Tag Archives: Middlebury Alumni

Middlebury Alumni Educator Spotlight: Chelsea Colby ‘17.5

The transition to remote learning brought the crucial role of educators to the foreground. We wanted to take this time to reach out to some Middlebury alumni educators teaching in Vermont and recognize them for all the work they do, including their efforts to stay connected with students during this isolation period.  

Chelsea graduated from Middlebury College in 2017.5 with a major in Environmental Policy and a minor in Education Studies. She currently teaches at Cornwall School and is in her third year of teaching within the Addison Central School District. She teaches all core curricular subjects to a group of 13 second graders.

While at Middlebury she was engaged with CCE in a number of ways. She was the communications intern, a Privilege & Poverty intern, as well as an AmeriCorps Pathways mentor. She was president of Nutrition Outreach and Mentoring, a member of Sister-to-Sister, a Community Friends and MiddCAM mentor, a MAlt trip leader and participant, Charter House volunteer, and a CCE first year/Feb orientation leader.

One of the things that drew Chelsea to stay in the area was the Middlebury College Education Department’s strong ties to the local school district. Throughout her time at Middlebury College she was placed in classrooms learning from local teachers and became invested in the district.

Even before graduating she was already working as a long-term substitute teacher within ACSD. The support provided by both the college and the district were very appealing and made her want to continue to work in Addison county. The partnership between the college and the school district has also afforded her the opportunity to be involved with the first ever Middlebury College Education Studies graduate course For the Love of Learning: Individuals and Societies.

“It has been a beautiful opportunity to engage with other local educators in an academic setting,” she states. The work Addison Central School District is doing with the International Baccalaureate program was another big draw for her as her teaching philosophy is in line with the ideas of teaching thematically and supporting students to become global thinkers. 

She also just loves living in Vermont post-graduation! Being a Vermont resident has also offered her the chance to further explore the area and enjoy the local farms and businesses: “In 2019, I took full advantage of my summer vacation and spent almost 3 weeks hiking the entire length of Long Trail which is by far one of my favorite memories.”

As for the transition to remote learning, it has been challenging. Building and maintaining connections with students has been harder to do via technology, but she has been impressed with the way her district has prioritized food, safety, and social-emotional well-being for students before moving to academics.

She feels fortunate that the district and community have supported all of the families in order to be sure they have access to the internet and an internet capable device. “We are all being flexible and adaptable, finding new ways to connect, engage students, and learn during this time of global crisis,” she states. “The gratitude colleagues, parents, students, and our entire community is sharing has been a bright spot throughout this challenging time.”

Thank you, Chelsea!

Stay tuned for more stories from Middlebury Alumni Educators!

Middlebury Alumni Educator Spotlight: Ben Weir ’11

The transition to remote learning brought the crucial role of educators to the foreground. We wanted to take this time to reach out to some Middlebury alumni educators teaching in Vermont and recognize them for all the work they do, including their efforts to stay connected with students during this isolation period.

Ben Weir majored in History and graduated from Middlebury in 2011. As a student, Ben was involved in  migrant rights through the CCE (then called ACE, the Alliance for Community Engagement). He helped found Juntos, the student service organization that supports local farmworkers in gaining English skills and other tools that promote their wellbeing and independence. 

Born and raised in Vermont, Ben always knew he wanted to stay in his home state. He taught Social Studies and English at Randolph Union High School in Orange County, Vermont, for 7 years, before taking a job this year as a Special Education Case Manager at Middlebury Union High School. Addison County drew Ben & his wife because of the network of friends they developed quickly after graduating.

“We are very lucky to live in a strong and vibrant community with significant diversity in perspective and life experience,” he states. “When I graduated from Middlebury, I became friends with lots of other Middlebury graduates who had chosen to stick around and start their own enterprises to help grow this community. These people have become my core group of friends and have made my life richer in many ways. I chose to teach because I identify strongly as a Vermonter and I feel a duty to help provide the sorts of opportunities that I had for the next generation of Vermonters.” 

Ben (in black) and his group of advisees from his last year at Randolph Union High School (last school year). These students were in his advisory from when they were in 7th grade through the end of their high school years.

The transition to remote teaching has been, as Ben describes, “hectic!” He explains: “Everyone is trying to figure out how to do this all at once (from Governor down to the students,) so it’s a bit crazy. The experience has solidified my belief that education is all about personal connection. When teachers and students connect personally, everyone is more likely to grow. That connection is necessarily more difficult in a remote setting, so I look forward to being back in the classroom when it is safe!”

Thank you, Ben!

Stay tuned for more stories from Middlebury Alumni Educators!

Middlebury Alumni Educator Spotlight: Hilary Poremski ’00

The transition to remote learning brought the crucial role of educators to the foreground. We wanted to take this time to reach out to some Middlebury alumni educators teaching in Vermont and recognize them for all the work they do, including their efforts to stay connected with students during this isolation period.  

Hilary Poremski majored in English, with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in teacher education and psychology. She graduated from Middlebury in May of 2000. During her student years, Hilary engaged with the community through her work-study position at the Addison County Parent-Child Center, developing close relationships with staff members, children, and fellow Middlebury students who also worked there.

Hilary is currently in her 14th year teaching at Rutland High School. Prior to teaching at RHS,  she began her career at Spaulding High School in Barre, where she taught from 2001-2006. Her experience as a teacher in Vermont “has been as rewarding as it has been challenging.” She reflects: “It took me years to discover my identity and strengths as a teacher — to learn how to manage and instruct teenagers effectively and confidently, to connect with them personally, to regard them with unconditional compassion.” She is currently teaching at Rutland High School, and this is her 14th year there. Prior to teaching at RHS, she began her career at Spaulding High School in Barre, where she taught  from 2001 to 2006. 

Her experience as a teacher in Vermont “has been as rewarding as it has been challenging.” She reflects: “It took me years to discover my identity and strengths as a teacher — to learn how to manage and instruct teenagers effectively and confidently, to connect with them personally, to regard them with unconditional compassion.” But, along the way, she has had the most incredibly gifted mentor-colleagues, many of whom are now life-long friends. “They represent what I believe is an exceptionally strong state-wide public school faculty,” she states. My own excellent high school teachers (at Otter Valley Union High School in Brandon) first inspired me to want to become an English teacher in 8th grade, and I am so happy to say that I am now almost 20 years into the career I envisioned for myself as an adolescent.” 

When asked what drew her to staying in Vermont, she explained that she’s had a long family history within the state: “I am a 4th generation Vermonter, still living on the land my Polish great-grandparents farmed after immigrating to the U.S. and initially working in the marble industry over a century ago. (In fact, this “family history of place” was the subject of my undergraduate honors thesis at Middlebury). Simply put, I have never been drawn to actually live outside of Vermont, given my very deep and personal ties to this place. My relationships with my family and now-husband also played a role in keeping me here during those years after college graduation when many move elsewhere. And I knew I would (eventually) find a teaching job in Vermont. In this sense, multiple factors converged to keep me here.” 

The transition to remote learning for Hilary has been relatively easy in terms of technology and logistics, thanks to her district’s resources and the user-friendliness of tools such as Google Classroom. However, in all other aspects, “it has been stressful and increasingly sad,” she says,  “students who were chronically absent or already difficult to engage in the classroom have been almost impossible to reach remotely, and some have fallen off the map entirely in spite of my ongoing efforts to connect. Hosting online classes via Google Meet doesn’t feel like teaching.  It’s amazing how much gets lost when I am not physically in a classroom with my students — in particular, the ability to circulate around the room, check in on my students’ progress, and offer on-the-spot help and one-to-one instruction.”

Hilary misses many aspects of in-person teaching, including “the personal connections–conversations, moments of laughter, and bante, seeing and hearing [her] students in person, [her] colleagues, some of whom are [her] dearest friends.” On top of teaching full-time at home, she is also parenting her 2-year-old and 7-year-old. “Their needs are constant,” she includes, “not to mention the fact that I’m responsible for my 7-year-old’s homeschooling. It is extremely nerve-wracking and draining.” 

Hilary and Claire Groby, her colleague/friend/fellow Midd alum,  have connected with CCE for special field trips to the college. Two years in a row, their students visited the college art museum and spent the better part of the afternoon interacting with international students at the CCE. Hilary states: “it has been such a wonderful opportunity for all of us to learn about each other’s home states/countries and cultures. It has helped to challenge stereotypes and find common unity, which is one of the main themes of Global Studies 10 (sophomore English and World History II at Rutland High School). We really look forward to resuming these field trips when it becomes possible again!”

Thank you, Hilary! 

Stay tuned for more stories from Middlebury Alumni Educators!

Middlebury Alumni Educator Spotlight: Claire Groby ’08

The transition to remote learning brought the crucial role of educators to the foreground. We wanted to take this time to reach out to some Middlebury alumni educators teaching in Vermont and recognize them for all the work they do, including their efforts to stay connected with students during this isolation period.  

Claire Groby graduated from Middlebury in 2008 with a double major in Theatre and International Studies. Claire married a local Middlebury native, so after completing her graduate degree at NYU, they returned to the area to be closer to family. After teaching in Hanover for a few years, Claire got a job teaching 10th Grade World History at Rutland High School, and is currently in her fourth year there.

For the past few years, Claire has been bringing her students on field trips to the college to meet with International, study abroad, and upper-level language students through the Language in Motion (LiM) program. 

Claire loves Vermont and feels especially fortunate to have found a job in a community she really enjoys given how strained schools and education budgets are in Vermont at this moment.

Comparing teaching in Vermont to teaching in New York City public schools, where she completed her student teaching internships, Claire states: “I feel a pretty large contrast in my experiences teaching here in Vermont for the most part. However, teaching in Rutland is certainly more similar to Brooklyn than Hanover was.I think that education is truly valued in Vermont, but something which stands out to me is the challenges of shrinking enrollments. I’ve been observing this locally in Middlebury as well as in Rutland at very different levels.”

Remote teaching has been an interesting challenge for Claire, balancing her teaching with caring for her children both at home (take a look at this delightful video of Claire being interrupted by her children as she attempts to make video lectures).

She has been doing mostly asynchronous assignments and email feedback but will soon be navigating class presentation remotely. “Some days,” she says, “I feel like I have lost the good parts of teaching (connecting with students, seeing colleagues, sharing my passion for history and bad jokes) and am left only with the tedious parts (emails, paperwork, grading).”

Although she feels that this all happened very fast–being given only a week or less to prepare for remote learning–she has learned a huge amount about technology in a short amount of time. 

Thank you, Claire! 

Stay tuned for more stories from Middlebury Alumni Educators!

Middlebury Alumni Educator Spotlight: Natasha Causton ’96

The transition to remote learning brought the crucial role of educators to the foreground. We wanted to take this time to reach out to some Middlebury alumni educators teaching in Vermont and recognize them for all the work they do, including their efforts to stay connected with students during this isolation period.  

Natasha Causton ’96 majored in Spanish & History and now teaches World Languages at Middlebury Union High School. When asked what drew her to staying and teaching in Vermont, she said: “I have always been an idealist and wanted to connect with students. I wanted to be able to have ‘discussions’ about literature and the meaning of life.  I started off my career as an English teacher and found my way into teaching world languages.

The transition to remote learning has been fairly smooth for Natasha, although she misses her students a lot! For her, it is essential to stay in touch with her students. So, she has been keeping in touch with them through video chats and exploring other strategies to maintain this connection. However, she does worry that she cannot have the same depth and breadth of education experiences to her students due to isolation. 

Last week, a Language in Motion student made a presentation to her virtual class, and she is using educational materials created by another LiM student through LiM’s vitual library! 

Thank you for your commitment to your students and this community, Natasha! 

Stay tuned for more stories from Middlebury Alumni Educators!