Sylvia Gappa's Seaver Buck Award Introduction
This year’s recipient of the Seaver Buck award has been at Berkshire since 2000 and has served the school distinctively and tirelessly as a teacher, coach, and dorm parent. She is widely respected by both her department colleagues and the full faculty as a demanding and exacting classroom teacher, inspiring the strongest commitment of her students and preparing them thoroughly for their future academic success. Her classroom demeanor is all business, but her students recognize that this is firmly rooted in her unwavering desire for each of them to reach their fullest potential on a daily basis.
One student describes the continuous circle of learning she is able to build with her students:
“Her affinity with her subject is evident in her ability to translate the material into a form where we, her students, are always engaged and always challenged. She then also allows herself to be challenged by the curiosity she fosters in all of us. She has a diverse and interdisciplinary teaching style, and her ability to make the math and science relatable is a particular skill.”
Another of her students shares that: “She supports and truly cares about her students’ performance. All of the teachers at Berkshire do this, but I feel it most powerfully with her. She is easy to approach with questions, and always takes time out of her day to host review sessions, insisting that we attend in order to master the material, not just to know it.
Her department chair has the following to share about her teaching: “She is a talented mathematics teacher with a comprehensive knowledge of the material. She is consistently able to bring out the best in her students by encouraging them to do their best. In my nearly thirty years of teaching, I have never seen a teacher who cares as much about each individual student as she does. With her, each and every student is her favorite. Her work ethic is truly unparalleled, and she inspires all of us to be a better teacher.”
She is the former coach of our girls’ varsity soccer team and the current coach of the girls’ varsity hockey team, challenging and inspiring our top female athletes to compete at the highest levels. That commitment, however, is balanced equally by the genuine interest she takes in her players’ lives in full as strong, confident young women. In this role, as well as with her exceptional work as an advisor, she intentionally insists that students hold primary their academic pursuits, upholding their character, and their place as role models within the Berkshire community. To see her former players return to campus over the years and to hear the breadth of the lessons they’ve learned at her side, speaks powerfully about the lasting relationships she builds with them and their ultimate understanding that their success to her is about much more than simply wins and losses.
For this inspiration and commitment to enriching the lives of all the young people she reaches, for her exceptional effort and for her uncompromising dedication to her students, it is my great pleasure to present this year’s Seaver Buck Faculty Award to Sylvia Gappa.