Friendship at the Corner of Hope & Lloyd
“We challenge and inspire each other, which I think is a key to long-lasting friendships.”
Upper school faculty member Abby Phyfe has maintained a connection to Amy Newbold in Vermont and Samara Estroff in Minnesota, since they all started teaching together at MB in the early 2000s.
Moses Brown’s stately elms have not only witnessed the formation of many student friendships over the years, but many faculty and staff connections as well.
Upper school English teacher Abby (Hertzmark) Phyfe first met former science faculty member Amy (Todd) Newbold when they took an AP prep course together at Taft the summer before Amy joined MB in 2003. Joyce Hooley Bartlett and Jim English had directed them toward one another to connect. “We hit it off immediately,” Abby recalls. When school started, Amy started coaching JV lacrosse and field hockey and met lower school faculty Samara Estroff that way, adding another connection to what would become a tightly linked friendship for the three of them. “Samara and I became friends through coaching together,” Amy recalls. “It’s a long bus ride to and from the Rehoboth field. We laughed a lot!”
Although Samara and Amy eventually left MB for jobs out of state, their relationship has continued to flourish and grow; they credit that to a genuine care for one another and commitment to maintaining their friendship.
When Samara moved to Minneapolis, Amy and Abby flew out to meet her new boyfriend in her new place to tell her if it was a good match. He was! Samara and Nick eventually married and welcomed two sons. Abby, Samara and Amy have enjoyed planning trips with and without their families and try to see one other annually. What started as a friendship at the intersection of Hope and Lloyd has now taken the trio to Maine, upstate New York, Vermont, Charleston, Minneapolis, and even back to Providence for a weekend.
Part of the power of their connection might be that they were all coming into their own as teachers and adults when they first met at MB in their 20s. “Abby was my first friend at MB,” Amy remembers. “I just feel like we made so many transitions together at MB that I couldn’t imagine not staying in touch, and we have all gone through many changes since we left.”
Communication is key and they are in touch frequently, often sharing simple text messages to check-in and make sure everyone made it through the week. They find a way to see each every summer and winter, with families and without. “I am learning a little more about Minnesota every time I go,” says Amy.
Their different personalities provide balance and push. Amy is outgoing and more likely to strike up conversations with strangers in new places when they need advice on where to go; Samara is adventurous and will come up with travel ideas and inspire them to meet up in places none of them have been — “we challenge and inspire each other, which I think is a key to long-lasting friendships,” says Abby.
All say that friendships with other teachers helped them become better teachers, as well. “Having friendships across departments and divisions has helped me to understand MB as a school better and has given me a better ability to serve my own students by knowing the philosophy and skills of the teachers kids are coming from,” Abby says. “My friendship with Samara showed me why I wanted my own kids to come to Moses Brown and my friendship with Amy showed me the ways I could understand what students were learning in a seemingly opposite curriculum that actually contains overlaps.”
All three still teach: Abby in her 20th year at MB, Samara at the Blake School in Minneapolis, and Amy at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Vermont, where she also is a member of the Bennington Friends Meeting.
“We allow each other to be ourselves, providing some of my favorite memories of connection,” Abby reflects. “I think the ways that MB asks kids to go out of their comfort zones encourages students to find new friendships and interests that hopefully will lead to their own long-lasting friendships.”
Amy echoes her: “I am just grateful to have people who know me, support me and will be honest with me always.
“I am forever grateful to MB.”