This month we feature middle school English teacher, Alysia LaBonte-Campbell. Mrs. LC, as she is known by her students, said her fondest memories at Rectory involve her work in the classroom. Each year, she looks forward to working with a new group of students, hearing their valuable perspectives, and helping them grow along the way.
For Alysia LaBonte-Campbell, teaching is about relationships. An English teacher's role is to facilitate student learning and growth, acknowledge each student's voice as unique and essential, and put them in a position to thrive.
The consummate middle school English teacher, LaBonte-Campbell has tutored sixth graders, taught seventh and eighth graders, and is currently teaching ninth-grade students.
"In every situation, with every grade, I am overwhelmed each year by what they teach me. Students/children/young adults are impressive. They're navigating a world that I'm not sure I would have been able to navigate as successfully as a kid. They are accepting, empathetic, and they challenge adults to be better. I love that about working with kids," she said.
As an English teacher, LaBonte-Campbell wants her students to know that teachers are more complicated than the preconceived notions of who they are. Not all are bookworms, were class pets, or lived and breathed and loved going to school.
"I want students to know that I--we, teachers--am more complicated than that. That I understand the frustration of reading a book if it's not very interesting or writing a paper when you feel you cannot generate the initial idea," she said.
This might help explain that when it comes to her classroom, LaBonte-Campbell may choose the texts, which she tries to keep fresh and engaging, but her goal is to put students in a position to focus on what they deem important about the text and lead the discussion.
"I want them to feel free to choose what they analyze in a book, what they discuss in a whole-class discussion. Whether in writing or a discussion, I aim to teach students that they all have something important, valuable, powerful to say. I want them to become confident in voicing those ideas," she said.
What makes Rectory School a special place to teach is its support and inclusive structure, she said. Practice with the orchestra string ensemble and play a varsity sport. See a learning specialist rather than join classmates during independent study hall. Be a member of the Advanced Magic Team.
"I think we have a really special community that feels like family. Everyone is accepted and understood--and celebrated!--for who they are," she said.
At the end of the day, though, what motivates her is having helped a student. She gets excited when she reads an assignment from a student who had a "lightbulb moment." She'll take that win, consider it with something that didn't go as planned, and puzzle it out so she, and thus her students, can improve for next time.
"I am someone who wants to really understand the ins and outs of things. If I feel like a discussion didn't go well in class, for example, I am going to work to find a new method that someone, somewhere, has used to make sure next time there is a step in the right direction," she said.
- Middle School