The student news site of Brimmer and May School | Chestnut Hill, MA

The Gator

The student news site of Brimmer and May School | Chestnut Hill, MA

The Gator

The student news site of Brimmer and May School | Chestnut Hill, MA

The Gator

Spotlight: Karen Bernanke, Director of Academic Services

Caleb Meranus
Director of Academic Service Karen Bernanke works with Ruby Cohen-Weinberg ’24 in the Learning Center.

At the heart of the Library Learning Commons resides Karen Bernanke, the Middle and Upper School Director of Academic Services. Her office, situated in the library’s corner, has become a haven for students seeking assistance and guidance.

With an educational background that boasts a Psychology degree from Boston University and further qualifications in Education and Educational Leadership from Lesley University, she brings a wealth of experience. Her credentials are enriched by her time as a classroom teacher for grades K-8 across multiple schools.

“I enjoy working with Brimmer students,” Bernake said. “They are very self-aware and they want to utilize supports that are available. Students recognize how the Learning Center can be a resource for all their academic needs from materials for organization, to executive functioning support and time management skills, academic guidance and moral support. Students are taking charge of their own learning, but sometimes just need new strategies, a jump start or encouragement.” 

Whenever I interact with her, her warmth, humor, and kindness leave an indelible mark. Whether you ask a student or a teacher, the message remains unambiguous: Karen Bernanke is truly a gem. Don’t just take my word for it.

Karen Bernanke alongside her two adult children. For 25 years, their annual family vacation in Wellfleet, MA has been a treasured tradition. Her daughter is gearing up for her college graduation, while her son, who attends a program for autistic adults, lives at home. (Courtesy of Karen Bernanke )

“If you ever just need a person to talk to, she’s the one,” Jordan Canavan ’24. “Despite her busy schedule, she always makes time and gives you her undivided attention,” Canavan said.

Her colleagues also admire her holistic approach to education.

Math Lab Instructor Stanley Szwartz, who works with Bernanke, shared his admiration.

“One of the most remarkable things about Ms. Bernanke, besides her immense academic support, is her genuine commitment to students’ well-being,” Bernake said. “She consistently makes time to talk, ensuring they’re thriving socially, mentally, and emotionally.”

Outside her role at the school, Bernanke leads a fulfilling personal life. Living in Sharon with her young adult son and daughter, she has fond memories of growing up outside Washington, D.C., where she developed an affinity for theater and history.

When not at school, Bernanke can be found relishing live music, diving into historical fiction novels, attending yoga sessions, or wandering around New England.

When here, Bernake partners with families, teachers and students to build a team support approach to learning.

“My goal is to ensure that every student at Brimmer uses my support, even if they think they might not need it.” Bernake said. “If a student is feeling stressed or is having difficulty accessing their classwork, they are always welcome to reach out in person or through email. I can answer questions about their learning styles and profiles, and work with them to explore learning accommodations.

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About the Contributors
Mckinlee DePaola
Mckinlee DePaola, Journalist
Mckinlee joined The Gator in 2023. She has been at Brimmer since 7th grade and loves it. She also loves photography, reading, listening to music, and horseback riding.
Caleb Meranus
Caleb Meranus, Journalist
Caleb is a 9th-grade student who enjoys photography, and working behind a camera. This is his first semester in the newsroom, and he has been producing multimedia content like the segment Education of our Educators, Nolan's Soup Review, and other Gator Nation News media. Caleb has also been assisting other writers by taking pictures for their articles. You can find more of Caleb's photography work on his Instagram.

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