Ethan Yu | email@example.com | November 6, 2018
She is an elite runner trying to qualify for the Olympics. She was an intern for a well known entertainment company. She is a new Spanish teacher. Do you know who she is? It’s Samantha Sloan!
Before coming to d.tech Sloan planned to go into the entertainment industry. In college at University of Pennsylvania, she studied film and media design and had the opportunity to go to Los Angeles to complete a six month long internship at Showtime, where she worked as a development and acquisitions intern. During this internship she was a film screener, meaning she watched and critiqued thousands of short films that usually went never made it to the big screen, and a member of a development team for marketing campaigns, something that she enjoyed a lot more.
However, Sloan was not satisfied with her work. “I really didn’t feel like the work I was doing was helping anyone,” said Sloan, about the internship. “I felt very disconnected from the populations I had worked with at school.” This led her to go back to school in Philadelphia, where she ultimately ended up working for Teach for America, a non-profit where recent college graduates get placed into low-income, urban school districts. She got placed at Mastery Charter School, teaching juniors and seniors English as a Second Language (ESL) and Spanish classes, moving a few years later to California and getting a job at d.tech.
After moving to California, Sloan knew she wanted to be a teacher; she just didn’t know where. She started applying to many teaching positions, and stumbled across d.tech. Originally, she was unsure about coming to d.tech, but after a short phone call with Executive Director Ken Montgomery, she made her decision. Sloan said, “Dr. Montgomery called me and was like, ‘You need to come in for an interview. We are going to convince you why this is the best place,’” and after visiting d.tech for the first time, her doubts were erased by the tight knit community that d.tech boasts and the competency based style of learning.
In addition to being a teacher at d.tech, Sloan is also trying to qualify for the Olympic trials in the marathon. Sloan has been running since middle school, and is currently training with a group of about 12-15 women on an elite women’s racing team in San Francisco called the Impalas. Her practice regimen consists of two and a half hour sessions during the weekday, two strength training sessions per week, some early morning practices, and longer runs on Saturdays. In a typical week, she runs up to 70 miles. Having a full time teaching job has only made this rigorous training schedule tougher. “It’s really hard. I’m always sprinting to either get to practice on time or get to work on time after early morning sessions,” Sloan said.
However, running has allowed her to go to see and visit many places in the country, and internationally, that she never would have seen otherwise. This coming year Sloan is heading up to Seattle in December for the cross country nationals, and then going to Boston for the annual Boston Marathon in the spring. She also plans on going to Tokyo, Berlin, New York, and London to participate in the World Marathon Majors.
Through running, Sloan has also learned to set ambitious goals, execute them, and push herself do things she would not have thought possible. Sloan brings her drive and passion for running into the classroom as well, saying, “[Running] also helps me as a teacher because I am able to communicate the skills I have learned, and help students pursue their individual goals more effectively than I would have been able to originally.”
d.tech’s unique environment is quite lax for some, but Sloan has been adapting well to this new setting. At her previous school, Sloan taught under a traditional model of teaching, but she finds that the mastery and project based learning that d.tech offers works better for her. This teaching style allows her to make sure her students are proficient enough in a topic before moving on, and are engaged in learning through fun, hands-on projects. Sloan says that compared to her old school where she often ran into hurdles regarding space and funding, at d.tech “I can be as creative as I want to be and can receive the resources necessary to make my students successful in these projects.”
On top of teaching and running, Sloan also pursues design projects outside of school. She does regular contract graphic and web design, putting together web résumés and portfolios, and photography and video projects, for friends and small companies. She also works for the organization RefAid, an app that allows migrants, refugees, and aid workers to find where food, medical, or legal services are.
When teaching, Sloan likes to incorporate games, collaboration, and social activities, to which her students are often receptive. Freshman Christian Figueroa says, “[She] is very upbeat and enthusiastic and is far from a strict teacher.” Junior Michaela Thompson, who is also Sloan’s teaching assistant, said, “Ms. Sloan allows students to be more personalized with the way they learn, allowing students more freedom if they feel that they have a good grasp on the material, while helping students who are having more trouble in smaller groups.”
So far, Sloan has had a great first few months at d.tech and is enjoying the energetic and optimistic vibe that she has encountered at the school. Make sure to wish Ms. Sloan a warm welcome to d.tech, and good luck in her future running endeavors as she tries to qualify for the Olympic Trials.