Last weekend at the John Dorr Nature Laboratory Mind/Body Retreat, faculty and staff had the opportunity to bond with each other by participating in a variety of activities designed to help them take a break from their daily lives. The workshops were designed and led by Middle Division (MD) history teacher Caitlin Hickerson, Director of John Dorr Nature Laboratory Glenn Sherratt, and dance teacher Denise DiRenzo.
For the past five years, DiRenzo has been working with Sherratt to organize the retreat, she said. English teacher Dr. Deborah Kassel said that Hickerson has led activities at three out of the five retreats she has attended.
Six teachers attended this year’s retreat, which is fewer teachers than in past years; however, attendance varies from year to year, DiRenzo said.
The retreat was created with the intention to give teachers the chance to relax, Sherratt said. Celebrating its 10th year, this year’s retreat was open to all teachers and staff from every division of the school.
“I think it is very important for the adults in the school to have time to recharge and relax,” Hickerson said. “It helps us all be better teachers and better humans to each other.”
Academic Center Associate Kristin Rowson said that she attended the retreat both this year and in the past because it’s a good break from the routine to get to experience Dorr and to see people in a different context.
Every year, the retreat has physical, spiritual, and mental components, but the specific activities vary from year to year, Kassel said. For example, while this year’s attendees learned a tap dance routine, last year, attendees were taught how to step dance.
During the three days of the retreat, the faculty and staff enjoyed everything that Dorr had to offer. The retreat started with a dinner on Friday night, which was followed by icebreakers by the fire before the teachers went to sleep in the dorms, Rowson said.
Because the retreat was designed to “provide a time for rest and relaxation for faculty and staff,” throughout the weekend, attendees had the opportunity to meditate, hike, do yoga, and participate in creative activities and personal reflections, Sherratt said. Teachers also climbed the new treehouse structure, Rowson said.
Pre-Kindergarten teacher Samiyrah Kellman’s favorite part of the retreat was climbing to the top of the 50-foot tall treehouse and relaxing there, she said.
The ropes course was one of Rowson’s favorite parts of the retreat as well, she said. On Saturday night, she and Hickerson slept inside the treehouse “just because [they] could,” Rowson said.
Sherratt said that he enjoyed the camaraderie between members of the faculty and spending time with his colleagues over the course of the weekend.
Likewise, getting to know her colleagues was one of the best parts of the retreat for Direnzo, she said. “It is a wonderful opportunity to get to know colleagues at a deeper level and perhaps learn something new, while relaxing and taking in the beauty of nature.”
“The Mind/Body Retreat allows faculty members to spend some time in nature and appreciate the beauty of the outdoor and indoor space,” Kellman said.
While the teachers enjoy each other’s company and become closer while at the retreat, after leaving, they don’t have reunions, Rowson said. But, they retain some of the familiarity gained from the retreat, leaving with closer relationships to the other colleagues that attended, she said, adding that she will definitely attend the retreat again in the future.