor Ben Platt ’11.

Soboroff, who is one of Walch’s former students, said he jumped at the opportunity to write a story about Walch.

“I’ve done countless stories over the years as a journalist at NBC News, but having the opportunity to do this feature about Walch was one of the most meaningful experiences for me by far,” Soboroff said. “When I told Today Show Executive Producer Tom Mazzarelli about Walch, specifically what he meant not just to me but the thousands of students’ lives he has touched, it was a no-brainer and Mazzarelli said yes to doing the story within seconds.”

Soboroff said the lessons he learned from Walch changed the way he approaches journalism.

“Walch always told me to simply ‘tell a story’ as an actor on his stage, one of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve ever received,” Soboroff said. “To be able to turn that around and tell a story about him, his wit, wisdom and legacy and to introduce him to the millions of viewers who watch Today every morning was beyond special for me.”

In the segment, Walch said he supports students by encouraging them to discover themselves.

“A student put it better than I will,” Walch said. “He said, ‘You allowed me to find out who I am. You had the decency to treat me as the person you hoped I would become.’ That’s what teachers do.”

Head of External Relations Ed Hu said the Today Show segment resonates with anyone who experienced the profound impact of an influential teacher, not just with Walch’s students.

“While we are all well aware of Ted’s impact, it’s such a powerful and universal story because we’ve all had compelling mentors in our lives,” Hu said. “The Today Show’s segment is a testament to the power of having adult mentors who see us for who we are early in our lives and the lasting impact they have on us throughout our entire lives.”