What comes to your mind when you think of fifth- and sixth-grade science class? What about eighth-grade U.S. history?
Well, if you were in either of these classes at Country Day before 2009, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” and Ellis Island Day are two traditions you were one of the last to experience. And you were probably among the last to learn from two teachers: Joe Doherty and Kristy Johnson.
Doherty worked as a fifth-grade homeroom teacher from 2002-07 and as a sixth-grade science teacher in 2007-08. In the summer of 2008, Doherty moved to Charlottesville, Va., with former Spanish teacher Laura Pedersen–who also worked at the school in 2007-08. In 2009, Doherty and Pedersen married.
Doherty now teaches sixth-grade math and science at Tandem Friends School, a progressive Quaker school which is a part of the Friends Council on Education. According to the Friends Council’s website, it emphasizes friendliness, mutual understanding and respect.
Doherty said Tandem is similar to Country Day in many ways. With 207 students in middle and high school, Tandem hosts more sports than students have time for and often has small teams. And like Country Day, Tandem has a no-cut policy.
Although the school was founded on Quaker values, Doherty and 95 percent of its students are not Quakers.
“I love the Quaker education. In addition to academic excellence, the school emphasizes the Quaker values of service, simplicity, stewardship, justice, community, and peace,” he said.
“It’s a fairly progressive school with an ethos that fits my personal and pedagogical beliefs.”
Doherty now coaches varsity cross-country, leads a high-school mountain biking club and has a six-month-old daughter named Ella.
Johnson worked at SCDS from 2005-10, teaching seventh-grade history and high-school economics from 2005-07 and eighth-grade U.S. history from 2007-10. From 2008-10, however, Johnson balanced her role as a teacher with her job as the middle-school dean of students.
Johnson’s husband accepted a position coaching La Jolla Country Day School’s (LJCD) varsity volleyball team. When her husband accepted the coaching job, Johnson applied for a teaching position and now teaches sixth-grade English.
Johnson misses certain SCDS traditions—particularly Ellis Island Day (when eighth graders are given fake identities and immigrate into the “U.S.”) and the eighth-grade trip to Boston.
Since she moved, Johnson has given birth to a second child, a boy named James.
Both teachers try to integrate SCDS traditions into their respective schools. Doherty still reads “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” to his classes, and Johnson admits that she uses similar teaching methods.
“You can leave Country Day, but it’s always a part of you,” Doherty said.