Teacher Profile: Sarah Kornell

Photo by Ethan Roubenoff
Photo by Ethan Roubenoff

What subject do you teach?

Freshman English, all sorts of freshman. I teach Points of View and one Responding to Literature, which is the honors class.

What is your past teaching experience?

I did my internship here last year with Rebecca Hayden, and about three-quarters of the way through the year I picked up a permanent sub job for another English teacher in the department. I actually kept my internship class while I was doing that, so it was a lot of teaching at once. But I know a lot of students now! Then I taught summer school here over the summer, which was awesome. And prior to that, I just did a lot of observing and sort of random tutoring for the MCAS and whatnot, but I don’t have a ton of teaching experience. I worked in a children’s psychiatric ward for three years prior to this, so there’s definitely teaching in there.

What is your first impression of the school?

Well, I went here, so my first impression—I don’t remember because it was 1998. But my first impression coming back as a teacher is that I just felt sort of welcomed back. I felt like I was home. I didn’t feel like I couldn’t ask people for assistance, even people that I didn’t know because I went here. Everyone was super welcoming.

What made you want to come back to the school and teach?

When I went here, and when I decided I wanted to be a teacher, I was like, “Wait, no, I want to be a teacher there.” I just love the freedom and responsibility idea, that concept. I loved it as a student, probably a little too much, but I like that idea as a teacher as well, and I like that you have the freedom to teach what you want, within the bounds of some curriculum and core books, but it’s not as rigid as other schools, which I really, really like.

Was English your favorite class when you were at BHS?

Nope! No, it was not. My junior year I actually got a D- in my English class because I just didn’t do any work in high school. I was such a slacker. Senior year, though, I took Craft of Writing with [Mary] Burchenal, the department chair now, and that’s when I was like, “Okay yes, English is where we’re at.”

Why did you become a teacher? What made you want to teach?

When I was working at the psych unit, I got my bachelor’s degree in psychology and I sort of wanted to be some sort of individual therapist, but when I was working at the psych unit as a mental health counselor, I started realizing that the things I liked about working there were the teaching elements, the parts where I was helping people learn and helping people grow, and so, for me, that was sort of the turning point. And I had a minor in English. I’ve always had a passion for literature and English, and so it sort of just seemed to be the right fit for me.

Ben Miller-Schmidt can be contacted at [email protected]