Celebrating Faculty Milestones

Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: May 20th, 2022
Brendan Largay

Kurt Robinson – 10 years

From the days of the iD8 lab in the Schoolhouse to the IMPACT Lab, the makerspace in the Barn that he named, Kurt Robinson has been a leader of technology and innovation at Belmont Day for ten years. Kurt has been everywhere throughout his time here—in each grade-level classroom teaching technology and middle school arts, and as a middle school advisor. The lab is aptly named, as it aligns seamlessly with the hallmarks of Kurt’s teaching: his Imagination; his willingness to Make a difference; his love of Play as a coach in the classroom and on the tennis courts; his ability to Adapt, both in the classroom and to the onset of a pandemic that transformed the use of his space; his spirit of inquiry and willingness to Create new programming or new opportunities; and his belief that something can always be better as a Tinkerer and teacher. That is the IMPACT of the space for our students, but more than that, it is equally indicative of the impact Kurt has had over ten years of service to Belmont Day.

Amy Sprung – 10 years

The Erskine Library is, as we say around here, the ‘heart of the school.’ It sits where a library should sit: in the center of a vibrant campus full of lifelong learners, curious readers, and inquisitive students. So, if the Erskine Library is at our heart, then Amy Sprung has, for her ten years of service to Belmont Day, been our school’s lifeblood. In her time, Amy has overseen the physical redesign of the space which included an artistic collaboration with our visual arts team in the design of murals for the new space; she has been a visionary force in the creation and design of the middle school research room; has helped to usher in the Brosens and Francis ‘75 Endowment for Library and Technology, and has stewarded a love of reading and learning for our entire community. Strategic in her vision for what our library might be and fully dedicated to the learning of each and every one of our students, Amy Sprung celebrates ten years at Belmont Day and we are ever grateful for her leadership.

Barbara Carey – 15 years

For fifteen years, the Belmont Day community has been welcomed to our school by Barbara Carey. Even through the pandemic, as we contended with the disguise of masks, Barbara has remarkably established distinct and personal relationships with every single member of this community—colleagues, parents, past parents, alumni, and, of course, the students—and there is not a face she doesn’t recognize, a history she doesn’t know. Whether greeting a bewildered kindergartner with a comforting, “How can I help, beauty?” or knowingly encouraging a drifting middle schooler to make their way back to the Kiva, everyone has come to appreciate her careful guidance and steady hand. Each of us, at some point, has likely heard Barbara remind us, “You’re a star,” but we have always known who the true star is. Thank you for fifteen years of service to the school, Barbara. Brava!

Nancy Fell – 15 years

Deeply committed to her students and their families, Nancy Fell has, for fifteen remarkable years, taught with clear and simple goals in mind: Meet every student where they are. Ensure that they feel seen, known, and understood. Care for students with the eye of a scholar, a parent, a colleague. And always seek to put the child first and at the center of your work. For fifteen years, Nancy has done it all as our second grade teacher with a profound understanding of how best to help students navigate their differences in constructive and positive ways even as she helps them find their independent and individual voices. Her voice is one of patience, calm, and reason. Her commitment to Belmont Day’s core values lives in her work each and every day, and as such, it lives in each of her students. Just as remarkably, those values live in her partnerships with colleagues, her mentorship of younger teachers and associate teachers, and in her relationships with the parents of her students who have come to find Nancy as much a guide to them as she has been to their children. Congratulations, Nancy on fifteen wonderful years.

Jen Friborg – 15 years

I’ve said before, that there is a great deal to be learned from and about Jen Friborg, simply by watching her during one of the eighth grade Capstone presentations. Focused, detail-oriented, energized, visionary, and always with her eyes and heart trained upon each student as they offer their Capstone presentation, Jen simultaneously sees the forest and the trees. Not only does she have a keen eye on each and every student’s journey, but she sees the whole, how each Capstone feeds into the others, how each class as a whole fits into the Capstone program and how the program feeds the school. She is also an innovator, eagerly reflecting on another year’s worth of work and asking how we might improve, iterate, and consider the ways in which this crown jewel program might continue to adapt and respond to the demands of the future. Of course, Jen also teaches French and runs our Model UN club. In all that she does, her perspective is a global one, bringing the world to each and every student with whom she has the opportunity to work. Congratulations on fifteen years of excellent leadership, Jen.

Kaleen Moriarty – 15 years

We will have our opportunity to celebrate Kaleen more formally on June 9 when we honor her as she concludes her long and distinguished career at Belmont Day. However, we still want to use this space to acknowledge the fifteen years of excellence she has brought to her work as a sixth grade science and math teacher. With an eye towards the stars—both those in her classroom and those in the sky—Kaleen has spent her time at Belmont Day expanding the horizons of her students: at Farm School with a troupe of eager young farmers in the making, in the early hours of the morning at her astronomy breakfasts or on the tennis courts for her Junior Solar Sprint races. Yet, even as she encourages her students to see the world through a telescope, expanding their perspective, she herself is using the microscope, seeking to understand fully the students before her as advisees, scholars, athletes, artists, and community members. It has been Kaleen’s understanding and willingness to see each student fully and to honor them at such a crucial year in their young development that has set her apart for fifteen years.  Congratulations on this milestone, Kaleen. We look forward to celebrating you on the 9th!

John O’Neill – 15 years

In the earliest days of my headship at BDS, an alumni speaker was scheduled to speak to our students in the fall. The timing of their visit coincided with middle school athletics and when I asked John if that time might still work, his answer told me all one might need to know about John O’Neill’s approach to athletics at Belmont Day. That timing works, he said, assuming you would ask the same if a conflict were to arise with a core academic class because make no mistake, our athletics time is not merely extracurricular or added on. The athletics program is a classroom unto itself, and an important one for so many of our students. That idea—that our fields, courts, and trails are just as much a classroom as any room surrounding the Kiva—is born of the mindset of a leader. For fifteen years, John has directed a program that features more than 90% faculty coaches, has elevated the visibility and strength of our teams, has integrated a growing middle school population, and has added new offerings like wrestling, PEAK, and mountain biking to meet the needs of students at every step. As a coach, John cares deeply for his athletes and ensures that they represent BDS with our core values at the fore, and brings a true dedication to excellence in all that he does. Congratulations on fifteen great years, coach.

Larissa Rochford ’93 – 15 years

I wonder if fifteen years is actually the appropriate marker for Larissa who has been in each of the following roles for far longer than the fifteen recognized here. Larissa is a teacher; she is also an alumna, parent of an alumnus, and a teaching associate mentor. She has also served as a board member and has herself been a teaching associate. A woman of many talents, Larissa has taught multiple grades, fourth and now third, and multiple disciplines—math, science, and language arts—and always with an eye toward helping her students find the strength and power of their voice. But, to no surprise, her work on the Labyrinth level among her peers is hardly enough! Larissa has served as a Capstone mentor and a beloved coach for middle school students as well, because, as she explains it, seeing them complete the journey is as important as the year they spend with her in the classroom. Larissa has BDS thoroughly imprinted on her DNA, and our school is better for the many years in which she has been a member of this community. Congratulations, Larissa!

Dean Spencer – 15 years

“Hold on, hold on. Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.” For fifteen years at Belmont Day School, Dean Spencer has kept his eyes keenly fixed on the prize. Relentless in his advocacy for justice and belonging, Dean has been a stalwart presence for our community with his work in equity, inclusion, and belonging, and his ability to weave that passion into his work in sixth grade has been the stuff of legend. Freedom Night, or Freedom Week as it had to become during COVID, is a long-cherished and remembered tradition among the students and families who have experienced it and is highly anticipated among those who have not. Throughout his fifteen years, Dean has been a teacher, a coach, a Capstone mentor, an associate mentor, a board member, and a key contributor to the DEIB office and board diversity committee. Additionally, he has been the co-leader of the Echo literary magazine where he has amplified the voices of countless children who, he will proudly tell you, are the truest agents of positive change our world might hope for. For fifteen years, Dean has kept his eyes on the prize, and we are grateful. We will also have our opportunity to celebrate Dean more formally on June 9 when we honor him as he concludes a long and distinguished career at Belmont Day.

Leigh Twarog – 15 years

From helping students find their voice as marine biologists eagerly washing away oil from marine animals to developing a clearer understanding of their own learning at the end of the State Fair project, Leigh Twarog has been there for fifteen years to guide the way for her students. A teacher dedicated to fostering strong student and family relationships, Leigh’s work with students echoes the Capstone experience, as she asks each to learn, do, and share their experience along the way. Whether she is weaving social justice into her reading curriculum or providing a timely and calming circle where her students can take a moment to reflect, Leigh seeks opportunities for her students to thrive at their own pace. For fifteen years, Leigh has challenged her students to think not only as learners but as educators in their own right, asking them to engage as BDS teachers do: with a commitment to lifelong learning. Thank you, Leigh, for all that you have given to Belmont Day for fifteen years.

Lana Homan – 20 years

During his recent visit and climate assessment of our community, Dr. Keith Hinderlie took a moment at the end of his week to shout out what he regarded as a best practice in equity, inclusion, and belonging work. He witnessed it in Lana Holman’s classroom, and as he acknowledged her and the excellence of her work, a quick glance around the room of colleagues told you all you’d need to know about Lana—there was a roomful of understanding nods. For twenty years, Lana has delivered on the promise of excellence. Always willing to innovate, explore and better understand herself, her work, and her students, Lana truly defines what it means to be a master teacher. So, just this week, when a student made a point to find her from Big Blue for the singular purpose of giving her a joyful and loving hug, it came as no surprise to me that Lana matches her excellence in the classroom with her care as a community member. Too often, we singularize the work of great teaching into one moment, one finished product. Lana certainly has ample evidence to provide there if we ever needed it, but it is the consistency and diversity of those examples coming from her classroom year after year that have marked her twenty years of mastery at BDS. Congratulations, Lana.

Kathy Jo Solomon – 20 years

For twenty years, Kathy Jo Solomon has kept Belmont Day buzzing. Her commitment to sustainability, her beloved bees and their hives, her love of art, and her deep commitment to the collegial work she does with grade level teachers to bring the outside world into their spaces have powerfully broadened the scope of student learning at BDS. Arriving at Belmont Day by way of an artist-in-residence opportunity, Belmont Day met Kathy Jo then as a weaver, batik artist, and professional who had committed herself to expression through textile art. All these years later, perhaps the only true change has been the mediums with which she has worked.  Today, her canvas is as much our garden or the outdoor classroom pergola beside it as it is the studio in the Barn. Greening committee leader, art teacher, thoughtful collaborator, and caring colleague, Kathy Jo has been inspiring each of us to see the greatness in all that our environment has to offer for twenty years. They say that the mind of a BDS student never idles, and thanks to Kathy Jo, neither do the cars in our carline, as she keeps us all accountable for our impact on the world beyond our school as much as she does the artists and environmentalists within it. Congratulations on twenty great years, KJo!

Koreen McQuilton – 25 years

It seems fitting that this tribute hits the pages of the Scoop on Community Service Day here at BDS. To confuse Koreen’s twenty-five years as the role of exquisite communicator only would be to miss the essence of all that she has meant to our community over that quarter-century.  Truly, no matter her role—and she started here as the assistant to the head of school all those years ago—Koreen has used her voice to empower meaningful contribution with our six core values as her guide. Whether co-leading the Echo literary magazine, the GSA (GSYay!) student group, or as the singular force behind our community service coordination, Koreen’s deep commitment to the character development of our students is clear. All of this, of course, comes in conjunction with her excellence and expertise as a director of communications. Whether in the form of a spectacularly beautiful Belmont Day Magazine or the management of Belmont Day’s brand or in your weekly Scoop, Koreen’s imprint as a strategic and careful communicator who understands not only what needs to be communicated but how and most importantly, why, is as indelible as the ink on her page. We are so grateful to Koreen for the twenty-five years of dedication, commitment, and care she has given to Belmont Day. Congratulations, Koreen!

Dolly Ryan –35 years

More than half of the heads of school in Belmont Day’s proud history have had the opportunity to work with Dolly Ryan over her storied thirty-five-year career. For each, she has served a critical purpose as the carrier of our school’s culture and purpose, and she has dedicated herself fully throughout her years here. When Dolly took on the role of director of technology—a role she created and grew into over her time here—she would bring the very first computer to Belmont Day, the first laptop, the first iPad, the first network, the first server, and she could likely tell you where each fiber and cable connecting all of the school’s infrastructure is located, both figuratively and literally. Dolly is every bit the homegrown technologist, and in every way, Dolly knows BDS inside and out.

But to limit Dolly’s understanding of Belmont Day to wires and machines alone would be to miss the far more critical impact she has made here. Dolly has been deeply committed to the professional growth and development of her peers. In the summer of 2000, Dolly would introduce the Pioneer Program, an early iteration of Belmont Day’s commitment to innovation that has survived the test of time and seen countless faculty members take advantage of the opportunities founded by Dolly’s vision. From head’s assistant in 1987 to director of technology today, Dolly has filled every role the school has asked of her. For all that she has given and continues to give, we are deeply grateful for her service to the school and congratulate her on thirty-five extraordinary years.

All told, this fine group of teachers represents 240 years of excellence at Belmont Day. Please join me in recognizing their remarkable achievement. Congratulations, one and all!

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