For one SLS faculty member, teaching at St. Luke’s has not only been an opportunity for professional development, but also a chance to see her alma mater in a whole new light.
Ms. Fancher is a member of the SLS Class of 2014. This fall, she returned to the Hilltop as a Teaching Fellow in the Science Department. The Teaching Fellow program provides recent college graduates who are considering a career in education with two years of teaching experience under the guidance of veteran faculty.
Ms. Fancher essentially grew up at St. Luke’s; her father, Mr. Fancher, former Head of Middle School and current Director of Emotional Intelligence, has been working at St. Luke’s for as long as she can remember.
“I have so many memories of SLS,” Ms. Fancher says. “Since I spent eight years here going to school – and then I was coming here ever since I was a tiny child because my dad worked here, so basically, all of my childhood – I think about St. Luke’s and I have so many memories.”
Ms. Fancher attended SLS from fifth to twelfth grade before studying at Skidmore College.
During the fall of her senior year at Skidmore, Ms. Fancher received a call from Ms. Perry about a Teaching Fellow opening in the sciences. After considering the position, she decided to return to St. Luke’s as a faculty member.
“I came for my interview day, and that kind of sealed the deal for me because I felt so supported, as I had in high school. And it was . . . such a comfortable environment because I knew the culture, I knew the teachers. I think it was a really good opportunity for a first job,” Ms. Fancher comments.
Ms. Fancher teaches one section of Honors Biology and one section of General Biology. Next year, she will be introducing a semester-long Neuroscience course.
One of the lessons she learned from St. Luke’s that she has integrated into her teaching is the importance of grit.
“Academically, I definitely learned how to be an individual thinker and . . . how to see obstacles or difficulties as challenges rather than as a brick wall that would stop me,” she observes.
Ms. Fancher is helping to develop this mindset in her students, as her favorite moments with students are “those click moments when [she] can see students making strides and actually saying, ‘Oh, I know what that means now!’”
On a personal level, she has certainly carried her growth mindset to professional life, as teaching has presented new opportunities to improve and learn.
“I’m learning how to teach the material best and how my students learn best. So I think I’m learning in the same way, but I’m learning something completely different,” she states. “I’ve gained another level of respect for my teachers because I see all the behind-the scenes work now, so I see what goes into teaching and how they got to where they were when they were teaching me.”
Teaching has also allowed Ms. Fancher easy access to family, as her dad works just across the building.
“Whenever I feel like seeing family, I’ll just go down to his office,” she says. “Sometimes I catch him around and he’ll come visit me in my office.”
For Ms. Fancher, her dad has not only been a familiar presence in the halls but also someone who she can approach with any questions that arise during the school year.
Being a Teaching Fellow has also allowed her to grow professionally. Dr. Higgins and Ms. Jochem have mentored her and helped her become more comfortable as a first-year teacher. Furthermore, Ms. Fancher has had the opportunity to attend conferences and learn about the craft of teaching.
In addition to her role in the classroom, Ms. Fancher is actively involved in the St. Luke’s community. Most notably, she is the head coach of the field hockey team. Ms. Fancher was a four-year starter for the Storm before playing Division III field hockey at Skidmore.
“It was a lot of fun to coach the field hockey team, especially because I had played here for four years,” she says. “I kind of remembered all the traditions that we kept when I was in high school here, and so it was really fun to see the different traditions that have been brought to the team and the traditions that remained since I was a player here.”
Being a St. Luke’s alumna has certainly given Ms. Fancher a unique perspective on student life on the Hilltop, and her to devotion to St. Luke’s academics and athletics has made her an invaluable member of our community.