For Cutthroat lifer Emily Eshman ’08, it was the teachers at Community School who had the greatest influence on her decision to go into the field of education.
“The teachers at Community School did a great job of cultivating community within the school,” said Emily, who has been an elementary school teacher for the past five years. “Community School teachers definitely influenced the way I teach and build a classroom community. There were so many opportunities to learn through engaging hands-on experiences and projects, which made the learning experience fun. My teachers were able to do this because they built strong classroom cultures. Whether through getting to know us individually through lunches, joining in at recess, or attending our extracurricular activities, they demonstrated love and commitment to my peers and myself. I try to emulate this love, curiosity, and enthusiasm with my students because I know the impact it had on my own educational experience.”
During her time at Community School, Emily played soccer, basketball, and tennis and was also President of the Student Senate. After graduating in 2008, she headed to Duke University, earning a BA in public policy in 2012. During her time at Duke, it was a class in education policy that struck a chord with her.
Emily explained, “I learned that though access to education is a right in our country, the quality of that education is a privilege, determined by one’s background and zip code. This course instigated my interest in creating equal access for excellent educational experiences.”
Upon graduating from Duke, Emily completed a program through KIPP Public Charter Schools teaching in a low-income area of Washington, D.C. She worked there for three years, teaching kindergarten, first grade, and special education. In 2015, Emily made the decision to move west to be closer to her family and the mountains. At the same time, KIPP was opening their first elementary school in the Bay Area. She jumped on board as a founding team member of the school, KIPP Excelencia Community Prep located in Redwood City, and has taught first grade for the past two years. The experience, she said, has been extremely rewarding and an opportunity to put the skills she learned at Community School to use.
“I loved my school and I loved learning. I wanted to have an opportunity to be a part of a team that was creating an educational environment that developed this same passion for other students. It was no coincidence that I decided to work at a school with the word ‘community’ in its name. My students embodied my school’s values of zest, love, curiosity, grit, and gratitude. It was a privilege to get to teach them and work with their families,” said Emily. “In addition to informing my career goals, Community School’s Outdoor Program gave me many of the skills I use today. Through all of our outdoor experiences I learned the skills of flexibility, adaptability, and independence. These have been, and will continue to be, relevant skills in whatever endeavor I pursue.”
After five years of classroom teaching, she made the decision to explore a new path last spring that uses her teaching experience. Today, she works in customer development for a startup called Landed, helping Bay Area educators in the home buying process. She is excited to apply her background in education to a new context and learn about a new industry.
“Teaching has been an incredibly challenging and humbling experience. In the spirit of loving learning, I am curious and excited to pursue a new way in which I can impact access to educational experiences like the one I was lucky enough to have at the Community School.”