about-bird
NADJA SHANNON-DABEK

Education:

B.A., Wesleyan University

Started at The Common School:

2017

Outside interests:

Yiddish, singing, swimming (especially in the ocean!), reading, eating ice cream, spending time with friends and family

What brought you to The Common School?

My first connection to The Common School was as a student: I arrived here in first year E1 (3rd grade) and I graduated in 2007. I have such fond memories of walking up the path every morning feeling excited to dive into whatever we were learning about that day, whether it was crafting puppets for a play about Monkey King or learning how to weave on a backstrap loom to accompany our study of the Maya and Aztec. The Common School was a place where learning was truly a joyful experience, and as a teacher I continue to appreciate The Common School’s collaborative and creative approach to education.

Tell us about a favorite teaching moment at The Common School:

Every fall the whole Common School gathers to pumpkins at Bramble Hill Farm, and every year the Blue Nursery is in charge of preserving some of the pumpkin seeds to plant again in the spring. I love the way my students invest themselves in every part of this process, from picking pumpkins with older buddies and loading them onto wagons to carefully washing the seeds and figuring out methods of counting them before packaging them up to deliver to Farmer Hans, our neighbor farmer. The pride on their faces as they present the seeds to Farmer Hans is matched only by their excitement when they sit down next to him to enjoy the pumpkin bread that they have helped to prepare. This moment encapsulates so many things I love about education at the Common School: the hands-on, integrative approach, the cultivation of a greater sense of community, and the way the children of every age are valued as thoughtful, capable learners.

What do you like best about The Common School?

I love how The Common School emphasizes building community as a key part of the educational process. When I watch my Blue Nursery students excitedly interact with their E2 (5th and 6th grade) buddies or attend a special soup party that the P1 (kindergarten) class has put together for the nursery students, I know that I am watching my students develop an awareness not just of what it means to be an individual, but also how to be thoughtful and compassionate members of a wider circle. This early experience of being seen as a valued part of The Common School community helps students develop a sense of both confidence and responsibility towards others when moving through the world.