Beloved teacher trainer Bonnie Mennell completed her final weeklong visit to campus last week, following eight years of meaningful work with new teachers at Athenian. The Vermont-based coach has helped faculty members hone their skills and find their paths, ultimately strengthening the student experience.
Bonnie Mennell exudes peacefulness, and teachers greet her with smiles or hugs as she makes her way across the Athenian campus.
Over the last eight years, Bonnie has provided confidential training for new faculty. She works on a cycle of meeting the teacher, attending a class, and meeting again to discuss any observations. She focuses on the positive, asking “Who is this teacher, where are their skills? Where are they alive?”
Bonnie finds that most teachers know exactly what is happening in their classrooms, but still benefit from discussing it with a supportive person.
“98 percent of what’s going on the teacher is already aware of so my work is to really validate their self awareness, their self reflections, and to continue that process,” she says.
Born in Topeka Kansas, Bonnie grew up in a military family, moving to different US cities and later living in England and Germany. Since 1975 she has worked at the SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont. Over the years she has visited California to work with teachers at Athenian and Sonoma Academy, but this week marked the end of her work with both schools as she moves onto other endeavors, including consulting for Snapchat.
Even as she leaves our campus, Bonnie hopes the teachers she has worked with will be a source of support to their peers and bring into the culture any positive aspects of the work they have done together.
“My wish would be that teachers who I’ve had the fortune to work with can think about carrying those ways of being with other teachers,” she says. “They can be an inquiring supportive peer to their peers, so can they observe each other and offer inquiring support.”