In her 21 years in the Learning Skills Department, Marilyn says that she has been thrilled with the opportunity to meet every day over an entire school year with small groups of students in Classes I-III who benefit from work with the department on their vocabulary, spelling, reading comprehension, oral reading fluency and writing in answer to questions. It is unique to Brearley, she notes, to be able to maintain a constant awareness of how a child is progressing. Marilyn, who also teaches K and V students, says she is always impressed with the students’ curiosity and insightfulness about everything they read. She also greatly enjoys reconnecting with Upper School girls whom she taught earlier and who sometimes return for a little additional study with her.
Katherine came to Brearley in 2003 as head lacrosse coach. She joined the Physical Education Department full time in 2006 and has served as Department Head since 2016. She helped to create Brearley’s China travel study program and the outdoor education fall trip. A passionate coach, Katherine was the USA under-19 Lacrosse Coach and shared her love of sports with her Brearley Field Hockey, M.S. Basketball and Lacrosse teams. Her Brearley varsity teams were consistently competitive within the AAIS and made several NYSAIS state tournament appearances. A co-founder of GLSEN, a nonprofit addressing bullying and LGBTQ issues in K-12 schools, Katherine has been adamant in teaching fairness, sportsmanship and equality on her teams. Her knowledge and collaborative leadership style have been integral to the development of the P.E. Department.
A member of the Admission team at Brearley since 2000, Joan has served as Director of Middle and Upper School Admission and Financial Assistance since 2004. In partnership with Winifred Mabley, Director of Lower School Admission, Joan has aimed to make the admission process a microcosm of Brearley—in its “clarity and transparency, in its accurate and fluent communications and, above all, in its warmth.” Joan has created for Middle and Upper School applicants a well-organized and inclusive process that yields the best outcome for the student and School alike. As Director of Financial Assistance, Joan has worked with the Financial Aid Task Force to make a Brearley education more affordable for low-middle- and upper-middle-income families. Achieving access and equity has been another defining goal.
Judy joined the Brearley community in 1987 as an educational consultant for all three divisions, working with teachers, students and parents. A specialist in child development with a focus on language and literacy, Judy has been an invaluable resource. Most recently, she has worked exclusively with the Lower School and with Kindergarten Admissions. As part of the Learning Skills team, she meets weekly with colleagues “to be sure we are supporting our girls in any way that will enhance their success here.” Judy also emphasizes that a school is greatly enriched by the differences in the students’ learning approaches. She adds how much she has enjoyed the congenial atmosphere at Brearley and that she has “the greatest fondness and respect for my colleagues of the past 32 years.”
Heyden began teaching English at Brearley in 1978. Her domain has included VI Language and VIII, IX and XI English, including electives on History in Literature, Medieval Texts and the transition from Victorian to 20th-century poetry. She has lovingly taught Gerard Manley Hopkins and Geoffrey Chaucer and introduced philology, Anglo-Saxon and Njal’s Saga to students. As Academic Dean from 1999 to 2014 (including ten years as Dean of Faculty), Heyden, a recipient of the Sandra Lea Marshall Award and twice the Class of 1992 Award, oversaw the introduction of Mandarin and expansion of Upper School course offerings. She also served as a Room Teacher and advisor. Heyden entered Brearley as a member of Class III in 1957. Although she has left Brearley more than once, it has never left her.
As a member of the English Department since 1977, including ten years as Department Head, Susan has taught every English course from VII to XII and also on occasion X American History. A specialist in Victorian and American literature, she has recently focused on the new perspectives that women critics, including Brearley alumnae, are bringing to canonical texts. Susan has also found great satisfaction in teaching across the divisions with the opportunity for students to approach a variety of texts with growing understanding over time. She has long taught mini-courses during Senior Spring and offered highly popular literary discussions for alumnae. The recipient of a Chair for Excellence in Teaching, Susan has served twice as Faculty Representative to the Board and has been a student advisor since the program began.
Elisabeth came to Brearley as an Assistant Teacher in Kindergarten in 1972 until 1982. She left the School for a few years to work at New York City’s After School Workshop, then brought that active style of after-school program to Brearley in 1986. Elisabeth developed the Friday Play and Crafts program as well as in-class crafts units for Kindergarten and Class I. Generations of Brearley students treasure their memories of making her signature gingerbread houses, tooth pillows and hobby horses. They also fondly remember her as a crafts mainstay of over thirty years at Summer Start, where her focus was always on all the students—student counselors as well as campers. Elisabeth’s thoughtful mentoring has sent many a Brearley girl on to the teaching profession!
Tammy joined Brearley in 1986 as Head of Physical Education and Director of Athletics. She worked to make Brearley’s programming even more accessible to all students by instituting a “no-cut” policy in Middle School, expanding the number of teams from 14 to 36 and helping to develop Brearley’s Field House, the endowment contracts for the pool at Asphalt Green, and the fields of Randall’s Island. Tammy taught P.E., coached (one of her great passions) soccer, basketball and softball, and emphasized hiring highly talented colleagues. With the program’s growth, P.E. and Athletics were made into two departments, and Tammy was appointed Director of Athletics in 2008. Many firsts occurred on her watch, including the launch of the Athletic Association Banquet (1988), Summer Start (1989) and Homecoming (1994). Portraits by Ashley Garrett