Megan TerraDrawn to Nueva’s culture of intellectual curiosity and kindness, Megan Terra joined the school in 2009 as a first-grade teacher. In 2012, she stepped into a leadership role, directing the Innovative Teacher Program. As director, Megan expanded the program across the three divisions, supporting associate teachers to develop student-centered, innovative teaching practices. She has served as a Nueva Parent Association faculty liaison, an Innovative Learning Conference committee member, a co-director of the Design Thinking Institute, and an annual presenter at the Institute for Social-Emotional Learning. Before coming to Nueva, Megan taught preK–sixth grades, designed gifted programming, and co-directed a lower school social-emotional learning program. She holds a master’s degree in teaching and is completing a second master’s degree in educational leadership. Megan is thrilled to support students, parents, and teachers in her new role as the Interim Lower School Division Head.

1. What are you most excited about in your new role this year?

I’m excited that my new position involves so many roles that I love: working directly with students, partnering with parents, brainstorming curriculum with teachers, planning professional development, and supporting our culture of kindness and curiosity. I sincerely believe in our mission and vision and find it tremendously fulfilling to be a part of bringing it to life at every level.

I also love learning from each interaction with our students, our teachers, our parents, and our leadership team. None of us operates alone, and as a learning community we frequently talk about the ways our shared goals propel us forward. This is a wonderful time in Nueva’s history and I feel honored to get to roll up my sleeves and participate in the big thinking about how we continue to improve our preK–12 program. What could be more fun?!

2. The lower school faculty got to spend some quality time together the week before school. What would you say were some of the biggest take-aways from that experience?

During our faculty workweek, teachers reconnected, considered our shared philosophy, and set personal and professional intentions. Themes that arose from this time included a desire to deepen our work around diversity, equity, and inclusion; continue to infuse our math and science programs with challenge, productive struggle, and powerful questioning; and create quiet spaces and introspective opportunities to balance more extroverted learning modes.

We spent time reflecting on the powerful learning and teaching moments that come from listening deeply to our students and shared our intentions to be present, listen well, and enjoy the students every day.

Perhaps one of our biggest takeaways is how much we have to learn from each other as a faculty (and how lucky we are to work with such kind and interesting colleagues).

3. What is a scene from the first week of school you can recall that captures life in the Lower School at Nueva?

The first day of school in the Forts is always one of my favorite scenes from the year. Students team up to carry large branches, build structures, climb trees, trade currency (pottery and stones), and form community — rapidly and joyfully. The Forts are a space of abundance and creativity, especially on the first day. Students put their imaginations and all their SEL skills to use and reliably develop solutions that we, as teachers, would have never thought to consider. They play, experiment, explore, connect, and sometimes just relax. This scene captures so much of life in the Lower School at Nueva — we are at our best when we create learning environments where students have authentic reasons to collaborate, be resourceful, take healthy risks, and build resilience.

4. What is your favorite animal, ice cream flavor, or book and why? You choose!

If you ask my family, they will tell you that I have a hard time answering questions about my favorites — I have such a hard time choosing! So, I’ll share a few different picks, and I’ll start with a book that reminds me of Nueva — Roxaboxen by Alice McLerron. For me, this book reminds me of the kind of imagination that comes alive at Nueva, in the classrooms, on the play spaces, and especially in the Forts. I also love listening to Flavia de Luce concoct chemistry experiments and solve mysteries in the audiobook version of Alen Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. The adult book I gave to all of my friends this year was Brian Stevenson’s Just Mercy. He is one of my greatest heroes for his work, his ability to offer sobering insight into our criminal justice system, and his contagious optimism through it all.

(And if I had to choose one ice cream, I’d cheat and go with lavender honey gelato.)

5. What advice do you have for other members of our community who are doing or will do something new this year?

One of the best things about working at Nueva is that we too have permission to be learners — this is actually an essential, ongoing expectation — and it makes for a great way to start! I also recommend that everyone spend at least a little time in the classroom, no matter your role or how long you’ve been at Nueva, to be energized by our students and reminded of the joy of what we do each day. The kids will remind you of all that is most important: be in the moment, have fun, ask for help when needed, and lead with curiosity.

Remember that you are not alone — we are all in it together, and the Nueva community wants you to succeed.


September 22, 2017

 

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