Three Teaching Fellows Already Making Big Impact
This fall marked the official launch of Holton's inaugural Teaching Fellows Cohort, a program designed to give participants a two-year experience developing skills needed to be educators in today's world.
In this program, coordinated by Assistant Middle School Director Lea Hunerkoch and Performing Arts Department Chair Sarah Roney, the fellows learn to be teachers who provide an education for students grounded in a strong sense of diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and wellbeing. They participate actively in all aspects of school life at Holton-Arms including academics, advising, and co-curricular programs.
Fellows have the opportunity to explore teaching at all age levels, as well as getting experience beyond the classroom. They also connect more deeply with a specific department and/or division based on their experience, passions, and professional goals. Fellows have a mentor throughout the program to support their growth and progress.
"Holton is such a special place because of our people – students, teachers, coaches, families, and beyond, and how everyone is valued for both what they bring to our community, and how we all learn from each other. Our hope is that fellows will be viewed in the same way," said Hunerkoch and Roney.
"We selected the fellows we did because of what they have to offer our community, and for their desire to learn and grow as educators, their passion for our work around Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, Wellbeing, and Global Education."
The first three fellows are Julia Cronin, Vi Deane-Polyak, and Silvia Monardo. Meet each one below!
Cronin returns to Holton this year after spending time as a caring adult and student teacher while completing her history and secondary education degrees from American University. Her past experience means she's a Second Year Fellow, teaching 7th grade World Studies and serving as an advisor.
By making the transition from student teaching to leading her own class as a fellow, she's receiving support and mentorship from her peer teachers, something she called a "fantastic opportunity."
"My favorite experience has been the moments in class, on field trips, during wellness, or in other meetings where I get to learn something new about one of my students," she said. "It is those little moments where I see a new side of them each day that has been amazing and made getting to know each of them a joy."
Deane-Polyak is a recent graduate of George Washington University with a bachelor's degree in anthropology and a Baltimore native. He has experience in tutoring and as a teaching assistant, and is making the most of the opportunity to explore all facets of education.
"I’m hoping to gain experience in designing coursework, executing lesson plans, and inspiring my students to be their best," he said. "I can’t wait to get into the classroom to start co-teaching, and having done observations with so many great Holton teachers, I’m now feeling much more ready and confident to do so."
He is serving as an advisor in Upper School and is enjoying getting to know them beyond academics by cheering on the Panthers and enjoying tomorrow's Holton/Landon Improv Performance. "I really look forward to growing with them, especially since the ninth graders and I will share these two years together."
Monardo is a recent graduate of Denison University, where she obtained a bachelor's in educational studies. She is eager to tie the work she did in that program "from the page to real life" by observing the nuances of school culture and a teacher's role in it, and then deciphering where she sees herself fitting into a school.
A highlight so far was the Lower School Reading Celebration. "It was incredible," she said, "Watching the sixth graders take on a leadership role and guide the rest of the group in a rich and complex discussion of their shared summer reading book was amazing. Getting to witness the depth of the skills that Holton has equipped these students with was a high point so far. They all took ownership over the content of the book and had fun while doing it."
She hopes to be a teacher in a Lower School once she completes the fellowship, but notes that that could change given what she experiences over the next two school years. "Maybe my answer will be totally different by the end of this fellowship and that is something that excites me! I am here to learn and explore the world of education."