Reflections from Departing Teachers

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2015 marks the last school year for many Upper School teachers at Friends Academy. Whether leaving for retirement or in pursuit of an opportunity elsewhere, we will surely miss these beloved faculty members. Inkwell interviewed the following teachers regarding their experience here at FA.

Judy James:

The unforgettable, passionate Judy James will be retiring this year after spending twenty-six years at Friends Academy (FA). If you have had her as your tenth grade community service teacher, or have had a chance to just chat with her in the Kumar-Wang library, you probably know that Ms. James has definitely seen it all throughout her career here at FA.

  1. How long have you worked at Friends Academy?

I have worked at FA for 25 years.

  1. What is the funniest moment you’ve had here?

Funniest moment, while this wasn’t that funny at the time is has become my funniest memory.  This was a senior prank: seniors bought cheap cell phones and some how hid them in the ceiling light fixtures in the library.  Then some time later they started calling all the phones they hid!  Needless to stay the rest of the students thought it was hysterical, as I do now.

  1. What is your fondest memory of FA?

Lots of fond memories, but the most interesting was taking a group of students

to do service on the Lakota Sioux Indian reservation in South Dakota.

  1. What will you miss most about the school?

    I will most miss my colleagues.

  1. Any final reflections?

You may not know this about Ms. James, but on top of teaching senior English, community service, and building houses for years with Habitat for Humanity, she has also coached crew, and helped with the designing & building one of the most beautiful, admired and well used school libraries!

Camille Edwards:

Camille Edwards has been a source of great advice, hugs and invaluable teaching for the three years she has worked at Friends Academy. Camille’s impact on her students is not something that can be put into words, but the artists she has mentored and supported will always remember the effect she has had on their lives.

  1. How long have you worked at FA?

3 years.

  1. What is the funniest moment you’ve had here?

There isn’t one specific funny moment, but it’s whenever I’m working with Early Childhood. They’re so honest, and they’re so young that they don’t really know what they are saying. Sometimes it’s stuff they’ve heard, or it’s just coming from their own minds, but they’ll just say things that make me crack up. Sometimes it’s what acne is, or what love is. It always catches me off guard, and that makes it even funnier. I truly think they’re 30 years olds in a 4 year olds body.

  1. What is your fondest memory of FA?

My first Original Works. It was my first freshman dance class, and I will always remember creating that piece for them.

  1. What will you miss most about the school?

I think what I will miss most about this school is getting work in an environment where the children feel safe, to be themselves, to experiment, to make friends. I think that’s something that is inherent in a Quaker school, that everyone feels safe to be themselves and to explore things. And really following that, the arts are a value here. It’s just such a prevalent part of the community- this school is rich in the arts. Not only is it accepted to be in the arts, but it’s normal to be a kid who loves the arts. It’s really a gift to get to teach at this kind of school, where we can create magic.

  1. Any final reflections?

Life is funny because you never know what your next chapter holds, where your life is going to go. I never thought I would teach at FA- I had planned to go to grad school right after college, but I walked in as a leave replacement three years ago and just ended up staying. I feel grateful because I almost feel like I cheated the universe. I got to be an artist in a community I love, which was the ultimate gift- getting to do something I didn’t think I would get to. And now I’m back on the path I had originally set out for myself, and this field is the opposite of what I’ve been doing at Friends, so I’ve gotten to have the best of the both worlds.

Alec Lash:

Alec Lash, also commonly known amongst his students as “DJ Whiplash”, will be leaving the FA community next year for an opportunity in Florida. As a teacher who demonstrates a tremendous interest in really connecting with his students on a personal level and making the math classroom environment fun for all, his presence will be greatly missed.

  1. How long have you worked at FA?

I have been at FA for the past 6 years.

  1. What was the funniest moment you’ve had here?

My Friends Academy journey has been full of far too many funny moments to choose one to share, but I will give a special shout to Christos Aniftos, class of 2015, for being the funniest student I have ever known, and I will share one quick “I can’t believe this just happened” classroom anecdote:  Several years ago, I gave a short one question quiz to one of my classes.  After 5 minutes, when I thought that everyone was finished, I asked the class, “Is everyone finished?  Do I have all the quizzes?”  It was simple question.  I repeated it twice.  Typically, my students have no problem speaking up when they are still working.  On this particular occasion, I noticed a few affirmative nods of the head, and received a silent, understood agreement that everyone was ready to move on.  I continued with class by spending the next 5 minutes explaining the solution to the quiz.  Immediately after I finished, a student walked up to the front of the class and handed me his quiz.  While his quiz was 100% correct, it quickly landed in the trash bin!  Even after explaining the situation to him, he was incredulous, and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t accepting his quiz!

  1. What is your fondest memory of FA?

It is difficult to single out my fondest memory.  Instead, I like to reminisce about a collection of memories including Math Department “Galas” and “Dress Up Days”, Spirit Weeks, Halloween assemblies, hanging out with my advisories and the unexpected, spontaneous, and sometimes minor details of classroom experiences that create lasting shared memories for an entire class to cherish.

  1. What will you miss most about the school?

I will miss the campus, Meeting for Worship, and my morning “commute”, but most of all I’m going to miss the people that make up the FA community.  I’ve been so lucky to have great colleagues and incredible mentors turn into close friends.  Perhaps, most of all, I’m going to miss the student body.  I’ve been blessed with extraordinary classes and advisories over the past 6 years, and it saddens me to think about returning students who I will not be able working with in the future.

 

  • Any final reflections about working at the school?

 

Although I am excited to embark on a new stage in my life, I am leaving FA with a heavy heart.  I will miss the strong sense of community here.  I wish best of luck to my colleagues and all the students in their future endeavors!

Kate Scudellari:

Kate Scudellari has been both an enthusiastic, motivating Spanish teacher and advisor to the Model UN Club, supporting both new and veteran members, during her time at Friends Academy. Although the community is sad to see Mrs. Scudellari go, we are grateful that she has given so much of herself to this school and the people here.

  1. How long have you worked at Friends Academy?

5 years.

  1. What is your fondest memory of FA?

Anytime I watched students work on projects in my classroom. Getting to see students lead and show their creative sides made me feel proud of them as a teacher, and it was one of the most enjoyable parts of my job as a Spanish teacher.

  1. What will you miss most about the school?

I’ll miss the people- the students, my colleagues. The people at Friends are of such high quality, students and adults alike, and I will miss working with them.

  1. What was the funniest moment you’ve had here?

I was watching a presentation by Merek Glover and Harrison Fritz, where they had to present a Spanish menu. Harrison talked for about 30 seconds, and did well, and then Merek went. He spoke for four minutes, and the entire class was laughing- as was I- just because he kept going!

  1. Any final reflections about working at the school?

I’ve found that as much as I’ve been a teacher, I’ve also been taught by the students. I’m most grateful for having these direction connections with my students, where both of us are learning from each other. It’s really about working with the heart. Its an amazing experience, working that way, and I don’t think I would be as qualified to begin my new job without the experience I have had here at Friends Academy.

 

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