Fifth-generation teacher Kate Anderson has found her dream job in England.
During a recent short trip back to Amherst, she told the News-Times about her inspirations and first year teaching abroad as part of the Researchers in Schools program.
“My mom taught third grade for 35 years,” Anderson said. “I’m the fifth generation of teachers on her side of the family.”
The 2001 Steele High School graduate did not always dream of being a teacher, especially when she was pursuing a doctorate in literature while overseas.
Anderson said she originally went to England to accomplish a big academic goal and to have an adventure but her teaching career organically arose from the trip.
A first-of-its kind teacher-training program changed her career path.
“This new program was tailored specifically for Ph.D’s and the philosophy behind it was that if you put a bunch of Ph.D’s in math, physics, and English into an active classroom at the high school level then they can help to bridge the gap between those teenage years and higher education,” Anderson said.
Her first teaching job was in a poor part of outer London where many students would be the first in their families to attend a university.
They found her love of learning to be infectious.
“The hope is that certain kids who could be interested in pursuing similar things might feel like it’s attainable because I can help them through it,” Anderson said. “It does seem to inspire them and increase their curiosity.”
Anderson sadi her favorite teacher from Amherst, Bill Strohm, is a big reason behind why she was drawn to the teaching program.
“His classes were modeled after a university seminar,” she said. “He sat on our level and really treated us like scholars. That’s something that was very, very valuable to me at Steele.”
The Amherst graduate has styled her classroom in England after Strohm’s.
“I encourage them to treat me like an equal,” Anderson said of her students. “Their ideas are no worse than mine and I learn from them as much as they learn from me.”
In her first year teaching, she took one of her elegant, well-spoken students to a poetry competition, which she won at her school and at the regional level and was sent to Cambridge for the national finals.
“That was really cool for both of us because that was literally like bridging the gap between life in west London (to Cambridge),” Anderson said. “I can feel like things are benefiting them.”
The program started with 20 teachers from all over Britain, Europe, Australia and Anderson was the only one from America.
It has grown tremendously in one year and now the program is expected to have more than 200 teachers this fall.
“It has been really, really applauded and highly esteemed to grow that much so quickly,” Anderson said. “It’s now going to be all over England.”
She does not plan to move back to Amherst because she has fallen in love with living in Britain.
Anderson has married an Englishman, Tom Hall. She also loves the old buildings, England’s rich history, being able to quickly travel throughout Europe, and having access to free nationalized health care.
“I think the way that Britain cares for its people is much more in line with my personal philosophies,” Anderson said.
She admits it is hard to be away from her family but they have found a way to make it work.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.
Valerie Urbanik | Amherst News-Times
Amherst graduate Kate Anderson explains her experience teaching abroad and how one Steele teacher helped her pursue her dream career.