Five years ago, Ms. Forde joined our History Faculty and quickly demonstrated her incredible dedication and innovation as an educator, which also made her a favorite teacher among students. This summer Ms. Forde accepted the role of Director of our High School Program, which was just recognized as the Best Private College Prep High School in Brooklyn according to and ranked #16 in the category in New York overall. 

Ms. Forde graduated from Williams College with her bachelor’s degree in history and classics, and sheForde_Darlene_0004 was honored as a Mellon Undergraduate Research Fellow during her years on campus. She received her master’s degree from the University of London and her post-baccalaureate from Bryn Mawr College. She also pursued coursework ranging from anatomy to cellular and molecular biology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore Medical School, and Georgetown.

Similar to many BASIS Independent Schools educators, Ms. Forde started in academia. After obtaining her degrees, Ms. Forde worked in clinical research at the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine. She co-authored two research publications on anxiety while at the university. After a few years in the clinical research setting, Ms. Forde decided to switch careers to education. Before coming to BASIS Independent Brooklyn, Ms. Forde worked directly with elementary and middle school students on their reading literacy and mathematics ability in preparation for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Program. 

To help families get to know more about Ms. Forde, we asked her about her experiences leading up to her time at our school as well as and her new role serving as Director of our High School Program. Below is an interview that has been edited slightly for clarity.

Families might not be aware of your many degrees and varied interests. Could you share a bit about how your background shaped your focus as an educator?
One of the most significant shifts in my understanding and appreciation for the power of education occurred in college. I went to Williams College, a small private liberal arts college. I attended competitive STEM programs at NYC public schools and a social science research program in high school. My college peers felt comfortable writing sophisticated academic essays. Despite participating in a summer research fellowship in high school, it would take me longer and more revisions to craft the advanced prose of my peers. My peers were able to easily balance their time between academic commitments and personal pursuits. I was still learning how to use student hours effectively. The key difference was solid preparation. How to think and how to learn was sometimes more important than the subject matter itself.

I was attracted to BASIS Independent Brooklyn since it represented all the things I wished I had received in secondary school. It seemed the ideal environment to learn and thrive.

forde capstone edited
Ms. Forde leading her Senior Capstone Course "The History of Medicine" this week.

You joined our school as a World History teacher nearly five years ago, and then you developed the very popular Senior Capstone History of Medicine course based on your graduate work. Can you talk some about your experience teaching at our school?
The middle-grade history curriculum is rigorous and comprehensive. Yet, I have been moved by the students supporting one another in learning and bringing their unique talents to bear. Students are quick to offer to help one another. They share strategies, hold each other accountable, and motivate their peers to be better.

Each year my students would eloquently debate the merits of different societies and consider how each one addressed the challenges they faced. It has been a pleasure to explore over 30 civilizations with my middle school students each year.

The Capstone allowed me to share my love of both history and medicine. I enjoy providing students with the tools they need to explore as historians. I believe some of the strongest tools you can give someone is the ability to know how to ask the right questions, how to find the right type of sources to answer those questions, and the confidence to approach new topics and challenges.

Model UNMs.Forde with members of the Model UN team in 2020.

Can you talk about what excited you about the transition from teaching to administration?
I have worked alongside phenomenal faculty since I joined BASIS Independent Brooklyn. While teachers often collaborate and work together on projects, my new role allows me to better support teachers and their professional development.

I am also looking forward to exploring new potential partnerships that will allow our students to explore their interests and truly see themselves as participants in the various disciplines we teach. Programs that will allow students to see themselves as historians, economists, chemists, health care professionals, mathematicians, and musicians. Competitions that allow our students to shine in various academic competitions.

I am also excited to work with teachers to develop a more comprehensive academic research program for our students. I have a strong interest in both scientific and social science research. At Williams, I was selected as Mellon Undergraduate Research Fellow pursuing historical work. After my post-bac work at Bryn Mawr, I managed a research study and co-authored a systematic review and psychiatric journal articles.

So I am looking forward to developing additional opportunities for students to pursue academic research in multiple disciplines. Capstone teachers explore research such as Ms. Das with neuroscience research. I have taken students in my capstone to visit the New York Academy of Medicine to learn research skills and incorporated the use of online academic databases in our course. This year Mr. Hirsch will be leading our AP Research course. I plan on working to expand student experience and familiarity with various forms of academic research.

Forde BearstrongMs. Forde helped cheer on our students in our school's #BEARStrong video at the start of of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Any insights for the year ahead to share with families as the Director of the High School?
The high school team is looking to offer a plethora of social events and activities to foster our school community. Mixers, social events, and field trips are on the agenda for this academic year. We are fortunate in that high school students are eligible for vaccination. Many families have chosen to share their vaccination status with our Health Coordinator. This gives us the confidence to have even more in-person events and activities for our students.

You helped bring Model UN and Girls Who Code to our school. Are you going to continue to support interesting programming for students in your new role?

Our students are passionate leaders. The knowledge and the confidence they gain academically in their coursework are naturally reflected in their pursuits. I am already working with student leaders to find ways to facilitate their interests.

Leadership meetingMs. Forde joined our High School Leadership Club on a recent trip to Ample Hills in Red Hook.


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