Steve Bergen, Mayfield Senior School, Pasadena, CaKaitlyn Valis
Connelly School of the Holy Child
Potomac, MD
Math Teacher and
Instructional Technology Specialist

I truly believe in the mission and philosophy of a Holy Child education; the joy, relevance, and value placed on each individual student is what keeps me passionate about this work and this place. The opportunities that I’ve had at Connelly School of the Holy Child have allowed me to grow as an educator and expand my professional experience both inside and outside the classroom. I have been allowed and encouraged to take risks in my classroom to try new teaching and learning methods, integrate innovative practices, develop new projects, and ignite interdisciplinary collaboration with colleagues. One project in particular has grown over the years into a collaboration with the Visual & Performing Arts department and members of our Facilities team. My geometry classes design and build aspects of the set for the Upper School musical that support the production and vision. This in depth project implements Project Based Learning (PBL) to provide learning opportunities that involve inquiry, problem solving, student choice, and reflection. This very real and public product provides authentic challenges for students that connects them to the Holy Child community and makes them feel a part of this key event at our school.

PBL provides opportunities for learning and growth of the whole student while building relevant and necessary skill in collaboration, problem solving, and communication. Each student has a different role, from team lead to blog reporter to videographer, which provides each of my students a place to fit in the group while showcasing their individual skills and gifts not normally demonstrated in the normal classroom setting. The growth that I see through the process and the way that the students take ownership of this project and experience is always inspiring. And of course with real work, real materials, and real power tools there is joy along the way and elation at the finished product that is enjoyed by the whole community. I am grateful for a place and community who’s mission inspires me as an educator, values these experiences for our students, and supports me as an educator to provide these learning opportunity.