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Bringing History to Vivid Life: George Snook Retires

George Snook made history come alive for Packer students for thirty years, challenging them to think, speak, and write critically and precisely. He taught a wide range of courses, but was perhaps best known for his Advanced Topics in European History and his electives New York City History and History of Warfare. Students will long remember the ways he incorporated art, ancient weapons, and vivid stories into his classes. 

A recipient of the PA Excellence in Teaching Award and past holder of the Babbott Chair, George was indefatigable in his commitment to historical scholarship, intellectual rigor, and innovative pedagogy. Packer alumni have been known to hold their college professors up to the gold standard of “he was no Mr. Snook.” 

George's colleagues will miss his piercing intellect and his friendship. We salute, and will always remember, George Snook — a Packer treasure. 

At an Upper School end-of-year celebration, students paid tribute to several beloved and longtime teachers. Below, Sam Levine ’21 shares the impact George made on him.   

Mr. Snook is one of the great legends of the Packer community. Almost every Packer student, whether they have had him as a teacher or not, knows of Mr. Snook’s impressive collection of historical weaponry, his riveting lectures, his (formerly) long mane of silvery hair, and of course, his charming dog, Scout. 

I was lucky enough to take not just one, but two classes with Mr. Snook in his final year of teaching. And I can confirm that all the hype is true: Mr. Snook is truly an incredible teacher. He pushes every one of his students to be the best historian they can be, and his passion for teaching and for history makes each class an exciting performance.

Mr. Snook is the most knowledgeable and mystical person any of us know; we will never fail to be surprised each time he tells us new anecdotes about himself, like the recent revelation that he rode on top of a truck as it drove straight towards an angry elephant in the Kenyan desert. He is full of stories, wisdom, and historical expertise, and by being in his class we have learned not just the facts of past events, but also the fascinating stories and wild occurrences that make studying history so exciting. He has taught us how to see history through a critical lens, analyzing the past to understand the ‘why’ and drawing connections to today’s world. 

Mr. Snook, you have left an enormous mark on the Packer community and on each of your students, and we will miss you dearly. We want to wish you happiness and fulfillment in your well-deserved retirement, and we know that you will continue to do awe-inspiring things with your newfound time and forever-adventurous spirit. So thank you for all you have taught us, and we wish you the best as you begin this new and exciting chapter of your life.

—Sam Levine ’21 

George in his own words

In the weeks before his retirement was official, George offered some reflections on his 30 years at Packer:

For more on George—including his love of Packer’s architecture and the children’s book that continues to resonate with him—look back at his Know Your Pelicans feature

If you would like to submit well-wishes to George, please send them to

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