The end of the school year season: a time shaped by strenuous finals, the impending excitement of summer vacation, and sentimental farewells. Among those departing this year is beloved and admired history teacher Emma Storbeck. Storbeck has made herself a staple of the Concord Academy community, having been actively involved at CA since her arrival in 2018 after earning a degree in Education.
Before coming to CA, Storbeck always knew she wanted to be a teacher. She recounts her time in her K-12 schools, saying, “There was a lot of mentorship between grades, and so the 10th graders would mentor the 7th graders, and [through that] I discovered that I liked working with students and liked that role.”
Storbeck has taken an interest in the relationship between the United States and Central American countries in her classes, focusing on the histories of imperialism and intervention on the part of the US. Having taught courses on topics ranging from individual countries and their respective revolutions to revolutions’ effects on social change, she has explored a broad range of history. She said, “I love teaching 9th graders in the Early History of Haiti, and my undergraduate degree is actually in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, and I’ve had a long weird niche interest in Brazil… so that [10th grade] class I teach is very important to me.”
Expanding on this love of teaching, Storbeck mentioned, “When adults are asked about what courses they love, a lot of them will say, ‘Oh, my students are like my children.’” Though she jokes that she does not relate, Storbeck emphasized the importance of her students in her teaching career. “It’s so many things [that motivate me to teach]; I love young people; I mean, no one gets into teaching because they love adults,” she added.
Furthering this point, Storbeck emphasized the joy working with young people has brought her, saying how it has been exciting watching students build skills and bring new energy to ideas and to courses she has been teaching. She said, “I’ve thought about the histories I teach for a decade of my life and maybe a little more, and watching young people approach them in new ways and dream up new responses to problems is so beautiful, exciting, and filled with potential—and it’s really, really fun to see!”
As Storbeck’s CA journey ends, she recounts her favorite parts of the community: “The people! I care so much about the people, and I believe that the people at an institution shape us most.”
Furthermore, Storbeck spoke about how it was a challenging decision to leave CA given the connections she has made here. She said, “I have thought about going back to grad school again or doing things outside of CA for a while, but I’ve been kept here by the kids.” Additionally, Storbeck elaborated on the bonds she has built with her colleagues while being here, noting, “I’ve been working with my best friends, some of my closest friends are my coworkers, and that’s a very special thing that I don’t think everyone gets.”
If she were allowed to go back and do this all over again, Storbeck has one piece of advice for herself: “Be less scared!” Having come to CA straight out of college, Storbeck mentioned how she felt as if she had to pretend like she had everything together, all the time. She elaborated, “It’s better to show students that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes, and not to have all the answers, and figuring out that piece with grace, care, and empathy is more important than anything else. There’s no use in moving through their life carrying hard things and trying to hold yourself together and putting on a façade of being okay, it’s exhausting and pointless.”
Having come so far in the past eight years, imagining a CA without Storbeck’s daily positive presence will be challenging. Though this is a bittersweet time, the CA community wishes Storbeck the best!