On Teaching

Gabriel Newton

“When I was a child, I loved looking through the department store catalogues. Somewhere near the back, I would find the toy section. So many toys! When I zeroed in on the one that I wanted, I would set on sweet-talking (or begging) my parents for it. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. Rewind back to my grandfather’s youth, and you find a much different story. When he dreamed of toy cars, he made one. When he pined for a wooden boat to pull behind his bicycle, he gathered the wood, readied his tools, and got to work. Now fast forward to the present day. When one of my Tech Time Club members conjures up an idea, he or she might image it onto a CAD program, translate the code, fire up the 3D printer, and… voila! Or they might prototype it as a Mindstorm robot. The world is their oyster. We live in an era in which we have the tools and the materials—needing only the skills—to build anything we want. Tech Time offers the vocational opportunity to investigate and utilize a number of these new technologies. Students can code, fabricate, and prototype to their hearts’ content. These are kids who love gadgets. They love to take things apart and rebuild. I am constantly in awe of their passion and creativity. Yet, in so many cases, their access to tech tools are limited and structured. I intend for the club to be open to their whims and the directions that they want to take. There really is no limit to what we’re going to be able to pull out of these machines.” – Gabriel Newton, Lower School science teacher and Tech Time Club advisor

Alisha Bright ’96

“One of the things I’ve always appreciated here is the fact that we have so many resources that provide us the ability to do such amazing things with our students. For instance, I was able to purchase a grow-light system to study bean plants and update the biology curriculum accordingly. We can do three major dissections in a single year—frogs, pig hearts, and, starting last year, sheep brains—and smaller dissections of bones, flowers, and owl pellets. Sixth grade is a transition year when we add study skills and nonfiction reading skills to lab science skills, so it’s important to keep science fun and exciting for them. My favorite unit to teach is genetics, which is really challenging but so much fun because it’s an innovative field that students could find jobs in when they’re older. It’s an opportunity to have students thinking about why we are the way we are and how we got to where we are. Every year I love seeing when a student all of a sudden realizes, ‘Oh, that’s why I have brown eyes,’ or, ‘Oh, now I understand why I don’t look like any of my siblings but I look exactly like my grandparent.’ They’re at a point in their lives when they’re considering their identities and trying to figure out who they are. It’s such a concrete and impactful connection they can make. If time allows, we conduct some really cool DNA isolation labs that most kids don’t see until they’re in high school—and we get to do it here in sixth grade. I feel very lucky and fortunate to have these opportunities.” – Alisha Bright ’96, Middle School science and math teacher

Christina Bertucchi

“When I first arrived at CWA and saw the studios, I knew that I had to bring my A game. There’s a grandeur to the space: We’re in our own quad, there’s so much natural light, and there’s endless amounts of wall space for displaying work that makes for a great visual dialogue between classes. While students are given a blank slate in the studio to create, the studio itself is anything but blank—it’s filled with vibrancy and richness, and it’s inspiring. The sky is the limit, so we better fly. And I say “we” because I’m also learning new media and techniques alongside the students. In the printmaking class alone, we cover monoprinting, intaglio, relief, letterpress, and silk screening. Each of those topics is a whole semester of focus in a college program, but we cover all of them in just one year. It exposes students to every major kind of printmaking and provides a comprehensive foundation they can build on further along in their studies. Every class is dynamic and different, and because it’s such a collaborative environment I can’t help but soak up the enthusiasm and respond to the spontaneity of the students’ work. It’s the best of both worlds because not only do I get to teach them something, but also I get to see them learning it for the first time. I love it.” – Christina Bertucchi, Upper School visual arts teacher