Teaching That Trancends

Ron Monroe
English
Bates College - B.A.
Fairfield University - M.A.
Wesleyan University - C.A.S.
For the past 19 years, Ron Monroe has held the most vulnerable babies in his arms every Sunday as a volunteer at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Children’s Hospital in Hartford. “This experience is connected to teaching in that I’m providing a service for the family,” he said. “This baby won’t have any memory of me, and that’s ok. But I know I’ve had some positive impact on a life, even if the child never remembers me.”

In much the same way, Monroe looks at his role as an educator, never quite knowing the imperceptible mark he has left on his students. He derives a tremendous satisfaction when alums revisit campus and he can observe them as wonderful contributors to society. “To understand that I have been part of their development is so gratifying,” he said. “The changes you witness in students from their freshman to senior year is almost magical.”

An acolyte of the Harkness method of teaching, Monroe regards the discussion-based class as one arrow in a teacher’s quiver that helps students gain ownership of their learning. Developed at Phillips Exeter Academy, the Harkness format encourages students to wrestle with the material with minimal guidance from the teacher. “At times there are awkward silences, but the students need to deal with it, and they do,” he said. “They never fail to rise to the occasion. It’s an excellent means for students to develop their ideas and explore and investigate the texts. Where they go in the class is up to them.”

By allowing the students to choreograph their class discussions, Monroe believes they are more invested in the works covered, like the time-proven classics of Macbeth and The Great Gatsby. “What appeals to the students in Macbeth is the idea of evil, overarching ambition and the misuse of power,” he said. “Unfortunately, they see these traits play out in the world around them so the students can identify with the text. It makes for really compelling conversations.”

For Monroe, the KO classroom for the past 31 years has also been a place for powerful lessons in personal change. “I love being part of this engine that raises the students up,” he said. “As teachers we are teaching them life-long skills of dealing with disappointment and success, setting goals and being more self-aware. I can’t think of anything more important than that.”
Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers and innovative and ethical leaders.
Copyright 2018. Kingswood Oxford.