Read the sixth addition to our #ASpotlight Interview Series on First Grade Teacher Sophy Joseph!
What motivated you to apply to Allen-Stevenson?
A number of reasons, actually. Previously, my experience has been at coed public schools, so teaching at a boys’ independent school seemed like an exciting new experience! I am always up for new ways of learning and teaching. Upon meeting Mr. Trower, Mr. Warner and the First Grade Team, I could sense the warmth of their leadership and the school community.
This is your inaugural year teaching at Allen-Stevenson. What were your first impressions of the School?
I definitely felt a strong sense of community from the beginning. From the New Faculty Orientation led by Samara Spielberg, to meeting my mentor Natalie Lopez, and continuously since then during Lower School Community meetings and in general on a daily basis. Everyone at A-S takes that extra step to welcome and check in on each other. Within each classroom, grade level team, and across the School - the meetings are set up as collaborative spaces where I could gain different perspectives on curriculum from teachers across grade levels and disciplines. It was a space that allowed me to interact with colleagues I would not usually work with. It was another way to integrate me into the school community. I think this community can be seen in how committed our alumni are to the School.
Are there any ways in which you think your first year at Allen-Stevenson has impacted your teaching style?
Absolutely - my students are creative geniuses! They inspire me with their ideas. I had to structure my schedule so that I can give them time to explore and build on this creativity. I feel fortunate that I have the time and resources to create these spaces for them. We, the faculty, are a team and support each other in so many various ways. For example, I think of Librarian Bonnie Tucker and her hard work helping our first graders with research. It’s been so helpful and refreshing to have a fresh perspective on what resources are available.
Tell me a little about the grade team meetings that are held in First Grade and what they contribute to your classroom.
What a year for our team! Having an experienced Allen-Stevenson teacher like Barbara Shindler and her welcoming presence around has meant a lot to me; I appreciated working on such a collaborative team. This year, we decided to embark on a new math curriculum for First Grade. I really enjoyed the support of my team in the layout of this work. I think what I appreciate most from the First Grade Team (Jenny Griffiths, Barbara Shindler, Jennifer Zimmermann and Grace Sur) is how much everyone is willing to try something new and support you in your passions. Not only have the teachers worked together, but so have our students.
At Allen-Stevenson we often say that “there are many ways to be a boy.” What does this mean to you?
The boys get to explore all that they want to be. They can be who they choose. They support one another by learning about each other and helping as much as possible. They can pursue all that they are passionate about and learn to be socially and emotionally literate as well as academically.
Describe the Allen-Stevenson community in 3 words:
A passionate, wonderous, and collaborative community.