by George Mackaronis
Before starting at Blue Ridge School, I did not have a particularly strong opinion about single-gender education. I knew it was a pedagogy that many people believe in and I knew that, as a type of education, it provides numerous benefits to students and teachers alike. As a male with memories of my teenage years and high school still relatively fresh in my mind, it was easy to imagine the possible benefits of single-gender education for male students attending an all-male boarding school.
In order to better acclimate myself with single-gender education, specifically all-boys’ education, and to prepare for my new teaching roll at Blue Ridge, I enrolled in an online course hosted by the International Boys’ Schools Coalition titled “Single-Gender Education: A Course for Teachers New to Boys’ Schools.” As the course title implies, this offering seemed like the perfect compliment to the new faculty orientation I was already going through at Blue Ridge. The IBSC course was incredibly comprehensive and it really helped me adjust to my new teaching environment. During the course we heard from numerous veteran all-boys’ educators and administrators who all shared a common passion for all-boys’ education and whose experiences speak to the benefits and uniqueness of all-boys’ education. My peers and I discussed numerous topics regarding all-boys’ education: successful teaching methods within an all-boys’ classroom, recent research findings about the benefits of single-gender education, how to develop character in young men, and mentorship skills for the classroom and beyond. The entire experience was very inspiring and I would recommend this course to anyone new to teaching in a single-gender environment.
While my main reason for enrolling in this course was to be completely prepared for the upcoming school year, the course simultaneously checked off a very important personal box: it was an opportunity for me to learn something new and feel like a beginner. I love the process of learning, in particular the process of learning about something I have little understanding of or don’t know how to do. In this case, I was inspired to learn how to teach and connect with students in a new teaching environment at a new school! Education is very multi-dimensional in the sense that there are many different contexts and settings that teaching and learning can occur: within a certain subject, at a specific grade level, in a certain physical space or classroom, and in a particular method. This diversity is one of the most exciting aspects of teaching for me and the opportunity to continue my own personal education, in the short term through this IBSC course, was very rewarding.
As I learned during the proposal and registration process to take this course, Blue Ridge School prioritizes and supports continuing education and professional development for its teachers, administrators, and staff. The culture within the academic realm of the school is highly professional and it was apparent from the beginning that teachers here are constantly trying to refine their craft and teach at the highest possible level. The success of the school over the years and presently is due in large part to the combination of those sorts of master teachers working at a school that supports them wholeheartedly. I accepted a job here because I knew I would have opportunities and support to grow as a teacher and coach and I knew that Blue Ridge would be supportive as I create a foundation for a career in education.
George Mackaronis is a graduate of Denison University. At Blue Ridge School, he teaches 11th grade English, works in Institutional Advancement, and coaches winter outdoor sports.