This fall we asked Annie Wright's Senior Leadership Team a series of questions for Strength magazine. We enjoyed getting to know this other side of them and thought you would too, so we're sharing everything we learned below.
When I graduated from college, I had every intention of becoming a sports psychologist. One day, a good friend asked me if I wanted to start a company with him. He said, "There are these things called MP3s, and they're going to be big." For the next two years, I lived the start-up life in San Diego. The company was eventually purchased by Intel.
Open-minded - I'm fascinated by the perspectives of others and like to incorporate their strategies into my professional and personal life. I've always felt that I grow and learn best from observing others.
Positive: Ms. Deborah, my 3rd Grade English teacher. A friend and I accidentally overheard her saying goodbye to a (very difficult) student as he packed up his things to leave the school midyear (we had been reshelving books quietly in the back corner of the classroom and they didn't see us behind the shelves!). She cried when he left because she felt she'd failed him. I learned how much of themselves so many teachers put into each and every one of their students. That stuck with me - it humanized my teachers and made me appreciate them more.
Negative: Mrs. Bird, my seventh Grade English teacher (something about English?). In response to my request to accept a British spelling on my very first spelling test in the U.S. (she had marked it wrong), she said "You're in America now, you need to learn to spell like an American." I had been in the U.S. less than a week. I wanted desperately to go home, and she made me feel so small and insignificant.
Where Ms. Deborah showed me the best in teachers, Ms. Bird showed me the worst. I try to remember both lessons in my student interactions.
There are two: 1) Magda Barnes (HS Biology). This teacher totally inspired me to study science at university. I offered wonder how she is and if she realizes the impact she had on my life.
2) Steve Davis (Sixth Form Tutor and Economics Teacher). He made me look at education in a very different way and showed me that great teachers are more than delivers of knowledge, but also people who genuinely care about you, your life, and the person you will grow into.
I am the educator I am today because of these people.
Reginald Kramer was my U.S. History teacher in prep school as well as my advisor and tennis coach. He had taught at the school for 47 years but was responsible for igniting my interest in history. I was able to stay in touch with him right up until he died at 93 years old!
I just started at AWS in May. Due to COVID I sadly have not participated in any of the traditions since we can not come together as a school. I am looking forward to those traditions that I have heard so much about.
The most influential teacher was my 11th grade math teacher. It was because of him that I got into accounting as a career. I was always good at math but I did not know what my options were for a career and he helped guide me.
My first job was a manager in the mortgage department at a bank in the Northeast. I learned quickly that I wanted more opportunities so I left the bank after one year to pursue my MBA at Northeastern University.
My new favorite tradition is the USB Tie Ceremony, now in its fourth year. This started with the Yellow Tie USG Class of 2017 who presented monogrammed ties to the first Yellow Tie Class of boys, to welcome them and the USB into the AWS community. Parents have played a big part in this, as well. We have continued this tradition with each subsequent class and were even able to squeeze the ceremony outdoors, socially distanced and recorded for parents during the one Friday we have been in person this year.
I aspire to all of these but probably default to caring. I could not do this job without caring as much as I do about each one of my students and each of my colleagues. I often cannot sleep at night, worrying about individuals and their well-being.
I tested tire rubber in a Goodyear Plant. It was awful, in part because I was the only female in the whole plant and the workers would write suggestive messages on the tire samples. I worked in a glass lab, so all eyes were on me each time I had to see those messages.
There are many, but I think I would have to say the Lower School Talent Show. It happens at the end of the school year, and feels like a celebration of the year as well as a celebration of talents. I am always so impressed by and proud of how many students are such risk-takers by sharing a talent with the school. Some students start sharing as soon as they are old enough and share a talent every year, while others wait and share something in 5th grade as they finish up their time in the Lower School. And of course many students participate as an engaged, happy and respectful audience ready to watch their peers shine. It has never disappointed in the way it fills up the whole Lower School with joy.
Mrs. Grover was my 6th grade teacher. Though she did not reach more than 5 feet in height (I towered over her even at age 11), the reach she had on me emotionally was immense. She taught me the power of a positive attitude and being willing to take whatever comes your way. I am not sure if it was my impressionable age or my mindset going into 6th grade, but the turning point that year for me was evident pretty quickly. I have always attributed my outlook and attitude in part to the tiny but mighty, Mrs. Grover.
Another tough one, but I'd have to go with Balanced. I try to move through all parts of my day in a way that is steady, planning ahead as needed, so that I feel balanced in regards to my physical and emotional needs and personal and professional demands.
I babysat starting at age 10, but my first official job with an official paycheck was in a dorm cafeteria at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. I was 14 years old and remember feeling so out of my league, both from the college students moving around me and the machine that made dozens of pieces of toast at once.
I love that we decorate the Great Hall for the holidays (when it isn't a classroom!) because this building always feels like home, but the freshly cut tree and the community events that typically occur in there during that time of year make it feel like the biggest, most welcoming living room.
Mrs. Morris taught 7th grade honors English and European History. She emphasized the importance of public speaking and would keep a tally of every time a student said "um" or improperly used the word "like" when addressing the class. I can still see her in the back of the room when I address a group. She had high standards for our writing, speaking and critical reading that stuck with me.
I would like to think of myself as a communicator. My favorite thing about my job is the opportunity to relay stories, memories, triumphs and even challenges as they relate to the amazing impact our community makes possible for our students.
In a normal year, hopping sidelines to watch our kids play sports with their friends, but I am coming to appreciate the forced slowdown this year. I am enjoying slower weekend mornings with hot coffee and something baking in the oven.
Even though I graduated with a degree in Art History, I was a double minor in Chemistry and Biology and took the MCAT. It wasn't until it came time to apply to medical schools that I realized it wasn't what I wanted.
I can't choose between Lip Sync and Scholar Search. I dance and sing daily, sometimes hourly. Music and dance are soul healing. Even in the comedic platform Lip Sync is delivered, watching them perform and encourage one another is energizing.
Scholar Search increases access to AWS and seeing our community grow is my mission. I love the way our students love to learn and I want more students in our greater community to have that opportunity. Scholar Search makes it possible for many.
My professor after my service in U.S. Marine Corps. He taught U.S. History from a Black perspective and he was on fire! It was the first time I heard the truth about America's history in a traditional education institution.
I learned a lot raising horses in my teenage years. We would go to auctions where horses were being sold for meat. My training method was simply showing them unconditional love. It was healing for me and the horses.