Steve Bergen, Mayfield Senior School, Pasadena, CaBridget Kelley-Lossada
Middle School Director
Mayfield Junior School
of the Holy Child Jesus
Pasadena, CA

Teachers saved my life. Without the librarian who fed my desire to seek knowledge, the drama teacher who saw that I might need an outlet to express myself, without the English teacher and ancient history teacher, I might not have made it out of my childhood with a clear path to save myself. These people cannot know the impact that each of them made on my life, and it is probably just as well. It is the accumulation of care and constant unconditional advice that allows a young person to take leaps of faith with themselves. Oh, and of course, to be provided with the structure and framework to assist the transformation. Like Michelangelo liberating the form within the marble, a strong teacher reveals parts of yourself that you have a hard time seeing: the gifts within you, your hidden potential. Instead of chiseling at stone, they shape with words and affirmations, they stand by you on the journey, until you are ready for the next stage, when you hold the chisel yourself.

I believe that individuals are not shaped by one mentor or advocate, but by many. And some of the most transformational moments are when we face adversity, when the champion challenges you to rise up and become your best self. To journey out of your comfort zone into uncharted territory and meet yourself along the way. And of course, these places we journey to are found in the in-between moments, all the times spent not writing down lecture notes or passing exams. The most important part of a teacher’s day is in these in-between moments. Staying with the student after class to listen to what is on their mind. Stopping to have a quick conversation in the hallway, discussing favorite musicians and quotes from shows or movies. Answering the tough questions about fairness, and yes, being patient with the irascible student who doesn’t know how to express them self verbally and doesn’t know what they really want yet.

Like almost everything in life, it is the toughest part that also turns out to be the sweetest part of teaching. Being present for that student who needs guidance. Showing up for the in-between moments, the moments that catch you unawares and without prep for your lesson. The moments that make you step out of your own comfort zone and hold the hand of the toughest kid and give that student your best shot, showing them the hope of change, that transformation is real if you set your intention to reach it. Acknowledging that the journey towards finding oneself is difficult, but worth it. And most importantly, that you will be with them along the way.

When I discovered Mayfield, I knew I found a place in which I could coach and coax the best out of students. Where I would help students find their best selves and assist them on their journey of self-discovery— which is the essence of a Holy Child education. We never ever know who we are going to touch the most. But that is not the point. The point is to matter and make a difference for each someone. At the end of our lives, there will not be a test. There will not be grades. No one will ask you where you attended school or if you graduated at the top of the class. Instead they will think about your deeds and the hearts you have filled with love, and how you have made people feel. So, in this life, I plan to contribute to the student lives I touch, leaning in and listening to each story, because you never know how your listening just may be the catalyst for someone’s personal transformation.