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Teaching Fellows Program Brings Budding Teachers to Holton

Teaching Fellows Program Brings Budding Teachers to Holton

Three Teaching Fellows are energizing the Holton community, bringing their fresh perspectives and energy to the classroom and learning in the process.

This two-year program aims to develop novice teachers in the independent school environment. Holton’s Learn Well, Live Well, Lead Well (LW3) Teaching Philosophy, along with a framework based in research and best practices, provides these novice educators a foundation to build their skills and knowledge base in order to become effective teachers.

These fellows receive a truly supportive learning environment and opportunities to grow; students get to learn from young people in the profession; and teachers get energized while working with new people and their ideas.

“The first few years of teaching are often the most challenging in a teacher’s career,” said Sarah Roney, Performing Arts Department Chair and Teaching Fellows Coordinator. “We try to use this program to put some training wheels on those years in order to set teachers new to the profession up for success and provide a safe environment to learn, fail, and grow.”

The fellowship is tailored to the needs and interests of each fellow. They are not hired for a specific academic department or division; fellows are hired as people who want to become teachers. During their first year, the fellows explore different divisions and disciplines within the school to identify where they want to eventually teach full-time. The first year is also an opportunity to become familiar with all that comes with a Holton education. In the second year, fellows begin an extended student teaching experience that brings ownership over their own classroom while still in a supportive learning environment. Each year also begins with a self-assessment and goals are built based on each fellow’s strengths and areas for growth.

“The strength of this program is owed to the strength of our fellows. They are professional, passionate, and eager learners. Their presence in our community has started the program off on such a strong note that I could never have imagined,” said Lea Hunerkoch, Middle School Assistant Director and Teaching Fellows Coordinator. “Sarah and I learn and grow with the fellows and have made changes from year to year based on fellow feedback as well as feedback from mentor teachers to best meet the needs of everyone involved.”

Last year’s fellows included first-year fellows Vi Deane-Polyak and Silvia Monardo, and second-year fellow Julia Cronin, who was hired full-time as a Middle School History teacher. 

Read more about this year’s fellows below, and be sure to check out this year’s issues of Holton Highlights to learn more about the fellows, their work, and how this exciting program is impacting our learning community. 

Meet this year’s Fellows:

Kaylah Grant (First Year): Kaylah is not a new face to Holton; she joined us last year to lead the Panther Pantry, a student-employee-run after-school snack bar, and she also is a counselor at Creative Summer where she led a class on leadership for girls. She uses her global experience and educational expertise to help Holton students succeed personally, professionally, and academically. By taking a hands-on approach to igniting changes in organizational culture and leadership at Holton and beyond, Kaylah hopes to inspire and motivate others.

Vi Deane-Polyak (Second Year): A graduate of George Washington University with a bachelor's degree in anthropology, he is a Baltimore native with experience in tutoring through the program Reading Partners and as a teaching assistant for Johns Hopkins' Center for Talented Youth summer camps. During his first year, Vi explored the English, history, and science departments in both middle and upper school. He was a 9th-grade advisor, supported several theatrical performances, and worked with our Common Threads program. This year, he continues his work in the Middle School as an advisor and is teaching Grade 7 Science.

Silvia Mondardo (Second Year, pictured above): She is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, and is a graduate of Denison University where she obtained her BA in educational studies. Silvia is passionate about literacy in the Lower School, and has participated in curriculum development and instruction to support student learning in this area. In her first year, Silvia introduced a 5th-grade morning meeting program for Hispanic Heritage month that introduced students to Hispanic and LatinX authors, something she is continuing to develop this year. Silvia is looking forward to participating in the many facets of the Holton community and is eager to make connections with students and families. She is building upon her work in Lower School last year as a homeroom and language arts teacher in Grade 5.

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