The Bedrock of Great Teaching

Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: April 30th, 2021
Brendan Largay

If you reflect on the teachers at Belmont Day who had the greatest impact on your child or children, there is a very strong possibility that they began their career as a teaching associate, intern, or teaching fellow.

My career in education, like many of my colleagues’, began with an internship after a career change. Today, as a head of school, I carry with me some critically important lessons from those earliest days as a new educator–how to manage a classroom, how to frame curriculum, how to apply an equitable lens to my work, and how to construct (and then deliver) an arc of programming over the course of the year that reaches each of the understanding goals I had set in the fall. Now, at the start of each year, I am honored to welcome and spend time with Belmont Day’s new cohort of associate teachers as they begin a journey that may ultimately lead them to any number of places, including, maybe, being a head of school.

It is with that lens that I look upon our Associate Teacher Program, under the powerful and compelling leadership of Heather Woodcock. Throughout this school year, we have had five associate teachers learning the profession through the ATP. For each of them, their experience–both in the classroom at BDS as instructors and in the classroom at Lesley University from where they will receive their certification as students–has been equally rich and fulfilling for them as it has for Belmont Day. The associates play an incredibly important role in our community as teachers, colleagues, and students. The program which has been a part of Belmont Day for nearly thirty years is engrained in the fabric of our institution.

And it has never been more important, not only here at BDS but across the nation. For those of us who pay attention to such things, on the national scale, there is a teacher shortage on the horizon. According to the National Center for Education, enrollment in major post-graduate and undergraduate programs in education across the country has dropped by 20%, and those are pre-pandemic numbers. That number, to scale, is a significant one, and it highlights the importance of the work that our associates are doing here at BDS. These new teachers aren’t just enrolling in a strong licensure program, they are getting critical experience from mentor teachers here at BDS that will shape their careers and the experience of countless students in the years to come.

This is why the news we received at the start of this month is that much more impressive: alumna Catherine (Cat) DiCara ’12, an associate teacher working with third grade teacher Larissa Rochford ’93—an alumna of both BDS and our ATP program!—has been awarded the prestigious June T. Fox Scholarship Award from Lesley University. It is a testament to her hard work, the hard work of her mentor, and the hard work of all of the associates and their mentors. What’s more? This is the third consecutive year in which an associate teacher has been awarded with this recognition. And that is a direct testament to Heather, the structure she has created to provide an excellent program annually, and the mentors with whom she works most closely.

I know the community joins me in celebrating Cat’s success, the success of the program, and the dedication and commitment of all of our associates to the critical profession of teaching.

Have a great weekend everyone. Happy May and have fun BDS Questing tomorrow!

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