Goodbye, Retiring Teachers
The closing of this year marks the end of several beloved Pace teachers’ tenures at Pace: third grade teacher Jody Novy, Lower School art teacher Silke Cliatt, Upper School AP Biology teacher Sandra Davidson, and Upper School ceramics teacher Rick Berman. Each of these teachers has contributed something unique to Pace that will be thoroughly missed.
Pace students who had Mrs. Novy as a third grade teacher all look back fondly on one of their favorite elementary school classes. Famous for her two class hamsters and her love for teaching, Mrs. Novy will leave Pace with many generations of her students emulating her desire to learn. “Mrs. Novy’s class is definitely one of my favorites…she was so much fun to have as a teacher,” recalled junior Steven Zeldin. Mrs. Novy’s genuine kindness is reflected upon the smiling faces of her students and the positive energy her presence has brought to the Lower School as a whole.
Ms. Cliatt has consistently wowed all Pace community members, from students to faculty to parents, with her creative and interesting projects. What’s truly remarkable about these projects is the focus that they required from the students to complete. All of them helped to give young artists the work ethic, confidence, and passion to continue their artistic endeavors throughout their Pace experience, and perhaps for the rest of their lives. Many students recall the fun they had both in Ms. Cliatt’s art class and in her after-school art program. Ms. Cliatt said that what she will miss most about Pace is “the hugs from the children” and explains that after she leaves Pace, she will “travel, relax, become an American citizen, and do my own art.” Other than the inspiration Ms. Cliatt has given her students, she also leaves behind the cola can mirror project, which will stay in the Lower School as a reminder of Ms. Cliatt’s unique art program.
Dr. Davidson has consistently provided a challenging but rewarding AP Biology class to all of her previous students. “Dr. D has been a great teacher this year. She is an expert in her subject and can make class interesting with labs and activities. Her class has been a challenging experience, but the knowledge I’ve gained has been worth it,” said junior Sam Schaffer. What makes Dr. Davidson such a good teacher is her genuine interest in the subject, and it’s that interest which sparks her students to pursue that subject on the next level.
Finally, Mr. Berman’s ceramics class has given the huddled masses of over-worked Pace students a chance to unwind. Sunshine flowing through the windows, Bob Dylan music humming through the room, the “no back-biting” rule, and the cathartic feeling of using clay and working with your hands, all contribute to the Zen aura Mr. Berman’s class is so well known for. “Whatever you put in, you get out. If you don’t want to work, he won’t make you, but you won’t get much out of the class. It’s also true in reverse. If you make an effort, he’ll help you achieve something great,” said ceramics guru Josh Baron. Mr. Berman’s method allows his students to decide what they want to get out of the class, and gives the students the desire and the chance to learn from one of the best in the ceramics world. Though Mr. Berman may be leaving Pace, the relationships he cultivates with his students stay strong. Mr. Berman said that one of his favorite aspects of teaching is the friendships formed with students, who are now all doing amazing things. The list of talented and diverse alums that he befriended includes “an organic vegetable and goat farmer, a tattoo artist, a politician, a DJ, a budding rock star, a potter, a real estate agent, an international fundraiser for African children, and a golf professional, to name a few.” Mr. Berman also said that he will “miss Pace terribly, and that [he] couldn’t have had two more supportive and compassionate bosses than Mr. Murphy and Mr. Assaf.” Finally, he said that at Pace “we teach the best students on the planet.”
By Annie Armstrong, Staff Writer ’13