If there is one thing everyone can agree on, it is that Upper School Learning Specialist Janet Favero will not only be missed for all the academic support she provided to students for so many years, but also for the enormous warmth of spirit she brought to all of her endeavors. From the hand-made truffles she created for her advisory and colleagues, to essays hand-delivered to students on deadline,
“J-Fav,” as she is affectionately known, was constantly busy making Key School a better place. With the move last year of Janet’s headquarters in the Writing Lab from the upstairs of the Pre-School to its new space in the heart of the Upper School’s Science Library Center, Janet’s proximity has increased the students’ ability to use the Lab more frequently and more conveniently.
On a typical day in the Writing Lab, you might see: a junior at the white board brainstorming ideas for an American Civilization essay; a freshman at the desk going over his planner with Janet, organizing the week to come; and, in the comfy reading chair, a senior might be catching up on an English 12 assignment. The welcoming atmosphere of the Writing Lab makes all students at home. A long cry from the hallway in the Middle School Barn where Janet began her career at Key in 1991, the Writing Lab is now a place where students in all disciplines, and at all levels, feel comfortable seeking collaborative support.
Upper School Division Head Todd Casey says, “Janet has made a strong and very substantive leadership contribution to Key in her long tenure with us. She has been a tireless advocate for students and student learning. She has also pushed us all to be flexible, creative, and adept at differentiating our instruction and responding to students’ individual learning styles and strengths. Simply put, she has made us all better.”
Caroline Hays ’12 speaks for many students from across the years when she says, “Janet Favero has been one of the most dedicated faculty members I have ever had the pleasure of working with. No matter how close to the deadline I brought her my paper, she would make the time to help me with it, even if that meant dropping it off at my house in the evening after she had had time to edit it. She was also a wonderful mentor and always took the time to chat with me about anything and everything.”
A passionate proponent of lifelong learning, Janet has regularly attended conferences and workshops, keeping up-to-date on the latest trends in brain research and differentiated learning. In particular, Janet has kept the faculty abreast of changes the students are undergoing as learners. “Kids are more complicated now,” she says. “They are interfacing with computers, cell phones, screens of all kinds. We need to understand the impact this is having on their learning and on their brains.” Faculty and students alike have benefitted from the latest learning trends Janet brought to Key.
Lee Ann Havard, now a Middle School Learning Specialist, will become the new Upper School Learning Specialist next year, and appreciates the time she has spent working with Janet over the last few years. “J-Fav has the unique ability to teach her students and her advisees to believe in themselves. To me, there is no greater skill a teacher can impart on a student.”
“Graduation ceremony accolades conferred year in year out on Janet Favero by her grateful students tell it all,” says Head of School Marcella Yedid. “Thanks to Janet’s relentless efforts countless seniors look back on their Upper School careers appreciating her efforts in enabling them to become more proficient writers, with better honed executive skills in organization, planning and execution. And, such attention to individual needs through the services of the Writing Lab has not been contained to school hours. Janet’s generosity also extended to “home service” on weekends and to after school hours. A passionate researcher, committed to staying abreast of the latest neuro-scientific studies, Janet’s contributions at Key over two decades have had an impact on the faculty with whom frequently she collaborates on identifying creative pedagogical concepts for a variety of learners, and on the students who have benefited from her insights on their individual learning modalities. “
With her husband Philip now retired, and her three children Mari’95, Elissa’01 and Anna ‘03 out of the house, the time has arrived for Janet to move on. “Key has allowed me to keep learning, which has been wonderful. And I will keep going to the “Learning and the Brain” conferences—just because I am leaving Key, doesn’t mean I won’t keep learning! I’m proud of my record, but it’s time for something new for me.” Janet’s plans include going to Jazzercise classes, perhaps even training to become a instructor, volunteering with the Eastport Girls’ Club, and cooking her way through a favorite cookbook, a la Julia and Julia.
“Everyone says to do one thing at a time when you retire, don’t expect to do it all at once. So, I will add one thing at a time.” There will be flowers planted in the garden, hand-made truffles to craft in the kitchen and always, more to learn.
If you would like to contact Janet, email email@example.com
After 21 years of teaching in Key’s Middle School, Sharon Pehle is retiring. But don’t tell her that, because Sharon will not use the word “retiring” to describe her future. She prefers instead to call it “re-creating” her life. Immediate plans include relaxing and traveling with her husband Richard Pehle and spending more time with her animals, including cats, dogs and horses. Long known in this community as an animal lover, Sharon has some exciting ideas about starting a small business involving the pet industry, although she won’t get more specific than that. “My heart,” she says, “is with critters.”
Sharon, who teaches Life Science to the seventh grade and Earth Science to the eighth grade, is also the eighth grade team leader. She oversees the Life Skills program and guides her colleagues in helping students navigate their final year in Middle School. While some teachers might see middle-schoolers as a tough bunch to teach, Sharon embraces them in all their multiplicity: “I adore thirteen-year olds: their self-awareness, their honesty, their acceptance of authority, and their teachability.” The irony of her twin pursuits, both animal and human, is not lost on her, and she says good-naturedly, “Yes, animals and thirteen-year olds have a lot in common. They both push boundaries and enjoy testing limits. I get the respect I do because I am confident, clear about consequences, and I work without judgment.”
Students agree. Delia Holland ‘15 says, “Ms. Pehle was one of the best teachers I have ever had. She truly understands what it means to be a teenager and the challenges that we face. I will never forget how much fun I had going bird watching with her at Point Lookout, or how funny she was canoeing around Wye Island. Words cannot even describe what a wonderful person she is and how much she cares for her students.” Drew Dowell ’15 adds, “Ms. Pehle is just really understanding, humorous, interesting, and fun to talk to.”
When Sharon looks back on her years at Key, the thing that amazes her most is the growth the School has undergone during her tenure. “When I first started here, there was no formal science department. We were in the old Pre-School and I didn’t even have a desk.” As she looks around her current classroom, replete with all the trimmings, Sharon shakes her head and exclaims, “Look at this now! There is nothing I don’t have; nothing I can’t ask for!” As for her own evolution at Key, she says, “What I have loved about being a teacher here is that Key not only supported me, but also encouraged me to be a more creative teacher.”
Dave Magnus, Middle School Division Head, celebrates Sharon’s versatility. “Sharon has displayed invaluable leadership in her dual role as a grade level team leader and as a curricular leader within the Outdoor Education program. We will certainly miss the impact that she has had over so many years in the Middle School.” Certainly, memories of many past Outdoor Education trips are cherished by Sharon. “Lee Curry and I used to do many trips together. Then more and more teachers and alums joined us. Lee Schreitz and I used to be the only women out there, but I am happy to say we now have a good balance of both male and female leaders on the trips.” Says Middle School teacher Keely Reithlingshoefer ’98, “It is difficult to know how to put into words my experiences with Sharon over the years. I knew her first as my teacher in eighth grade. Science was not my strength, but I appreciated her a great deal in the classroom and on outdoor trips. My respect for her grew as I came back to teach at Key and have had the opportunity to work alongside her. She is a talented teacher and she truly understands eighth graders. Her perspectives have given me much insight and I will miss her next year. Sharon has been an incredible colleague, mentor and friend.”
“I am experiencing a weird combination of excitement and apprehension,” says Sharon of her departure from Key. “On the one hand, I am going to miss this place, the students, my colleagues from so many years, but on the other hand, I am excited about this life change, about doing something different. It’s a little bit scary to think about going out of my comfort zone, but I am ready.”
“To be a Middle School teacher for over twenty years takes understanding and appreciation of the young adolescent in search of identity, autonomy and the accompanying experimentation with both,” says Head of School Marcella Yedid. “Sharon has brought quintessential qualities to this endeavor: humor, patience, firmness, compassion, practicality, straight talk, and full commitment. Though science instruction has given her the path to her students, what she has offered them goes so far beyond that. As advisor, mentor and parent surrogate, she has shown her students pathways to coming of age. No doubt, many will remember these pathways for years to come.”
If you would like to contact Sharon, email firstname.lastname@example.org