Class of 1991
Hall of Fame 2006
Dr. Jana Davis began her high school career as a student with a wide variety of academic interests and had no idea that she would eventually pursue a science career even as she began college. This changed by the time she graduated from Yale University with a B.S. in Environmental Biology.
While Jana was attending RFH, she was very involved in the Tower Tribune, athletic teams, Academic Passport, and other student organizations. She was very interested in politics, and she actually spent a month studying at New Jersey’s Governor’s School of Public Issues at Monmouth University. It was at this program that she learned some of the intricacies of a few issues that she felt were really important, and those are still issues she cares about today: environment, education, social issues, energy.
After attending the school of Public Policy, Jana began to learn more about science and policy, which influenced her decision to study Environmental Biology at Yale. Once she graduated from Yale, she was accepted into the Ph. D. program in Oceanography from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego. While she was at Scripps, Jana conducted research on the effects of El Nino on fishes and shoreline armor, and in addition to her academics, she was involved in editing the Journal of Environment and Development and Explorations, putting to work those skills learned from being an editor of the Tower Tribune.
After being awarded a Ph. D. in Oceanography, Dr. Davis moved on to work as a post-doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, and became an assistant professor at Williams College. It was after this position that Dr. Davis finally had the chance to mix her 2 passions – science and policy – as she was awarded a Congressional Science Fellowship sponsored by the American Geophysical Union. She served in the office of our own Senator Frank Lautenberg, where she managed ocean, coastal, environmental, and ocean issues for the Senator. Jana was able to develop ocean and environmental initiatives for the Senator and provided him with scientific advice on these environmental issues. According to Dr. Davis, Senator Lautenberg, while not necessarily trained in science himself, truly appreciates and understands the role of science in issues ranging from natural resources to national defense to telecommunications, and it was a pleasure to work for him.” She emphasizes the science education of today’s students because “We need scientifically educated voters to elect scientifically interested politicians who will, in turn, boost scientific programs. Besides, science is good for you! It teaches you how to think logically and analytically, which are skills that are great for a multitude of non-scientific careers.”
At her newest position, as the Assistant Director for Programs at the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Jana is able to have the best of both worlds, by educating the policy makers of today and tomorrow, while still supervising research on the ocean habitats. “While it was fantastic to work at such a broad level as national policy, the work I am doing now in the Chesapeake Bay has the most opportunity for quick, hands-on impact. When we fund a school to participate in a bay field trip, the reward occurs within a few weeks instead of years, which is the scale of congressional activity.” Dr. Davis hopes to continue this position for a while, as it seems to be a perfect match to her.
When asked about giving advice to current RFH students, “I would tell them to think about balance in life, even as early as high school. It’s really important to work hard and to think about the future and to think about where you might fit in society – what role you want to play. It’s also really important to be happy with yourself and to enjoy life. In the end, you want to craft a career and a life for yourself with which you are happy, and that might mean sacrificing a little bit from time to time.”
Richard Rowan, Class of 1967, is not only a founder of America’s largest college of art and design, but he is also a winner of the NAACP’s Freedom Fund Award, the Georgia Star Teacher award, the National Trust for Historic Preservation Award, the Oglethorpe Award for Outstanding Business, and the Art Deco Defender Award.
To hear Rowan explain his success, one would think it came easily for him. For example, Rowan asserts that founding the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), a school that has grown from 71 students in 1978 to nearly 8000 today, was easy: “We’ve all gone to school: you need books, desks, teachers. Simple.”
But, truth be told, it took Rowan years before his idea for a school came to fruition. He and his co-founders shared a vision: a school with a singular purpose-do one thing, and do it well. In this case, the purpose was to teach art.
And when his dream became reality, SCAD became a prototype for many of the new schools that followed it. By sticking to the formula of keeping a singular art/design focus, the accreditation process was completed in record time, a mere four years after the school had set up shop. Traditionally, American colleges and universities can take 50 or more years to receive accreditation.
Again, Rowan insists this was easy: “When the accreditation team came to visit, we basically told them, ‘If you want the walls painted blue, they’ll be blue-no problem.’ It was no time to argue. At the time, they might have asked for 10,000 books in the library, so we decided ahead of time that we’d purchase even more than that.”
Eyeing the beautiful historic architecture in Savannah, he and his colleagues had a brilliant strategy to build their college: they renovated over 40 abandoned and deteriorating structures for dorms, classrooms and studio space. Not only were Rowan and his co-founders quickly revitalizing the city and contributing to Georgia’s economy, they were also building an art mecca.
Of his many prestigious awards and accomplishments, Rowan is most proud of having won the NAACP Freedom Fund Award for his university’s hiring practices. At SCAD, Rowan’s administrators actively pursued talented minorities, which amounted to an unprecedented 49% of the faculty during Rowan’s tenure as president.
“I never really saw people as black or white, just as people. And I feel blessed to have grown up in Fair Haven and to have had an African-American, Bobby Lattimore, as a best friend. But I was also lucky to attend RFH where I immediately took a liking to Rob Moir, a very decent, dedicated teacher who really made a big liberal out of me and helped me to see beyond my immediate surroundings.”
His political and aesthetic sensibilities eventually led Rowan to produce a film, entitled The Dinner, described by Rowan himself as “sort of a black version of the film My Dinner with Andre,” in which four African-Americans discuss issues over a dinner, and “express things in ways that white people never really hear.”
Richard Rowan calls himself “an incurable optimist,” and says that “Everyone ought to live outside of this country for a while. You will realize how fortunate and rich you really are.”
Thanks to the outstanding efforts of this new inductee to the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School Hall of Fame, the lives of many students, colleagues and friends have indeed been enriched.
Lauren K. Woods III
Class of 1957
Hall of Fame 2006
To most high school students, changing schools just before senior year would be a burden too terrible to contemplate. But, Lauren K. Woods, “Woody”, transferred from Barrington, Rhode Island and adjusted immediately. Before the year was out, he had become Captain of the Tennis Team, Co-Captain of the basketball team, the catcher on the Baseball Team and the star of the school play. Athletics and The Arts were in competition for precious after-school hours, and Woody had to make a major decision between football and dramatics. All who saw him perform the demanding role of Stage Manager in OUR TOWN could see that Woody had great dramatic talent and potential. At the end of the year, he was voted “Friendliest” and “Most Talented” by his classmates, one of whom remembers him as having a “personality like a shining star.”
At Rutgers, his dramatic talent flourished, and he was involved with the theater as well as serving as Captain of the Tennis Team. Rutgers selected him for inclusion in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities, and his classmates voted to designate him as the “Most Popular” student. After graduate work at Amherst College, Woody began teaching as a professor of theater at Monmouth College. He became a teacher because he had enjoyed the efforts of great teachers at RFH and during his college years. He felt that the best part of teaching was ‘the ripple effect’ that good instructors impart, the chance to see the encouragement given to a student enrich that student and those he or she helps in the future. During his years at Monmouth, he ran a summer theater program at the Parkway Playhouse in Burnsville, North Carolina, where he would produce six shows in seven weeks. He also had the Guggenheim Summer Theater, summer stock at Monmouth, where a different production was done every two weeks with visiting professional actors joining the student participants.
As he was doing all of this, his own acting career was growing, and there were times when he took a leave of absence from his teaching in order to work full time in show business. He played the role of Denny Walston on RYAN”S HOPE, a daytime television drama that ran from 1975-1989. In 1990, he had a part in ROCKY V with Sylvester Stallone and a recurring role as Mitch Rosenbaum in LAW AND ORDER. He played the lead role of Dr. Miles Jaffe in FAMILY MEDICAL CENTER and commuted to Hollywood as 170 episodes were produced. Woody was also one of the top actors in television advertising. He appeared in more than three hundred commercials including those for Bounty, Hallmark, Hershey’s Syrup, Dr. Pepper, Milk Bone and Timex. His face with its sincere smile made him a sought-after character actor for advertising.
Woody and his wife Ellen raised their two children, RFHRHS alumni Lauren Kenyon Woods, IV (Class of 1980) and Jennifer Woods Hart (Class of 1984), in Fair Haven. They had a theatrical family and did a great deal of performing together. Ellen, an actress in her own right with her own career, played his wife on FAMILY MEDICAL CENTER and also appeared on RYAN’S HOPE. They all worked together on summer stock shows. Kenny works in Hollywood as a writer and producer for The Disney Channel. Jennifer is a college drama teacher and has been involved as an actor, director and in management for many venues including The Second City, Walt Disney World and the Guggenheim at Monmouth University. She is now pursuing an MFA in Directing.
When Woody, an accomplished athlete who loved all sports, was asked why he was teaching drama to college students, his reply was, ”Everyone is not an athlete, but everyone needs to contribute; my work is similar to being an athletic coach giving a different group of students a chance to contribute to their college and to their own lives.” The love of drama that they still enjoy was encouraged by the enthusiasm and devotion of their teacher, a man whom they remember well with great fondness and admiration and thought of as “the happiest man in the world.”
Sadly, Lauren K. Woods passed away in 1995. In his honor, The Guggenheim Theater, which he dubbed “The Guggy”, was renamed The Lauren K. Woods Theater. For many years, donations made on the occasion of Woody’s death funded a scholarship for RFHRHS graduates who wished to study theater. Many have said that, of all professions, teachers are those who make the most difference. The life of Lauren K. Woods exemplifies what an impact a fine teacher made on those lucky enough to have been in his classes and his productions.