He Who Keeps Us All Afloat

Media provided by Fiona Miller ‘26

“Grounded in tradition and open to innovation” is a phrase which many members of the Grace community are familiar with, and one that some believe to be the heart of Grace’s mission statement. One member of the community, Rev. Mark Hummell, exemplifies a perfect balance of the two. 

Rev. Hummell is taking on his 10th year at Grace, and in these 10 years, he has made his own mark on the community. As the chaplain of Grace Church, Rev. Hummell leads high school, middle school, and lower school chapels. 

Beyond teaching World Religions, Introduction to Philosophy, Introduction to Ethics, and Introduction to Psychology, he is also the department head of Philosophy and Religion and serves as a 9th grade advisor. 

After school hours, Reverend Hummell can be seen taking long walks by The Cloisters near his home in Upper Manhattan, watching movies, and reading books. He enjoys traveling when he gets the chance, which, according to him, “is the nice thing about a school schedule.” On some Sundays, he holds church services as a supply (substitute) pastor at churches other than Grace.

Grace was built on a foundation of Episcopal traditions. Almost 130 years ago, 16 choir boys gathered in Grace Church’s honor room to further their Episcopal education. However, as the age of the school increases, so does the variety of people of different backgrounds and beliefs. According to Rev. Hummell, a challenging question the school is frequently asked regarding religion is, “how are you a school of all faiths and no faiths at all?”

Grace holds chapels that cover crucial topics, including Black History, LatinX Heritage, the Pride celebration, elections, and the December holidays. Oftentimes, chapels discuss life lessons and personal experiences, which Rev. Hummell is instrumental in organizing.

“I try to cast a really wide net at chapel,” Rev. Hummell said. 

Valuing student engagement and the perspectives of all, he continues: “I try to get an idea of what matters most to the students and the faculty and bring that forward, and I think that comes up best in the affinity space chapels that we have.” 

When asked if Grace has become more inclusive since he first joined the school, Rev. Hummell mentioned that the Office of Community Engagement and Jean-Robert Andre’s position as Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging “has been really helpful in terms of looking at what matters most to the community in many ways.”

Rev. Hummell has tried to bring what “matters most to the community” into chapels because he is deeply committed to forming a space where important topics and ideas are discussed on a school-wide level, aiming to “look at what is happening with this particular group of students versus that particular group of students,” and bring “each other together as a community.”

Mr. Andre mentioned Rev. Hummell’s powerful modes of transforming our community into one that strives for collective betterment. “His speech at last year’s Pride Chapel was incredibly moving,” Mr. Andre said, “and it has stuck with me ever since. His role as advisor, liaison to all the affinity groups who hold chapels, and a dear friend all contribute to the ways that Rev.Hummell serves an integral part of the community, in my opinion.” 

In terms of teaching, Rev. Hummell’s philosophy, religion, ethics, and psychology classes are a hit with the students.

“Reverend Hummell’s class is the perfect blend of good times and philosophical education,” said Sabine T. ‘26, a student in Rev. Hummell’s 10th grade Introduction to Philosophy class,

Another member of his philosophy class, Sami D. ‘26, said that she “found him to be extremely accommodating and friendly. When I injured myself and wasn’t able to complete my assignment, he gave me a generous extension and wished me well.”

With three advisories in his time at Grace, from the class of 2019 and 2023, and now to the class of 2027, he has guided many students through their four exciting and transformative years at the highschool. 

Citing his favorite aspect of having an advisory, Rev. Hummel pointed to the “growth that you see in students going from the ninth grade through the 12th grade … just having seen students who were shy about coming to school and now they are off at, you know, University of Chicago or wherever … is really touching.” 

It warms Rev Hummell’s heart to see that his hard work in teaching students about ethics and virtues pay off as they successfully continue their educational careers in colleges. 

India B. ‘27, also a current member of Rev Hummell’s advisory, thinks that “He’s such a good advisor. He’s super funny, and he really cares about how we can get our grades up. He is really strict about phones though, but it isn’t too bad.”

Jacob Root, a literature teacher, says that “Rev Hummell, in his easy-going, uncomplicated way, keeps us all afloat. He knows us, doesn’t judge us, and seeks to bolster us. And yet, although he makes it seem easy and uncomplicated, he is a man of true substance, and his comments in chapel always ring true and hit the nail right on the head. Listening to Reverend Hummell, one feels smarter, wiser, happier.”

Beloved by both his students and his co-workers, “the Rev” is a true gem of the Grace community. 

Fiona Miller ‘26, the author, is a staff writer for The Grace Gazette.