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The Joy of Collective Learning: Damaris Altomerianos, L&T'19

The Intellectual Contribution Award recipient for Learning and Teaching reflects on her time at HGSE and looks toward the future.
Damaris Altomerianos

Photo by Jill Anderson

The Intellectual Contribution Award is an honor that recognizes 13 Ed.M. students (one from each Ed.M. program) whose dedication to scholarship enhanced HGSE’s academic community and positively affected fellow students. The award will be presented at Convocation on May 29.

Damaris Altomerianos came to the Ed School looking for the time and space to think about questions that she had around community — around forming and sustaining classroom communities that nurture a vision for a reimagined society. Enrolling in the Learning and Teaching (L&T) Program afforded her that time to dedicate to that learning.

“I came to HGSE to continue learning how to make the high school classroom more of a space where we support each other’s work toward reimagining our society and sustaining our collective work toward those visions,” she says.

The connections that she made to members of her cohort were so valued that she was selected the recipient of the Intellectual Contribution Award for L&T.

Damaris has made a deep contribution to our community,” says Senior Lecturer Kathryn Boudett, faculty director of L&T. “I was fortunate to be able to witness her multiple intelligences firsthand when we worked together this spring to plan the final workshop of the L&T program’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) series. Damaris was determined to create a space where her cohort could process DEI learnings from the year and support one another in thinking through their individual commitments to changing their practice. The joy she takes in collective learning is a real source of inspiration for me.”

Here, Altomerianos reflects on her year at HGSE and looks at her future in education:

What was your greatest fear before attending HGSE? One of my worries was that people would see me differently if they heard I was coming to HGSE. Honestly, this continues to be a worry. It’s an ongoing journey to reflect on time at this school and to decide how to talk about it.

What lessons from HGSE will you take with you into your career in education? Now, I’ll look back on this year and remember our inward-looking work, the opportunities to connect terms to what we already had been thinking about, which can provide affirmation, the terms that illustrate things we hadn’t been thinking about which can shift our worldviews, the unexpected lessons along the way, sharing our experiences with each other, and reflecting on what it means to hold vulnerability with care — for others and for ourselves. I’ll remember the feeling of being in the specific learning spaces here — at HGSE and outside of HGSE — that hold ideas, feelings, and energy in a way that I aspire to be able to do. Those memories of feelings are learning that we carry in our bodies.

What advice do you have for next year’s students going through your program? Not sure if this is advice, but I’ll share what I wish I had known at the start of the year when choosing classes. At course previews, it’s not only about the instructor but also about the potential classmates who are previewing the class with you. Listen to yourself: How are you feeling in that space? Also, it’s really okay to consider classes beyond HGSE; I wish I had gone at least to the first session of a class I was considering!

How did you stay inspired throughout the year? I appreciate the conversations with friends, mentors, and family that got me through, sparked ideas, made room for the emotions, and supported curiosity. Thank you all for your brilliance and generosity. Being in wonder recharges me, so I appreciate the friends who brought me to the art that also kept me full of amazement this year. I also appreciate and want to thank the leaders of the affinity spaces that do so much for us to find each other and learn together.

The number one, biggest surprise of the last year was … how quickly one year can go by.  I was surprised at how difficult it can be (and how necessary it is) to find/build nurture/sustain community — broader HGSE community and more specific communities — here in that short time.

Read about the other recipients of the Intellectual Contribution Award and learn more about HGSE Commencement 2019.