We are a month, or maybe two by the time you’re reading this, into the school year here at Willow! With each new school year comes a new alumni coordinator. So, I guess I should start my first newsletter with an introduction. Hi, my name is Cambria Grosman, and I am from the graduating class of 2019! I am currently a junior at Gill St. Bernard’s. I am taking over the role of coordinator this year.
For me, Willow was always such a close-knit community, and I felt a special connection to it, even in the years I’ve been in high school. I have passed by it every day for the past couple years, and every time, I feel the magnetic pull of the memories: the rumble of the grate as you drive in, pulling into the long line of cars in the circle, jumping out and running to go meet your friends in the few minutes before the start of class. I wanted a window back, and so, here I am working an internship at Willow for the year. I wasn’t the only one who returned, however. Two more alumni have returned to help out around Willow! One is Lea Perry from the class of 2013. The other is Bert Zeiner-Morrish from the class of 2017.
Lea graduated from Willow in 2013. In her time at Willow, she really enjoyed forming strong bonds with the community around her, even with people outside of her grade. She has returned to Willow this year as the afternoon kindergarten assistant teacher as well as to help out with the extended day program. Her deep appreciation for all that Willow gave her influenced her decision to come back. She hopes to give back to the community that formed so many of her childhood memories by working here now, as an adult.
Upon her return, many things have struck her. She has been able to see the immense growth and progress the school has made while maintaining enough familiarity. The core values, beautiful nature, and overall “calm and grounding atmosphere” that make up the foundation of a Willow education are still present and strong. Lea is happy to see the growing number of kids that have been able to experience such a learning opportunity. She has recently been able to see and work alongside Madame Luborsky, Mrs. Hilde, Ms. Fontaine, Ms. Coy, and Danny who are all faculty members she recognized from her time as a student.
Bert graduated from Willow in 2017. He enjoyed his classes and community and loved playing soccer with his friends. This led him to first return to coach. Although he is not coaching at Willow this year, he still found another way to help out. Finding a way to incorporate his other passion, filmmaking, into life at Willow, he is currently helping film the outdoor learning that is so crucial to a Willow experience. In addition, he is planning to help the students working on the Gazette to film and edit videos.
For Bert, the campus holds the usual nostalgia that most alumni can attest to feeling. Just being back on the beautiful property makes him appreciate the little magic of Willow: someone playing soccer with their friends, the lower-schoolers planting in the garden, and of course seeing the teachers working with students. Bert has even been able to see teachers that influenced him in his time at Willow. He lists Ms. Liliana’s class as one of his personal favorites from middle school, saying that she was able to teach him and his peers how to “evaluate and compare other cultures without being ethnocentric” which was a very useful tool to carry into the rest of his life. He is glad to see the teachers that left a mark on him along with the new!