Associate teacher Alumni Newsletter Issue 1, February 2020

Welcome Back to Belmont Day, Associate Alumni!

Welcome to the very first edition of the Associate Teacher Program alumni newsletter! My name is Heather Woodcock. I am the current program director and couldn't be happier to have landed in such a warm and vibrant community. We are eager to reconnect with our incredible alumni to keep you informed about what we are up to at Belmont Day School. If you were to visit us today (and we hope you will visit soon), you would see that there are elements of the program—now in its 28th year—that have remained the same over time. We continue to partner with Lesley University in a one-year joint master's degree and licensure program, and the intensive classroom experience alongside mentor teachers remains the place where associates learn the most.

Associates continue to be integral members of the day-to-day life of the school, and every year it's hard to believe that we have to say goodbye.

Some things have changed as we continue to evolve and think about best practices for both associates and mentor teachers. More of our work focuses on the importance of equity and inclusion, which continues to broaden and deepen our effectiveness with all of our students. While our early childhood and elementary programs continue to thrive, we are piloting a new middle school humanities licensure program next year. Our seminars now take place in the new Barn conference room, which looks out into the woods and is outfitted with whiteboard walls to collaborate and share ideas. We have added Friday morning arts workshops for associates. Please keep reading for more details on these exciting changes! Whether you have chosen to teach in classrooms, take on leadership roles in the education field, or take another path, we hope this newsletter will serve as a welcome back and an opportunity to let us know what you have been up to since your "days on the hill."

It is so exciting to see new teachers grow and develop throughout their time here, and to learn from them as well.

As a member of the Belmont Day community since 2018, I am excited to take on the new role of alumni coordinator for the Associate Teacher Program. I graduated from a similar teacher training program in 2015, and I wholeheartedly understand the importance of and value in maintaining a community of fellow alumni. My cohort still gathers a couple of times each year, and it is always a joy to see each other and reminisce. We also find ourselves talking about where our careers have led us, asking questions, and offering each other advice. I feel lucky that we have stayed so close and can offer each other support. As the ATP alumni coordinator here at Belmont Day, I hope to create a space and a network so that all of you can come together and do the same.

In addition to my coordinator role, I also teach pre-kindergarten and reading for first and second grades. While in the classroom, I constantly think back to my time as a student teacher and pull from the wealth of knowledge I gained during that year. As I work closely with a teacher training program from the other side, I am appreciative of the presence of the associates in our school community. It is so exciting to see new teachers grow and develop throughout their time here, and to learn from them as well. I am grateful to be at a school where we value these teachers as much as we do.

ATP Happenings

Welcome Class of 2020!

In August 2019, we welcomed our current class of associate teachers. Pictured left to right, Lauren Catalano, Laurie Mills, Erin Pak, Kyla Sandock, Lindsay Fitzgerald, and Tatiana Cochis finished their first placements in January, and are now teaching in their second and final placements.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Since graduating from the program, alumni have settled near and far. Our alumni are teaching in a variety of settings including early childhood programs, independent schools, public schools, and at Belmont Day. The interactive map shows the full reach of our alumni.

Mentor Teachers at the MFA

Program mentors took a field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston for a workshop on mentorship, apprenticeship, teaching, and learning. We worked with Corinne Zimmerman, who uses VTS (Visual Thinking Strategies) to help groups of teachers, doctors, and those in the finance industry think more deeply about their professional practice by collectively looking at and discussing works of art. It was wonderful to step back as a group while our associate teachers ably took over the responsibility of our classrooms.

What’s new for the program?

As Belmont Day continues to expand the middle school, it is time for the program to take advantage of the expertise of our middle school faculty and round out the pre-kindergarten to eighth grade experience for our associate cohort. Starting in the fall of 2020, we will support and supervise middle school humanities associates. Not only will this diversify the pedagogy and kinds of conversations we have around the seminar table, but our associates will be able to work and learn from the full range of developmental stages represented at our school. They'll benefit from taking courses with immediate practical applications in English and social studies from our middle school faculty, who have a tremendous amount of wisdom to share.

Art Classes in the Barn

Our tremendous arts faculty offered a series of Friday morning workshops where associates were immersed in the visual and performing arts—2D art, woodworking, music, theater, and innovation. The sessions provided a front-row seat to the student experience, allowed the cohort to bond in their first semester, and promoted understanding of the arts as an integral part of the student learning experience.

While some associates may find themselves working in well-resourced schools with dedicated arts faculty next year and beyond, some will not. The workshops provided points for reflection on ways to build the arts into their curriculum, and thereby reach and teach the whole child.

I liked being in the shoes of our students and seeing how everyone’s reactions to different arts realms can be so different!
I enjoyed hearing about practical connections to the classroom for both early childhood and elementary age children.
I enjoyed getting to see my fellow associates in a different light, and it helped us to bond as a cohort.

Alumni Spotlight—Holly Hennick '15

Holly Hennick is currently a first grade teacher at Advent School. Recently Heather Woodcock and the associate cohort had the opportunity to spend time with Holly during a site visit to Advent. Read on for highlights from their conversation.

Thank you, Holly, for being our first Associate Teacher Program Alumni Spotlight!

Tell us about your year in the Associate Teacher Program. My first placement was in second grade; I then moved on to third grade. After graduation from the program, I returned to work at BDS to cover a maternity leave. It was a wonderful experience to teach students who I had worked with while an associate.

What is your favorite BDS tradition? I always enjoyed the whole school pausing to make time to enjoy cross-graded experiences. It allowed for a sense of community, and with such a wide grade range, it was an authentic and developmentally sound way to come together. At my current school, our younger students don’t see the older students, so I now look back and realize that it’s likely a rare event at most schools.

What did you find most valuable about your associate year? I’m an active learner, so to learn to teach by teaching was powerful and helped the learning stick. I learned so much from the focus on and awareness of differentiation. I learned how to empower students to take charge of their learning. I learned so many valuable classroom management strategies and how to be firm but fair. It’s a really hard balance to maintain, but I got to see it and practice it.

Tell us about our teaching career. After the leave coverage position in third grade at BDS, I worked in a second grade classroom at Shady Hill School for the second half of the year. The following year, I joined the faculty at Advent School, and I’m now in my fourth year. I’m on the social justice task force. The work we do is embedded in the day-to-day life of the school since social justice is part of Advent’s mission. We are streamlining a scope and sequence for the social justice curriculum. It is interesting and rewarding work. A travel grant allowed me to travel to civil rights sites in the South last summer. I had the privilege of meeting one of The Little Rock Nine, which inspired expanding our Changemakers unit in first grade. A thematic unit on food and food sources led to a visit to Heifer International headquarters.

What do you value about your current school? Our social justice work. It’s part of every classroom, and it allows us to have conversations about issues that matter to our students and help them learn how they can have an impact. A student question prompted a discussion in first grade about the Black Lives Matter movement. We have two teachers for 14 students, so we really know them and can differentiate and meet each child where they are. Parents trust us to have conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in a way that is age-appropriate and meaningful.

What professional development have you done recently and enjoyed? Lucy Calkins Writing Institute, AISNE workshops on DEI, the guest speaker series at Advent featuring Ali Michael, Liza Townsend, and Robin D’Angelo on White Fragility.

Job Opportunities

Know of any job opportunities in your school or district? Please let us know so we can share them with the rest of the ATP Alumni Network.

Are you looking for a flexible position in a school? Belmont Day is always looking for substitute teachers. Click here to read about our substitute positions and more.

Stay Connected!

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