Our teachers are extraordinary. In addition to being enthusiastic, dedicated and talented, they are also experts in their craft, they are learners themselves, and they embrace and model a growth mindset. We are so grateful and fortunate that they bring their diverse skills and educational backgrounds to Brookwood.
Today, we are launching a new series on the blog, FACULTY IN FOCUS, that offers a deeper look into what motivates our teachers, what they bring to the classroom, and why they love teaching Brookwood kids. To kick off the series, we sat down with Mr. Wellington to hear about his approach to teaching and coaching at Brookwood. Our conversation with Mr. Wellington has been edited for brevity.
Mr. Wellington | Athletic Director; Physical Education Teacher
What do you teach, and how long have you been teaching?
I teach Physical Education for grades PreK through 6th, and this year I am a 7th grade advisor. I am also the Athletic Director. When I'm not in the classroom, I am out on the field coaching a number of sports, including field hockey, boys’ varsity basketball, and boys’ JV lacrosse. Altogether, I’ve been teaching for 29 years!
What’s the most rewarding part of teaching at Brookwood?
I love those “ah ha!” moments that students get when it suddenly clicks and makes sense. They work and work at something and then they suddenly get it. I love seeing the look on their faces when it all comes together. Getting to see that and be part of those kinds of moments is what I look forward to every morning. I also work with some awesome colleagues – they’re fun, supportive, incredibly smart and very organized. We constantly challenge each other, and I feel lucky to work with them. They make me a better teacher and a better human being.
Can you recall moment you’ll never forget from your teaching career?
There are a million of those moments! But one that stands out as a turning point for me was when I was a new teacher. I thought I had a really great lesson plan, but it wasn’t working for one student. I kept telling him to keep working at it, and trying it the way I wanted him too. And he looked at me and said, “Mr. Wellington, I’m doing the best I can.” That’s when I realized the problem was with the way I approached a “one size fits all” lesson plan. It was a powerful moment.
Do you have a favorite topic or unit that you like to teach and why?
One of my favorite things we do every year is take Upper School students to Camp Caribou. I usually only get five hours of sleep a night, but the transformation of the students in those three days makes it all worth it. A community forms. Kids reinvent themselves. It’s definitely one of my favorite parts of the year.
From your experience, what makes Brookwood unique?
At Brookwood, we put our mission into practice every day. We challenge kids to take risks, to have a growth mindset, and we as faculty hold ourselves to the same standards. We are not afraid when things go wrong – making mistakes is part of growing and we model that. I’ve said it a million times: If you are not making mistakes, you’re not doing it right.
What did your five-year-old self want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an explorer. I loved stories about going West and one of my favorites books when I was older was about Captain Cook, and how he sailed around the world. It captured the adventurous spirit of going where few people had gone before. I also loved the outdoors and spent lots of time outside. When I was five, we lived on a campground and so every morning, we woke up, made a fire and had breakfast outside. And that was a big part of who I am. I continue to see adventure in everything.