Zac Broken Rope
Zac Broken Rope is an SWS English teacher and the new advisory coordinator. A Nebraska native, he held a number of teaching roles over the past decade before settling at the high school. Broken Rope is an avid runner as well as a dog lover.
How would you describe the primary goal of your new job?
I think that advisory is a social and emotional learning program. At the end of the day, we want to provide a place where students can take a break from their normal class loads, do deep breathing exercises, meet people who are maybe not in their classes and have a chance to take a break from the stresses of normal, academic and everyday life. I think that’s really important.
Do you think it’s going to help students benefit academically?
Especially in a high-powered school like Brookline where so many people are taking APs or higher level classes, it’s an opportunity to focus on yourself. I think it’s really great that we, as a school, take the time to build in time to pause and breathe and say, ‘you’re human.’ And I think by providing that break, it allows us to become better students in the long run.
Is there anything in your personal background or career history that makes you uniquely positioned for this role?
I’ve always worked highly with social and emotional learning programs in every school that I’ve worked in. For me, it’s something I feel passionate about. The research indicates that strong schools have good advisory. So I just wanted to be a part of creating a strong program here for Brookline, adding onto the one that already existed.
Are you looking to implement ways for people to get more one-on-one support?
I think that at the end of the day, advisory is a program that works best when teachers are engaged in conversations with students to help support them. Advisory is fundamentally a place where we hope that kids can go to meet a teacher that is non-academically evaluative. It’s a pass-fail class. If you show up, you pass. But ultimately our hope is that they have an adult who’s not connected to them in an academic way to come to if they need someone to talk to. Teachers are here because fundamentally, we care about the success of our students, whether that’s academically or emotionally.
How did you spend your summer?
I got a new dog last year; her name is Willow, and she’s a Boston Terrier. I worked on training her over the summer, but it was not super successful. I spent some time on the Cape. I spent time with friends, and mostly just decompressed after last year. It was a really difficult year, emotionally, for all of us, and it took a lot out of me. So, I think that getting back into shape and exercising and staying on a regular schedule was really important for my mental health and well-being this past year.
Was there a lack of social and emotional support at your school growing up that influenced how you built our programming at the high school?
Back when I was in high school, about a decade ago, we weren’t really talking about social and emotional health. School was a place where you came to be academically driven. We didn’t really make space for kids to kind of figure out who they are. And I think high school is a really difficult time to exist as a human being. I think that schools are doing better now where we prioritize the wellness of the whole student, as opposed to just like, ‘you’re here to learn.’ We’re healthcare providers, we’re emotional providers and we’re academic providers. I think that this school does a really good job of combining all those different needs of the community to support our students as a whole.