David Calamaro is the Associate Head of School and Academic Dean at Delaware Valley Friends School. David has been at DVFS for 19 years and has spent almost all of his career working with students who learn differently. David started at DV teaching history/social studies. In 2009, he became an administrator, taking over the duties of Dean of Students. He became Associate Head in 2012. David continues to keep a hand in classroom teaching. He is currently teaching an executive function class in the middle school.
Q: Why do you like teaching at DVFS?
For me, teaching at DV is about the relationships that build trust between students and teachers. The foundation of our community lies in the understanding that the teachers care so much about the students' learning, and they really enjoy engaging in the process alongside them. Even though I am not teaching as much these days, the same process holds true when I meet and work with students and families about their academics.
Q: How is DVFS different than other schools where you have taught?
I have been here for almost all of my career, and there is a reason: the mission of the school is so fulfilling. I think what makes DVFS unique is how authentically we approach every student and their learning, and how hopeful we are for them and their future.
Q: How do you help students with learning differences learn?
When I meet with students who are having any difficulty, my first task is to help them disassociate their difficulty from who they actually are: bright, capable learners. All of us have struggled at one point or another; they must understand that they are not alone and that they are not in any way, shape or form broken. They just need a different approach to the challenge at hand. I spend a great deal of time partnering with families, faculty and the students to help forge the unique, beautiful paths each student will take. It is also my job to ensure that the vision of the school's program continues to provide opportunities for our students to shine--whether through robotics, music and the arts, athletics, writing and literary analysis...we have many ways that students can showcase strengths, which will then allow them to face challenges with more confidence and with more of a growth mindset.
Q: What is a unique experience, talent or interest that you bring to your classroom to help shape the learning experience of your students?
As a high school student who experienced executive and organizational challenges, I know firsthand how important it is to have teachers in your corner for support. While I was blessed with very supportive parents, my big, public high school was not geared toward the learning that I required at the time. The resulting empathy for students with learning differences that has developed from this period of time in my life, I would argue, is essential. I bring a flexible and a creative approach to my work with students and faculty, since, while DV has essential guiding principles we have never been a one-approach-fits-all school.
Q: In your experience, what sets DVFS students apart?
Authenticity. Faculty who know how to teach students with learning differences, and who can see difference as advantageous and necessary for a richer world.