For Mr. Cole Stephenson, teaching has always been about “helping the light bulb turn on for the first time and helping students find a passion or a real talent or skill,” he said.
Before he came to the high school, Stephenson taught history at Newton Country Day School, an all-girls Catholic school outside of Boston. Newton Country Day is significantly smaller in size, with 265 students in the entire high school. Transitioning from Newton Country Day to the high school, he said it has been a significant adjustment from the social environment of a small school to the less connected community of the high school.
“It was definitely an environment where for good or for ill everyone knew each other, so I think students got to know each other really, really well, which was a source of tension sometimes, but also kind of cool, versus a place like WHS that has about 1600 people,” said Stephenson.
Stephenson now faces the challenge of adjusting to the larger environment of the high school. Here he said he has observed that the departments tend to stick together socially, seldom interacting with teachers from other departments.
“I never run into math people, I never run into science and the arts,” said Stephenson. “At my last school, we all ate lunch together, did overnight chaperoning things…I knew every faculty member at the last school, and so that sort of personal connection among colleagues, I would love to try to stimulate a little bit more [here].”
Another adjustment for Stephenson has been transitioning from 40-minute lessons to 60-minute lessons.
Jared Goldman ’22, one of Stephenson’s students, said, “He lectures a lot, but I feel like I really learn in his class, and I usually don’t like long lectures.”
Although Stephenson said he sometimes struggles to fill the time, he also said it is achievable.
“It’s one of my major goals in the classroom to find topics and issues that are engaging to [students’] lives and that students find meaningful,” he said.
Attesting to that, Goldman said, “He is a good teacher, and he seems very passionate about what he does, and I think that’s what makes him a good teacher.”
History is not normally one of Goldman’s favorite or strongest classes, but he said he feels that Stephenson’s devotion to teaching motivates him to invest himself in the subject.
Stephenson is excited for the year to come, hoping to coach baseball or basketball, while continuing to make his mark on the Wellesley community.
He said, “I think just being involved in the Wellesley community in the same way that I was involved in my last school, there was a sense that I really belonged there, so that’s going to be a goal.”