The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA
Fay Magazine: Summer 2022

Faculty Profile: Bruce Chauncey

Daintry Duffy Zaterka '88
We caught up with longtime faculty member Bruce Chauncey to chat about life as a dorm parent and how he encourages his fifth and sixth graders to keep an open mind as they learn about politics and history.
Bruce Chauncey joined Fay in 1992 as a dorm parent and a coach. Soon, he was working in the Admission Office, overseeing the financial aid program and interviewing prospective families. Bruce moved into the History Department in 1998, where he taught a variety of grade levels. He served as department chair from 2009 to 2019, overseeing faculty and curriculum development for Kindergarten through grade nine. He still teaches fifth and sixth grade social studies, which covers the road to the American Revolution and the republic’s founding through the Civil War.
Outside the classroom, Bruce coaches flag football and 5-6 basketball, and he lives in Village Boys dorm with his wife Kelly and daughters Paige, who works as an Assistant Teacher in Fay’s Early Learning Center, and Piper ’23. We caught up with Bruce to chat about dorm life and how he encourages his fifth and sixth graders to keep an open mind as they learn about politics and history.
How do you help new students adjust to boarding life at Fay?
In Village Boys, all of our students are new, except for the ninth graders, so we get to establish the baseline of what it’s like to be a boarding student at Fay. That helps us figure out what we need to do to get this group of kids moving in the right direction and building the habits that will help them be successful.
What are common challenges for boys who are new to middle school boarding?
The main challenge is organizing their belongings and learning to keep things squared away and straight. Every couple of weeks, I’ll choose a student, and we disassemble their room and put it back together so that they know where their socks are and where their ties belong. We get them reorganized so that they can function better. When seventh grade boys finish with something, it usually ends up on the floor, so we try to teach them to clean as they go.
Sixth grade is another transition point at Fay as students prepare to enter Upper School. What is it like to teach this age group?
Sixth graders are reaching a stage in their learning and development where they are much more aware of the greater world. They are curious about why things are the way they are, and can have more sophisticated discussions about those topics. The bonus is that sixth graders still have that piece of the younger student inside them. They are eager to learn, which makes them more receptive to jumping in and engaging in whatever activity the strange old bald guy introduces them to!
Your social studies classes are known for wide-ranging discussions and debates. Is that intentional?
We’ll be talking about a topic in history, and somebody will make a connection that propels our discussion down a path that might feel like a tangent, but it’s not. The kids are making connections to what they have learned; they just can’t see it yet. They might think they are getting me off track, but I’m still on the field!
When politics can be so divisive, how do you scaffold these discussions for your students?
A few years ago, I brought CNN 10 into class. It’s a ten- minute daily news broadcast for students that covers three topics in the news such as economics, politics, or science and technology. The kids love it, and there is frequently something in there that connects to the Constitution, like a story about the latest Supreme Court nominee or election. Unlike cable news, the program is very good at saying what happened without getting into opinions. In my class, we try to look at both sides of an event to understand why people might see an issue differently. I want students to have an open mind to what else is out there that they don’t even know about yet. The beauty of fifth and sixth grade is that they are ready to hear and learn about other ideas and opinions.

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