AcademicsJan 5, 2024
— updated Jan 30, 2024
Pedagogy, Curriculum, and Sweat Equity
Introducing our Dean of Teaching & Learning
As a humanities teacher, Meghan Smith knows the heights students can reach when connected with and supported by classroom teachers. She sees her role as Dean of Teaching and Learning at MHS through a similar lens of both mentor and facilitator.
“It’s about being in a position to support faculty and give them what they need to be amazing in the classroom,” says Meghan, who joined Miss Hall’s this summer, after 18 years as a teacher and administrator at Lawrence Academy. “I love pedagogy and curriculum and engaging with faculty on those topics, and I think about what faculty members might need, because I want them to feel supported and to be successful.”
It is the first time in more than two decades that Meghan is not front and center in a classroom. While at Lawrence, she taught Latin, History, and English. She had also served as Language Department Chair, Director of the 9th grade interdisciplinary program, and Director of DEI Professional Growth and Practice, designing curriculum and professional development.
In considering the opportunity to guide the MHS academic program, Meghan was intrigued by the School’s mission, the Horizons program and student engagement with the world beyond the campus, and the commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“I was interested in the way Miss Hall’s embraces the community and has students understand that this is our place on the map and our greater good is tied to how we interact with the community around us,” she explains. “Making connections is also an essential part of education, in terms of fostering interpersonal skills, as well as confident communication, and I was excited to join a community that values student-centered learning and community-centered growth.”
Ultimately, Meghan sees her role as working with faculty to design and offer a curriculum that provides choice, coupled with structure and expectations, while also supporting classrooms in which each student finds a pathway to success. Similarly, she wants to work with faculty to cultivate an environment in which each teacher’s passion manifests in the classroom.
There are also opportunities to partner with Dean of Equity & Inclusion Paula Lima Jones to put the community at the center of academics and teaching. As Director of DEI Professional Growth and Practice at Lawrence, Meghan designed and implemented professional development around practices related to culturally responsive teaching.
“DEI can seem nebulous, but one of my goals is showing faculty how that nebulousness can actually become concrete in classroom practices,” she says. “In turn, those practices can be good for everyone in the classroom.”
The post-COVID world has also created space in which to rethink approaches to teaching and supporting students.
“COVID affected every corner of the planet, and people are coming out of it differently, especially students” says Meghan. “The pandemic affected how we relate to each other, how we have conversations with each other, and how we feel safe. For students, this really showed up in how they were affected by uncertainty.”
As a result, student wellness and social-emotional learning have moved to the foreground of conversations.
“We really learned how important it is for a student to be supported by clarity, transparency, and presence,” she explains. “The pandemic also exposed the false dichotomy between social-emotional learning and rigor. They are not mutually exclusive, and, in fact, SEL is important to success in the classroom.”
Still settling into her role, Meghan is clear in her passion for creating a vibrant learning community that provides avenues to success for all students and recognizes and values the expertise of all faculty. She is also cognizant of the fact that coming to MHS meant leaving a school where she and her husband Scott had taught for eighteen years, where their children were born, and where they were comfortable.
“It wasn’t going to be a ‘whatever’ school that would mean all of this change for my family,” she notes. “And, Miss Hall’s is not one to be afraid to push and explore. It doesn’t seem to be a place that shies away from sweat equity. It will be exciting to see where things go.”
“It’s about being in a position to support faculty and give them what they need to be amazing in the classroom.”
Dean of Teaching and Learning