How Our School Has Changed: A Teacher’s Perspective

Since Harwood’s opening, the school has developed into a strong community. What kind of change has happened? How do we expect the school to progress without the knowledge of the past? How do the teachers feel about occurrences that have changed their workplace since the beginning of their career? 

In 1992 when Wendy Rand started to work as a teacher’s assistant here at Harwood, she was originally only supposed to be here for a semester.  She had always loved art and knew she wanted it to have a strong presence in her future. After completing her four year Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree, she was stumped about how to proceed with her career. “When the reality of life started to hit, and it was like, Well, what are you going to do when you graduate? I’m like, `Oh, what am I gonna do?’” That’s when she decided to work towards a teaching certificate to become a full time art teacher. In order to have a teaching certificate you need to work a semester at an elementary or high school as a student intern. Harwood was that school for her. When the previous art teacher got into an accident, Wendy stepped up to take their place as a long term sub teaching classes such as Crafts and Pottery. 

Now, Wendy sees a light near the end of the tunnel for her career as an art teacher. She talks about how relieved she will be to not be on a bell schedule. Wendy was hired when there were eight, 40 minute classes every day. It was like Wednesday plus one more class. “I shadowed a job with a friend of mine who owns a real estate company. And I’m thinking about next summer interning with him and getting my real estate license and perhaps looking into becoming a real estate agent when I retire.”

Chris Rivers, the head of the music department, was hired only a year before Wendy. He started working here and saw the school as a small, locally known, and supportive community. In college he had found himself having a knack for helping and teaching kids, going from being an undergraduate to graduate, then coming to Vermont to work at Harwood. “So without any break, I kind of went into full adulting.” he said. Mr. Rivers teaches classes like Music Theory, Band, and a History of Rock and Roll. 

Mr. Rivers, after 33 years of working at the school, is retiring. He spoke of how proud he is of the music department and his colleagues, but especially the students he has taught and inspired to be passionate about music. 

While Harwood’s favorite band teacher had more of a positive outlook on his first few years, Wendy reflects differently on the beginning of her teaching career, “It was a much tougher school then. I know that I was a little bit afraid to walk down the hall when I first started working here.” When a new principal was introduced to the school, she started seeing a transformation: new classes, better spaces, stronger student voices like the assembly program and the senior cafe. This provided Harwood students with good spaces to express themselves with art and music.

Both teachers have worked at the school more than half of their lives. Wendy even met her husband Stephen Rand, another Harwood teacher, while working at the school. He thinks of Harwood fondly, “I feel like in many ways, it has been my life. You know, my kids went to school here. So I’ve seen this school from a variety of perspectives as both a teacher and a dad. And, you know, I’ve seen a lot of good teachers come and go and great teachers come and stay. So I think that there’s just a lot of really talented people in this building to help all students.” The changes that have been made to Harwood have ultimately helped foster a happier atmosphere and a better school experience for students and teachers alike.