What did you study at UNH?
What were you doing 1 year out of college?
I was a student at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. My first day of teaching was 9/11, which was frightening, both also empowering because it helped me to see very clearly that being a teacher was not some idealistic experience that was predictable. Teaching is about interacting with individuals at their best and at their worst – and continuing to advocate for them regardless. During that first year after graduating from UNH, I student taught at DeWitt Clinton High School in the South Bronx, and Mott Hall School, a middle school in West Harlem. Both experiences were very different but gave me exposure to a variety of students, teachers, and school environments.
What were you doing 5 years out of college?
Five years after graduation, I had moved back to NH and was teaching English at Concord High School, which is also where I went to high school. I was beginning to find my way as a high school teacher and forming my identity as a young adult in the community where I had grown up. When I initially decided that I wanted to move back to the Concord area from New York City, I applied to the only four teaching job openings in the state. The job at CHS was a perfect fit for me and also a wonderful surprise in that it’s where I met my husband, Tom. We were married in 2006 and both of us still work at CHS.
What were you doing 10 years out of college?
I am still teaching English at Concord High School. This past October, I was named the 2018 New Hampshire Teacher of the Year, and as a result, have had unbelievable opportunities to represent students, teachers, and the State of NH in many ways. I traveled to Google in California in February where I met with and began collaboration with the other 54 state teachers of the year; in April, I traveled to Washington D.C. where I met with policymakers, education staffers in the offices of both Sen. Shaheen & Congresswoman Kuster, was honored at the White House, was hosted by Second Lady Karen Pence at the Vice President’s residence (and where I met Marlon Bundo, the family bunny), and engaged in various professional learning opportunities with Smithsonian educators. In early July, I will travel to Berlin, Germany as a global ambassador with EF Education Tours, and then later in July, I will travel to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. These experiences feel surreal and I am committed to shining a light on the positive work that is happening in New Hampshire schools. I have also recently started writing a monthly column for the Concord Monitor called Today’s Teacher. I now have 3 kids with my husband, Tom: Amelia (10); Zoe (7); and Violet (5). Life is good!
Did you have an international experience (study, research, internship or volunteer abroad) while at UNH?
I studied abroad during the summer after my freshmen year through ACIS Educational Tours; During the second semester of my junior year, I studied in Rome, Italy through Loyola University, Chicago. These educational experiences abroad were life-changing and provided me with such great perspective on the world, but also how I fit into that world. I worked at the University Writing Center as a writing consultant during my junior and senior years- which is where I realized that I wanted to be an English teacher. Initially, I wanted to teach elementary school, but after my time spent working with my peers on their writing, I realized my passion was working with older students. I was an admissions rep during my senior year. I loved giving campus tours!
How do you feel your time at UNH has had an impact on where you are today?
My Family Studies major provided an invaluable foundation for me in understanding so much about working with young people and their families. I draw on that work daily, and often think I wouldn’t be the teacher I am today without that foundational coursework. The fact that I was able to pursue the content of teaching English as a graduate student was liberating for me in many ways because it was all new and fresh for me – it made my undergraduate experiences that much richer because it didn’t feel like a repeat of what I had already learned.
Why do you believe in UNH?
I believe in the power of a public education and that includes higher education, too. The value of a public education is intangible, but the long-term impact on a community as a whole is immeasurable. The power of that education should not end with a high school graduation, and a strong public university like UNH is a continuation of that promise. Especially with the skyrocketing costs of higher education, an accessible and affordable public university is not only necessary but integral to the livelihood and success of any community. I am proud to both be a product of and a champion for our public schools—and that includes higher education, as well.