By Tom Layman
When friends and family asked me what I did on my second day of work I ran down a few of the highlights for them. Let’s see, I visited the alleged grave of Mother Goose, I checked to see what flags were hanging in the Old North Church, and I ate my first cannoli (yes, my first cannoli) on Hanover Street in the North End.
Each time I told the story and set the scene I got the same response.
“Where are you working again?”
As a relative outsider to Inly School and the Montessori style of teaching, I needed to find out why the school decided to bring the faculty back together this way. I’ve seen—and been a part of orientations for school and for work—but this one stuck out to me: in a very good way.
“I deeply believe that for a team to work well together, to function together, a number of things have to happen,” Donna Milani Luther explained on Thursday. “One is that people need to get to know each other. For us, it made sense to get to know each other in the context of our curriculum, so faculty can also say, ‘Oh I learned something about American history and I can use that in my classroom.’”
The day started with a trek on the Freedom Trail up through the Boston Common and ended at Café Vittoria in the North End. In between we saw the Granary Burial Ground where many American Patriots were laid to rest. I didn’t know that Sam Adams and John Hancock ended up feuding with each other towards the end of their lives, as Mr. Higgins, our tour guide, pointed out—with a chuckle—that they were buried on opposite ends of the grounds.
I’ve never seen the Old City Hall and where Boston Latin School was founded. (Has anyone else notice how much nicer the older version of City Hall is compared to the new one?)
On our way to lunch at Pizzeria Regina, we got to stand on site of “The Big Dig” and see “Old Boston” and “New Boston” as we walked through the site of the old overpass. It was poignant to go from seeing things built in the 1700s to seeing the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge Zakim Bridge, a structure built 300 years later that pays tribute, in name and design, to the colonists who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
After lunch, we were split into teams and challenged with a historical scavenger hunt through the North End.
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From the looks on everyone’s face, they all enjoyed the good time. I’m also positive that everyone enjoyed the cool setting of Café Vittoria for some cappuccinos and other Italian desserts.
But this day was about getting the teachers and staff back into the swing of things. It was about having fun and also learning a thing or two, and if the scavenger hunt worked out the way Donna planned, then the students will reap the benefits of it.
“Having the teachers experience something first hand as opposed to just making it up for the students is really important,” Donna said. “Then we can model it. We can remember how enthusiastic we were on the scavenger hunt and then bring that same enthusiasm when we make an assignment for the students.”