Milton Welcomes New Teachers
by The Milton Measure on Friday, September 21st, 2012Amidst the welcoming of many new members of the Milton community, Ms. Alisa Braithwaite, Ms. Margery Sokoloff, and Dr. Jamie Greene have joined the Milton Academy faculty in the English and History Departments.
Ms. Braithwaite, joining the English department, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Ever since she was in second grade, she knew that she wanted to become a teacher: “I loved English, I loved writing and reading, [and] I just wanted to sit under a tree and read.
She pursued her passion for education at Barnard College, where she minored in education and trained as a student teacher. Immediately after graduating, she began teaching in New York City. She earned a PhD in English literature from Harvard University and, though she was hesitant at first, taught at the college level. After teaching at MIT for six years, Ms. Braithwaite felt that she was not able to focus enough on teaching. She mentions that her university position “… was much more research driven… I wanted to have my main work be in the classroom and with people, so that’s why I decided to return to high school teaching. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to do that at Milton.” Ms. Braithwaite was encouraged to teach at Milton by some of her friends from college who attended Milton, including her first year roommate. “I knew they were not just such amazing people and really intelligent, but also really warm. As soon as I visited [Milton] I got that feeling too.”
Ms. Braithwaite’s ideal classroom focuses on the students and is comprised of individuals with a passion for learning. She engages students by “listening to them and listening to their ideas. My goal is for them to see that I am open to them, and they shouldn’t feel afraid to try out a new idea”.
When she is not teaching, Ms. Braithwaite loves yoga, so “if anyone wants to come over and do a downward dog and stretch and relax for a few minutes, my room is Warren 318!”
Ms. Sokoloff, who also joins the English department, was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Los Angeles, California. Her first job after college was at Milton in 1988 and 1989 as part of a teaching internship program. Following her time at Milton, she received her PhD from Yale and taught there for three years. Over the last seven years, she has taught at various other schools, including the University of Miami.
Like Ms. Braithwaite, Ms. Sokoloff always knew that she wanted to be a teacher. “When I was a little kid, my friends and I would play school. It’s really hard for me to remember a time when I wasn’t teaching.”
When Ms. Sokoloff teaches, she prefers not to stand in front of a class and give a lecture; rather, “I really like discussion-based classrooms and providing provocative questions.” The main quality that Ms. Sokoloff looks for in a student is engagement. “Dare to care, because I think it is very easy for students to just not invest and sit back. I think daring to care is courageous, because it means putting yourself out there and admitting that you actually have a stake and an investment in what you are doing. I don’t care if I agree or disagree with a student, I just want a student that cares enough to have an opinion.”
Ms. Sokoloff hopes to inspire students to “think critically about the world around them, to see the world as their text, to not just passively accept.” Ms. Sokoloff is excited to be back at Milton after almost 25 years. “It’s neat to be back; I’m really grateful to be here.”
Dr. Greene, a new part time AP Psychology teacher, was also born in Washington, D.C., and raised on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She went to Harvard-Radcliffe College for her undergraduate degree and Boston University for her PhD.
She has always loved education; as a child, she was always asking questions and reading anything she could get her hands on.
She worked at Milton Academy in the late 1990’s, when she lived in Forbes House, was a class dean, worked in admissions, and taught in the History and Social Sciences Department. She left Milton to become a clinical psychologist and later became the Director of Counseling at St. Mark’s School for four years. Because her husband works at St. Marks, she still lives on campus there and commutes to Milton every day.
“I absolutely love Milton, and it feels like home to me. When the opportunity came up for me to teach [at Milton], even if it was only part-time, I jumped at the chance.”
Dr. Greene considers her teaching style to be fairly relaxed; “I like to laugh a lot with my students”. The main qualities Dr. Greene looks for in her students are authentic engagement and honesty. “Just tell me if [you] haven’t done the homework rather than sit silently, trying to look invisible.”
Dr. Greene believes she will have an easy time inspiring her students, “since Psychology tends to inspire, no matter who is teaching it! That being said, I hope that my students feel that I am genuinely engaged in their process of learning, and that I am more interested in being a guide to their process than I am with being ‘right’ or ‘the expert’”.
The Milton Academy community is privileged to welcome these three incredible teachers to the community this year; they will no doubt influence all the students with whom they interact.
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