By Matt Delaney, Director of Academic Design & Integration


Innovating for people-Driven programs is markedly different from innovating for the development of material products. In both cases, you design for user needs; innovating for human experience requires an additional layer of connection-building and ongoing maintenance of relationships.

Designing and implementing a new enterprise, like the RTP, which is focused on professional growth, is a complex process that ideally results in a global experience greater than the sum of its parts. Similar to the way we design and refine experiences for EPS students, we employ empathy to put ourselves in the shoes of our resident teachers who are coming to experience the Eastside Prep community and culture for the first time.

The resident teacher experience follows a cadence often used in the field of education: I do. We do. You do. In summer meetings and during the fall trimester, resident teachers shadow their mentor teacher, not only observing teaching in the classroom but also collaborating on curricular design and participating in the school culture to understand the complexity of how a modern-day independent school is organized and functions. Resident teachers spend the winter trimester co-planning and co-teaching with their mentor teachers. In the spring trimester, the mentor teacher is afforded the opportunity to engage in a professional sabbatical, while the resident teacher conducts their class sections with the support of EPS leadership and faculty.

When we think deeply about how people learn, it becomes evident that the first steps of human understanding include identifying new pieces of knowledge and breaking them down, or taking apart that knowledge, to understand its component parts (RTP fall term). It’s only after the initial processes of identification and deconstruction that people are able to move into a space where they are able to be more constructive and creative
(RTP spring term).

“My first trimester in the RTP can be easily described in one word: revelatory. As I observe and participate in various classrooms, I slowly take in the many, MANY elements that make a strong learning experience. I can see myself growing as a person and teacher in real time. While I work very closely with my mentor teachers, I also feel like I am supported and guided by a village of seasoned faculty and staff. This has been a wonderful welcome to the profession.”
Diana Gonzalez-Castillo, RTP ’23-24“

I’ve gained a lot from observing a number of different EPS teachers in various subject areas, each with their own teaching style and ability to design high-quality student experiences. Classroom observations and collaborations coupled with the graduate-level seminar have provided me opportunities to build relationships with EPS mentor teachers and to explore my voice as an instructor, my core teaching philosophy, and what the joy of teaching looks and feels like.”
Noah Ching, RTP ’23-24 EPS


The early experience of resident teachers is framed by a meeting cadence that includes collaboration with their mentor teachers, division head(s), and other resident teacher(s).

Part of this deconstructive process involves introducing resident teachers to the different standards we have for teaching excellence at EPS. This framework of teaching skills provides residents an early schema or lens that helps them identify the different elements that comprise elegant and effective teaching and learning. As they visit the classrooms of a variety of EPS faculty representing a variety of teaching styles, residents get to see EPS faculty and their practices and methodologies in action.

Residents and their mentor teachers also participate in a graduate-level seminar called Teaching @ EPS, where, over the course of ten weekly sessions, they explore and experience varied topics connected to designing and implementing a student-centered experience (see image to the left).

In both of these ways, residents are exposed to the theory connected to these domains and how this theory is put into practice in real classrooms with real EPS students.

Where in many schools, teachers find themselves on the island that is their specific classroom, at EPS, we see teaching and learning as collaborative at their core. In the second term, resident teachers transition from observation and deconstruction to collaborative construction with their mentor teachers. Collaboration between mentor and resident teachers is the platform on which resident teachers develop their own teaching styles and methodologies, and teaching practices inside and outside of the classroom. Resident teachers teach a single course section in December at the start of the winter trimester and take on a second course section in January and February, from winter break to midwinter break. Mentor teachers are present for support and to give resident teachers space to craft and direct the student learning experience.

“Teaching is a profession that asks us to always grow and learn, and teaching with someone else always enhances such growth and learning for me. Mentorship provides a similar reward but has a teaching component that is more than just planning and presenting content with a colleague. I find it to be fulfilling at the highest level. Diana brings her whole self and mind to this program; she has so many possible career paths in front of her. As her mentor, I constantly try to answer the question: how am I helping her prepare for those possibilities? I watch her transition through the phases of the program—observation, co-teaching, solo teaching—and feel pride as she absorbs elements of the profession and applies them to her practice.As I guide and support her, I also get to perform maintenance on my own practice, thinking through the ‘why’ of my systems. Opening my classroom and practice to other people energizes me and reminds me about why I chose teaching as my profession.”
Dr. Elena Olsen, RTP Mentor ’23-24

“Being a mentor in the RTP has been an experience in authentic learning for me.Walking someone else through every step of, well, everything I do as a teacher makes me look at my practice more deeply. I have had lots of time to reflect on the work I do and realize how much intentionality is behind it. Every classroom activity and lesson, assignment, assessment, lab, communication—each piece of my practice is intentionally crafted based on what I believe is best for my students. I am keeping a list of things to explore and perhaps refine for future years, and I am also finding validation for systems that work and assignments that show authentic student learning. As a mentor,  I keep learning how hard yet empowering it is to let go and trust others to do the work.
Teaching with Noah gives me the opportunity to hear new ideas from new eyes and to tap into his different areas of expertise.”
Katie Dodd, RTP Mentor ’23-24

In the spring term, resident teachers move into a space of authorship as they engage a complete teaching and advising role, and an EBC Week assignment with the support of their mentor teachers, division heads, and the Academic Design & Integration team. Throughout the spring experience, the resident teachers are provided feedback on specific teaching domains and skills, while all of those mentioned above are working to ensure a high-quality student experience.

At the core of everything we do at EPS is relationship. We understand that high-quality teaching and learning, and high-quality human experiences, require connection and support. As we move through the inaugural year of the RTP, connection, support, and the quality of the EPS student experience are our focus. Wise innovation, innovation connected to people, continues to fuel our approach to designing and implementing a school program that is continually evolving and responding to the needs of our students, our families, and our faculty and staff.