Sturgis Alumni Come Home to Teach and Coach (Fall 2011)

by Marion Weeks

MacKenzie Moynahan, Jenna Arledge, Alicia Watts and Anna Botsford

Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home again,” but we think you can and we have seven alumni who have proved it by adding a bit of Sturgis history and tradition to the interesting mix of our Sturgis faculty and coaching staff.  They come from different graduating classes and work across the curriculum, across the street and on three different sports teams.  They connect to students and understand their experience because they “have been there and done that.” We asked them to tell us a bit about their experiences after graduating from Sturgis, what made them decide to come back to work at Sturgis and how they view the changes that have occurred since their earlier days at Sturgis.  Here are their responses:

Jenna Arledge in Health Office at West 11-21-11

Jenna Arledge  (Nurse, West Campus)

I graduated from Sturgis in 2004 and headed for Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, where I graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing.  After passing the nursing boards, I accepted a position on a surgical floor at Faulkner Hospital in the Jamaica Plain area of Boston.  Two years later I had moved backed to the Cape and was ready for change.  I entered the clinic setting accepting a position with the primary care offices of Emerald Physicians.  Over those three years I had also met and married my husband and given birth to our son.  Although my husband and I are both in the medical profession, we actually met on blind date set up by two mutual friends, both fellow graduates of Sturgis!

I’m so glad to be back at Sturgis.  I’ve always been interested in school nursing so when the opportunity presented itself to be a part of the Sturgis family again I could not pass it up!

What I find so interesting is that Sturgis East was started in an old furniture store and did not look anything like it does today.  Now as Sturgis expands, Sturgis West is also located in what was a furniture store.  Although Sturgis East physically looks different, the culture and what goes on inside the walls is very similar to what it was when I was a student.  What makes Sturgis unique is not only the IB program and the IB for all philosophy, it’s about the creativity, positivity, and individuality of the students and faculty members jointly fostering an environment ideal or personal and academic success.

Tim Barr with Girls Varsity Soccer Team

Tim Barr   (Girls Soccer Coach, West Campus; Girls Softball  Coach)

Graduated Sturgis in 2003, and went straight off to West Point.  I studied International Relations and Computer Science Engineering.  Graduated in 2007 as a Lieutenant, but was medically discharged in 2008.  Married Joanna in 2007 and we just had our first baby, Ethan Christopher on 8/14.  He is doing wonderful!

I came back to Sturgis to substitute teach after I got out of the Army in 2008.  That was great, and turned into a coaching opportunity for the Girls Softball team in 2009.  That led into coaching girls soccer as well.  Three years later, I still teach from time to time, although I have to balance my full time job, as branch manager for a mortgage company, Homestead Mortgage.  I helped lead the Softball team to its first ever state tournament berth in 2011, and followed that up with another bid for soccer this fall.

The most remarkable thing about Sturgis beyond the new campus is the fact that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  So many things have changed since we were there, teachers, buildings, class offerings etc., but there will always be a similar culture that just makes the school what it is.  The level of commitment from the students and the teachers, and the love and spirit for the school has always been there.  I guess I always thought that once the “originals” were long gone, that the school would lose some of its uniqueness and become more like every other school, but it hasn’t.  It’s just as special now as the 4 years I was there.  That’s what brings me back – knowing how special the school is, the incredible students, and still feeling a part of the culture, all these years later.

Anna Botsford in Theatre Class 11-21-11

 Anna Botsford (Theatre, East and West Campuses)

After graduating Sturgis, I attended Regis College in Weston, MA where I received a degree in Theatre and Communications.  I went right to graduate school at Emerson in Boston and received my MA in Theatre Education in 2007.  I worked a lot with creative drama in schools around the Boston area, as well as worked as a nanny in West Roxbury, MA and Manhattan, NY.  In 2008, I married Chris Botsford, who is now a Barnstable Police Officer.  We have moved all over the Cape in the past few years and have two AMAZING cats- Bruin Beatrice and Harley Rose.  I love to act on Cape- having recently been in shows at Harwich Junior Theatre and Cotuit Center for the Arts.

I decided to come back to Sturgis during grad school when I had to observe different theatre classes in k-12 throughout Massachusetts.  For the high school portion, I decided to check out Sturgis one day.  I was enthralled by the IB program in Theatre, which my graduating class never got to experience.  I loved the feel of the atmosphere and the wonderful people.  My husband was being transferred back to the Cape, so I knew this is where I wanted to be!

I find the success of the IB program amazing as well as the college admissions process.  The IB was not present when I graduated and the process of finding a college was a rough one for me.  I love the guidance team at Sturgis and the students have SO MANY wonderful opportunities.  The school culture is still tight knit and eccentric, which I love.  It is still a warm and inviting place to be.

MacKenzie Moynahan in English Class 11-21-11

Mackenzie Moynihan (English, West Campus)

 After graduating from Sturgis in 2007, I got my English teaching degree from Emmanuel College in Boston. I brought with me the intellectual hunger that Sturgis had cultivated, and I started the Emmanuel Knitting Club and an a cappella group – honoring the Sturgis yearbook prediction that I was “most likely to knit a symphony”!  My four years at college were spent itching to get back to my beloved Sturgis. The feisty, thoughtful students and teachers here were amazing. I’m ecstatic to be back, this time on the other end of the desk – and on the other side of campus! Being part of the Storm’s western expansion is the best adventure I could ask for as a new teacher. And, much to my relief, the students – and the teachers – are as outlandishly wonderful as ever

Gwyneth Ochs with Anna Botsford, Alicia Watts and MacKenzie Moynihan

Gwyneth Ochs  (Special Needs, West)                     

After I left Sturgis, I attended a small college in Illinois for four years. Originally, I set out to be a math major, but decided fairly quickly into my freshman year that math was more of a hobby, and decided to major in Graphic design instead. I completed my art major with one quarter left of school, and took a look at the portfolio I created. I noticed that as a Graphics major, most of my pieces had been done by hand. I also had an English minor that required me to take a Shakespeare’s tragedies class my last quarter in college, and because I enjoyed it so much I decided that I should pursue a career as an English teacher instead.

I applied to graduate school at Northeastern University, and over the past years I worked towards receiving a Masters in secondary English and licensure from the state of Massachusetts. The program at Northeastern was driven towards sending teachers into the Boston public school system, but I knew from my time at Sturgis that I wanted to be in a smaller school setting where classrooms were more personal. I arranged to do my student teaching at Sturgis, and this led to my decision to apply to Sturgis as well.

This year, as part of the Special Education department, I get the chance to view several classes at Sturgis West. I assist in English, math, science, and history classes, and one thing I notice is how hard all the students are pushing themselves and how much their success is dependent on the work that they do. For many students, they are being assigned tasks they have never seen before or are being given a larger work load than they are accustomed to, and the students that challenge themselves are meeting with success. In that way, Sturgis has remained the same: it offers students just enough of a challenge to allow them to grow.


Ryan Potter with 2001 Golf Team

Ryan Potter   (Golf Coach)

I graduated from Sturgis in 2002, and went on to graduate from Queens University of Charlotte with a double major in business management and golf management.  After living in Charlotte for a few years I moved back up to the Cape in 2008 landing a job as manager at the British Beer Company in Falmouth.  I began Masters courses at Bridgewater State in Elementary Education which I will be finishing next spring.  I am hoping to land a job in either a 3rd or 4th grade classroom.  I just finished up my 4th season as the varsity golf coach at Sturgis, leading the team to our second straight state tournament appearance, our best regular season record, and best finish at the state tournament ever.

When I returned home in the summer of 2008 I contacted Jim Barrasso, the Athletic Director at the time, to see if  Sturgis was in need of any volunteers for the team.  It so happened that they were looking for an assistant to take over the team in the following years so I came on board with great anticipation.  A few days before the season started the head coach at the time stepped down to the junior varsity level and handed me the reins to the varsity squad.  Having experienced the difficulties of 4 different coaches over 4 seasons while I attended Sturgis, my main goal was to offer the players stability and leadership.  Being a Sturgis alum allows me to understand the struggles the student athletes face with the heavy course load and everyday stresses a school like Sturgis presents.
I still remember the first time I walked into Sturgis in 1998, a furniture building with a few makeshift walls and tables set up for interviews.  It is incredible to see the changes that have happened over the past 10+ years, from the second floor being fully finished to the new improvements to the classrooms every year.  Its incredible that the school has been able to maintain its high level of academic prowess over the years, it is a great testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in the schooling process.

Alicia Watts in English Class 11-21-11

 Alicia Fenney Watts  (English, East Campus)

I graduated from Wheaton College in 2007 with a B.A. in English. I spent a year subbing and waitressing and was offered a job in the spring of 2008 to teach that fall. I got married to Andrew Watts in July 2011 and I am now in my 4th year teaching English at Sturgis.

I learned from a friend in college that subs only needed two years of college and brought that up with my academic advisor at Wheaton. She suggested if I was interested in teaching college one day that I ask to intern (observe and sub) over my winter break during senior year of college. I wrote to several schools requesting this opportunity and felt encouraged to return to Sturgis by Eric Hieser. Because I was interested in seeing the changes at Sturgis more than learning about a new culture (Cape Cod Academy also accepted me), I chose Sturgis. I couldn’t have made a better decision; after learning about the IB I realized how special Sturgis had become in my absence and I was thrilled to be offered a job to teach at such a unique place.

Many things at Sturgis are the same and many are different. The academic culture has grown to a point of healthy competition. Students still respect, care for, and protect one another. The relationships between teachers and students are still very strong and advisory seems to be cultivating good relationships. I do miss a few things about the old Sturgis: the community created through caring for our physical spaces (advisories, not custodians cleaned the school during my time) and through a 25-hour per year community service requirement (a requirement that brought Relay For Life into my life, a commitment I have taken back up upon my return to Sturgis). On the whole though, change suits Sturgis and I am honored to be a part of past and present.

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