On a late August day with the start of school just days away and students and faculty finishing up their summer vacations, Marley Matlack was on Zoom talking about how to make Loomis Chaffee more environmentally sustainable as it continues to work to reduce its carbon footprint.
Environmental concerns never take a day off.
Marley has long had a passion for global and environmental studies, going back to her undergraduate days at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.
That devotion to doing her part to make the world a better place, and urging students to do the same, is being recognized by the Global Education Benchmark Group (GEBG), a non-profit association of K–12 schools.
Marley, the director of Loomis Chaffee’s Alvord Center for Global & Environmental Studies, has been named the 2023–2024 GEBG Global Educator-in-Residence. The GEBG works with member schools, about 300 in 17 countries, on global education initiatives. Its executive director is Clare Sisisky ’96.
In a June letter seeking the position, Marley wrote, “My primary focus would be to create opportunities for the GEBG community to explore the interconnectivity of global and environmental studies. With climate change being one of the greatest threats of our time, it is imperative that we increase the quality of, and accessibility to, curriculum in this area.”
She said he was honored to be chosen for the one-year residence.
“I am really excited to work with the GEBG leadership,” Marley said. “They are very inspiring, and I feel it’s a great honor for our institution to show we are really a leader in global and environmental studies. It will be fantastic to showcase the work our students, teachers, and administrators have been doing. I hope this is a real pat on our back that helps us move forward and show that this work really matters.”
Why does it matter?
“We see every day the stories on the news, the tragic things that are happening,” Marley says.
The worst wildfire season on record in Canada … the devastation in Maui caused by wildfires that have killed more than 100 people … Tropical Storm Hilary battering Southern California, the first storm of its kind to hit the area in 84 years. On and on the list goes.
“This is not a problem happening somewhere else, but in our backyard,” Marley says, “and our students need to understand that they can make a change, and we need to empower them to know that everyone can make a difference.”
Right out her window in the Alvord Center are the Meadows, which were under water for a good part of July from damaging floods as the Loomis campus is on the confluence of the Farmington and Connecticut rivers. A half hour from a home she and her husband, Dean of Faculty Andrew Matlack, own in Vermont, floods caused major damage from the intense rainstorms that eventually would lead to the problems on the Loomis campus.
The GEBG will have a Global Summit, January 26–27 in New York, in which Marley will participate as part of her duties, likely facilitating a panel discussion or presenting in another way. She also will lend support to ongoing programs of the GEBG.
In announcing Marley as the educator-in-residence, the GEBG said in a statement: “As a leader in the interconnection between global and environmental studies as well as student global competence development and assessment, we look forward to her support of educators addressing global issues, including climate change, in their classrooms and well beyond. We are humbled that Marley has chosen to continue to give of her time and energy to GEBG’s community of schools, and we are grateful to The Loomis Chaffee School for its support.”
Marley is in her 12th year at Loomis Chaffee. She has a bachelor's degree in environmental science from Wesleyan University, a master’s in social work from the University of Connecticut, a master’s in international education from The School of International Training, and a certificate in Place-Based Education from Antioch University.
In the 2022–2023 school year Marley and Andrew were on sabbatical, working at an American school in Southern Spain. They also spent time hiking and traveled with their two children.
“It reignited my love for travel and love and passion for exploring new cultures,” Marley says. “I am inspired to create programs that have a domestic and international component. You don't have to travel halfway around the world to look at issues regarding climate change, migration, poverty and the issues behind poverty … so I would love to have our students do more place-based programming here on campus and in Hartford and marry that with themes happening in other areas of the world.”
This past school year, 36 Loomis Chaffee seniors graduated with Global & Environmental Studies Certificates through the Alvord Center. The GESC recognizes coursework, co-curricular engagement, and experiential learning in developing globally and environmentally engaged citizens. In addition, approximately 60 students participated in the center’s International Education Programs on four trips: Costa Rica (March), Italy (two separate trips in June), and Scandinavia (June).