Alyssa McGarvey, a member of the George School science faculty since 2007, knew that she belonged in the classroom from her first internship as a student-teacher, but her first teaching experience goes back much further.
Alyssa fondly remembers working with her Mom during her formative, adolescent years. “My Mom was a science teacher, so I grew up in a science classroom,” explained Alyssa. “I helped create projects, test out experiments, run Super Science Saturday, and even helped train new teachers by letting them practice the craft with me. Even with all of this exposure to teaching, it was not my original intention to enter that profession. However, when I was exposed to a real-world, 4th grade classroom during my internship, I realized that challenge is a consistent factor in every teaching environment, and that every classroom creates its own, unique set of challenges. It was then that I knew that teaching was for me.”
Alyssa arrived at George School while filling in for a teacher who was on maternity leave for one academic year. She loved the environment and put in extra work to stand out with the objective of coming back the following year. Her hard work paid off, and fourteen years later, Alyssa is still teaching at the school. “I was lucky to end up at George School not only for the teaching opportunity, but the growth I realized in coaching developmental soccer and working in both Main and Westwood dorms for eleven years,” said Alyssa. “Having those experiences helped me connect with and better understand students in unique ways and gave me significant insights that helped in the classroom. I attribute so much personal and professional growth to those extra experiences that are distinctive to George School.”
When asked why she loves teaching science, Alyssa responded, “Seeing the lightbulb moments is the most fulfilling aspect of this job. I chose to teach at the high school level and specifically wanted to be a chemistry teacher because I wanted to impact students’ perceptions of science and chemistry for the better. High school is a time when life decisions start to form and by teaching both Freshman Chemistry and AP Chemistry, I can show students the fun side of science. George School students are extremely creative and approach problem solving in really cool ways. Creativity is part of science, and George School embodies that.”
Alyssa was recently named the first Loucks Faculty Initiative, Distinguished Chair. Created in 2020, the Loucks Faculty Initiative is a result of a gift from Pete Loucks ’50 and was established to encourage, recognize, and reward teaching excellence at George School. “I was extremely thrilled and honored when Sam [Houser] told me that I was selected to be the first recipient of Pete’s faculty chair,” said Alyssa. “Pete’s background in science, and commitment to education, inspires me. When we recently spoke on Zoom, I learned that Pete was told that he should pursue a different track. Even with the discouragement, Pete managed to find success in science and became a prestigious professor during his career. I hope to encourage, support, and drive students to pursue science and hearing stories like Pete’s reinforces my passion.”
Alyssa hopes to use funding from the Faculty Chair to develop interdisciplinary curricula at George School. “Part of the Faculty Chair includes funding for professional development. I am still working out the details, but one of my goals is to develop a course, whether year-long or semester, that involves my two passions: science and music. In addition to being a teacher, I am also a skilled, semi-professional violinist. I have played at the UN building, George School’s Walton auditorium, and I continue to perform at weddings and other venues. Combining performance art and science is a natural fusion of creativity. One which, in the course I am developing, will show artistically-minded students the value of science, and scientifically-minded students the value of art. This opportunity to develop such a course is thanks to Pete’s generosity.”