School provides opportunities for teachers to be involved in the community
As middle school English teacher Adina Richman hears her alarm go off, she wakes up with a smile as she knows that going to work will mean spending time with some of her dearest friends. Teachers, like students, view the school day as not only a time to get work done, but to also spend time with their coworkers with whom they have developed strong bonds.
“Some days the friendships with my coworkers are the very best part,” Richman said. “Some days you come to school and your life is in a mess, and you know you have someone to talk to who can also help you. For example, if my dog were to die, and I showed up to school not knowing what was going to happen in [one of my classes], I would feel confident that someone would console me and help me with [that class]. It is a different kind of love and trust.”
In middle school, each grade level has a different team of teachers; they are usually assigned to a grade level based on what grade level they are predominantly teaching or by what grade their advisory is in. Teachers can move around to different teams each year, which has happened to Richman. First, she was a part of the seventh grade team, next the eighth grade team, then the sixth grade team and now she is back on the eighth grade team.
“I am really close with the seventh-grade team, the eighth grade team and the sixth grade team still,” Richman said. “There is a different dynamic in each group, but I am shocked at how kind everyone is. They really look to see your strengths and to do the best for you.”
Teachers feel that they consistently have the support and help of their fellow coworkers. Richman is especially grateful that sixth grade math teacher Allison Darnell is willing to step up to help her out to make her life simpler, by creating a schedule for her. She believes that this small act of kindness, goes to show how good-natured her fellow coworkers are.
“The sixth grade team has a confusing schedule, and it is especially confusing for me as I have different rooms and different grade levels,” Richman said. “I don’t have a room, I solely have my desk. Well, every year I wonder ‘Where am I supposed to be? When?’ Every year Mrs. Darnell makes a schedule for me and prints it all out where I go, what time I need to be there and where I go next. I use it every time. Even when I left the sixth grade she made sure that it was there for me on the first day of school. That is just so kind.”
But teachers have a personal life as well and they do not solely bond at school. Upper school Spanish teacher Martha Rester got to know one of her colleagues at a more personal level. Fellow upper school Spanish teacher Jill Quarles stayed with Rester’s family during the February 2021 freeze.
“Señorita Quarles stayed with us for three nights because her power went out,” Rester said. “She is now one of my closest work friends, and I think a lot of that has to do with that experience.”
Rester believes that getting to know her coworkers outside of the work environment allows her to get to know who they really are, not just their professional self. She gets to know about their lives and their families, which allows her to know them below the surface level.
“I think it’s nice to get to know colleagues as the people they are outside of a professional box,” Rester said. “When we are limited to only knowing people professionally, it prevents us from having a holistic view which can sometimes result in a lack of empathy. In other words, don’t judge a book by its cover. Read and analyze that book so you can appreciate it. I know some employees prefer their private lives to remain private, which I truly respect, [but] it’s just not my personality.”
Even though ESD provides happy hours and holiday parties where teachers spend time together outside of their work environment, Rester wished that there were more school sponsored opportunities for the faculty to interact. She believes that these events allow for a stronger bond between the teachers.
“I would say ESD encourages employees to get involved in the community,” Rester said. “They do host the occasional happy hour and this past year [we] had a really nice Christmas party at Suze. Allowing us time at lunch to mingle with coworkers is one of the highlights of my day.”
And while Rester tends to sit with her department during lunch on most days, she said that she always enjoys meeting new people and getting to know her other colleagues on a personal level. She hopes that maybe with more school events, she will be able to get to know some of her other coworkers.
“I would love to see ESD sponsor a voluntary day out to Wolf Run for faculty and staff and their families. It’s such an amazing piece of property and would be a great bonding experience for all.”
Although some teacher friends do not spend much time together outside of school, they still are able to support one another. They celebrate birthdays, births, marriages and personal achievements.
Upper school art teacher Juan Negroni’s experience is close with many of the art teachers as he is around them all day.
“Although we do not hang out and text that much outside of school, we often run into one another at art events,” Negroni said. “We are all extremely supportive of each other and will go and support one another’s shows.”
This friendship and camaraderie among the art teachers often provides inspiration as they share opinions and thoughts on different artists’ pieces. Negroni believes that being able to talk with his coworkers about art pieces around the world makes coming to work more enjoyable.
“I am grateful to be amongst such creative and inspiring coworkers,” Negroni said. “I enjoy being able to talk to them about different artists around the world and compare our thoughts on them.”
For Rester, having good friends and colleagues at school is something that she values. She feels that both her students and coworkers’ high spirits rub off onto her and make her days more enjoyable.
“Aside from working with such wonderful students, my colleagues are some of the best [people] I’ve encountered,” Rester said. “Being surrounded by such bright, fun and positive people is a huge perk of this job. I value my colleagues more than anything. They give me both professional and personal support every day, and I’m grateful for that.”