In every issue of Ensights, we take a closer look at the talent and dedication behind Ensworth's faculty. Here we learn about Kate McGlasson, Dean of Academic Support and High School Math Teacher.
What inspired you to become a teacher? In college, I was a business major and then worked in banking for five years. Pretty soon, I knew I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life. I was married and watched my husband’s passion for flying, and I craved a similar vocation. I had always thought about teaching but was not certain how to make it happen. I lived in Kingston Springs at the time, and I called the elementary school and asked if I could substitute. They had a first grade class that needed a sub for two days, and after the first day, I knew that wasn’t my calling, but I gained so much respect for elementary education teachers. A week later, I subbed for a senior English class, and I realized “these are my people.” After getting my Master’s from TSU in secondary education, I took a job at Cheatham County Central High School teaching math and learned so much from the opportunity.
What drew you to Ensworth? Now that I’m here, I can speak to the fact that it was the vision of the inaugural team. I was the math chair at Harding Academy, and representatives from Ensworth called the middle school head and asked if they could come and talk to the eighth grade about the possibility of a new high school. They brought pizzas and fed the students in my math room, and I sat there and listened to them talk about this vision for a new school. Nothing had been built yet, but I thought that if what they described really worked, it could be amazing. Ensworth got an incredible group of Harding students for their inaugural class. Three years later, my son, Clayton, came to Ensworth for many of those same reasons. By then, I was already thinking of returning to high school. I think it’s healthy to make changes in your career and challenge yourself. As an eighth-grade teacher, I encouraged students to take risks and challenge themselves, but if I didn’t lead by example, it seems inauthentic. Nothing like this school had ever existed in Nashville before. Ensworth wanted to do things differently; before we ever laid a brick, we put time and energy into who we wanted to be with a devotion to community, diversity, love, humor, and joy. The overarching goal of being the best you can be without comparison or detriment to others is challenging in today’s world.
What do you think makes Ensworth unique? I think it was that original commitment to be Ensworthian, to be different, to be bold about it, and not to be afraid of it. We weren’t trying to be like everyone else; we were going to try to be ourselves and trust that if we did that and did it well, we would have something special. Also, we teach self-advocacy; we encourage students and parents to be their own best advocate and self responsible, because those are skills that are so needed in today’s world. We help students discover what kind of learners they are and challenge them to do their own personal best, not to measure themselves in relation to others.
What lessons have you learned from COVID that you will continue to implement moving forward? We probably overuse the word community, but it is the one thing that broke my heart this year, that we weren’t really able to experience the true Ensworth community. In the beginning, when we couldn’t cheer on teams or share in our amazing arts performances, I struggled with trying to live out the joy that comes from watching students, who might not love math but know that I love watching them succeed in their extracurricular passion, and it simply helps us build trust. Teachers embracing technology and finding ways to create collaboration and communication despite the obvious barriers, singers learning to project through a mask, athletic teams practicing with limited contact….despite the challenges, we undoubtedly know that we are better together than we were at home.
What is your favorite Ensworth tradition (or a favorite Ensworth memory) and why? One of my favorite traditions is graduation. We end just like we start. Graduates walk to the same music that they were greeted by on their first day. There are no outside speakers, only students who have been selected by their peers to address their families and friends and not based on a GPA. There are no individual awards, no accolades, no special diplomas. The whole ceremony is literally about the graduates; it is very Ensworth. I get to hand the diploma to the Board of Trustees president as they award them to each senior, and there are times when I hand over that diploma that I know everything that’s gone into it. And in many cases, it’s a lot. It can be a very emotional experience. It takes me back to remembering them as freshmen, going through the tunnel of faculty on their first day and everything in between. It begins and ends with that: welcoming them and then sending them out into the world.
List a few fun facts about yourself that people might not know.
- I love to hike and flyfish.
- There’s nowhere I’d rather be than with my family.
- I was born and raised in Nashville. I attended Oak Hill, St. Cecilia, and Harpeth Hall.
- I wasn’t a very good student myself, which is one of the reasons I do what I do!