“I think [teaching] has taught me to really trust students and give them wiggle room to be themselves,” history teacher Peter Burdge said as he reflected on his time at KO. “It’s taught me to be patient, to trust myself, and to be confident.”
As he returns to his alma mater, The Country School in Madison, Conn., the KO community sadly waves farewell to Mr. Burdge after four years.
Following his graduation from college, Mr. Burdge joined the KO community in the fall of 2017 for a teaching apprenticeship. In his first year, he co-taught two classes with history teacher Andy Krugman. Now, concluding his fourth year, he taught four classes of history, served as an eighth-grade advisor, coached basketball and baseball, and was the faculty advisor for the Middle School Student Government Association.
Within the classroom, Mr. Burdge aims to foster an environment of self-discovery. “I think a big part of it is giving students room to learn things on their own,” he said, “like giving them sources and giving them space to do research to come to their own answers.” He enjoys when his students are moving around the room and talking to one other, perhaps about a primary source they recently read. Of course, the pandemic has made it more challenging for these interactions to take place, but he believes most teachers have learned to adapt to the new normal, and he himself has strived to do so as well.
When asked what he enjoys most about KO, Mr. Burdge was quick to say that it is seeing and interacting with his advisees. This year Mr. Burdge was an advisor to 10 eighth-graders. One of them, Macey Kotowitz, is thankful that Mr. Burdge takes the time to prioritize her well-being. “He’s very supportive and lifts you up when you’re down,” she said.
After having spent two years as one of his advisees, Macey has formed countless memories with Mr. Burdge. One of her favorites includes playing “BurdgeBall,” a form of mini basketball, in advisee group. Along with “BurdgeBall,” Macey will remember Mr. Burdge’s constant positive attitude around campus.
Throughout the years, Mr. Burdge has also enjoyed getting to know his fellow colleagues. Middle School English teacher Beth Repp found it very easy to form a friendship with Mr. Burdge when he first arrived and has enjoyed working with him more closely this year as they planned a new interdisciplinary expeditionary unit together. “I’m a better person for having spent four years with him,” she said.
Mrs. Repp agrees that KO will be a different place next year without Mr. Burdge, but she knows that they will remain in contact; the two have been playing “Words with Friends” since the pandemic began. They currently sit at level 600, often with six or seven games going at one time.
When I first asked Mr. Burdge what he will miss most about KO, he jokingly answered lunch (well, maybe he wasn’t joking!). But he then went on to express that he will greatly miss being a part of the KO community and all those who have given him the room to grow during his time on campus. “I really want to thank everyone that I’ve worked with here,” he said. “I also want to thank the students who I’ve taught.”
The KO community will certainly miss Mr. Burdge, and we wish him the best of luck in all of his future endeavors!