FACULTY IN FOCUS offers a deeper look into what motivates our teachers, what they bring to the classroom, and why they love teaching Brookwood kids. This week, Mrs. Light shares her perspective with us.
Mrs. Light | Grade 2 Teacher
What do you teach, and how long have you been teaching?
I teach 2nd grade at Brookwood. I was first introduced to the school in 1995 as a Teaching Apprentice (TA). Pam Hawes was a teacher, not the Director of the TA program at the time, and also my mentor teacher. We taught 1st grade together. I left Brookwood after my TA year and worked for a few years in Washington, D.C. teaching 2nd and 3rd grade before returning to Massachusetts. Overall, I've been teaching for 22 years. I love 2nd graders because they’re growing in leaps and bounds, and they love discovery. They strive to be more independent. They are making huge advances in their reading and their learning, and they're very different at the start of the school year compared to the end. It’s a fun year to be a part of.
What’s the most rewarding part of teaching at Brookwood?
I love the pure joy that I see in students’ faces when they accomplish something that challenged them, whether it’s a book they're reading that exposes them to new vocabulary, or sharing a published story that they worked hard to revise. Or a math problem that's tricky, but they figured out a strategy that works and they can do it over and over again. I absolutely love that, that’s my favorite part of my work. It’s really fun to see seven and eight-year-olds reflect on what was hard and what they can accomplish now. There is a tremendous amount of pride in that, for both my students and for me.
What’s a moment you’ll never forget from your teaching career?
I have been rewarded by maintaining relationships with students who have graduated high school or college and can still remember a turning point that’s just unforgettable from their time at Brookwood.
Do you have a favorite topic or unit that you like to teach and why?
I love what we’re doing in social studies right now in 2nd grade. The unit is based on student choice, which is really empowering for kids at any age. Students are learning about native people from all around the world, and we also specifically look at Native American communities across the U.S. What’s neat is that students then get to decide what aspect of the culture they are going to research, whether its art and ceremonies, or leadership, or habitat. Students meet in pairs or groups of threes and spend months learning everything about the chosen topic, and then they decide how they want to teach it. We’ve had cooking lessons and technology presentations, and hands-on creation of pieces of art. It's so exciting because they get to design the experience they want to expose their peers to, and they gain knowledge through their research. They become the teachers, and they love that.
From your experience, what makes Brookwood unique?
I came back to Brookwood after teaching in Washington, D.C. because of the community. I think School Meeting is a great example of what makes our school so unique. I appreciate that there's a time each week when we all come together in one space to celebrate each other and performances of all kinds. I love seeing buddies greet each other in the hall, and knowing that they maintain those relationships for years in the future. The community here is like no other in terms of the way we support one another, and the way we prioritize both rigorous curriculum and social-emotional learning. I also appreciate the fact that Mrs. Koretz and I have been working alongside each other for 13 years. I am lucky to have such a wonderful teaching partner.
What did your five-year-old self want to be when you grew up?
My five-year-old self liked all of the things I get to do at Brookwood. I liked to sing and create things and make new friends, and that’s what I get to do here every day. As a teenager, I worked as a camp counselor at the Boys' and Girls' Club in Newark, New Jersey, and I think that experience led me to pursue a career in teaching. I loved having an opportunity to be an encouraging and positive influence in another person's life. And I'm so grateful that I get to continue to do that here at Brookwood.