Adolescence presents different growth opportunities for different students, so finding a committed, trusted mentor can be as valuable as any academic experience. This is the essential outlook that Jen Laviola brings to Morristown-Beard School.
While her teaching workload of Middle School Spanish and Upper School Advanced Italian are enough to keep her busy and fulfilled, the commitment she makes as a Middle School Advisor and the bond it creates with her students is the highlight of her work as an educator. By spending time with each of her students, Ms. Laviola can make connections with the children, empathize with them and then personalize their educational experience. All of this creates an environment of mutual respect and trust between student and teacher.
Teaching both Middle School and Upper School students presents more of an opportunity than a challenge for Ms. Laviola. She has found she learns as much from her students as they learn from her. This makes the experience richer and more satisfying and underscores one of her key principles. “I believe you are a student when you are in a classroom, but you can always be a learner,” Laviola says. “Linking what is learned in school to how you conduct yourself in life is a core tenet of my educational approach.”
The collegial atmosphere and supportive network among the staff at MBS creates an environment that encourages creativity, and Ms. Laviola translates that philosophy to learning activities. The supportive and flexible environment means teachers can use their imaginations in developing their lessons and can allow students to do the same in their learning. From writing a play in Spanish for a particularly theatric class to perform, to having Italian students perform improvisational sketches in Italian, to making fresh pasta, Ms. Laviola is able to meet students in a place where they are engaged and their minds are open to learning.
Ms. Laviola’s academic and cultural experiences have truly informed her philosophy and approach to learning, encouraging her students to see themselves as both individuals and as parts of a greater whole. With its student-focused approach, Morristown-Beard School has proved to be an ideal setting to impart these principles.