Brewster Teachers Become Students for a Week

Brewster Teachers Become Students for a Week
Marta Carreno

Brewster recently hosted the Brewster-Berwick Collaborative. In this workshop, Emily James, Peter Mann, Yu Lui, Jonathan Browher, Melissa Lawlor, Bret Barnett and Gina Finnocchiaro had the opportunity to partner with fellow teachers from Berwick Academy, and delve into the issue of equity and inclusion in schools. The workshop taught the group how to make their classes a more open-minded environment where each student, regardless of their cultural and socioeconomic background, feels confident and accepted in their learning experience. Melissa Lawlor (Brewster’s Director of Equity and Inclusion), Bret Barnett (Assistant Head of School for Campus Affairs), and Guinevere Hilton (Chair of the Fine and Performing Arts Department) were the coordinators in this year’s workshop.

Throughout the weeklong workshop, participants reflected on their own backgrounds and experiences and enhanced their understanding around privilege of all kinds, including race, gender, sexuality, economic background, and physical ability. Each conversation extended to the implications that their new learning would have in their classroom and this upcoming school year.

Lawlor explains that “There is a significant difference between equity and equality, and the two are easily confused. Equality is treating everyone the same, but equity is giving everyone what they need to be successful. Equality aims to promote fairness, but in our classrooms, not everyone starts at the same place, so treating everyone the same without recognizing differences is actually unfair. Teaching with an awareness of how to create equity ensures that we give students what they need to be able to start at the same place.” Participants in the workshop engaged in activities to practice creating equity among our student body of diverse thinkers. 

“Being cognizant that each and every student comes into our classrooms with their own unique set of experiences is pivotal for building the kind of relationships we work hard to create at Brewster,” Barnett says. “Too often schools prioritize diversity in their student body without taking the time to ensure that their faculty and staff are able to serve the heterogeneous groups the school brings in.” 

Pictured Above: Participants in the recent Brewster-Berwick Collaborative workshop hosted by Brewster Academy (from left): Emily James (science), Peter Mann (instructional support), Yu Lui (mathematics and science), Jonathan Browher (history), Melissa Lawlor (Director of Equity and Inclusion and history), Bret Barnett (Assistant Head of School and Math teacher), Gina Finnocchiaro (community chaplain). 

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