Erik Swanson joined the Lower School as a fifth-grade science in for 10 years. Since that time he has become well-known throughout the school for his kindness, his gentle humor, and the warmth he exudes. He has influenced fifth-grade science in so many ways – from nurturing his students’ curiosity in science class to mentoring the electricians and historians in the fifth-grade opera, and, of course, taking a genuine interest in their lives outside of school.
During the closing weeks of school, there was a constant stream of former students coming back to visit their Lower School teachers – and Mr. Swanson’s classroom was often the first place they went. Our graduates always enjoy coming back to visit the class pets, Nellie and MJ, check on the progress of the Green Cup Challenge geared to help children understand the value of recycling, and engage in some friendly banter about New England sports teams.
While Mr. Swanson loves Dwight-Englewood and especially the Lower School, New England is home, and that is where he is heading. We will miss him greatly, but the pull of the ocean, beloved Red Sox, and his loving family is strong. We thank him for his years of service and wish him the best!
After tutoring the elementary-aged child of a friend, Barry Ostrer decided to make a big career transition – from integrative technology work to teaching. The Lower School was very lucky to be able to offer him a position teaching fifth-grade math. As a first-year teacher, Mr. Ostrer brought incredible content area knowledge and tremendous enthusiasm.
Over the years, he has inspired so many students and taught them to think deeply about mathematical concepts. He was inspired by the Singapore Math curriculum and problem-based math, and displayed techniques in facilitating the learning in his classes. His students leave with strong skills and confidence in their problem-solving abilities.
As a teacher he became well-known amongst students and colleagues for nurturing students’ participation, risk-taking and willingness to always see a mistake as an opportunity to learn. He has famously categorized mistakes as “beautiful” opportunities for growth – language that his students have carried with them as they move onto sixth grade.
Mr. Ostrer is now taking the next step in his career to work with Middle School students at a school closer to his home in Westchester County. Though we will miss him, we are grateful for the incredible fifth-grade math program he has helped to build.
Though we have only known her a year, we truly love Vanessa Gomez (in cap, fourth from left in the above photo). “Ms. Vanessa”, as she is known to all, joined the Lower School in a newly created position during the 2016-17 school – that of Recess Coach. Recess can be a very intense part of the day and requires people who understand and care about the ways in which children play and how they navigate interacting with one another.. In her role as a coach, Ms. Vanessa brought a level of insight and care to this position and connected with the various ages and interests of our students.
She is kind, calm, has great instincts and is beloved by the Lower School students who have come to know her. Our children are safe when they are in her hands, and she takes great care to guide them in fairness, good sportsmanship, and a love of play.
She has an incredible work ethic, which did not go unnoticed by her supervisor at the sports facility where she works as a trainer. She has been offered a promotion and new position, which she simply cannot refuse – and we wouldn’t want her to. Her love is physical fitness and training individuals to be the best they can be, and her new position allows her to concentrate on that love.
We will miss Ms. Vanessa’s humor, athleticism, and work ethic – not to mention her mean fastball. We thank her for an incredible year and wish her all the best.