Wood, on paternity leave, replaced by Rubin


Darren Wood

Darren Wood sits at home with his newborn son, Owen.

Logan Schiciano, Sports Design Editor

The birth of a child is one of life’s finest moments; English teacher Darren Wood elected to take paternity leave from Masters in order to spend time with his son, Owen, who was born in October. Wood, who has been gone since the start of the second semester, plans to return on May 6, according to an email sent to his students and their parents from Head of Upper School Dr. Nikki Willis.

Wood expressed that he is delighted to spend “slow days” dedicated solely to parenting.  “I am most looking forward to spending lots of uninterrupted time with my son! He’s adorable and very sweet and, like my first two children, teaches me more about my capacity for love, patience and joy,” he said in an email.

Dr. Paul West, a teacher in the English Department explained the reasoning behind Wood’s taking his leave at this time. “I think in terms of timing – what would work for the class, as well as how [Wood] and his wife coordinated their leaves – that seemed like the best arrangement. It makes sense for students to have a clean start at the beginning of the semester,” West said. Wood agreed with his colleague’s sentiment.

For the next three months, a new face on campus, Deirdre Rubin, has stepped in to teach his classes: three sections of tenth grade English, along with a senior seminar in poetry. As for Wood’s advisees, science teacher Nancy Gormley will serve as their replacement advisor.

Rubin, who is originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., taught at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, N.Y., earlier this school year, working in the English department. While she is new to Masters, she is actually quite familiar with the Harkness method.  “I did one of my graduate degrees in Liberal Arts at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md., and Santa Fe, N.M., and while it was not called the Harkness method, everyone sits around the table and speaks about a text or about an issue without being called on,” Rubin said. Rubin also mentioned how the role of the student and teacher are similar in Harkness, and she is excited to teach in the style in which she learned.

West explained how he and the other teachers have tried to help make her transition to Masters a smooth one. “Several years ago the tenth grade English teachers — West, Wood, and Zev Barnett — redesigned the tenth-grade curriculum. We have a lot of documentation of the lesson plans, which we’ve shared with her. We also have weekly meetings with the tenth grade English teachers, which is a good time to formally check-in,” West said.

Rubin, who also had the chance to attend many of Wood’s classes prior to his leave, expressed her thankfulness for the support. “All the teachers in the English Department have been really helpful along with Dr. Willis. Mr. Wood gave me his curriculum to use, and I’ve been adapting it. I worked with him to make sure there’s consistency,” she said. Rubin also referenced school librarian Judy Murphy, who gave her a selection of poetry and other young adult books to use in her classes.

Aside from teaching, Rubin has many additional interests including film, reading, writing, hiking, feminism and spending time with her family. She is also intrigued by philosophy, noting that she taught it at Marist College last semester, and previously at Iona College and the College of New Rochelle. “We’re happy to have her.” West said.