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Science | Joel Hawes

I have the pleasure of working with the pre-kindergarten through second grade science students, while also serving as the Lower School Director. My undergraduate studies at the University of Maine included a major in Elementary Education and a minor in Learning Disabilities. 

My Boston University graduate coursework includes Master’s degrees in Science Education and in School Leadership. I am entering my thirteenth year at Berwick Academy. Prior to current employment, I worked at Tenacre Country Day School in Wellesley, Massachusetts in various instructional and administrative roles. I began teaching school in Bangor, Maine as a sixth grade middle school teacher and have also worked as a reading instructor and program coordinator with the Boston Community Schools. Besides my work at Berwick, I love my family time in Eliot, Maine and exploring the area on bike rides, hikes and running routes. Gardening, kayaking and reading are also engaging pursuits during down-time opportunities.

Describe your classroom in five words:
My classroom is a safe, engaging, hands-on, fun and exploratory-based place to learn.

Why do you love teaching science?

Science study allows for high engagement and enthusiasm for content knowledge and for active exploration. I love seeing students’ natural enthusiasm come to life when we engage in a classroom or outdoor exploration. It is refreshing to see that this natural sense of wonder is ever-present in our students. The growth in skills and knowledge that students demonstrate from grade to grade is also a pleasure to observe.

How do you define great teaching?

Great teaching occurs when teachers’ promote a purposeful combination of high-interest topics with a logical flow of learning experiences, while also taking the strengths, challenges and social needs of their students into account. Great teaching typically follows a flow of lessons that begins with skill/knowledge development, then places the skills/knowledge into specific practice applications and finally utilizes the skills/knowledge in authentic problem solving scenarios. Great teaching is alive and fluid, rather than predictable and static. It evolves with specific student, classroom and school needs, while also maintaining a bigger-picture foundational philosophy that guides teaching/learning on a daily and yearly basis.
What is your favorite thing about the Lower School?
I love the “summer camp feeling” that is inherent in our Division throughout the school year. Students and adults love working together in ways that promote a gestalt of high-energy and engagement. At the foundation of our endeavor is a respect for the social-emotional needs of individual community members and of our School as a whole. Next, an engaging alignment of core curricula, unified exploration classes and special events bring meaning to the Lower School experience. Ultimately, the dedicated and respectful exchange between students, families and faculty/staff make our daily experiences so enjoyable throughout the school year.

Berwick Academy

Berwick Academy, situated on an 80-acre campus just over one hour north of Boston, serves 550 students, Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12 and Post-Graduates. Berwick students are from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and several countries. Deeply committed to its mission of promoting virtue and useful knowledge, Berwick Academy empowers students to be creative and bold. Berwick strives to graduate alumni who shape their own learning, take risks, ask thoughtful questions, and come to understand and celebrate their authentic selves.