Sidwell Community Lovingly Remembers Melanie Fields

On Feb. 25, Melanie Fields, a beloved teacher, colleague and friend who taught Upper School science for 34 years, passed away. Fields empowered her students to push the boundaries of their knowledge and was invested in helping them become independent thinkers and autonomous learners. Throughout her time at Sidwell, Fields shared her love of science and nature with her students, both in her classroom as well as in clubs she led.

She not only improved my knowledge of biology, neuroscience and zebrafish research, but she taught me how to be a leader.

— Rashi Gupta '22

Fields was very committed to her clubs, one of which was the Biological Research and Investigations in Neuroscience (BRAIN) Club. After conducting experiments and research, club members presented their findings at different conferences, including the American Society for Cell Biology and the Society for Neuroscience.

“It was under [Fields’] mentorship that Sidwell was able to lead the BRAIN Club, hold fundraisers and organize domestic conferences,” Rashi Gupta ’22 said.

Fields went above and beyond to give her students the best scientific experiences possible. She encouraged her high school students to conduct research that “many undergraduates dream of,” Gupta said.

The conferences Fields took her students to were “typically meant for graduate students, yet her hard work and her recognition enabled us all to present,” Gupta continued.

Fields also led the Outing Club, in which members went on wilderness trips, sponsored mostly through bake sales, and participated in outdoor activities like hiking, canoeing and rock climbing.

While many current Upper School students never met Fields, as she retired in 2021, alumni and current seniors shared what it was like to be a student of hers.

“She was always super understanding, and it was easy to go to her for help,” senior Iman Lloyd said.

To many, Fields was more than just a science teacher.

“She not only improved my knowledge of biology, neuroscience and zebrafish research, but she taught me how to be a leader,” Gupta said.

A former student of Fields and now accomplished biochemist echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the depth with which she taught her students. “Fields didn’t teach science,” they said. “She taught us how to be scientists.”

A Meeting for Worship was held in Fields’ memory on Feb. 27, during which many shared stories and fond memories of her.

“I know that Melanie is a stranger for some of you, but there are still many of us in this room who can tell you about their favorite moments with her,” Upper School Principal Mamadou Guèye said.

“Melanie is Light, she saw our Light,” Guèye continued. “And now she rests forever in the Light that is found inside each of us,” he added.

Fields was — and remains — an integral part of the Sidwell community and family.

“Mrs. Fields will be held in the Light for the next century because she deserves nothing less,” Guèye said.