Day and Boarding; Grades 6-12



Samm Stern-Leaphart

Female teacher smiling outsideWhy did you decide to become a teacher?

I entered an English Ph.D. program right after college and fell in love with teaching there. Once I realized that I loved being in the classroom more than I loved research and writing, I made the decision to leave the program and pursue a full-time teaching job.

Who was your mentor growing up?

I had some fantastic teachers in high school and college that inspired me to follow my passion for literature and ultimately led to my becoming a teacher. I often think of Mr. Painter, my eleventh-grade honors English teacher, who helped me become a better reader, writer, and thinker with his constant questions, his energy in the classroom, and his attention to each student despite our large classes. I also think of one of my favorite college professors and advisor, John Michael, whose classes on the American experience and identity shaped the way I see the world and my interests today.

What is your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy is about making students feel like we are partners in their learning and empowering them to make their own meaning of the material. The most invigorating moments are when the students stop worrying about grades or a test and are engaged with their learning because they’ve tapped into a larger truth about themselves or the world around them. I want my students to leave the classroom with not only knowledge of a new book or term, but also with the ability to engage with the world in new ways, with new perspectives, and a better understanding of the scope of human experience.

Favorite snack?

Is pizza a snack? I love pizza.

Favorite movie?

There are so many. I love the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice and the Lord of the Rings movies.

Favorite thing to do in the summer time?

Beach time with my family.