Updated: Sep 21
Language and literature are two of the most pure mediums in which powerful messages can be conveyed and change can be made. Ms. Clark, who teaches both Magnet and DP English, knows this, and has made it her mission to share this knowledge with the next generation of thinkers.
Ms. Clark was born in Newport Beach, California, but was constantly on the move throughout her childhood, living in almost 10 different places, including Tahiti, Florida, and Hawaii. Eventually, she ended up in Redding, California, where she lived on a ranch with all sorts of livestock. For her, Redding was “a really magical place.” After Redding, she moved to Reno, Nevada, where she attended high school.
Ms. Clark decided to dedicate herself to literature during her time at Pitzer College, which is when she was given a grant to work with at-risk young women at a group home. She says that “finding my voice through writing and literature kind of saved me”, and during her time at the group home, she noticed “how it could save kids like that, [and] I wanted to make them feel like their voice mattered”. This first experience working with kids helped her realize that “I want to do this all the time”.
Although she embraces it now, Ms. Clark didn’t always want to be a teacher. When she was little, she wanted to be a detective, and in high school, an actress. But she does admit, “I always wrote and kind of played with language. [I] wrote poems and stuff when I was young.” Eventually, she grew more interested in becoming a writer, and part of the reason she got into teaching was “so I'd have more time to write.” Unfortunately, she doesn’t, but at least she is surrounded by literature at work everyday.
One of Ms. Clark’s favorite books is If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino. “[It] sort of blew my mind… just in terms of style and structurally what he was doing,” says Ms. Clark. “[Calvino] tells the story, and then every alternating paragraph is the reader. So using the you form, the reader is a character in the story.” One of the many ideas communicated throughout the book is “the relationship between the reader and the author and that sort of magical connection,” says Ms. Clark. She also adores all of the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird, making it another one of her most beloved books.
Possibly stemming from her time in Redding, Ms. Clark has a love for animals, especially horses. She’s an equestrian rider and has been riding horses since her childhood. Unfortunately, quarantine put an end to this hobby, and pottery took its place. That held her interest for a while, but eventually she realized: “I just need to be sitting down and writing. So, this year I stopped both riding and pottery.” It seems as if Ms. Clark’s involvement in language and literature is coming full circle, as she recently completed “a couple short stories.”
After almost 20 years at ERHS, Ms. Clark continues to enrich students with valuable lessons, both academic and abstract. She is a passionate educator who doesn’t take her role in shaping the minds of the future lightly.