Pandemic Learning, One Year Later: Catherine Brewster, English

English teacher Catherine Brewster inspires her students to think critically and engage thoughtfully with a wide range of texts. Her careful attention and passion for helping students approach their work from multiple angles has shaped many brilliant writers. Alumni/ae often reflect on the importance of the English curriculum at Commonwealth—sharing gratitude for their strong writing skills, regardless of their career or field of study. Ms. Brewster thoughtfully instills these deeply valued skills in all of her students. 

Throughout the pandemic, Ms. Brewster has continued to lead dynamic discussions of such texts as Milton’s Paradise Lost and Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God for those in the classroom and on Zoom. She expertly guides students as they craft analytical essays inspired by such texts and discussions. Her steadfast commitment to her students has never wavered. And, as you will read below, she remains in awe of every student’s immense fortitude.

What do you love most about teaching at Commonwealth? 

The students and my colleagues. How much they give me to think about, and how often they make me laugh on the most ordinary day.

What hybrid-learning adaptation(s) do you think you'll continue using post-pandemic? 

I hope we keep doing parent conferences remotely. That made it possible for me to connect with parents for whom it's hard to get to school, and even for the ones who have more flexibility, I don't think anybody minded.

What did you learn about your students over the past year/during hybrid learning? 

I have seen a lot of good-looking cats on camera. I've seen incredible fortitude just in keeping on keeping on. I wonder what else they'll be able to accomplish.

What was your favorite class in high school? 

Marine Science in tenth grade. One of the final projects was to take your parents to the beach—I grew up in Seattle, where there's a lot of life on the coast, and the goal was for them to be unable to stump you on the name of anything they could find to show you. One of many amazing things about that teacher was the way he persuaded a huge variety of kids, in a big, diverse public school, that they wanted to and could do that.

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