By Amy Biemiller
If the current Lindback Award winner for Excellence in Teaching has her way, she’ll inspire each of her Cabrini students to be teachers as well as advocates in the classroom and the community.
“I hope to inspire a love of learning in my students, but also to inspire them to a life of respect for people regardless of age, social class, or background, and a desire to make the world a better place,” says Beverly Bryde, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the education department.
For many, that would be a tall order. For Bryde, it’s a servant leadership state of mind that abundantly spills over into her role as teacher, and defines her mentoring style.
“My goal as a teacher—no matter whether I am teaching high school students or college students—is to engage them by asking questions and facilitating discussion so they think for themselves,” she says. “My philosophy is that teaching puts you in a position to relate to every child in the classroom; to get to know the child, advocate for each one, and open each child’s heart to learning.”
Bryde earned a bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education and a master’s degree in educational administration at Villanova University, and a doctorate in educational leadership at Widener. She taught high-school English, then joined Cabrini in 1985 as residence hall manager, and became the campus minister a year later. In 1990, she joined the faculty as assistant professor.
Bryde remembers how long and hard she thought before she made the transition to teaching at the college level.
“When I was moving out of teaching children to teaching teachers, I thought I would lose the opportunity to inspire that love of learning and advocate for the individual. What I found is that now I get to actually impact far more children because I pass along that mission to the teachers who are my students,” she says.
In 1996, Bryde left Cabrini and taught at California Lutheran University, then returned to Cabrini in 2006. Since then, more than 360 new first-year students have enrolled in the education major, making it one of the most popular of the more than 30 undergraduate programs at Cabrini.
“I know it’s been said that there is probably a Cabrini-educated teacher in just about every school in the area, and I believe it,” she says.
In 2009, when Dawn Middleton retired as chair of the education department—a position she held for 21 years—Bryde was named to take her place. Bryde takes personal pride in carrying on the example set by her mentor, Middleton, and in the collaborative and servant-leader spirit of the faculty she leads.
“The faculty work closely together to serve our students, to be good role models to them and to inspire them to their personal best,” she says. “My future vision for the department is to fully integrate our commitments to social justice into the curriculum in order to develop excellent teachers with a strong commitment to social justice.”
That vision led Bryde halfway around the world as part of a delegation from the College to Swaziland, Africa, in 2010. There, she and five others from Cabrini learned firsthand about the work of the Missionary Sisters at the rural St. Philip’s Mission, where they provide a hostel for orphans, and health care, education, and food to families in a nation ravaged by AIDS.
“I knew I was going to experience the devastation of an entire country where a generation has been wiped out because of the HIV/AIDs pandemic, and I expected to feel sadness and bereft of hope,” she says. “Instead, I saw hope and life being restored by women who are dedicated to serving and teaching out of love. I came back refreshed in my desire to inspire a commitment of such service in my students.” Her penchant for making a real difference in the lives of so many is rooted in the influence of some very special mentors.
“I have a great fondness for the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart,” she says. “Sisters like Mother Ursula Infante [Cabrini’s founding president], Sister Christine Marie Baltas ’66 [dean of students from 1981-85 and currently associate campus minster], and Sister Eileen Currie ’66 [Cabrini president from 1982-92] greatly influenced me during my 20s while working at Cabrini.
More recently, Sister Barbara Staley and Sister Diane Dalle Molle, who work at Cabrini Ministries in Swaziland, have inspired me. They are women of faith, heart, and guidance—and their examples challenge me as a person of faith to be of service to others, to treat everyone with respect, and to listen to God’s call in my life.”