Caroline Sabin ’86, English

sabin-20120112_62“Milton students are great readers, which makes being an English teacher here very rewarding,” says Caroline Sabin ’86. “I work with students on a skill they’re comfortable with and enjoy. Novels are an easy sell, because the students like language and meeting characters in fiction. Another commonality is that everyone around the table is very comfortable talking.”

A member of the first corps of Teach For America in 1990, Caroline honed her teaching skills at Pasadena High School, a large, urban school in Southern California.

“Teach For America sounded like a wonderful adventure,” says Caroline. “It was exciting, but it was difficult. Much of my first year was marked by failure rather than success, but I grew up quite a bit and learned a lot about teaching.”

Ms. Sabin taught in Pasadena for three years before her husband got a job on the east coast.

“I was torn—whether to stay on that path and work in the Boston public schools, or to take an opportunity teaching at Milton. I figured if I don’t like teaching at Milton, then I don’t like teaching overall, and that’s the end of the experiment.”

Caroline’s experience as a student at Milton also influenced her decision.

“My years at Milton were my most valuable student years. Minute for minute, Milton was a better learning experience than college was for me. That is why I’m back. Milton offers an invaluable education, and we do a good job here.”

Caroline teaches sections of Class IV English where students develop necessary foundational skills: how to read, how to write, and how to speak. In the fall, students read numerous short fiction pieces before moving on to poetry and grammar. In the spring, they write a personal narrative, read plays, and write longer essays with a focus on personal writing style.

“It’s about having 14 people come back every day to the same material. We give them work that they can accomplish, but it’s not easy. We challenge them. It takes a lot of time and focus to complete the work, but they can do it. Then we can have a productive conversation in the classroom.”

Caroline is also chair of the Class IV Talks. A requirement and rite of passage for all Class IV students, they each give a five- to seven-minute speech on a subject of their choosing.

“Class IV Talks blow me away all the time,” says Caroline. “It is one of the most important and valuable things we do here, putting students up in front of their peers and asking them to talk about what is important to them. Those are the breathtaking moments that build community. We are sharing with each other—not just around academics, or abstractions, but around the ways in which we see our world.”