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Nancy Anderson Leads the Middle School

When students returned this September, a familiar face greeted them, but in a new role. Nancy Anderson, formerly Milton’s K–8 math coordinator and Grade 8 math teacher, has assumed the title of Middle School principal.

During the search process, Nancy researched and evaluated every aspect of the Middle School, from curricular work to student discipline, diversity and identity work to faculty professional development. Now in her sixth year at Milton, she stepped into the role fully committed to the Middle School, saying, “I’ve said many times, and I continue to say, ‘I want to retire at Milton.”

“After a thorough search, it was wonderful to find that the best leader was already part of Milton,” says Head of School Todd Bland. “Nancy has great educational vision, a calling to serve children and their families, a strong work ethic and an absolute love of middle school and its students — not to mention a wonderful sense of humor. We are thrilled to have Nancy step into this role.”

Nancy is a well-known math educator. She has published books, articles and multimedia professional development resources. She frequently speaks at conferences, such as the annual meeting of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM). Nancy focuses on using discussion in math class, the value of mistakes in teaching and learning, and the development of teacher content knowledge. She co-authored Talk Moves: A Teacher’s Guide for Using Classroom Discussions in Math, and is lead author of its companion resource, Classroom Discussions: A Facilitator’s Guide to Support Professional Learning of Discourse and the Common Core, which was awarded a Golden Lamp Award in 2012. Her latest publication is What’s Right About Wrong Answers: Learning from Math Mistakes. She is finishing a book with Upper School mathematics faculty member Gregg Reilly.

“I’ve never met a more dedicated, dynamic group of colleagues,” Nancy says about Milton faculty. “They’re really good at what they do and no Middle School faculty simply teach content area and go home. They’re knowledgeable about issues related to diversity, they’re coaches, they’re advisors. They have a deep understanding about what it means to develop the middle-school student as a social, emotional being, not just a growing learner.”

The Middle School will stay committed to the best ways to teach students in all content areas, says Nancy, and renewing curriculum is work that never ends. “As the students change, the curriculum needs to change. We know that new research about teaching any subject is always coming in, so you can never say, ‘We’re done.’”

Nancy is also focused on how the Middle School works within the K–12 community. Many of its students come from the Lower School, and are preparing to enter the Upper School, so curricular programs need to align with what incoming students already know and what they’ll need to be ready to manage in high school.

“I will look for opportunities to expand coherence with the other divisions,” Nancy says. “We should take advantage of the benefits of being a K–12 school. The opportunities are there, and we need to seek them out.”

HAVING FUN

How does fun figure in your life? Finding joy in the pursuit of an activity, or a craft or a skill, is valuable beyond its short-term pleasure. Play, even when it’s actually hard work, profoundly affects emotional balance, self-esteem, competency and drive. Play is a vital resource for successful people. In this issue, Milton Magazine brings stories about alumni ventures that have been labors of love. An observer might think their work looks like fun. Driven by a particular passion, these alumni end up pursuing creative work that is as challenging as it is rewarding.

We ask Milton students, as well, to describe how they find fun in their busy, committed lives.