First Year Faculty Members Reflect on Joining Sturgis Community

Faculty Orientation  August 2013

Eric Hieser Addresses East and West Faculty during Orientation in August 2013

Sturgis will welcome more than twenty new faculty members during orientation August 20 – 26.  Many of them have already begun the work of relocating to the shores of Cape Cod.  Some are traveling stateside from California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.  Others will be traveling  from Bahrain, China, England, Korea, Puerto Rico  and Vietnam. 

During the week-long faculty orientation before school starts on August 27,  new teachers will meet with lead teachers, their department members, and teachers from across departments to reflect on IB for All, our mission, our beliefs, our pedagogy and how we can improve as a school.

To help incoming faculty get a sense of what it has been like for others to  transition to new teaching positions on Cape Cod, we invited four teachers who joined the faculty last year to reflect on their expectations and experiences of joining the Sturgis community.

  • Reflect on why you chose to come to Sturgis. What did you expect? How has your experience this year differed from your expectation?
  • Reflect on your experience of moving to Cape Cod. If you were already a Cape resident, reflect on how your experience at Sturgis is different from past Cape experiences.
  • What does being a member of the Sturgis community mean to you now?
Sturgis Welcomes New Faculty - August 2013

Sturgis Welcomes New Faculty – August 2013

As you read the following responses, remember that our students are encouraged to examine their lives in relation to the IB Learner Profile,  a set of ideals that can inspire, motivate and focus the work of IB communities, uniting them in a common purpose. Of particular relevance in these reflections, note that IB learners strive to be risk takers.

Risk-takers.   They approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies. They are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs.

Chris Abel, History – East

I came to Sturgis because I wanted to return to the US, yet continue to work in a highly-rigorous academic program, preferably the IB.  I also wanted to continue to work in an atmosphere that focused on maintaining small class sizes in order to maximize student-teacher relationships (and, hence, learning).  Sturgis offered all of this.  I suppose I expected to find exactly this (highly-rigorous, small classes). My experience has been one which fit my expectation of a “highly rigorous program” and “small class sizes.”   However, the best “surprise” has been the “inclusion” policies in that Sturgis truly is for “all learners of all abilities.”  I don’t think I was expecting such an “open” environment in this regard, and I was more-than-pleasantly surprised to see that Sturgis truly lives up to its motto of “IB for All.”

I grew up in Amherst, MA and have been visiting the Cape my whole life.  Most of those visits were for “fun,” regardless of the season.  The Cape is great.  Living here is really better than I expected, to tell the truth.  Obviously, living and working here is different than vacationing for “fun,” so I never expected the experience to be like my past-experiences in that regard.  I really love the beauty of the place and being here full-time helps me to appreciate that even more.

Simply put, this is the best job I’ve ever had.  Being part of the Sturgis Community now means (to me) being part of a community which truly believes in its mission and lives up to its motto/creed/mission at all times.  I don’t think one can ask more than that out of a job – especially in education.  Sturgis is honest with itself, its faculty, its students and the community.  This, above all, makes being part of this community very rewarding.  It’s a great place to work and a great place to be.

Matt Hodge, ToK – West

I came to Sturgis because I was intrigued by the “IB for All” philosophy and wanted to be part of it.  I had heard about the outstanding faculty and students, and that the culture was one of academic rigor and exploration.  I had also heard about the open, supportive atmosphere of the school, and I found that students and teachers work together to ensure that this culture continues to develop.  After spending this year at Sturgis, I can now tell others that the reputation of the school is well deserved.

After being abroad for six years my family feels like the Cape is the perfect place to settle and we’re looking forward to all that summer here has to offer.

Being a member of the Sturgis community means that I am part of a group of highly dedicated professionals who are supported by an involved and committed parent community.

Orientation for New Faculty

Orientation for New Faculty

Darcy Hood, English – East

I am originally from Massachusetts, though not from Cape Cod, and I wanted to find an IB school in the state so I could move back home.  I am so glad I found Sturgis!  My experience with Sturgis, from my first e-mail with Eric Hieser to graduation, has been an amazing journey. Sturgis is a school that truly is a family. After just one school year here, I have come to love the students, the staff and the philosophy that our school is built upon – everyone can learn and deserves a rigorous, challenging curriculum that is not just supported by those within the school but also by the community.

Living on Cape Cod, I think, is such a privilege.  Surrounded by the ocean on one side and the bay on the other, there is really no other place like it.  There is a real sense of community here and it has a little bit of everything – music, sports, art, theater and, of course, the best seafood restaurants and beaches anywhere! On the ocean side there is Coast Guard Beach, rated one of the top ten beaches in the country!  On the bay side, my family and I have spent the past 20+ summers enjoying Crosby Landing Beach, where the tide goes out almost a mile and, contrary to all of the horror stories about the frigid Cape waters, the water can be as warm as bath water!

If you are new to Sturgis, my best advice is to get involved – at school and in the community.  Sturgis gave me many opportunities to get involved.  I was given leadership opportunities, such as being the cheer coach, student club sponsor and helping to plan the senior class trip. I was given professional development opportunities and included in various social activities.  Get involved and I know you will love Sturgis as much as I do!

Christine McDowell, ToK – West

I came to Sturgis because it’s a public school with high expectations for all of its students.  Because of its reputation as quite the academic institution, I had expected that all students were going to be extremely motivated academically.  I realized quickly that although many students are, Sturgis is just a regular high school in the sense that it has lots of different types of students with different levels of motivation and different expectations for their high school courses.  I was pleasantly surprised by this as it is certainly a school that is accessible to all, not solely high achievers.  The diversity of learning styles challenges me to constantly reflect on my lessons and assignments and is (hopefully) helping me become a better teacher.

Growing up, Cape Cod was a vacation spot that I only knew during the summer months.  Every summer, I worked at my parents’ seasonal restaurant and waited on tourists.  When I decided to move to Cape Cod permanently, I didn’t know what to expect during the winter months.  When I was younger I didn’t even know people lived on the Cape during the winter months!  I have certainly gained an appreciation of the tranquility that the colder months bring to the Cape.  This past winter was especially neat with the snowy owls making their home on nearby beaches.

In terms of what it means to be a part of the Sturgis community, this email I received from a student (on a Saturday!) gives a glimpse of what it’s like to work at Sturgis:

“Hi Ms. McDowell, This is kind of completely random, but I took the SATs today and I was able to relate the essay question to two ways of knowing! They were emotion and reason. I was excited and I felt the need to tell you. Have a great weekend.”



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