Erin Price, Class of 2012 – Community Service Leader and Educator with Purpose and Heart
Erin Price, Class of 2012, radiates maturity, poise, and purpose. She embodies the qualities of an outstanding Clairbourn alum. Just this May, she graduated from Smith College with a degree in Psychology and Education & Child Study and plans to co-teach at an elementary school in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Being a community builder with a heart for service and helping others has always been a core value in Erin’s life.
It started at Clairbourn School, where she was taught by excellent educators like Mrs. Laurie Corwin, who inspired her to pursue teaching and showed her that it was possible to make the classroom “exciting, comfortable and interactive.” In college, Erin mentored and tutored students at an international school for English Language Learners and Refugees – a life-defining experience that affirmed her sense of purpose in building relationships and being of service to others.
So ingrained is service a part of Erin’s life that she was recently honored with the Rita Wilkins prize from the Jandon Center for Community Engagement for her leadership and involvement with community service. She had been involved in projects such as working in urban gardens, collecting produce for local food banks, and organizing an annual winter gifts drive.
When asked whether she had any words of wisdom she accumulated over the years to impart, she remarked: “I wish I knew that you don’t need everybody to like you; just be nice and be yourself. Also, you don’t have to be perfect at everything you try.” These are profound words coming from someone who has already positively impacted the lives of so many around her and will continue to transform the lives of many more to come. We are so proud of you, Erin, and we cannot wait to see what else you accomplish as you continue to change the world, one student at a time.
When did you come to Clairbourn? What year did you graduate from Clairbourn? Where did you go after that? Where did you attend university?
I came to Clairbourn when I was three years old for JPK, but my older sister also attended Clairbourn, so I sat in on chapel and visited my sister in her classroom before I formally attended school. I graduated from 8th grade in 2012, and attended Flintridge Preparatory School. I graduated from Flintridge Prep in 2016, and attended Smith College in Northampton, MA. I graduated from Smith College on Sunday, May 17th, 2020 with a degree in Psychology and Education & Child Study.
What do you remember most about your time at Clairbourn? Has Clairbourn stayed within your memory? Why or why not?
I remember the time I spent with my friends and the teachers I had that made coming to school fun. Some of my most vivid memories are of the and participating in the Winnie the Pooh and Shakespeare plays. I wasn’t super comfortable on a stage, but Mr. and Mrs. Barker made participating in performances so much fun! I loved being able to hang out with my friends during rehearsals, backstage, and at our cast hangout at islands at the end of the last show. No matter your role in the play, everyone worked together to put on the best performance.
I remember being in Mrs. Wreede’s class in second grade and greeting her dog Troy everyday. I remember especially enjoying learning about the Titanic and visiting the Titanic museum on the Queen Mary. One of my favorite field trips was our 5th grade field trip on the Pilgrim ship at Dana Point. We spent the night on the ship, and we each had our own roles to fulfill. We were able to experience life on a 19th century sailing ship: tying knots, scrubbing the deck, and standing watch at night. I remember rowing to shore acting as if to collect hides to fulfill my role as a hide-gatherer. It was one of my favorite moments, and required us to work together.
I also have fond memories of playing in the Jungle with my friends and playing sports afterschool. I especially loved attending volleyball camp in the summer and Just Dance on the Wii when we had a break in the afternoon.
Congratulations on graduating this year! What do you plan to do next?
During my time at Smith I was in the licensure program to teach in Massachusetts. Once I take my final test, I will receive my initial elementary teaching license for MA. In the fall, I will be co-teaching at an elementary school in Lawrence MA as part of a Co-Teaching Fellows program. Hopefully, I will continue to teach elementary school!
Tell us about this service award you recently received. What is it? What inspires you to continue to be of service to others?
I received the Rita Wilkins prize from the Jandon Center for Community Engagement for my leadership and involvement with community service. This year, I was the Chair of the Community Service Office board. I have been a part of the CSO since my first year of college and have been on the board since my second year.
Involvement with community service was one of my priorities when entering college. It has kept me engaged and connected with the community outside the Smith bubble and has given me valuable leadership experience. On the board, I publicized community service opportunities and recruited Smith students to engage with the community. I organized projects with our community partners and led board meetings discussing goal setting, project process, and other community service related issues. In my different roles in the CSO, I have been involved with different short term projects such as working in urban gardens, collecting produce for local food banks, and organizing an annual winter gifts drive.
I was a volunteer at an international school for English Language Learners and Refugees all four years at college as part of the CSO, where I mentored/tutored a different 5th grade student each year. I learned so much about working with English Language Learners, which influenced my decision to become a teacher. It was rewarding to see your mentee grow not only their academic skills, but their confidence as well. As a teacher, I will be working with a variety of students with different backgrounds and experiences, so it was important for me to understand the lives of children from different walks of life. Working with my students also taught me the importance of forming those individual relationships with my students, to better connect with them and understand them.
I think it is important to be active and involved in your community and to listen, learn, and do what you can to support other people’s needs. I was able to meet so many amazing people in the surrounding communities and form so many friendships through my involvement with the CSO.
What were some of your favorite academic memories of Clairbourn? Did Clairbourn prepare you for high school and college?
Some of my favorite academic memories include the Oregon trail unit we did in 3rd grade around the school. I had hip surgery and was on crutches, so I was able to ride throughout the school on the model covered wagon. The Oregon trail unit was so much fun and so interactive that it really made history come alive.
I remember participating in the Design Challenge, which taught me about the design process and how to be innovative. I also enjoyed taking electives in middle school. I was able to explore robotics, crochet, drama, and all different kinds of activities I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. Clairbourn helped me develop the study skills I needed to succeed in high school. I learned how to balance my academic work and extracurricular activities and use my study halls effectively.
Do you still keep in touch with your classmates from Clairbourn?
I have managed to keep in touch with a few of my Clairbourn classmates through social media. While I don’t talk to them too often, I still periodically text a couple of my best friends from Clairbourn and have seen them periodically since graduating from Clairbourn. While I don’t talk to them every day, I am able to keep up with major life events.
I attended Flintridge Prep with a couple other Clairbourn classmates who I still see from time to time. In fact, I will be seeing one of my classmates in June for our friend’s social-distancing graduation hang out/drive-by celebration.
If you could go back in time to your Clairbourn days, what would you change about the school or do differently? What would you keep?
If I could go back in time, I would try to be more in the moment and make the most of every opportunity. I would keep all the wonderful memories I made with my friends!
What activities at Clairbourn helped influence your career in education?
During my time at Clairbourn, I don’t think I had any idea about what I wanted to do when I grew up. Looking back on it, I think some of the amazing teachers I had helped inspire me to become an educator. My kindergarten teacher Miss Gorge made coming to school so fun and enjoyable. She had lots of class pets, including three adorable bunnies. She was always so kind, warm and loving and is the kind of teacher I aspire to be. I remember Mrs. Knight, the librarian, who helped inspire my love of reading. The library was one of my favorite places because it was such a comfortable place to sit and read in. I specifically remember how my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Corwin, inspired my love of history by making class so engaging and interactive. Her classroom was always lively and fun and she was able to form really good individual relationships with her students. In my own classroom, I want it to be just as exciting, comfortable and interactive as my experience in Mrs. Corwin’s class.
How did you decide to go into teaching? What are some of the most fulfilling experiences you’ve had either in college or in teaching? What about challenging experiences?
Going into college, I was not sure what I wanted to major in at all. However, in my senior year of high school, I applied to become a peer counselor and mentored a group of 7th graders throughout the year. This was my first experience acting as a mentor, which I think is where the idea of working with kids started to come into my mind. In my first year of college, I took an Intro to American Education class and started tutoring/mentoring English Language Learners at an elementary school in Springfield. Working with my student in Springfield was challenging, but enjoyable, and solidified my desire to become a teacher. I declared my majors of Psychology and Education in my sophomore year, and decided to pursue licensure.
Student teaching this past year has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences. I student taught at the Campus School of Smith College both semesters, first in 5th grade, then in 2nd grade. I loved forming relationships with the kids, getting to know who they are both in and out of the classroom, and designing fun and interactive lessons. It was definitely challenging balancing student teaching with my regular classes, as well as learning how to write lesson plans, differentiate and shelter instruction for all different kinds of learners, and build confidence in the classroom. My experiences in the classroom this year have been the highlight of my time at Smith, and I’m excited to be co-teaching in the fall!
What advice do you have for our Clairbourn students who want to pursue a similar type of path?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, that’s how you learn! And it’s okay to not be sure about what you want to do and to change your mind. Be open to new experiences and perspectives. Also, it’s incredibly important to learn how to find a balance between your work and personal life. It was difficult my senior year of college to find time for myself or to hang out with my friends, and it feels like there’s a never ending to do list. It’s important to prioritize your own mental health, or you will burn out. Teaching can be exhausting and challenging, but it’s also incredibly fun and rewarding!
What do you wish you knew at Clairbourn that you know now?
I wish I knew that you don’t need everybody to like you; just be nice and be yourself. Also, you don’t have to be perfect at everything you try.
Clairbourn School, 8400 Huntington Drive, San Gabriel, (626) 286-3108 or visit www.clairbourn.org.