In his first address to students, Head of School Matt Levinson P '21 shares his perspective on what it means to "hit the brakes."
This cooperative mentality extends beyond the walls of the classroom, and Bria adds that her colleagues feel more like family than co-workers. “Pingry is a place where people check in on one another and make cards when someone is sick. People say good morning and really mean it; they ask how you’re doing and really want to know. I’m so happy to wake up and come to work each day.”
Other highlights of being a Pingry teacher? “I have more autonomy over my classroom,” she adds. “I love that I am allowed to teach creatively, collaboratively, and authentically. I also love that I can be my true self here. I can share parts of myself and culture with my coworkers and students.”
Bria noticed that not long into her new job, she saw changes in herself as an educator. She has a better perspective of education as a journey—a journey that is different for each student and teacher—and not just a series of steps. In addition to teaching, she serves as the Assistant Director of the Middle School musical as well as the Multicultural Coordinator for the Middle School. “I appreciate how others come to me as a trusted resource for diversity advice, and I look forward to continuing to learn and grow through my involvement with the Middle School Multicultural Team.”
When asked what she enjoys most about working at Pingry, Bria responds, “I love that I’m not just a teacher here; I am so much more.”
With Upper School athletic practices meeting six days a week (in both the fall and spring) for up to four months in an average school year, Matt spends more time with the students on his teams than those in his history classes. He appreciates that this kind of time provides a unique opportunity to get a sense of what students are capable of and he enjoys mentoring them, adding, “A lot goes into the pursuit of a long-term goal, like winning a team title or challenging a school record, and when those goals are achieved, well, it doesn’t get better than that!”
Matt is also proud of the number of runners he has coached who have gone on to run in college, especially since many of his athletes were not serious runners before they arrived in the Upper School. As a coach, he finds it rewarding to watch former student athletes expand upon what they learned in high school and take their running to the next level. “That they continue competing after Pingry means that they found something in the sport and in their teammates that they wanted to keep building upon.” His runners have continued competing at DI and DIII schools including Princeton, Dartmouth, Haverford, Middlebury, Williams, NYU, and Connecticut College.
Beyond coaching, Matt also helps out with Pingry’s Outing Club, which teaches leadership and wilderness skills by taking students on local hikes as well as to distant locations like the canyons of southern Utah and the high peaks of the Adirondacks. He sees the club as an important complement to varsity sports, explaining, “The natural world provides physical and intellectual challenges in a non-competitive setting, and that break from being goal-oriented is valuable. I also think that if kids—athletes and non-athletes alike—have fun in the outdoors and gain an appreciation for the natural world, they will become invested in it going forward.”
Sue has also been grateful to have the support of her colleagues, who she describes as “more like family than work associates.” Sue appreciates that she’s surrounded by co-workers who really care about the students and the school, adding, “I’m happy to go above and beyond my responsibilities because I’m dedicated to the outcome and to what I do. I don’t mind putting in extra hours because to me, it’s worth it. When you believe in a mission, you’re happy to put in whatever it takes to get it done.”
Another perk of Sue’s job? “I love the positive energy of the school,” Sue exclaims. “I enjoy being around students who are really bright and driven. The kids make my job a lot of fun and they keep me feeling young!”
What has it been like for Anthony to work at Pingry for his entire career? “I have a really rewarding job, from overseeing a World Cup soccer field to working alongside students on Rufus Gunther Day (Pingry’s annual day of community and civic engagement) planting daffodil bulbs around campus. I can see the results of my work and it’s a great feeling to know I’ve played a role in these kids’ lives.” Anthony describes Pingry as a place that fully supports him and his ideas, and he especially enjoys taking part in the School’s in-service days, which have allowed him to grow as a person. He embraces Pingry’s values of excellence and honor, and believes that when he helps to make the campus look its best, the students take notice and are even more respectful of their surroundings.
Anthony cannot imagine his current life without Pingry, as he considers his colleagues (both fellow staff members and teachers) and the students like family. He also points to the inclusiveness of the Pingry community, a place that cares about his personal well-being. For those thinking of working at Pingry, Anthony offers up some final advice: “Pingry is a great place for people who are creative and proactive about getting things done. Your experience will be what you make of it, and there is no limit in terms of what you can achieve here.”
Sona also appreciates how the School has introduced her to new ways of thinking, especially related to cultural competency skills. “I’ve attended a number of diversity and inclusion conferences, which have helped me to develop multicultural lesson plans with the Lower School’s Multicultural Team. I’ve grown a lot in terms of my awareness and ability to develop cultural competency among our students.”
Beyond professional development, Sona is also grateful for Pingry’s investment in her own health and well-being. She takes advantage of suggestions offered in by Big Blue Wellness - the School’s online wellness platform which encourages healthy behaviors. In addition to free on-campus fitness classes, health screenings and suggestions for a balanced lifestyle, Big Blue Wellness also rewards employees who complete various wellness challenges. Just by following some of the suggestions for living a healthier life and successfully completing a challenge, Sona was able to earn a Fitbit (provided by Pingry!) to track her steps, as well as gift cards. She appreciates Pingry’s investment in her well-being, adding, “I enjoy reading the suggestions provided by Big Blue Wellness, like getting my bloodwork checked, and in return, I receive Amazon gift cards, which I love using!”