The 2021 Ann Griffin Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented to Amy Merchant.
The Ann Griffin Award for Excellence in Teaching is given in honor and in tribute to Ann’s 39 years of teaching at Collegiate. This stipend will be awarded to a deserving member of the Collegiate Upper School faculty. It will enable the recipient to explore, plan and implement innovative teaching methods.
Selfless sacrifice is what first comes to mind when I think of our award recipient. She is, of course, an incredibly talented teacher who can and has taught just about every course her department offers, from the entry level class to the most rigorous and demanding Advanced Placement course. Her dedication to innovative teaching was evident when she joined colleagues years ago to learn how to use the Exeter method to teach high school geometry, and collaborated with another colleague to flip their Algebra II class. The feedback from her students, regardless of their ability or age, is universally laudatory. If you are searching for objective evidence of her excellent work, you will see a long track record of outstanding AP scores from her students. She, however, is not interested in tallying her successes, she is interested in her students as people and how she can help them be successful—in math and in life. Her AP students are inspired by her passion for mathematics, but it is with the students who sometimes struggle that she has a certain magic. If you look closely, you will see it isn’t a trick: it’s a combination of patience, care, and empathy that allows those students to accomplish things they didn’t think possible. She is also remarkably gifted at finding multiple ways to explain the same concept until she comes upon the explanation that best serves the student with whom she is working. Students seek her out in the morning, during free periods, during lunch, after school, and in the evening. When they are no longer in her class, they come to see her in the Math Lab, which she has been running for a number of years. And this is what I mean by selfless sacrifice, as our award recipient gives a tremendous amount of her care, concern, time and energy to her students. I’ve witnessed her do the same for her colleagues, her children, and her family. I often ask seniors in their final semester to tell me about a teacher who has made a difference in their life, and her name is frequently mentioned. When I ask why, they almost always say it’s because she believed in me when I didn’t think I could do it. Her colleagues in the Upper School know her not only for her incredible work ethic and commitment to students, but also for her collegiality and infectious laugh. It is my pleasure to honor Upper School Math teacher, Amy Merchant, with the Ann Griffin Award for Excellence in Teaching.