James LaRochelle

James LaRochelle has been teaching for nearly 30 years. A member of the upper school faculty at Milton Academy, he has spent the last six summers teaching science at The Steppingstone Academy. We asked him why he devotes his summers to introducing the scientific method to Steppingstone Scholars.

What is it about Steppingstone that is distinct or different from all the other places you’ve taught?

The most unique thing about teaching with Steppingstone is that you get to work with 10-year-olds and 11-year-olds entirely committed to going to college. Many of them are first-generation Americans, and the fact that they can be thinking about something that is eight years in the future and stay so focused on it is incredibly inspiring.

This is your sixth summer. What keeps you coming back?

For me, as a high school teacher at Milton Academy the rest of the year, Steppingstone Scholars represent a different age group, coming from very different educational and family backgrounds, so teaching them offers me a challenge. I encounter kids who are truly focused learners, but have not had a lot of exposure to science. It’s exciting to introduce them to the subject. And several of the Scholars I have taught as middle-schoolers have ended up in the halls of Milton Academy in high school. That’s gratifying to see.

What are your favorite things about teaching with Steppingstone?

Almost everything is fabulous. The faculty talks during Community Time are great. I love the intern skits and watching the Scholars and interns and teaching assistants develop over the summer. Plus, the staff is so incredibly helpful. They think of everything. All I have to do is teach. And play a little hacky sack now and again.