Middle School 

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Sandy Pyeatt

Faculty Information
Location(s) Middle School
Title(s) Middle School Grade 7 Language Arts/Social Studies
Contact Information
School Email
  (Primary)
School Phone
(828) 274-0758   x426
Education
Degree(s) B.A., Kalamazoo College
M.A., University of New Mexico
Other Information
2001 
 

Sandy Pyeatt is seventh grade language arts and social studies teacher. Sandy has been working at Carolina Day School since 2001. She assisted at schools in France and on a Sioux Indian reservation, taught at an experiential-environmental school in Massachusetts, helped lead school reform as a teacher at a one-building K-12 public school in northern New Hampshire, and taught an integrated and thematic curriculum in a mixed-grade classroom with no grades at an alternative school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has lived on three continents and traveled to a fourth. Sandy won the Waple Award at CDS and used it to attend the Taos Writing Conference, which she says helped her grow as both a writer and teacher of writing. She has also presented multiple times at the NCAIS conference. 

Get to know Sandy Pyeatt:
 
In what ways can you teach/engage children at CDS that you couldn't at other schools? CDS allows me more creativity as a teacher. I help shape the curriculum I get to teach, and I am encouraged to try innovative approaches to teaching and assessing that curriculum. That creativity helps me to adapt to the changing needs and strengths of my students.”
 
What do you like most about your job at CDS? My favorite part about teaching is the day-to-day interactions with young people as they learn and the relationships we build together.”
 
In your opinion, how does the CDS community inspire students to be courageous and curious, wonder about things that they don’t understand, try new things, and develop individual passions? Our community strives to create a safe environment for students to take risks, discover who they are, and express who they are. We engage them in character education that helps them to intentionally contribute to such a community for themselves and others. We stress the value of failure on the path to success. We ask them to assess themselves authentically, moving beyond grades and test scores to a deeper understanding of what it means to be successful and how they are progressing towards their own vision of success. We provide many opportunities for growth in academics, arts, athletics, problem-solving, collaboration, and community service.”
 
How would you describe your classroom?
A place where we:
  • learn about our selves, our world, and ways to lead good lives
  • think about what we see, hear, read, do, feel, and imagine
  • respect each other as fellow learners
  • include every class member in our community
  • strive to be our “better selves”
 
What books and authors inspire you? “When, a week before school started, I walked into my first classroom as a teacher, the bookshelves were completely empty. I started crying because I didn’t have a clue how to get started. The school couldn’t afford any new textbooks, and there weren’t enough to go around. An experienced colleague suggested I read Nanci Atwell’s In the Middle. It helped me to re-vision my classroom as a workshop in which students read, wrote, researched, and created, with me as their coach and guide. Since then I have read many, many professional books and articles that have informed my teaching. However, everything I read has the potential to inspire me as a teacher. I've read articles in “The New Yorker’s” innovators issue, which make me wonder how we can do a better job of fostering that kind of thinking and spirit in our students. I've also read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain and contemplating how I can mentor my more introverted students so they recognize and build on their strengths and how I can encourage my more extroverted students to develop some of the quiet reflectiveness that they need. The novel Life After Life by Kate Atkinson engaged me as a reader and as a teacher of reading and writing.”
 
How would you describe yourself and/or your approach to your job in 10 words or less? “Help students learn what they need and want in whatever ways work.”
 
Which classroom projects/events are you known for? I have helped lead the interdisciplinary, year-long portfolio project in which students self-assess and reflect on their learning and performance as they go about discovering their own evolving passions, strengths, needs, and vision for personal success. At the end of the year they present the results to their parents, a teacher, and other guests to show that they are ready to move on to the upper school. I also helped start writing workshop at the middle school. Writing workshop gives students time to plan, draft, conference, revise, and edit (not necessarily in that order). It gives them some choice about what to write. It gives them feedback from readers-- both peers and the teacher during the process. Last of all, it gives them lots of practice. The result is writers who care about what and how they are writing for the sake of expressing themselves (not just for the sake of grades).”
 
What personal passion brings balance to your life? Reading, knitting and crocheting, baking (and eating the results), playing with my dogs, time outdoors, writing poetry and letters, and laughter with friends and family all help me achieve balance in my life.”
 
Is there anything else we should know about you and your work? I feel lucky to have a job that I enjoy so much, one that gives me the opportunity to work with young people, helping them to learn and grow into the people they want to be. Unlike some friends and family members, I am happy to come to work each morning.”
 
How is CDS different from what you experienced as a child in school? “Here at CDS, we foster the growth of students’ skills in creativity, thinking, collaboration, self-assessment, problem solving, and writing more than I remember from my own childhood education, as good as it was.  We encourage students to discover and pursue their passions more than my schools allowed. We try to connect school to the “real world” more than happened for me, through service learning and problem-based learning. I was lucky enough to grow up in the kind of family that fostered my skills for success, talents, interests, and connection to the world, but I am sure I would have benefited from a school program that contributed to that.”
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