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Teacher Friend Groups

By: Ryan Harsono

Staff members eat lunch too. Who do they eat with?

d.tech math teacher Dave Groat and d.tech’s education support specialist Sara Lucckesi taking a walk during lunch. Photo by Matthew Silverman

Ever wonder who your favorite teacher is chatting up during lunch? At d.tech, it’s clear that our atmosphere and culture differs from that of other high schools and, evidently, that not only applies to students, but faculty as well. When asked to compare the dynamic of d.tech faculty relations to the dynamic of other schools, freshman English teacher Patrick Sullivan remarked, “[the d.tech staff] welcomed us right away, it wasn’t like ‘Oh it’s like this here’…Millbrae was like that.” He went on to say that at his previous school the staff were “more cliquey”, “more traditional”, and “less inclined to be receptive to change”.

Close friendships between staff are highly encouraged and easily cultivated because of each faculty member’s openness and kindness. All of the teachers were quick to say how welcoming and receptive the other veteran teachers had been when they first started. In addition, new teachers also felt much more included in faculty-wide social activities. One such activity was seeing Black Panther in theaters and then having dinner, which was described by new senior English teacher and internship coordinator Rachel Siegman as a good bonding time, because, as she put it, “When you sit down, you can’t necessarily choose who you sit next to, so you get to know staff on a more personal level.” Needless to say, these activities seem to bring almost all of the staff closer together, and many teachers hope to be able to do things like this more often.

Though there did not appear to be any exclusive cliques within the d.tech staff, many noted that age was a somewhat important factor when it came to making friends.  “I think a lot of it has to do with how old you are, and to a lesser extent, your lifestyle…There’s certain teachers on staff that I absolutely adore, but for some reason I don’t hang out with them socially, and I think it’s just because we’re totally different ages, so we do different things,” said Junior and senior English teacher Lessley Anderson. She went on to say that age is “less about affecting personality, and more about affecting how much cool stuff you can do.” Partnership developer and Social Studies teacher Rob Bolt had a different take, and remarked, “The workplace is sort of a leveler, to some degree, in terms of age because you don’t pick who you work with by age. When you socialize outside of school, like your friends, it is very much defined by age, but not entirely.”

Many teachers observed that the younger teachers seemed to have closer bonds with each other because they have more free time compared to older  teachers. This allows these teachers to spend more time together and, as a result, build stronger relationships. Junior and senior English teacher Nathan Pierce stated, “Sometimes people make friendships, and this is true of your student body, friends that are friends by association, by proximity, and then there’s friendships built by shared experiences and mutual trust that just take time to develop, so I feel like if people are closer maybe they’ve had more time to spend with each other.”

The culture of hip hop has played a great role in pulling people together, such as Quincy Stamper (Photography teacher), Patrick Sullivan (freshman English teacher), and Henry Lonnemann (Government teacher). When asked about this close bond, Mr. Sullivan said, “Having a common experience or interest like that makes it a lot easier to get to know people…to have some idiosyncratic experiences between them and you, where you develop a relationship; I think that’s what a relationship is, like me and you were at the same place at the same time, both thinking and both experiencing, so we’re connected.”

In many ways, the experience of high school as students can be paralleled to the same experience of high school as teachers; but in just as many ways, these experiences can be different. As Pierce said, “High school is a fishbowl of relationship building, because four years to develop very strong relationships with people you’re in classes with, you spend time with, but us teachers, we’re going to be here for years, so if you give us more than four years to build our relationships, we will.”

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