What Each Child Needs: Teaching at Shore

Bill Fisher
Ask a member of the Shore community what makes their school special, and it’s a good bet they’ll mention teachers. Alongside the caring culture and the transformative, student-centered learning model, it is extraordinary teaching that helps to distinguish Shore’s program from that of other schools. “When I see our Shore teachers in action,” says Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management Daphne Faldi, “I am struck by their passion for learning and their connection with every child.”

A highly individualized approach to reaching students is the standard in Shore classrooms. “You don’t just see a teacher teaching to the entire class, you see a teacher teaching to each individual child,” first grade teacher Mary Kinahan explains. “What each child needs doesn’t always look the same. For example, if I am using a specific math program, but I know that one child needs a bit more extension or more support, I can use my own experience and the experience of other teachers to bring in other resources to best fit the needs of the individual student.”

Shore teachers are deeply invested in each child’s success, seeking to build deep connections that allow them to support students socially and emotionally as well as academically. According to Upper School science teacher Oliver Hay, “One of the great things about teaching at Shore is being able to connect to the students in a variety of ways. Obviously the classroom is the primary connection, but just talking to them at recess and in the hallways is another. It makes them feel like they’re showing up to a community that knows them and cares about them. Yes, I’m a science teacher, and yes, this specific topic that we’re studying is science related, but I see them first as middle school students.”

“Every child at Shore is known,” emphasizes Daphne Faldi. “Children feel loyalty and support from teachers throughout their day. No child is going to fall through the cracks.”

Teachers’ support for each other is just as important at Shore. Ongoing professional development and a collaborative culture mean that teachers are continually working together to evaluate and improve what they do. “When I first came to Shore,” states Oliver Hay, “I found a school where I could learn from my fellow teachers, and I’ve been lucky to be able to count on a community of colleagues that includes people with experience in a variety of institutions at a range of different ages. That type of support is invaluable for any teacher. We not only learn from each other, but we also challenge each other to do better.”

“One of the things I value about being a teacher at Shore is the opportunity to collaborate at a very deep level with other faculty,” explains Mary Kinahan. “It’s a supportive, safe environment where we can rely on one another to build up what’s going on in our classroom, and where we can feel great about continuing to push our thinking. Because teaching changes over time, and curriculum changes over time, we need to constantly evaluate what works and what doesn’t to meet the needs of all our students.“

Perhaps what is most important about Shore’s teaching culture is something that’s as simple as it is essential: joy. “Our teachers’ joyful approach—their passion for learning and their engagement with children—defines the students’ experience of school,” says Daphne Faldi. “You see real joy and excitement to be together all across this campus. We bring a wonderful energy to school every day, and we bring out the best in each other. Children arrive with their incredible sense of curiosity, and our teachers nurture that inquisitiveness, that willingness to ask questions, until it overflows. Our teachers make this a really special place to be.”
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