Clara Abbott ’s interest in English developed early in life. “Middle school was definitely the age at which I started appreciating [it] most,” she says. Now, she’ll teach the subject she loves to kids the same age she was when she first began to see English as something besides a set of books to slog through or a sheaf of essays to write. The hard part was finding a school that reflected her values.
“The Thaden School and its faculty really share my interest in social issues and makes conversations about community and identity a huge part of their curriculum and programming,” Abbott says. “When I visited, I felt that this position and the school as whole would allow me to combine and expand many of my already existing interests.”
A middle school based in northwestern Arkansas, the Thaden School only opened its doors last year, so Abbott will be in its second cohort of teachers. It currently serves grades 7 through 9, but plans to grow incrementally over the next four years to include grades 6, 10, 11, and 12. As a result, Abbott will get to be part of building a school basically from the bottom up.
A student consultant for the Bi-Co Teaching and Learning Institute (TLI), she’d always been drawn towards education. “It felt very natural to me to share my love of reading and writing with young students,” she says. Once the realization that she wanted to teach after college had dawned, she went straight to the Center for Career and Professional Advising (CCPA), where staff helped her put together a file to send to Carney Sandoe & Associates, Educators’ Ally, and Southern Teachers’ Agency—all “headhunter companies that pair applicants for teaching jobs with independent schools looking to hire.” From then on, the semester was a whirlwind of interviews and visits, one that only ended when Abbott “connected with Thaden School via Southern Teachers’ Agency in December, had a really incredible campus visit in January, and accepted the position at the end of January.”
It’s hard to overstate Abbott’s apparent enthusiasm for her upcoming job.
“The students there, from just the one day I visited,” she says, “are so kind, thoughtful and creative and I can’t wait to work with them this year and hopefully beyond.”
She’ll have many opportunities to: not only will she serve as a middle-school English teacher and faculty advisor, she’ll get to direct extracurricular activities during and after classes as well.
Though Abbott plans to attend graduate school eventually, for now she’s just excited by the prospect of meeting the two sections of seventh-graders and the two sections of eighth-graders she’ll be teaching this fall.
“I can’t wait to grow as a teacher and get the chance to design lesson plans, activities and programs for these awesome kids,” she says.
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.
Photo: Clara Abbott ’18 will be teaching English to middle-schoolers this fall. Photo courtesy of Clara Abbott ’18.