Scholarship celebrates faculty legend Jack Hood

Through a new scholarship, alumni hope to create a legacy that fulfills the desire to help kids and is worthy of the man who inspired it.

More than 50 years ago, in the days when being away from home meant a real separation from parents, siblings and friends, Interlochen Arts Academy students built their own big, surrogate family. For many of those students, longtime biology teacher Jack Hood was the man at the heart of that family.

Jack passed away on July 28, 2015, at the age of 90. He was a beloved member of the extended Interlochen community, and a fund established in his name will help make sure his legacy lives on for generations to come.

Academy alumnus Peter Bankoff remembers Hood as “a fatherly, beloved figure on campus. He was the type of father figure that some of us very young kids needed on our first separation from our families.”

Alumnus Michael Leib expressed similar feelings for Hood, along with his first wife, the late Mary Lou Hood. “They were parents, with our parents gone,” he says. “They were incredibly supportive, understanding, positive role models.”

Although Jack was a biology teacher, he became known as a regular booster for his students’ artistic undertakings, attending concerts, art openings and theatre performances. “They believed in us and the possibilities each of us had within us,” Leib says. “They didn’t stop when we graduated either.”

In the classroom, Hood opened students eyes to the magic and beauty of their surroundings, helping them see and better understand the rare environment in which they were fortunate enough to live, study and perform.

Susan Falls established the fund to create the scholarship in Jack Hood’s name. She remembers clearly his passion for the natural world. “He loved nature and the woods, and Jack instilled it in all of the students,” she says.

“What did I know about the north woods? I was from Philadelphia. But he had an incredible respect for nature and the protection of nature. We were all transformed by him.”

“I would hope that the scholarship can be used to help kids take advantage of all that Interlochen has to offer,” says Bankoff. “I hope it can help them grow and develop into well-rounded individuals. And if it can make it possible for a young person to take advantage of time with another Jack Hood, then it’s done its job.”

To learn more about the Jack Hood Endowed Scholarship Fund, please contact Kate Murdock Olson at 231.276.7611 or