When talking about her life at Saint Andrew’s, grade 6 English teacher Jessica Laliberte uses a familiar poker reference. “We’re all in.” She means that her working world is all part of her family. Jessica and her husband, Saint Andrew’s Interim Head of Upper School and teacher Dr. Matt Laliberte, both work at the school and live on campus with their three children, also Saint Andrew’s students. The couple is part of the boarding program and has opened their family to include students living away from their own families.
“All our chips are on the table for Saint Andrew’s,” Laliberte added. “We work here, play here, live here, and raise our children here. It’s the epicenter of our home life and our professional lives. Double or nothing!”
That family dynamic extends to Laliberte’s popular teaching style, which is based on an individual relationship with every student. She calls it a ‘workshop model,’ where she works with students where they are academically, and together they work out how to advance to the next level. “The most important thing I do with my students is to build trust,” Laliberte stated. “They feel safe in making mistakes, or when they conquer a new challenge, we celebrate together.”
She especially treasures the freedom Saint Andrew's gives its teachers, allowing them to develop teaching methods within the curriculum and pedagogy determined by the school. “It’s like being an artist with a canvas,” she explained. “I get to create my masterpieces, and then I get to watch those students create their own masterpieces.” Laliberte commented that some of her best teaching ideas have come from professional development courses at Columbia University and Harvard. One of those is the Project Zero seminar series at Harvard, focusing on cutting-edge approaches in learning. “Every single day I use what I learned there,” she added.
Being a transplant from her native Northeast, Laliberte never takes for granted the year-round outdoor experiences available at Saint Andrew’s. She shares the appreciation with her own family and her ‘faculty family,’ the four to five boarding students she and her husband mentor. “We invite our faculty kids into our campus home, have dinner with our family, and play sports together,” said Laliberte. “To a certain degree, we adopt them into our own family, which makes them feel less homesick and integrates them much more easily into the larger Saint Andrew’s community. And since many of the boarding students are international, it’s a wonderful opportunity for everyone to share and appreciate our cultural connections.”