Maternity Leave Replacements: Two New Teachers Join SLS Faculty

Danielle Nares '21, Staff Writer

Mrs. Meatto, an Upper School Spanish II & III teacher, and Mrs. Abbott, an Upper School history teacher for Foundations of Modern World History, have each given birth to a beautiful and healthy baby: Greta Meatto and Charlie Indiana Abbott. While the school said a temporary farewell to the teachers when they went on maternity leave, we now welcome two new faces to the hilltop: Mrs. Rolfini-Beckenstein and Mr. Cox.

Both substitute teachers will be at SLS until May and June respectively. Thanks to a warm greeting from the St. Luke’s Community, they felt cordially welcomed and both felt that their transition was nearly effortless.

“From day one, I never felt [like a ‘guest teacher’]. Students, faculty, staff – as busy as people are – they’ve stopped to introduce themselves and made me feel welcome and included. There is a genuine kindness that seems to pervade the culture,” said Mr. Cox, who is filling in for Mrs. Abbott and came to SLS a few weeks before March Exams.

Similarly, Mrs. Rolfini-Beckenstein explains that since she first arrived a week after Spring Break, “the students and the faculty have been incredibly warm and kind.” She noted that she is somewhat surprised by how attached she has become to the students in such a short period of time.

The pair are accomplished individuals and have already contributed positively to the community.

Mr. Cox was previously a history major in college and decided to pursue his Master’s degree in East Asian Studies at the University of Virginia. He then moved on to work in different roles within academia; he was a history, English, and rhetoric teacher, admissions associate, and a division head. Before Mr. Cox started working at SLS, his most recent job was as an educational consultant. Outside of school, he rows crew and plays golf, squash, and tennis.

The leave replacement for Mrs. Meatto, Mrs. Rolfini-Beckenstein, was immersed in Spanish and Italian culture when she was growing up. Ultimately, she became fluent in both languages. She then used her knowledge of Spanish and Italian to teach clients and students. Her experience as a language teacher includes her time at Western Connecticut State University and Wooster. A few years ago, she left the traditional classroom to start her own business, The Language School, which, located in Ridgefield, specializes in customized language classes that are tailored to a particular student’s level.  While it has been a while since she has taught at a school, she describes the experience as refreshing; she may even consider going back to teaching in the classroom in the future.

Both teachers noted that, as cliché as it sounds, the best part about teaching is getting to know the students.

“I love teaching high school kids. There is something about the future … I love their lightheartedness, and then I also make sure that they know what I am teaching them. It is sort of like a fine line of paying attention and letting your guard down. If you have fun learning a language, it will stick. I want that to be the impact,” said Mrs. Rolfini-Beckenstein.

Mr. Cox adds, “[The best part of teaching is] sharing what I know; introducing students to new ideas, places, and cultures that they’ve not experienced before – and hearing their perspective and thoughts – it’s all really great and rewarding … The students have been great! … They’re polite, hard-working, and with all they have on their plates, they have a good sense of humor.”

Both teachers recognize the difficulty of entering a school community at the end of the year, especially because students are attached to their previous teachers. In response, they strive to maintain an engaging classroom environment.

Mrs. Abbott, for example, has built a strong community in her classroom through her fun and informative ways of teaching. Mr. Cox understands that it might have been difficult for some students to adjust to the change, and also has adopted some of Mrs. Abbott’s hands-on and enjoyable teaching techniques.

Mrs. Rolfini-Beckenstein’s students think that her transition was rather seamless. They further note that in the time that she has been here, she has been productive and comes to class with an enthusiastic smile.

One student, Ping Ryan ’21, has had Mrs. Meatto since her freshman year and also enjoys Mrs. Rolfini-Beckenstein’s class.

“I enjoy her class because of her enthusiasm. She makes our class so fun but still ensures that we are learning, and as a result, I have found her class to be both enjoyable and productive. It is evident that she has been working hard to make this transition between teachers as smooth as possible,” Ping says.

Both Mr. Cox and Mrs. Rolfini-Beckenstein encourage students to visit them to introduce themselves. You can find them in the history office and room 326 respectively.

While it will be sad to see Mr. Cox and Mrs. Rolfini-Beckenstein leave so soon, next month we will gladly greet Mrs. Abbott (and ask to see pictures of her baby boy), and re-welcome Mrs. Meatto (and ask to see pictures of her baby girl) this fall!