October 28, 2014

Sarah Sachs (Seminar class of 1998) is an upper school art teacher at Garrison Forest School in Owings Mill, Maryland. She teaches darkroom photo, digital photo, jewelry, and sculpture, as well as working as a freelance photographer in Baltimore. Sarah holds a M.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and a B.A. in studio art from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. View samples of her portfolio at http://sarahsachs.com/. Sarah recently sent the following thoughts about her memories of Community School and its impact on her life. (For those of you who are new to our community, Celebration is the culminating event of each school year. Celebration concludes with everyone joining hands and singing The Circle Game.)

This afternoon, after a long day of teaching in the darkroom, digital art lab, and sculpture studio, something wonderful happened and I feel compelled to share it. Between helping students with their sculpture projects, I experienced a rare moment of quiet and calm. It was a brief moment of standing amidst my students, observing them. My iPhone was playing on shuffle over the speakers, the uniformed girls were working diligently on their projects, the sun was shining through the autumn leaves into our work space and, after years of working odd jobs, (adjunct teaching, managing a photo studio, waiting tables, photographing on the weekends) I finally found myself in the right place; wearing a canvas apron, helping high school girls use saws and drills and sanders, finding their voices through art. As I stood there observing, feeling sappy and introspective, the song changed and, of the thousands of songs on my iPhone, The Circle Game began playing through the speakers. I became secretly teary behind my safety goggles. One of my students looked up and asked, “Who is this? I really like it.” That day, the girls learned about Joni Mitchell and I learned that, at age 30, I have finally found my calling.


During our weekly faculty professional development programs, I often find myself engaged in conversations about how our experience shapes our teaching philosophy. When people ask about my background, they are surprised to hear that I am not certified to teach. I never went to school with the intention of becoming an educator. I went to graduate school because I was interested in studying photography and digital art. When they ask how I learned how to teach, I tell them “I went to a good school.” No, it was not my graduate school, college or high school where I learned what it means to be a good teacher. I tell them it was my middle school that shaped who I am as an educator and lifelong learner. I am forever indebted to the Community School community for the relatively short, yet formative, period of my life that I spent there. Community School taught me many things but, above all, I learned how to learn. I really hope The Circle Game is still played for Celebration.