Highest Honors Bestowed on Two Brewster Teachers

Highest Honors Bestowed on Two Brewster Teachers
Suzanne Morrissey

At the first All-School Meeting of the 2021-22 school year, Head of School Kristy Kerin announced the two faculty members who received the 2021 Arthur Morris Kenison Faculty Awards, Brewster Academy’s highest honor for its educators. Physics and Astronomy teacher Emily James is the recipient of the Arthur Morris Kenison Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, and Maeve Connelly ’10, who teaches AP History and Modern World History, is the recipient of the Arthur Morris Kenison Faculty Award for Career Growth.

The Career Growth award is given in recognition of the teacher who, over the course of the past year, has demonstrated the most accelerated professional growth within the Brewster program. 2021 recipient Maeve Connelly graduated from Brewster in 2010 and joined the Brewster faculty in 2016. “From her first day working at Brewster,” Kerin said, “Maeve impressed with her professionalism, diligence, and care for the community. Over the past two years, she has been instrumental in the redesign of multiple history courses and has become expert at guiding individual students even while managing entire classrooms.” Kerin praised Ms. Connelly, who holds an M.A. in Secondary Education from Lesley University and a B.A. in Political Science from Lake Forest College, for her mix of encouragement, direction, reinforcement, and inspiration, noting that she helps all students perform at their best. An expert with the Brewster Model, she has been a key contributor to her academic team for several years, helping with technology questions, student action plans, event planning, and all of the many tasks expected of Brewster faculty. “Perhaps most importantly, Maeve is one of our best advisors: She puts her advisees first and demonstrates her care and respect for them in all interactions. For those who are lucky enough to have this faculty member as a teacher, advisor, or coach, please look forward to an amazing year,” Kerin said. 

“I am honored to have received the Kenison award. It was a humbling experience to accept the award in front of the entire Brewster community—I was surrounded by all of the incredible students, faculty, and staff who inspire me, support me, and make it possible for me to do what I love each day,” Ms. Connelly said, adding that she has the honor of working with so many passionate educators who have pushed her, challenged her, and helped her grow in her professional life. “I love this community and I feel so fortunate to be a part of it.”

The Excellence in Teaching award is given in recognition of demonstrated excellence in teaching practices and overall contributions within the Brewster program. Beginning her praise of science faculty member and department co-chair Emily James, Kerin said, “This year’s recipient of the Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching is long overdue. Starting at Brewster in 2002, Emily was already an acclaimed expert in her scientific fields when she arrived on campus. With her constant dedication, seemingly perpetual motion, and intergalactic intelligence, she grew to understand and deliver the various forces and orbits of the Brewster model, earning the Career Growth award in 2016.” 

Mrs. James, who holds an M.A. in Astronomy from Columbia University and a B.A. in Physics and Astronomy from Smith College, was selected for this honor in part for her ability to help students take their tremendous potential energy and put it to kinetic work: They gain confidence, learn science, and get things done. “I teach because I am looking for logic to make a comeback,” she said. “So much in this world is illogical—people have lost the ability to distinguish what is true from what is not true. Physics and astronomy are the most fun ways to promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They have never been more needed than they are right now.” 

Since winning the 2016 Growth Award, Mrs. James has taken on more and more responsibility, Kerin pointed out in her presentation, working to refine multiple curricula, presenting at conferences, and stepping in to take on leadership roles within her department. She is a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and served as president of the New England Section of the AAPT from 1998 to 2001. Through the AAPT she was a physics teaching resource agent from 1995 to 2001, helping to improve the teaching and learning of physics and physical science for teachers and students across the United States. “Our new science teachers are simply raving about the guidance, instruction, and support they have received from Emily James, an educator not only of students but also other teachers,” Kerin said.

Mrs. James said that having her work recognized by the Excellence in Teaching Award was very gratifying. “Working with young people is my privilege and honor,” she said. “Being witness to their growth and accomplishment—even when they weren't sure they could do it—keeps me coming back for more each year.” 

The awards are named for Arthur M. Kenison, who served as Brewster Trustee from 1979 to 1999. 

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