New Hampshire born and raised, Jen is one of those teachers where every thing in fact adds up. A natural curiosity about her students makes her a particularly effective math teacher for those who are math challenged. Some of us may have had far more success in our math lives had we been able to benefit from the magic of Jen Cote. But make no mistake about it, Jen challenges the most gifted of our math students precisely because she does not do it by the numbers. She uses the beauty of mathematics as it is intended: to understand the wonders of our world. Indeed there is a spirituality to the teaching that she does no matter the complexity of the problem in front of her. And her teaching extends well beyond the classroom. Her deep and abiding commitment to the sustainability of our world, most recently seen in action as one of our Thoreau Chairs, invites our students to put their education to work always. Jen, thank you for your commitment to our students and especially your purposeful support of those who struggle the most.
Walk into Betsy’s room and you will literally walk into history. The visual images that surround her students reinforce what happens daily in her classroom: history is alive, history both makes and shapes people and events, history gives us lessons about our present and clues to our future. Lucky for us that this one time, almost professional skier came down from the slopes and decided to focus her considerable energy and strategic thinking on how best to teach high school students, not only as historians but as individuals who will do their part to create that history. Betsy once described herself as a scout, one who moves out ahead of the group to see what lies ahead and to come back with potential game plans. Each day, we at MA are beneficiaries of this perspective. She has unquestionable intelligence, a humble nature, and a strong commitment to inclusivity. Her focus is on the success of all of her students, providing them crucial challenges and the support to get there. Betsy, thank you for always putting students first in your lexicon of decision making, for being willing to push the boundaries.
She is the tough one. She can use silence in a way that only a master teacher can. A comment is made and her head moves to the side and with the slightest of grins she will ask: can you explain that to me again. J has a reputation that precedes her; 10th graders find out that she is their teacher and worry, but secretly, they know that they will be in good hands. How is it that they figure this out so fast? J embodies fairness and integrity. Students understand quickly that she will assess them based on what they do, what they learn and how they grow. And soon enough, they see, as we do, that under that profoundly serious commitment to their learning, there is an extremely dynamic sense of humor, one that both recognizes and respects human foibles. J, thank you for the integrity with which you approach your calling as a teacher, for the care, support, and love you give our students, for the standards you set as a colleague.
To understand how Trixie arrived at MA on two different occasions is to walk through several life times. She has lived in India and Southern California. She has been to art school in New York and studied at Breadloaf in Vermont. Trixie is a painter, one who has a vision and commits it to a canvas, using materials and technique to convey nuance, emotion, in essence meaning. To watch Trixie teach is to walk into a painting: to join a vision, an intention in which you participate and help create. Her classes move between Socratic method and student-centered discussion. The common denominator always is this: students are accountable to their own learning and her work is to create the environment for that to happen. Hence, her classrooms are challenging, rich, and always safe. Thank you, Trixie, for the artistry you bring to your teaching, for the leadership that you have brought to our school, and for your dedication to making MA the strong and inclusive school that it is.