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Academics

Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson11th and 12th Grade History/Politics/Government

Why are you an educator? Why do you love teaching?
I came to teaching through a deep love of learning and a desire to serve—as I was by my own teachers. I teach because, for me, it’s the most effective and immediate way to change the world. I believe education is, or at least it can be, enabling, empowering, and a place of holistic growth. To better explain, I defer to Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks:
“The academy is not paradise. But learning is a place where paradise can be created. The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility we have the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom.”

What makes the School of the Future experience different from others you’ve had?
I’ve been privileged to work with amazing students and colleagues at every school I’ve taught at, and SOF is no exception. Our students are kind, diverse, and engaged in the world around them. They expect to learn, and are brilliant at it. My colleagues here are also amazing; they are passionate, dedicated, and intense.

But what makes SOF unique is that the administration here gets who I am and who I want to be as a teacher. I feel trusted, supported, empowered, and challenged. I’m given the freedom to create my own curriculum, as well as the support necessary to grow as an educator.

What other activities/programs (at SOF or outside of the school) are you involved with?
Last year, I advised the SOF AIDS Walk Team. We placed 9th in the primary/secondary school category for fundraising and we’re looking to reach even higher this year! I’m also working with a group of students this year to expand our community engagement by creating a social justice club. We plan to undertake activities such as the People’s March for Climate Change, NY Cares, and many more. I will also be advising a feminist club this year.

On a more personal note, I’m an Academy for Teachers Fellow. I’ve had the great pleasure of taking master classes with Gloria Steinem, Amy Richards, and John Thatamanil through the Academy. I also enjoy practicing yoga, reading, cooking vegetarian meals, and traveling.

What is your advice to aspiring teachers?
Go through a real teacher-training program, which provides you with ample time student teaching. Plan to work long hours your first year, but be careful not to isolate yourself. Veteran teachers are your greatest resource and most are happy to help. Learn with and from your students. Cultivate your patience. Don’t be discouraged by difficult experiences.  As long as you love working with students, teaching will get easier with time and practice and you will eventually find a school that is the perfect fit for you!

 

 

 

 

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