In honor of the upcoming National Teacher Week, Ross News sat down with Linda Hanrahan, math instructor and 10th grade team leader. Linda joined Ross School in 1998 and has been present for many of the institution’s most significant evolutionary moments: the development of the campus, the transition to a co-educational student body, and the transition to being an international boarding school. During her time at Ross, Linda has taught math to students in grades 6–12, served as a team leader, and led several on- and off-campus Field Academy courses. For her contributions to the school community, Linda was honored with the Courtney Sale Ross Award in 2013.
Linda’s choice to become a teacher was largely centered around her positive experiences as a student at the now-defunct Academy of St. Joseph in Brentwood, New York, then the only all-girls Catholic school in Suffolk County. Linda was a well-rounded student and she admired her teachers, who were passionate about their work and supportive of their students, and with whom she was able to forge relationships beyond the classroom. They instilled in her a love of learning and a heart for service, two touchstones that continue to guide her today.
“I have felt that as a teacher, I have the chance to make a difference in a student's life, which is profound and rewarding,” Linda said. “To help others while doing what you love is the best feeling in the world.”
One of her favorite aspects of working with students is seeing their growth. Working with middle and high school age students offers her the opportunity to see her students as they emerge into adulthood. “We have great conversations as they become critical thinkers and begin to draw connections between things happening in the world,” she noted.
Linda also believes that working with students helps her to continue growing. Since chaperoning her first Field Academy trip in 2009, Linda’s had many transformative experiences alongside her students. While in Belize, she learned to snorkel and explored the reefs near South Water Cay. On another Field Academy trip in the Galapagos, her group had the chance to snorkel and see hammerhead sharks. “To find out about this whole world underwater that I never knew about was incredible,” she said. “I tell that to my students at the beginning of each year to help them understand the importance of doing things even without knowing the outcome,” she said. “You never know what you are capable of until you step outside of your comfort zone.”
Since then, she’s led and designed multiple Field Academy courses, each with an underlying goal of serving those in need. She has accompanied students through conservation projects in China and the Galapagos Islands to help preserve the habitats of panda bears and giant tortoises, as well as worked locally to involve her students in projects that include working in the Ross Spiral Garden, on beach cleanups, with organizations like Quogue Wildlife Refuge and Cornell Cooperative Extension, and with Habitat for Humanity. Linda noted, “I think the chance to improve the life of another living being, whatever size the project, is truly important.”
Ross School’s motto, “Know thyself in order to serve,” exemplifies Linda’s character, and she’s grateful to be able to live the adage daily. “Having colleagues and students that I work well with just makes my day,” she said. “I tell my students to find something that they love to do, and it will not feel like working.”