Faculty families, supported and empowered by Dana Hall

Whether you’re in eating lunch in the Dining Center, sitting in the common room of your dorm, or simply walking around the Dana Hall campus, family life is all around you. One of the many unique aspects about Dana Hall is that many faculty and staff members choose to live on campus with their families, contributing greatly to the tight-knit ‘Dana bubble’ that involves everyone who takes part in Dana life. But what are the lives of these families like after a day of classes is over and the teachers head across the street to their homes? I interviewed three different faculty members to find out.

Ms. Marcie Bruder, Dana’s Student Activities Coordinator, is a prime example of a Dana faculty member who balances her work’s duties and family life on the same street. Living at Dana for over a decade, Ms. Bruder has a three-year-old daughter named Taylor who has lived on Dana’s campus for her whole life. Taylor attends the Wellesley Montessori School, less than a mile away from Dana.

Ms. Bruder sees many advantages for a young child growing up in a school environment like Dana Hall. “Taylor’s very confident in who she is,” says Ms. Bruder. “She feels very secure in what she’s doing, and she gets a lot of great role models here.” In addition to the vast number of role models for Taylor at Dana, there are many faculty children like herself living right next door, providing her with “automatic friends.” “She’s only three, but she has such a great sense of humor and a certain strength about her, and I think that the Dana Hall atmosphere has contributed to that,” says Ms. Bruder.

In addition to being the Student Activities Coordinator, it is also Ms. Bruder’s fourth year living as a house assistant in the dorms, meaning that her family life is constantly surrounded by the hustle and bustle of everyday high school life. How does this affect the life of a developing three-year-old? “For one thing, she meets so many different people from so many different countries, she picks up on so many different languages, and I think seeing this helps her experience different cultures and understand the world in a more mature way earlier than her peers,” says Ms. Bruder.

Besides being known as Ms. Bruder’s daughter, Taylor is also seen as a ‘little sister’ to the Dana girls who live in her dorm. “I feel like some of the girls appreciate having her there because they have siblings at home, and it helps to build a sense of comfort. If the girls have never had a younger sibling, they are given one during their stay at Dana,” comments Ms. Bruder.

However, taking care of multiple other girls while also attending to your daughter and your family life can be extremely difficult. “The only disadvantage that I might see is making sure that Taylor is feeling heard from me, because she’s also vying for time between the girls and myself, so I want her to understand that she’s my number one.”

Ms. Bruder is unsure about whether Taylor will attend Dana in the future, and says that she will allow Taylor to decide where she wants to go to school when the time comes. In regards to her role as a house assistant at Dana, Ms. Bruder says that her goal is to “be a house parent for as long as I can for my girls.”

Mr. Eric Goodson, the Head of the History Department, also expresses gratitude for living within Dana’s “incredible community” with his wife and daughters Hannah and Maisie. Moving onto campus in 2004, Mr. Goodson says that “Dana provided us with a home that was really difficult to acquire in the Boston real estate market to begin with, and it made a lifestyle possible for us, which was huge.” 

Mr. Goodson says that the low faculty roll-over rate is a result of the faculty housing aspect of Dana Hall, which he says is “such a benefit,” though at times living so close to work can be “claustrophobic.” However, Mr. Goodson assured me that this was only a minor disadvantage to living on Dana. “We do have separation,” says Mr. Goodson. “ Our doors close. But if a neighbor has a migraine headache and needs help, she just knocks on our door and gives her kids to us and runs over to the hospital. The living in Dana Hall in general is living in a tight-knit community. When people have babies on this campus, stews and casseroles start arriving on their doorstep at a regular interval because we set up a spreadsheet for them. The emotional and social support is tremendous. We’re friends.”

In addition to being provided with all of the amenities that Dana has to offer, like a full-time Dining Center and the Shipley Center, Mr. Goodson is thankful that his daughters are “constantly surrounded by this incredible group of young women who are smart and athletic and work hard and have fun.” “They’ve always admired the Dana girls,” Mr. Goodson says.

What’s more, Mr. Goodson says that there’s something special about raising two girls on an all girls high school campus. “This environment spares students from the worst that society dishes out to young women. All of the negative images that you should look one way or another, or the idea that women shouldn’t be involved in math or science, all of that is just not here. And as a result, when you go to college, you don’t know any better. You just know that you have to raise your hand and speak your mind. And that is the kind of environment that I want for my own daughters.” His oldest daughter, Hannah, will be starting school at Dana in the fifth grade next year. Her desire for attending Dana? “She has looked up to you guys for so many years now,” says Mr. Goodson.

Mr. Goodson also takes his role as a male teacher and role model at an all girls school very seriously. “It’s important as a male faculty member that young women see men modeling behavior outside the classroom that honors women’s rights. I want you to see how I act as a father, because I think that’s a part of a student’s education.”

Another teacher living on the Dana campus, Mr. Nick Lloyd, has resided here with his wife and kids Fiona and Jasper for ten years. What’s different about Mr. Lloyd is that he has lived on a campus for almost his entire life. “Privacy isn’t a big problem for me,” says Mr. Lloyd. “I attended boarding school as a kid, so living among people I work with is just a normal thing.”

One of Mr. Lloyd’s favorite things about living on Dana campus is that he gets to meet and live with students from all over the world each year. “One of the greatest strengths of the Dana community is that it’s constantly changing. We get to live with different students every year and interact with them as students and as people outside of their academic lives, and that’s really special,” he says.

The biggest impact on his family life from living within the Dana community is that his children are being raised by the community, giving them exposure to many different parenting styles. “Even though my colleagues might have different ideas on how to nurture and guide their children, we all work together to raise our children. I think it’s amazing that my children get the experience of being raised by more than two parents, and what’s more, they’re all educators,” Mr. Lloyd comments.

Mr. Lloyd agrees that his kids are given automatic friendships and relationships because they live within a community. He says: “It’s more than just friends. They’re like cousins, and they’re always connected because they’re all living and growing up on campus together.”

Though Mr. Lloyd is going on a year-long sabbatical next year to get a masters degree in math with a focus in teaching at Harvard University, he doesn’t doubt that he will still be included in the Dana bubble. “I expect that I’ll be a little out of touch with the day-to-aspects of Dana life, but I’ll be here and I’ll be involved throughout the year,” he promises.

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