By Aanya Sethi
New teacher Kerry Trainor came to Pinewood this semester and teaches World Cultures and Religions and World History.
Where did you teach before joining Pinewood? I was a teacher at Stuyvesant High School in New York City.
What about Pinewood made you want to come here? So many things. First of all, the staff is so warm. The faculty and teachers are just so welcoming to me. You know, I had a really good relationship with my former colleagues, but I was very impressed with the way that everyone works together here. The whole idea of moving from a really big public school to a small private school appealed to me. Having smaller class sizes … [is] like a teacher’s dream! The smallest class previously that I’ve ever had was 18 students, and that was because of a programming error. … I’m usually used to 34 kids in a class, and five sections of that in a day.
That’s a lot of grading! Yeah, right! It takes me 20 minutes now to get through a class, whereas before it would be an hour, which leaves me with more time to plan, think, and engage with students that need help. … Also, I think I can relate to the students here more than other places. Where I used to teach, there was a similar environment where students were concerned with college and felt pressure, and I’m used to teaching that kind of student.
How long have you been teaching? This is my 14th year. … I was at my last school for ten years. Before that I was at another really big public school, around 3,000 kids. At my first school, my students had low literacy skills. The school had a lot of challenges, high violence, very low graduation rate, but I loved it. I loved the kids. But it was an adjustment to move from that school to Stuyvesant High School, which is one of the best public schools in
How are you enjoying working here so far? What’s your favorite part about the school? I like the Apple TVs in every room. I’m not used to that level of tech. [At my old job, it] was not uncommon to have your projector break, and you’d have to throw out your whole lesson. … Also, [I like] getting to know the students. I’m enjoying the newness of it.
When you were in high school what did you want to be? Was it teaching? Teaching was on my radar in high school. I wanted to be a writer. I was fascinated by screenplay writing and film. … My writing skills leave much to be desired, so I realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t going to happen. Teaching was on my radar, but I was more into the arts, writing and film.
Any other hobbies? Travelling…. [W]e have two small children, so it’s harder to do now. But I love to travel as much as possible … In general though, teaching is part of my identity, so in my free time, I often find myself doing things that are useful to me as a teacher.
What made you want to become a teacher? I’ve wanted to be a teacher since college. I tell the story of my mom, who is a 9/11 survivor. She worked at the World Trade Center. She survived, but in the aftermath of 9/11, I really felt a strong sense of responsibility to try to give back, to do something about it, to help the city I grew up in, and to help the city I call home. That’s why I like history, I like telling stories, and I figured teaching would be something I could do that I would be really interested in that is also a form of public service – something that can really make some kind of contribution to the rebuilding of my city.
So why history? I’ve just always been fascinated with history. I think part of it has to do with the fact that I had really interesting history teachers in high school. Just crazy characters! Teachers that I’ve had, professors that I’ve had, they’ve always fascinated me. That idea of trying to understand the world around you, and making meaning of the world around you by looking at events in the past. That’s my passion.