For Maggie Sawyer ’19, teaching is an avenue into a world of possibility. Starting in the fall, she will be teaching Latin to high schoolers at Trinity School in New York City while also, beginning this summer, pursuing a master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania through their Independent School Teaching Residency program—a pair of opportunities that will allow Sawyer to angle herself towards an impactful future as an educator while also making a difference in the classroom as soon as possible.
The Latin major and psychology minor sees teaching Latin to adolescents as a chance to engage first-hand with vital classroom issues of representation and mental health, both within the niche of Latin and classical studies as well as at large. This perspective emerges specifically from Bi-Co Education Faculty Chanelle Wilson-Poe’s introductory class “Critical Issues in Education,” but is something Sawyer learned more generally from her time in the Haverford Department of Classics.
“Both Professor Wilson-Poe and the Classics Department at Haverford have helped cultivate my belief in education as a tool for social justice, particularly within classics, which is a field that has a history of whitewashing and elitism,” she noted. “I hope to empower my future students to learn about, thrive within, and ultimately dismantle the systems under which we all live.”
This empowering role is one Sawyer imagines she can play not only because of her training in psychology but also because of her proximity to youth culture and her understanding of the issues adolescents can face outside of the classroom.
“I sympathize with young people in the turbulence and exaltation that comes with adolescence,” said Sawyer. “I hope that my experience and interest in clinical psychology will help me to navigate my students through these ups and downs of teenagerdom.”
Realistically, Sawyer recognizes that ultimately the role she wants to play for her students will come from how she presents herself in the classroom and endeavors to build relationships with her pupils. This is a lesson she learned from Charlie Kuper, a visiting classics professor at Haverford.
“Charlie Kuper also helped me see how a leader’s kindness and compassion helps to build a connection with people that fosters dialogue beyond any course’s subject material,” she said. “I hope to bring these values into my future classrooms, as well.”
For Sawyer, all of these opportunities boil down to one fundamental aim: “I hope to help young people fight for equity and justice,” she stated. “Even though I have big goals, I know that I have a lot to learn, and I hope that my time with Trinity and UPenn will help me to grow as a blossoming, patient educator.”
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series chronicling the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.