You are here

Jeff Wilfahrt

Grade 1 Teacher
Education:  Creighton University, B.S.; Boston College, M.Ed.
ext:  6307

Additional roles at Brookwood: Coordinator of Teacher Licensure; mentor teacher to teaching apprentices; faculty co-representative for Parent’s Association Faculty Grants program; videographer/archivist of School Meetings and plays
Faculty Member since: 1989
Education: Creighton University, B.S.; Boston College, M.Ed.; Lesley University, M.Ed.
Favorite children’s book: I was an avid reader as a kid and would read anything and everything several times over. A Richard Scarry treasury comes to mind as being a regular read, and I have a vivid recollection of my appetite for The Hardy Boys series, by Leslie McFarlane. I read every one I could lay my hands on.
Favorite lesson to teach: My favorite classroom lessons are those that, regardless of subject or intent, result in an “aha!” moment for one or more of my students. It’s often seen as a look on a child’s face and in the eyes, as if some unformed thoughts suddenly coalesced.
Beyond Brookwood: After nearly twenty years of teaching at Brookwood, I got back in touch with my mentor teacher, Abbie White, who had since left teaching in North Reading and had started her own school on Culebra, an island off the cost of Puerto Rico. Our relationship renewed, I’ve since visited “Abbie’s School” twice in the past four years (thanks, Brookwood Parent’s Association!) and plan to visit again in March with my family. Each time I travel she puts me right to work in her school and I feel like a student teacher all over again.
On risk-taking: Risk-taking is essential to learning.  It is not, however, an individual endeavor.  At school, support for taking positive risks must come from peers as well as teachers.  Quick story:  I had a student many years ago who took the kind of risk kids take every day at school--he raised his hand.  It was math class, I had asked a question, and he dared to answer.  I called on this young boy and he offered his solution to the posed problem.  His answer was incorrect.   In and of itself, this is the type of common learning opportunity a teacher takes and leads to a positive outcome for all.  Something happened, however, before I could begin that conversation.  A couple of his peers laughed at his error.  Like a rock tossed into a pond, a ripple of giggles spread throughout the room.  Just as quickly they subsided, but it was months before the boy would raise his hand again.  At the beginning of every school year I remind myself that I have to put as much or more explicit teaching into creating a supportive classroom as I do teaching subject material.  Risk-taking behaviors can be built, but it's a group effort.        
What at Brookwood makes you a better teacher? My colleagues. Also, most of my closest friendships originated at Brookwood, either with colleagues or with parents whose children I’ve taught. I also love the reconnecting with former students; my first students are now starting families of their own. I’ve attended weddings and other celebratory events at the invitation of former first-graders or their parents. The history we share is important to me.