Reflecting, reading, hiking: Staff and faculty reflect on back-to-school routines


Photo credit: Lola Lamberg

Director of Advancement and Communications Quyen Ngo works on her computer in her office on the first day of school. School started on Tuesday for both middle and upper school.

The hallways of Archer were no longer silent as students, faculty and staff returned to campus on Tuesday, Sept. 3. While students ordered textbooks and did summer homework in the weeks leading up to the first day of school, faculty and staff had their own back-to-school routines and preparations. 

Freshman and sophomore English teacher Stephanie Nicolard started her classroom preparation by re-reading texts that she will teach to her students. 

“The freshmen this year are reading ‘The Catcher in The Rye’ — they read that over the summer — so that is what I’ve read most recently to prepare,” Nicolard said. “I’m always thinking about what strategies would be effective in the classroom, and if there is anything new and fun and interesting that I want to try to implement. There are a lot of teaching blogs and education blogs that I like to read to get ideas.” 

While Nicolard focused on the material for the upcoming year, facilities staff member Enrique Montoya “disconnected from everywhere and everything.” Montoya hiked 30 miles through Sequoia National Park up to an elevation of 12,000 feet. 

“Most important [for school preparation] was that I was in the wilderness for four days to connect with myself,” Montoya said. “I needed that for my own personal achievement.”

New School Counselor Jaime MacDonald started to go to bed earlier. 

“I tried to get back into a very healthy mind, body and spirit routine, which I try to keep up,” Macdonald said. 

Sophomore history teacher Nick Graham, like Nicolard, said he did a lot of reading in order to prepare for “exciting” new units in tenth grade history.

“I did a lot of reflection on last year: what worked well, what didn’t work well,” said Graham. 

Before school began, members of faculty and staff met from August 22-27 at Archer for the August Institute.

“[The faculty and staff] met to think about ways to make this year super awesome,” Math Department Chair Christopher Luzniak said.

The meetings were filled with bonding activities, lesson and strategic planning, curriculum mappings and even a meditation led by Head of School Elizabeth English. Staff and faculty also had retreats before the August Institute for individual groups such as deans, chairs and new faculty.

Choir and a cappella teacher Hannah O’Connor, who is new to Archer, said she enjoyed the back to school environment.

“My favorite part so far has just been how joyous all of the students are to be back,” O’Connor said. “It makes you really excited to get back to work.”

Correction (9:30 a.m. Sept. 20): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Enrique Montoya was the “Facilities Director.” He is part of the facilities staff.