"We prepare students to engage in the world that is and to help bring about a world that ought to be."
FACULTY SPOTLIGHT | TAYLOR HODGES ’11
Taylor Hodges ’11 is a second grade teacher at Friends Seminary.
What do you recall about your first day at Friends Seminary as a teacher or student?
“Honestly I can’t remember my first day at Friends, having entered the School in Kindergarten. But I think that I always knew that I wanted to come back. My goal, once I knew I wanted to be a teacher, was always to come back and work here because I had such a positive experience at Friends.
My first day at Friends as a teacher was so warm, so kind, and so comforting. I was coming from a school down the block but there was something about seeing people who had taught me and now being their colleague, that made it feel like I had been there the entire time.”
What has been the most memorable experience of your Friends Seminary career?
“In terms of being a student, I played basketball, and I will never forget that we won the championship in my senior year. It was really incredible. I was very close with all the girls on the team and the coach. I don’t think that the girls have won since then. I hold onto that as something that was really special and really unique.”
But something that will always mean a lot to me as a teacher is that for the first three years that I worked at Friends I worked with Chris. She had been my Kindergarten teacher. So when I came back and got to teach with her—the teacher who taught me—it felt like a really special experience. An experience that most people don’t get to have.”
Which Quaker value speaks to you?
“What makes Friends so special is the fact that it is a Quaker school and that we really spend time, not only having these Quaker SPICES (Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship) listed in the classroom but that we really spend time explicitly teaching them to the kids. Kids learn how the SPICES connect to the greater world.
The social studies curriculum in second grade is focused around change makers—people in history who have made a difference—but also people making a change now. We spent the first few months of the school year connecting these change makers to the Quaker SPICES. It was eye opening for the kids to realize, regardless of which change maker they chose to investigate, each used every single SPICES to make an impact. No matter whom they chose, the change maker had those values instilled in them.
For me personally, the first one that comes to mind is integrity, because I think that it is such a hard concept for kids to understand. It is something that they think they grasp, but when they are faced with a moment where they have to have integrity, it becomes really hard. integrity is not just telling the truth, but telling the truth when no one is watching. Integrity is a really important value for kids to learn at an early age.”
Who are your heroes?
“In terms of the hero who is close to home, my mom is the first person who pops into my head. She is the most strong, incredible woman. My brothers actually go to Friends, they are in third grade. It was amazing to see her start this whole process again. Now as a grown-up, I get to see her be a mom to other people. I am at an age where I understand and appreciate it. Being an adult and getting to see her be a mom through a different lens, I get to see just how inspiring she is.
I think in terms of celebrity, I always talk about Michael Jordan. I think he is an inspiring and strong person. I bring athletes into the classroom. I think that a lot of the things that athletes learn are the same qualities that I like to instill in my students. Professional athletes learn the importance of perseverance and grit, but also the power of making mistakes and sometimes failing. They also speak to the importance of goal setting. Even when you are the best of the best as an athlete, you just don’t sit there and think “I’m the best.” There is always space to improve. Michael Jordan was the first athlete to bring to the forefront the power of mental fitness; it was not necessarily that he was the best physically but that he just showed up everyday to do the best and be the best.”
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
“Still at Friends! This is my first year running my own classroom. I am just now understanding how to put in place the kind of curriculum I want to have and to teach the kids the things I want to in the way that I want to. I don’t see myself getting tired of that any time soon. Teaching is the most exciting job because you are constantly learning. Even if you're teaching the same curriculum or grade year to year, it differs because of the kids and the way that they ask different questions. I love that about teaching. I walk through the door and I am not sure what is going to happen every single day, in the best way. So, in ten years, I see myself still teaching and hopefully still at Friends.”
Friends Seminary actively promotes diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism in all its programs and operations, including admissions, financial aid, hiring, and all facets of the educational experience. To form a community which strives to reflect the world’s diversity, we do not discriminate on the basis of race or color, religion, nationality, ethnicity, economic background, physical ability, sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. Friends Seminary is an equal opportunity employer.