Kate Burch '98

January 2018
My Brearley education defined for me what it means to be “well educated,” something I have grappled with daily as a professional educator over the last 16 years.  At Brearley this meant getting to think deeply in a classroom community of eager peers led by a master teacher.  Our ideas as scholars were taken seriously from the youngest age.  I still vividly remember a kindergarten science lab where we were given a battery, wire and lightbulb and were told to figure out for ourselves how they might work together.

In fourth grade during “rest time” after lunch, we drew geometrically patterned rug designs inspired by the Muslim civilizations we were studying while our teacher read us the epic story of Beowulf.
Brearley’s blueprint of high-quality education left a deep impression that carries on in the new public high school I have gone on to design and lead, Harvest Collegiate High School, in New York City.  At Harvest, our unofficial motto became “Every student is an intellectual” because in part I was emboldened by the notion taught at Brearley that once you know how to read, you can read anything.  I am proud that the school I lead today serves 500 wonderfully diverse students who speak over 25 different home languages and come together from across our city to read a lot (an hour every day in addition to humanities courses); engage in deep theme-based courses like Artist as Chemist, Banned Books, Constitutional Law, Computer Game Design, Constitutional Law, Forensics, Nonviolence, and Love and Rage; and prepare for college and an active life of the mind.