As the students and staff of Village School know, Village provides a loving atmosphere for all individuals. While the program may seem unusual compared to other schools, the relationships and open communication between staff and students makes it a stand out place.
The faculty works to ensure that different approaches toward education are offered to all students, depending on individual needs. Village School is smaller than most traditional schools: there are only five subject teachers and a maximum of 50 students. Despite the teachers many responsibilities, they always put forth effort to socialize with the students and provide a fun learning environment, and make each student feel as if they are part of one big family.
Here is a glimpse into the lives of several Village teachers and the fundamental qualities make them the excellent teachers and people they are.
Cindy– Special Education
Although Cindy spends her entire day in the resource room classroom, education wasn’t her first career path. In college, Cindy pursued the pre-med route, but during her sophomore year after a shadowing a medical professional, she decided that it was no longer for her. When she TA-ed for her college professor, he advised her to go into the teaching profession. She recalls, “he shared with me that I worked really well with his students and that I should consider that and give it a try, and so I did, and here I am.” When questioned about what a crystal ball would say about her, Cindy exclaimed that she’s well aware of it likely revealing her being very hard on herself and it would tell her to “stop apologizing for everything” and lean on the love and support she receives from the people in her life. Something many may not know is that Cindy’s past is the fundamental foundation for her successes. She remembers growing up and seeing her single mother struggle balancing many jobs at once; this motivated Cindy to work hard in her academic and professional career. She has worked very hard to be 100% financially independent and loves not needing to depend on another person to have that stability that she presently has. However, her her favorite childhood memory is that, “every Sunday, my mother would take my sister and [me] on day trips to explore the island – Montauk being my favorite place to go to. Then we would have dinner out. Those are fond memories for me, and to this day, I still enjoy exploring new places across Long Island and the boroughs, especially Manhattan.” Needless to say, although Cindy may consider herself to be more introverted and would rather hang out with a small group of friends, people at Village know she is an incredibly strong and independent woman.
Jeff: Social Studies
There’s a lot more to Jeff than his enthusiastic interest in and knowledge of history and technology. Jeff dedicated 25 years of his life to the computer and tech field and the last 18 years in the teaching profession. When Jeff was 4 years old he appeared on a local television show called “The Merry Mailman,” on which he was asked about his future career plans. He responded saying he wanted to be a house painter or a garbage collector when he grew up. He grew up in South Jamaica, Queens, having to travel 90 minutes each day to get from his house to his high school which was then Stuyvesant HS, an all boy school in Manhattan. Although Jeff considers himself an introvert, he was, however, a very social boy and recalls having, “group of friends at school, another group at home, and another group whom [he] spent the summer with at sleep away camp.” He also grew up active in politics; he worked with a group of high school activists during the of the height of the Vietnam War. But like any teen, he also had fun going to concerts and listening to awesome jams. Every since he was young, Jeff has been major soccer fan. Growing up in the time before the internet, his curious mind created a contraption that allowed him to listen to his favorite soccer team, the Arsenals, a top English team in London. The contraption consisted of, as he states, “ a shortwave radio connected to a tape recorder, both controlled by a timer. I had it set to record the sports news every day, and then I could listen at a convenient time and keep up with the latest news and results for my team. I did this for many years until the internet came along and I was then able to get information instantaneously whenever I wanted.” Although he started college as a computer major, he was later influenced by his entire family of teachers to go into the teaching profession, stating that, “I wish I had made the decision years earlier.” He recently completed his doctorate, and calls the achievement,”the pinnacle of his academic career.” When asked what he has dreamt of but hasn’t taken action on, he says that while he hopes to retire, he loves his job too much and can’t leave his colleagues, students, and friends at Village School. Outside of Village, he’s also grateful for his family. “Having three happy, independent, and successful in their own lives children is probably the thing I am most proud of,” he said.
Lauren is the English teacher here and is the mother of two young children. Her maternal characteristics shine through at school where students seek her our for her warm and humble persona. When it comes to classroom management, “each student responds to a different style of ‘discipline,’ so the student’s particular temperament and preferred mode of learning always need to be considered. ” (It’s no wonder Village school chose her!). While she loves teaching at Village, it wasn’t her initial career path. She “was two seconds from heading to law school.” It was during that time that she felt uncomfortable and disconnected to the profession. It was when on of her friends joined Teach For America, that she was inspired to pursue teaching. “I took a leap of faith, applied last minute to a grad program, and thankfully, I fell in love.” When it comes to her childhood, Lauren remembers that her family would go camping each summer at Hither Hills State Park in Montauk, one of her warmest memories. She loved it very much and, “can’t wait to bring [her] own kids there in a couple of summers,” she states. In high school, Lauren was on the track and cross country team. She considered herself to be pretty shy in high school, but as other staff members notes, she identifies as an introvert, which might account for why all the teachers have a strong connection to Village’s small and warming environment of Village School. Further stating that her “quiet, alone, ‘wind down’ time is essential for my emotional and mental health. I am not someone who can be on “go” all the time. I need time and space to “reset.” The craziest thing Lauren had ever done is skydiving, jumping out of a plane from 13,500 feet in the air! She comments that was very terrifying and amazing at the same time.
Megan, Village’s science wizard, is all about her scientific knowledge and love for Harry Potter. She loves the environment the school has to offer– from the many things she enjoys to teach to being given the space to do things not typically done in traditional schools. She has, “the freedom to teach different electives” and every lesson she teaches is new and exciting. Also, she has the freedom to decorate her classroom in any way she wants, stating that in a more traditional school, “teachers share classrooms and do not have that option.” Her love for teaching began at a young age and she’s always wanted to be a teacher to the point that she played “school” with her cousins and younger siblings. It wasn’t until her later years in high school or where she had “the most amazing biology teacher,” that she instantly fell in love with science and “decided to pursue it as a career,” she states. Additionally, when also describing herself in her early high school years she says she was a total nerd and worked hard to stay on task as it was her priority towards herself and her parents. Aside from her school work, she was also apart of the drama club “as stage crew and props manager.” She also enjoyed seeing the releases of the Harry Potter books and movies with her friend, Cat, and attended the midnight release parties. Something unique about Megan is she really loves traveling and spending time with her family. And since she primarily grew up around her sister and cousins, “family events were the greatest” for her. One childhood memory she is fond of is camping upstate, and when she went down the Delaware River. She and her family also did craft nights where they would “paint or make something together.” Even until adulthood, her outdoor adventures continue: the coolest thing Megan has ever done is make a five-day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. “My parents, Vlad, and I slept under the stars listening to the sound of the Colorado River roar past us. After rafting 85 river miles, we hiked from the bottom of the canyon up the Bright Angel trail. It was by far the most difficult hike I’ve ever completed. This was in August, so it was about 115 degrees and in the blistering sun,” she states. She recalls getting dehydrated during her last mile of hiking, but it was Vlad, her champion, who helped her push through. Although Megan considers herself to be totally introverted and has been this way since she was a teenager, many at Village School do not see her as a shy person, especially during her enthusiastic lectures which engage her students, no matter the topic.
Village School is the special place it is due to the staff and their approaches towards teaching and the importance they place on establishing trust with their students. Their characteristics and wisdom have- and will continue to- shape students and contribute to their future successes. Usually, teachers are recognized at events like graduation, but I would like to say, on behalf of all students in at Village: Thank you for being our teachers and helping us become better versions of ourselves.