For elementary school teacher Sam Farnham ’09, a trip to China led him to a career in education.
“Instead of going to college right away, I decided to take a gap year and teach English in Wuhan, China,” explained Sam. “I didn’t really think about going into education until I traveled to China. I would say that every teacher that I had at Community School influenced me in that they were always pushing me to test my limits and encouraging me to try new things. I don’t think I would have gone to China at all if I had not had such a strong network of support in the Valley and at Community School.”
Upon return to the United States, Sam went on to Colorado College, becoming the first education major to graduate from the college in 2014. Since graduating, he has been teaching at Rocky Mountain Classical Academy, a charter school in Colorado Springs, Colorado, while also studying to earn his alternative teaching license. He is currently teaching in the school’s Gifted and Talented Program as well as kindergarten, where he sees his impact on students on a daily basis.
“I felt a huge sense of achievement this year when we had our kindergarten graduation and I looked back on how far my students had come,” said Sam proudly. “From not being able to write more than their name at the beginning of the year to writing sentences, they just made incredible progress.”
Like most teachers, Sam’s day starts early with a 5:30 a.m. alarm and is nonstop from that point on. After working with the gifted and talented students until 11:30 a.m., he is off to teach his half-day kindergartners. Throughout the day, Sam can be found doing any number of projects, ranging from dissections to book studies; from 3D printing to experiments with flight physics to teaching basic writing and reading skills. When the school day is over, he changes gears and is the school’s crossing guard. Beyond teaching the basics, though, Sam hopes to share with his students the qualities he felt permeated Community School during his time here: kindness, patience, compassion, justice, and understanding.
“The culture of Community School has stayed with me since I left, and I always try to connect with the people around me and form a type of family regardless of where I am,” said Sam. “I loved all my teachers at Community School. I don’t think there was a teacher at the school during my time that didn’t have a positive impact on me.”