A thirst for knowledge and a passion for helping children be their best selves are two outstanding qualities that Lower School teacher Charlotte Baker Dean has shared with the Germantown Academy community for the past 25 years. As she prepares for her retirement at the end of this school year, she will truly miss her interaction and learning with and from her students.
“I’ve had the privilege of seeing Charlotte teach in her Lead and Associate Teaching roles, and she brings the same spirit of warmth and kindness to both,” said Head of School Rich Schellhas 1760. “Fundamentally, Charlotte is intrigued by what makes children tick, how their brains work, and how she as a teacher can best meet their needs – whatever it takes. Fervently committed to continuous professional development, Charlotte never relies on her experience alone; she continuously has added to her craft and teaching toolbox and has generously shared what she has learned with her grateful colleagues. Personally, Charlotte is a wonderfully grateful and gracious human being. She goes out of her way to catch others performing acts of goodness in our community and to share them with others – it is a truly lovely trait, and one that will remain with me for many years to come.”
While she had held many positions during her tenure at GA - first grade reading teacher, fifth grade lead teacher and grade level coordinator, third grade lead teacher and grade level coordinator, fifth grade assistant teacher, fourth grade associate teacher, SPARK assistant, and Summer Programs teacher - Dean’s memories are not grounded within a certain age group.
“I think the most lasting memories are those that reflect the school motto: 'By persevering, we shall see the fruits,'” she commented. “I loved witnessing the growth and elation of the students after they worked really hard, faced their fears, and completed a monumental challenge. In third grade students successfully created a dynamic Market Place for Colonial Day and an informative Wax Museum by memorizing and delivering their parts. Their pride was palpable. I always got tears in my eyes watching third graders when they took the stage and wowed the audience with their African Dance. In fifth grade they worked together to get their team over the wall at College Settlement Camp in the fall and in May pulled off colorful, creative, and edifying end-of-unit share outs. All these achievements required hard work - they persevered, and they saw the fruits!”
For some, Germantown Academy’s mission statement - GA Inspires Students to Be Independent in Thought, Confident in Expression, Compassionate in Spirit, Collaborative in Action, and Honorable in Deed – has been taken apart and worked on piece by piece. For Dean, living the full mission is a daily reminder of how she wants to run her life.
“I have often told others how great it is to work at a mission-driven school. Our Mission Statement is a constant reminder and a moral compass which inspires and grounds the entire community. I wish the rest of the world could strive to live by our mission.”
Dean's personal mission is to constantly find ways to better herself so she can impart her wisdom onto her small charges as well as her colleagues. In 2016, Dean took a sabbatical to finish a graduate certificate in The Mind, Brain, and Teaching at Johns Hopkins School of Education. The program is based on how research in cognitive science and neuroscience can inform teaching practices.
“I’ve integrated what I learned into my everyday teaching and also shared many aspects of the program through professional development presentations at GA and other institutions, locally and in Pakistan,” said Dean.
Accolades from GA – Distinguished Achievement Award winner in 2007 and a five-time Kast Grant recipient – acknowledge her contributions to the vibrant academic life of the school, while her work on the Admission Committee, Faculty Staff Forum, GA Journal, and BRAVO! (the Lower School Literary Magazine and afternoon club), allowed her to build relationships across all divisions.
“I will miss working with my colleagues,” Dean stated. “The laughter, the exchange of ideas, and the constant challenge to learn more. All of these are built right into the teaching profession, and that’s why it has been a perfect fit for me.”
Dean has been a perfect fit for GA as well.