“Idyllic,” said PA Middle School Dean of Students and Literature teacher Mrs. Teresa Claypool when asked what word comes to mind when she thinks of high school.
“Pretty much what you picture when you think of high school,” Claypool added candidly.
In keeping with her straightforward nature, Claypool confessed that she skipped study hall one day to get breakfast with friends. Who would’ve thought a future Dean of Students would have to be escorted back to school by her police officer father dressed in full uniform?
This candidness is characteristic of Claypool. Anyone can attest to her frank, but lighthearted approach to life, so it’s not surprising she’d have this perspective when speaking of high school as well.
Similar to other much-loved PA teachers, Claypool wanted to teach by the time she graduated high school. Her instructors instilled her with confidence which motivated her to make the same impact on others.
Claypool expressed that teaching Middle School perfectly aligns with her personality. She admittedly didn’t enjoy Middle School much herself, so she values having the ability to help students through these years that many consider awkward.
“It’s a time when you’re caught between blending in and being true to yourself, which is difficult to navigate,” she expressed compassionately.
Throughout high school, however, Claypool became more comfortable in her skin, leading her to pursue a career that allowed her to help others achieve the same. With this understanding, Claypool believes building relationships with students is of the utmost importance, and that as a result, teaching becomes more compelling and effective.
“All my students–former and current–know my door is always open. And I mean that,” Claypool shared.
While she feels at home in the Middle School wing, she loves maintaining connections as students move through the Upper School.
“That’s why I love teaching here. I get to see everyone transition into beautiful adults,” reflected Claypool.
Her humor and candor draw Upper Schoolers back to the Middle School to visit their beloved former teacher. Who would’ve thought students could be so eager to “head to the Dean’s office”?
“The fact that she’s still invested in my life even though I haven’t had her as a teacher for four years is so meaningful. You don’t find that with many teachers,” reflected Adriana Azarian ‘22, one of Claypool’s former students.
Claypool has impacted the lives of so many by simply being herself.
Ms. Bridget Taylor, Claypool’s friend of eleven years and Middle School Assistant fondly remembers her first encounter with Claypool: “She was running across the field to save a student who had just fallen during a softball game…while [Claypool] was eight months pregnant! I remember thinking to myself, ‘Who is this teacher?!’ It was a die hard moment.”
As a PA parent herself, Taylor also remembers her first parent-teacher conference with Claypool. She recalled thinking, “This is why my child goes to Providence. This teacher makes my daughter feel like she’s the only student in the building.”
It took only minutes in a room with Claypool for Taylor to know exactly why her daughter loved her so much.
Mr. Daniel Hickel, PA Science Teacher and Claypool’s friend of five years, was also touched by Claypool’s magic upon joining the staff himself in 2016.
“When I started working at PA, she was one of the first people to reach out and get to know me,” Hickel enthused.
Whether it’s a student, parent, softball player, or colleague, Claypool has a way of making everyone feel valued, and that rare gift encapsulates part of what makes Providence Academy “a school like no other.”