This fall, along with three other students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Independent School Teaching Residency, Jason Leong joined the Lawrenceville community, serving as a History Teaching Fellow and crew coach while earning his master’s degree in education.
Before coming to Lawrenceville, Leong attended Colby College, double majoring in history and biology. His roommate, a Lawrenceville alumnus, knew Leong wanted to go into teaching, and recommended to him a program where he could earn his master’s degree, learn more about social justice, and engage in compelling conversations with students through Harkness. These discussions compelled Leong to ultimately choose Lawrenceville as his next destination, where he could pursue his passion for history.
When he first arrived at Lawrenceville, Leong was struck by the supportiveness of the School community, who put Leong's inexperience in the teaching world aside and welcomed him with open arms and guidance. One moment that particularly stood out to Leong occurred during faculty orientation, when another faculty member approached him and said, “Whenever someone from Lawrenceville is willing to share a piece of advice, know that they are 100 percent there to support you…they will go above and beyond.”
While balancing life as a teacher and student is certainly no easy task, Leong finds the experience rewarding, as it helps him understand the experiences of the students he teaches. He manages to balance each part of his life by setting apart chunks of time and utilizing the time management skills he developed in college.
Though having just arrived on campus, Leong can already tell that Lawrenceville is a very special place to work. “I feel very privileged to be able to teach in a classroom, have such great mentors, and really be able to make an impact on my students’ experiences,” he said.
Science teaching fellow Rebekah Crane graduated from Vanderbilt University in the spring of 2022. After graduating, Crane knew she wanted to be a teacher, and the fellowships program provided her the perfect opportunity to do so. Crane said that “the strong balance between collaboration and competitiveness among students is what I find wonderful.” Speaking on her experience teaching science, Crane said, “I love the problem solving that goes into science, and the ways that it applies outside of the classroom, so I studied chemistry and secondary education in my undergraduate years.”
When it comes to balancing the work between being a teacher and a student, Crane found living with the other fellows in the Penn program to be very helpful. “It's nice to have people dealing with the same difficulties and the same challenges, but also celebrate things together too,” Crane said.
Crane’s favorite part of Lawrenceville so far has been experiencing House Olympics, commenting that it is already one of her favorite moments here. Outside of the classroom, Crane coaches Junior Varsity Girls Basketball in the Winter Term and Varsity Softball in the Spring Term. “I love sports. That's one of my favorite things outside of teaching. It'll be really fun to get to know a new group of students in a different way besides in the classrooms,” Crane said. Both Crane and her family are college team loyalists: “My mom and my brother went to the University of Michigan, so we're big Michigan fans. And then my dad and I went to Vanderbilt, so we're also big Vanderbilt fans. I will watch any sport that those two schools are playing!” she said.
English fellow Gabrielle Lescadre is dipping her hand into uncharted waters by joining a new era for Lifetime Tech. For the first time in Lawrenceville history, Lifetime Tech is working on more than just set design. This year, under her supervision, the team is working on costume design. As an experienced costume designer, Lescadre’s passion for the arts has bled into her pursuit of education and teaching style.
An English Teacher for the II Form, Lescadre’s knowledge of the fellowship program came from her own high school, the Frederick Gunn School. Voted most likely to come back and teach, Lescadre admitted that her peers were right, although she fulfilled her high school superlative at a different high school.
When asked why she chose to teach English, Lesacdre had a simple answer: the power of storytelling. One of Lescadre's favorite parts of teaching English is choosing stories she loves and sharing them with people. Lescadre explained that since she’s always been interested in theatre, teaching topics like Shakespeare excites her. As she loves everything in “the arts sphere,” English is an exciting class for her to teach.
Something she looks forward to this school year is II Form Shakespeare. When asked to give a few words of advice to the II Form, she said, “I would say to [II Formers]: go for it. Audition for [II Form] Shakespeare, get involved—if you’ve never done anything before in the theatre, it’s the time to just do something crazy and try something you’ve never done before.” She emphasized the importance of trying new things and exploring all that Lawrenceville has to offer, admitting that she plans to become as much of a part of the community as she can.
Math fellow Scott Hallyburton, a recent graduate of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has made his passion for working in the math department very clear. He enjoys the fact that the faculty care and think critically about the way they teach, using the feedback they receive from students, talking to each other about their ideas, and fostering a constructive environment. He appreciates that there is space to grow, and he would like to “talk about things [one] would like to do better in certain classes but also shar[e] victories.” He admires that this sentiment is present in not only the faculty and staff but also in the student body. Hallyburton appreciates the willingness of the student body to challenge themselves, even with the struggles that may come with them, and he respects that students “striv[e] for something more here.”
When asked how he balanced his life as a student and as a teacher, Hallyburton replied that treating it like a job was the easiest way of staying on top of things. He explained that having an order of precedence made time management easier, as he dedicated certain hours of the day, or the week, to certain aspects of his teaching or student life. He also explained that his past experience as a cook helped him learn how to prioritize certain jobs and pace himself as he dealt with the many facets of his life as a fellow.
The Lawrenceville community itself has been a highlight for Hallyburton, as he recounts watching students cheer each other on at assorted sports games. He looks forward to teaching math not only because it is his passion, but also because he has the opportunity to learn more about his students and how he can help them learn better and become stronger thinkers. When asked if he had any words of advice for his students, he emphasized the need for self confidence. “Before you’re able to convince anyone else, you have to be able to convince yourself. That’s true in a lot of cases” he remarked.