Norfolk Academy Installs Plaque Honoring Former Headmaster John Tucker

Norfolk Academy welcomed retired faculty back to campus for a luncheon and official installation of a portrait and plaque honoring former headmaster John H. Tucker Jr. in the Ruffin lobby of the Tucker Arts Center.

Mr. Tucker, who served many years as a teacher and coach before becoming headmaster from 1978 to 2000, sat onstage with his wife, Barbara, as Headmaster Dennis Manning highlighted Mr. Tucker’s contributions to the Norfolk Academy community.

Mr. Manning observed that while the plaque is new, Mr. Tucker’s portrait once hung in the former May Building, opposite a portrait of former headmaster James B. Massey Jr. Walking in each day under the steely gazes of Mr. Massey and Mr. Tucker was a daily moment that would “intimidate and elevate” him, Mr. Manning observed with some humor.

With the opening of the new James B. Massey Jr. Leadership Center, Mr. Massey’s portrait was moved to a position in the lobby with a new plaque there detailing his long service to the school; those were unveiled last fall during that building’s official opening.

The new plaque to Mr. Tucker recognizes his dedication to the school, and it includes the service Barbara Tucker rendered as a teacher and member of the Lower School Library. However, it focuses on Mr. Tucker’s “transformative” passion for the fine arts; under his leadership, the school instituted full programs in theater; dance; choral, classical, and band music; and visual art. The Tucker Arts Center, built after his retirement from Norfolk Academy, is constantly bustling; the Johnson Theater is the site of daily Upper School chapels, numerous student performances, including the Winter Musical, and many visiting artists and speakers. The school hosts events open to the public, including an annual performance that is part of the Virginia Arts Festival.

Mr. Tucker received a standing ovation from the audience, and Mr. Manning credited all of the faculty emeriti for their contributions to the school’s continued growth and vitality. “What we enjoy, you contributed to its making, helping us become the extraordinary school we are today,” he said.