When she arrived at Andover in 2003, Colleen Cronin ’07 found herself thrust into a foreign world. Cronin grew up in Lawrence, Mass., and it was difficult for her to reconcile her identity once arriving at Andover, according to an article from honored.org.
It was Louis Bernieri, Instructor in English, who changed Cronin’s course at Andover. This past August, Bernieri won the $5,000 Honored National Teaching Award after being nominated by Cronin. Bernieri was also recognized for starting the community engagement project, Andover Bread Loaf.
“I nominated him because, not only did he help me, but he has helped lots of kids back in Lawrence who weren’t as fortunate as I was. [Andover] was like the first domino that I had to knock over in order to get where I am now. Yes, it was difficult for me to transition, but after Andover doors opened up for me that I knew even then would probably not open for my friends back home. I wanted people to see the importance of the work he’s doing, and I wanted him to know how much I appreciate him,” Cronin wrote in an email to The Phillipian.
Bernieri said, “I was totally shocked and even the nomination flattered and shocked. But even before I won, I told Colleen that…I didn’t need to win an award. [Her nomination] letter was enough for me. I [was] completely flattered and honored.”
Honored is a non-profit organization that highlights an impactful teacher every month. Cronin believes that Bernieri’s transformative support of students like her is indicative of what needs to be done to address the education quality gap in the country.
“Mr. Bernieri sees the inherent injustice in the current system and is working to change it. He isn’t just teaching an Andover-level English class in Lawrence [through Andover Breadloaf]; he is fostering a community-based, social movement, something much bigger than himself,” Cronin wrote.
As the head of the community engagement Andover Breadloaf, Bernieri hopes to provide the same support to under-resourced communities and educational systems around the world so that they too might help their students realize their potential. Specifically, the program pairs Andover students with small groups of younger students, and together they work on writing assignments.
“Half of my work has been at [Andover] in the regular session, and half has been…the outreach program Andover Bread Loaf in public schools in Lawrence in particular, but also in New York…and a number of cities,” said Bernieri.
Bernieri also recently received an honorary doctorate from Middlebury College, according to Stephanie Curci, Head of the English Department.
Curci said, “I wasn’t surprised [that he won the Honored award]. You know, Lou is such an amazing teacher… He is somebody who embodies [Andover]’s private school with a public purpose piece. He does so much work with public school teachers during his summers as part of Andover Bread Loaf…I think it meant a lot to him to get it from this particular student. The whole description of why he got it spoke to who he is as a teacher and colleague.”
One of Bernieri’s recent students, Jack Palfrey ’21, also remember him for his kindness and willingness to be there for them in the role of a mentor.
Palfrey said, “I think being in Mr. Bernieri’s class, first of all, was a ton of fun. I think he is someone who is incredibly invested in his students, and he truly enjoys the material that he is teaching us. I think it was great to learn from someone who has done this for awhile and really knows what he is talking about. He is able to make a connection, at least with me, that I think made me a lot more interested in the subject.”