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Teachers on tradition

With 12 current staculty members working 20+ years at Marlborough, many staculty members have witnessed changes ranging from technology, policies and even Marlborough’s campus design. Four of those members— history instructor Tom Millar, mathematics instructor Jennifer Uribe, Executive Assistant to Upper School Laura Morrison and instrumental ensemble teacher Deborah Sealove— shared their insight about changes and continuities at Marlborough. 

MILLAR began at Marlborough in 1999. He initially aspired to work at a small college, but realized what he was looking for could be found in an independent school like Marlborough. 

“When I first reached out to Marlborough, I didn’t know much about the private school system in LA,” Millar said. “But once I learned about the school I applied for it, and I stayed because I loved working here.” 

Millar’s favorite tradition is the 10th grade banner ceremony because it gives the class a way to bond. 

“I was the 10th grade dean almost every year so banner ceremony is probably my favorite tradition,” Millar said. “Everyone has different friend groups, but I think the traditions really help for the class to come together, and produce a moment for the class to remember together. The banners can all be displayed together, so it’s a physical representation of the class that’s meaningful.” 

One of the largest differences has been the incorporation of more technology at Marlborough, according to Millar. He recalled how many digitized systems like the current attendance system used to be done by hand. 

“They used to have these little clips outside every room and that’s where you would put your attendance slip,” said Millar. “Everyone had a homeroom in the morning and you would take your slip, and clip in.” 

However, some things, like the concern about parking among juniors and seniors, has remained the same, Millar said, recounting a moment when the creation of the underground parking lot was announced. 

“The person who was head of school at the time made an assembly about the new construction that was going on,” Millar said. “All these things that they thought people were going to be excited by, especially the architect sketching of the new library. And then, she puts up the slide for underground parking. Everyone cheers. Seniors were standing up in the back, people were cheering. It’s so Marlborough to get excited about parking spaces.”

URIBE is in her 25th year at Marlborough. Former mathematics teacher John Frank informed a professor of Uribe’s that there was a job opening at Marlborough. Her professor encouraged her to apply. 

“I had never worked at independent schools, but I applied because my professor recommended me to do so,” Uribe said. “And then, the moment I came on campus, I’m not even exaggerating, I felt like I had come home.” 

Uribe loves the many traditions of each grade at Marlborough, so she was disappointed when the honor bracelet tradition was taken out of this year’s honor assembly. 

“I still have my bracelet from 2019-2020,” Uribe said. “It just fell off last May, I had been wearing it that whole time. To me, there was something about that bonding as an entire school to pledge that was very meaningful. I would hope we would find a way to reintegrate that into the new system. I might be a 7th grader, and you might be a senior, and they might be an employee, but we were all committed to this group ideal, and there is something very meaningful about that.” 

Similarly to Millar, Uribe has witnessed an increase in the use of technology throughout her time at the school. 

“25 years ago nobody had cell phones and computers weren’t as big of a thing,” Uribe said. “Students now are more technology-focused, and I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good thing, because I think there are relationships that they are losing out on because they are not communicating with each other as well.” 

Culturally, Uribe has also seen the mindset of Marlborough students has shifted over the years. 

“I feel like there was a sense of innocence and really wanting to learn, and there are still people at Marlborough who really want to learn, but I think over the years a sense of competition, that didn’t really exist when I first came here, has grown,” Uribe said. “There were more people before who wanted to learn history for the sake of wanting to go back in time. I don’t think that’s always the case now—  there are still people who do but not to the level it was before.” 

As for the teachers, their strong dedication has been maintained, according to Uribe. 

“Marlborough is a magical place for me because of the other employees,” Uribe said. “I have never been at a place with such passion in their subject areas and constantly wanting to improve how they teach. It’s really rare that you have teachers that are dedicated. Not just to their teaching, but also to helping students learn and find their passions.”

MORRISON has been at Marlborough since 1990. For Morrison, joining Marlborough seemed like an exciting opportunity that differed from her accounting and marketing jobs.

“I saw this job in the Los Angeles Times, that’s where we used to look for jobs. I thought ‘oh this looks fun’ and applied,” Morrison said. 

According to Morrison, one of the most visible changes at Marlborough is the change in the design and buildings on campus. 

“How we use space has changed,” Morrison said. “The parking lot and all the field used to be houses on Arden. In the 7th and 8th grade locker corridor there was a staircase that came up to the second floor, and there was a fountain that was a little hang out place. The library was downstairs and the Upper School offices [next to the CEI] was an atrium with lots of big trees. It was pretty but not a good use of space.” 

Morrison has seen the impacts of the technology changes Marlborough has made. 

“The more communication devices, like phones, have made students be in contact more with their parents than they did before. They are less independent in that way.” 

In addition to technological changes, Morrison has seen many academic changes. 

“We have had an increase in STEM offerings,” Morrison said. “When I started, in the middle school grades, science was only a semester long. One of the first big changes was to increase the science to full year, and now have fantastic STEM offerings.” 

Morrison is hopeful for the new changes Marlborough has recently been implementing.

“I hope we keep sticking to what is best and our new vision, Equity Leads Education. I’m hopeful and excited to see where that leads.” 

Despite all the changes, the students have remained similar. 

“The girls have always been very fearless,” Morrison said. “People are products of their age and time. I think that they may be even more fearless than they were before now.” 

SEALOVE is the longest running current faculty member at Marlborough, this academic year being in her 40th at the School. Over the years, Sealove said the largest changes have been policy decisions, which is most visibly seen in the uniform.

“Way back in time, students could wear these pastel dresses,” Sealove said. “They were solid color, a lavender color. The dress code has changed to be more up to date. When I first started here it was penny loafers. They have become more contemporary.” 

Not only have many of the rules changed, she said, but also the political climate. 

“I think there is a really more liberal feeling in this campus than what it used to be,” Sealove said. “It’s not that the campus used to be very conservative, but actually politically it has shifted. The school didn’t start off as a politically liberal place, especially considering parents and the history of Hancock Park. With the administration change, before I was here, in the 70s, we shifted towards having a diverse student body and the first non-white students.” 

For Sealove, the students’ passion and dedication has been maintained in her 40 years. 

“I’ve always loved Marlborough students,” Sealove said. “I find them to be so smart and willing to learn and curious to learn. That’s why I’ve stayed here so long, I just enjoy the students, and that has remained constant.” 

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