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Sarah Medwell ’99: Back to Your Roots

When asked about teachers who made a difference in her life at Bush, Sarah came up with name after name. “One more, one more, one more” she said. “It’s a good thing that I have so many mentors from Bush!”
 
Sarah Medwell ’99 called in for our interview from her classroom in Hawaii, where she had just finished a full day of teaching. Despite her long workday, she was upbeat and full of energy—her passion for teaching evident in her voice. Sarah has been teaching since she graduated from college in 2003 and she is clear about the impact Bush had on her life, explaining, “I felt like (Bush) gave me the tools and the understanding to figure out what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be, and what I wanted to strive for in life.”

Sarah came to Bush in the Sixth Grade, and quickly found mentors in physical education teachers Leslie Loper and Theo Coxe. She credits Leslie with teaching her lacrosse and being the first person to see her as an athlete. Sarah went on to play lacrosse through college, coach, and is now co-president of the Hawaii chapter of US Lacrosse. “School wasn’t about just getting that grade. It wasn’t about just finishing the term or graduating on time. It was about the experiences that we had in each class, and the unique relationships that we had with each teacher. For example, your math teacher was also your track coach, and your tutor.” Sarah is still close with Fred Mednick, former Upper School Director from when she was a student. When asked about the teachers who made a difference in her life, Sarah came up with name after name. “One more, one more, one more,” she said. “Maybe it’s a good thing that I have so many mentors from Bush!”

When she moved to Hawaii, Sarah started working at Voyager Public Charter School, teaching Kindergarten and First Grade. She says that she loved the school’s atmosphere from the start and enjoyed being at a school that was “off the beaten path.” “For me, the experience I had at Bush was so deep and enriched that I knew I would not be a good fit for a more traditional learning environment.” Voyager was a natural fit as it was was more about “human beings and their experiences in life” rather than “making the grade and getting to the finish line.”

Right now, life for Sarah involves balancing motherhood and her love for teaching. She had her first child in 2011 and her second in 2015 and is currently working as a substitute teacher. The lessons and values Sarah learned at Bush now impact not only her teaching but also her approach to parenting. When asked what’s next, Sarah says, “I see myself at a place where I can come back to my roots of open-minded learning, a place that is very student-driven and project-based. A place where you teach students about empathy, compassion, and treating people with respect as a citizen of the world.”
 
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