Peconic Community School in Aquebogue has a new teacher who’s a familiar face to most of the staff.
Shannon Timoney is the private school’s new upper primary teacher, whose class includes students in grades 4 through 6. She previously taught for eight years at the Ross School in East Hampton.
Ms. Timoney’s mentor there was Alison Aldredge, Peconic Community School’s former kindergarten teacher and early childhood director. Ms. Aldredge died July 5 from an embolism related to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, an illness from which she had suffered all her life.
“I was in awe of her,” Ms. Timoney recalled in an interview this week. “To have Alison show me how magical progressive education can be — I’m the luckiest person.”
Three other Peconic Community School teachers have also previously worked at the Ross School, including Sharon Cook. She’s currently education director and is teaching this year’s kindergarten class.
The school’s enrollment has increased by about 20 students in the past two years and now totals nearly 45 children.
We sat down with Ms. Timoney to discuss her experience and future plans for the growing Peconic Community School.
Q: When did you decide you wanted to become a teacher?
A: I was a student at Penn State and went to the library one day after I decided I needed to research how to make money and I found out I should major in marketing [laughs]. In my sophomore year, I decided to help my accounting professor’s wife in her classroom. She was a teacher in an elementary school. There was no requirement for me to be there — it wasn’t for any credit because I wasn’t an education major. I would get a lot of compliments for volunteering there. Finally, my accounting professor sat me down and said, ‘I think you should think about switching majors.’
Q: Why do you think a progressive and holistic approach toward education is important?
A: Documentation is a big part of progressive schools. I fell in love Reggio Emilia’s teaching philosophy about documenting students’ progress. The beauty of my small class size of 11 students is differentiated learning opportunities based on what students need. There’s a lot of opportunities for special projects because they’re the oldest kids and they’re the mentors of the school.
Q: What are some of your goals in your new role?
A: I truly love every grade for different reasons. I’ve always wanted to work with upper primary because I have all these ideas that I would love to do but was sometimes limited with little kids. We want to do some community service work. We’re thinking about doing a school-wide theme about protecting the oceans. I truly want them to take action. I’m excited to see with older kids what problems they see that they could attempt to do something about it — not just teach them about the oceans. Meaningful learning has to come from your heart.
Photo Caption: Peconic Community School educator Shannon Timoney says she’s excited to teach her students through new community service projects. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)