Porter concludes years at WA


Andrew Friel, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Westford Academy Social Studies department head Libby Porter recently revealed that this school year will be her last at WA, concluding many years of service as a teacher and curriculum coordinator.

For much of her life, Porter knew that she wanted to be an educator, earning her Bachelor’s degree in history at Skidmore College and completing a myriad of post graduate programs at schools such as Umass Boston and University of Delaware.

However, before heading into the education field, Porter got married and spent time in the construction industry with her husband. Running an after school program when her children were young, as well as beginning paraprofessional work in a high school, Porter saw all types of educational settings. She weighed both elementary and high school education as options, but ultimately choose high school for one main reason.

“Having been home with my little kids, I think I needed to have older people to talk to and interact with,” Porter said.

Regarding choosing history specifically, Porter notes her father as a major influence to this decision.

For Porter, economics was one of the most interesting parts of the social studies field, and it became a special class for her.

“I love the economic way of thinking. […] You can be a little more analytical about policy making. When you hear proposals being put forward at any level of government, you can process it and ask questions to yourself and investigate more deeply.

You’ll see some of the strengths of the arguments that are being put forward and some of the ones that are missing some important factors,” Porter said, “I think as a citizen, [economics] makes you far more informed.”

As it comes to educating students, Porter at first felt intimidated by teaching students a handful of content.

Overtime, she felt more comfortable in building relationships with students and teaching them content in a way that they could absorb easily.

“Their sense of accomplishment [is rewarding]. You can tell they’re really excited that they were able to learn this stuff […],” Porter said.

For Porter and others, teaching high school is a unique opportunity to watch four years of student growth and development. This can be extremely satisfying for educators to see this change.

As it pertains to retirement plans, Porter intends to first spend more time with family and just decompress from her career in general. Furthermore, she would like to get more active and play more sports, seeing as though she no longer will have to adhere to a five day  work week demanded by school.

Porter also noted returning from out of retirement to go into something in the education field at a smaller capacity.

“One of the things that would be fun to do would be to work with developing teachers […]. I have really enjoyed working with teachers in this role,” Porter said.

With much of her family involved in entrepreneurship, Porter also suggested this as a possible post retirement career choice for herself.

The legacy Porter hopes to leave is quality hires in the social studies department, as well as a heavier focus on the improvement of research and writing within the department itself, noting the creation of the WA History Journal.

“I’ve tried to work very hard with research and writing and really formalize that process so that we all can be more consistent […],” Porter said.

To her sucessor in the social studies department, Porter suggests balancing the goals of administration and the teachers themselves in order to achieve a quality department. This comes with a focus on listening to both sides in order to clearly understand their goals and develop new strategies on how to implement them.

“[Changes] don’t happen overnight,” Porter said.

As she heads on into her next stage of life, Porter has some parting words for the WA community at large.

“It’s been a pleasure […] I have really enjoyed working with the staff here, not just within our department, but the entire school […] The students here at Westford are a great bunch of kids,” Porter said.