Faculty Spotlight – Keith Civin, Middle School Social Studies Teacher

by | Jan 28, 2022 | Alumni Class Notes, Community, Our Stories

In your 20 years of working here, what are some things that are new and what are some things that are the same?
I guess I will start my answer to this question with thinking about things that are the same, which believe it or not, are many. The first thing that has remained the same over this period of time is the sense of community. Though the community has gotten much bigger and is made up of different people, the sense that parents, fellow teachers, and administration, are all on the same team and working to help each student meet their potential.

Another thing that is the same is the enjoyment that I get out of teaching this age. Though some would say this is because my mental age is not much different than the age of the students that I teach, I just enjoy their willingness to learn, their care for each other, their sense of humor, and the way they change and grow from the beginning of one year to the end, or even from week to week. As far as differences go, the increase in use of technology would definitely have to be one such difference. In my early years at Rashi, I would have to make copies of every handout, have students file this information in plastic sleeve protectors within their notebook, and then make sure they remembered to bring their work home and then back to school again. Now everything can be found right on Google Classroom making it much easier for students to always have what they need to complete their work. Another big difference is in the general philosophy of education at Rashi and throughout American education. Currently there is much more emphasis on empowering students in their own education and what it is that they are learning, integrating innovation into our teaching, and teaching ideas of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB). Another obvious major difference is the building that we teach in. When I first started at Rashi, we were located in Newton Corner at a former all girls college that was then a shared space for Rashi and a convent. To say that the building was past its prime would be a definite understatement. The cafeteria was also the gym and the 9 foot drop ceiling was definitely an impediment to the Rashi basketball team. Now we are in this beautiful building, with smartboards, Chromebooks, multiple playgrounds, sport fields, and our neighbors at NewBridge. It has been quite a positive change.

When you think of Rashi Alumni, what words or thoughts come to mind?
When I think of Rashi alumni the two words that immediately come to mind are impressive and proud. On a regular basis, I hear stories about our alumni from others in the Rashi community, or see something online, or even watch something on television about a former student who is making a positive difference in the world. It takes me back to the days when this person was just starting out in Middle School as an 11 year old sixth grader and to now see the person they have become is just amazing to me. In many ways it confirms the work that we all do at Rashi. Every year at Back to School Night, I state to the Middle School parents that one of my goals as the students’ Social Studies teacher is to “help nurture inquisitive, resilient, confident, hard working children, who have a love of learning, see things from different perspectives and are civic minded,” so when I see the people that our alumni have become I am proud that I hopefully played a small role in helping make this happen.

What are some of your favorite things about being the Middle School Social Studies Teacher at Rashi?
There are many things I love about being a Social Studies teacher at Rashi. First and foremost is that I love working with our student population. When I switched careers in my mid-30s (I know, you thought I was in my mid 30’s now, but I’m actually a bit older) to become a teacher, my main reason for doing so was because I wanted to work with kids. Working with middle schoolers allows me the opportunity to make a positive difference in someone’s life. I enjoy teaching them and watching them grow and mature. The second thing I love about my role as a Middle School Social Studies teacher are my colleagues. We are consistently collaborating, learning, and growing with the goal of doing what is best for the students. The Rashi work environment is rare and one that keeps me coming back and motivated to do my best work year after year.