Each year, Brewster honors two faculty members with The Arthur Morris Kenison Faculty Award for Career Growth and The Arthur Morris Kenison Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. Head of School Craig Gemmell revealed this year’s recipients during his welcoming remarks at Brewster’s All-School Meeting on September 1.
English faculty member Kara McDuffee (left) received the Arthur Morris Kenison Faculty Award for Career Growth, given in recognition of the faculty member who, over the course of the year, has demonstrated the most accelerated professional growth within the Brewster Academy program.
McDuffee joined the Brewster faculty in 2015, having graduated from St. Lawrence University, where she was an accomplished athlete on the basketball court and a three-time captain who earned national recognition. At Brewster, the Kenison award committee noted that “From the very start, she has been a dedicated professional, working tirelessly to improve her curriculum to make every class more relevant, engaging, and authentic.” While teaching full time and attending academic conferences with high frequency, McDuffee earned her master’s degree. Noted for her focus and collaborative style with colleagues, McDuffee has taken on more of a leadership role each year, joining several committees and always looking to represent both faculty and students as she works to help Brewster evolve its programs and further its mission. She has said that in the classroom, her goal is to empower the student voice and creativity.
Lauren Hunter received the Arthur Morris Kenison Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, given in recognition of demonstrated excellence in teaching practices and overall contributions within the Brewster Academy program. She joined Brewster in 1998 and has the distinction of now earning both Kenison awards (she received the Career Growth award in 2007).
Hunter admits that when the announcement was made during Gemmell’s address on Zoom, she was partly distracted by concerns for her daughter Harper, whose beloved pet fish had died that day. But the news did register: “I was humbled and just so touched to receive such a meaningful award,” she says.
A graduate of Colby-Sawyer College with a degree in Child Development and a masters in Health Education with a concentration in Eating Disorders, Hunter has been known for her devotion to Brewster students in the classroom, the dorm, and those vital moments and conversations between official responsibilities. The award committee noted that “through her interactions, she demonstrates her compassion and empathy for her students, and she maintains an incredible mindfulness: she is truly present in each moment and every conversation.” In the classroom, Hunter delivers the Instructional Support curriculum with expertise, helping students reach success as independent learners. She has a facility with guiding faculty and students alike and moving them from problem, crisis, and dilemma to solution, support, and plan. But it was last spring, with the transition to online learning, that Hunter’s skills were proven at the next level. She helped her students excel no matter their challenging circumstances with remote learning, and showed admirable dedication.
“People should know,” Hunter said after the award was announced, “that my earning this award would not have been possible without the team of teachers I work with every day—they worked with me in every way possible to support my Instructional Support students.” She calls their support “nothing short of remarkable,” adding how proud she was of how well her team transitioned to remote learning last spring.
And while this trimester is off to a great in-person start, Hunter says she is looking forward to the end of COVID concerns so she can have her advisee group over for a home-cooked meal at her house and meet her family.
As for many teachers, knowing former students are living lives of purpose years after their time on campus is especially gratifying for Hunter. Asked for an anecdote about a student she recalls fondly, Hunter was hard pressed to name just one, but shared this about a former student who has followed in her footsteps. “I am so proud that Ceara Caffrey, one of my former students both in the classroom and in the dorm, who has just started her first year teaching and dorm parenting at a private school,” Hunter says. “She took what she loved here—all the joy and spunk she had while she was a student at Brewster—and turned in into her career. When I found that out, I was so proud of Brewster and of Ceara.”
Brewster’s Career Growth and Excellence in Teaching awards are named for the late Arthur M. Kenison, Ph.D, who served devotedly on Brewster's Board of Trustees from 1979 to 1999 as the chair of the board finance committee. The Kenison family has strong and lasting ties to Brewster: Arthur’s grandfather, also Arthur, was Brewster Class of 1899. His uncles, Frank ’25 and Arthur ’30, were also Board members, and his father Samuel was Class of 1927. Brewster's library is dedicated to the Kenison Family legacy and the Keinson House dorm is named after Arthur '30 and his wife Doris. It is an appropriate honor to name two of Brewster’s most prestigious awards after a man who devoted himself to ensuring a sound foundation for the school his family loved so dearly.
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