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Phy Chauveau 1760 Announces Retirement

Tenure: 33 years

Positions Held at GA:

  • Fifth Grade Classroom teacher (1981 – 2015) including ten years as grade level coordinator
  • Math Curriculum Coordinator and Math Olympiad Leader
  • Technology Mentor
  • Co-coordinator of Digital Citizenship Committee
  • Faculty Representative to the GA Board of Trustees
  • Summer Programs Director - Lower School Academics
  • Member of Admission and Search Committees
  • Member of Math, Social Studies, One School, Digital Citizenship, and Winter Program Committees

Honors Conferred:

  • Outstanding Teacher Award – 1984
  • Two Outstanding Achievement Awards
  • Level 4 Master Teacher
  • PA Dept. of Education Keystone Educator
  • Discovery Education Star Educator
  • Class of 1760

Why I Stayed:

"Teaching has always been my calling, and GA has always felt like home. I was encouraged from the very start to embrace my creativity in the way I delivered curriculum. It was always important for me to do my best, and the satisfaction of collaborating within a community of such talented lifelong learners only fueled my passion for teaching. I am grateful to have impacted the lives of so many children and their parents as their 'guide on the side.' I loved helping students grow their confidence while also appreciating the inherent value of setbacks. I hope all my fifth graders came to understand that they meant so much more to me than their test scores."

Lasting Memories:

  • The first time I heard back-to-school addresses by Jack Pickering and Dan Rankin
  • Receiving my first paycheck and immediately thinking, "I can't believe I get paid to do this."
  • Camping trips where we really roughed it
  • Being the first faculty member to use a computer (TRS-80) to write my progress reports in 1988
  • Convincing Tom Taft to purchase the first (and only at the time) Apple LC computer for my classroom
  • The excitement of exploring real life integration of math and problem solving through development of The Flight Project, The Backpack Project, and the Great Math Events I and II
  • The impact of a David Mallory workshop
  • The exact moment I came up with the idea to project on the side screens in the Arts Center

I am thankful for:

  • Having had a career that enabled me to collaborate so meaningfully with extraordinarily talented and motivated colleagues, both in the lower school and across divisions; they became my role models, mentors, motivators, and dear friends. They helped me to become a better teacher and to grow my own confidence and resilience.
  • Being able to write my own small chapter in GA's impressive history and helping to create new traditions along the way
  • The opportunity to incorporate my beloved hobbies of photography and videography in my work with students and to eventually launch a Lower School Newsroom
  • The feeling I had each morning when I unlocked my classroom door, taking time to be in that moment and appreciate the feeling of a reset, where anything was possible on that new day
  • Having a job where I could model patience and compassion and see the results
  • Getting the chance to laugh every day with my students and colleagues

Gifts to the Community:

  • An every day paragon of patience, positivity, originality, and joy.
  • A master teacher with the not only the ability but the desire to reach every child, every day, every year.
  • The model of a teacher whose natural excitement for life and learning sparked a similar attitude in her students, even the most resistant.
  • An Oscar caliber producer of academic projects, digital video yearbooks, get well videos for colleagues, podcasts, and, of course, Forest Fest features.
  • A pioneer of using computers and the World Wide Web in her high-tech classroom.
  • A gifted musician who taught through song and sound, capitalizing on students' innate joy in music.
  • A digital storyteller par excellence.
  • A fifth grade teacher for twenty-nine years who kept it fresh, kept it current, kept it cutting edge.
  • A visionary academic leader whose influence will be felt in all areas of the curriculum, technology, theatrical productions, as well as in kind, compassionate relationships for many years to come.

What Rich Schellhas Will Remember Most about Phy:

"Right before Phy had to step out of the classroom, I had the good fortune of visiting her in fifth grade. In fact, Phy was (not surprisingly) the very first Lower School teacher to sign up for me to visit when I began my transition to Head of School. Phy's classroom was one large, magnificent learning collage. She established an incredibly upbeat environment with her students, and the room overflowed with energy, positive reinforcement, and open-ended creativity. Still today when you reflect with Phy about her stellar career at GA, you can feel the palpable intelligence and innovative spirit that led to decades of truly outstanding teaching and curriculum development. Phy was and is completely invested in growing great programs and great people, and she invested thousands of hours in making our school's mission come true."

Memorable Quotes:

"The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time." James Taylor

"You've got to know how to fall, before you learn to fly." Paul Simon

"When you are ready to learn, a teacher will appear." Confucius

Next Page of Life:

  • Working in stained glass, (a revived hobby from 40 years ago)
  • Grandparenting in person whenever I can
  • Having more time for gardening, cooking, and photography
  • Lots of travel
  • Refreshing my guitar skills
  • Swimming and kayaking
  • Volunteering at a hospice facility

What I Will Miss Most: (In my case, these are things I already miss)

  • The sheer excitement of collaborating with colleagues and exchanging ideas related to the field of education, especially in such a rapidly changing world
  • Honestly, I just miss being in the doesn't yet feel natural to be away from the GA community...I'm still getting used to that. I'm fortunate that many silver linings have come my way as a result of a decision that, in essence, made itself.

From the email to the community:

Life is full of surprises. This we know.

Just when you think life is rolling along smoothly... the whole thing goes haywire. In a moment, what is going one way goes another, and, like it or not, we must adapt. Such was the case for master teacher, Phy Chauveau, Class of 1760, when in the fall of 2015 she unexpectedly found herself unable to continue teaching due to an inner ear infection that developed into vestibular neuritis and prevented her from returning to the classroom. Just like that, GA lost one of its premier teachers, one of its best. In the intervening months, Phy has, in typical Phy fashion, managed the situation with grace and optimism; she hoped to return to her fifth grade classroom, but discovered she could not, and now this winter, with equal poise and positivity, made the decision to retire from teaching.

So, the time has come to publicly celebrate all that Phy Chauveau has meant to Germantown Academy over her thirty-three year tenure. Phy possesses many strengths, chief among them the ability to listen and remain open to the perspectives of others. She has always been the quintessential collaborator. While passionate about her approach to teaching, Phy consistently projects a sense of calm and equanimity. Students and their parents alike benefit from her gentle firmness. Phy's natural curiosity and creativity direct her work with students as she unravels the puzzle that is each student. She is herself a puzzle with myriad pieces, a true Renaissance woman who lives comfortably in the worlds of literature, mathematics, music, and technology, in the classroom with kids, at a national conference presenting her latest pedagogical success, and around the campfire singing campfire songs and strumming her guitar. Phy has called on all of these talents during her remarkable career to meet the demands of the many different moments in a teacher's life.

Phy is the rare individual for whom life is always a blessing to be savored in all its iterations, all its haywire complexities. Anais Nin wisely reminds us, "We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are." Phy's capacity for seeing the good propels her into a future overflowing with possibility and promise...because that is who she is.

With deep gratitude for the grace, goodwill, and unwavering excellence Phy brought to every aspect of her teaching,

Maggie McVeigh 1760, Director of Professional Development