by Lauren Torres
After I graduated from college, I was privileged enough to be able to live my dream: I ran away from scorpions in the Grand Canyon, devoured burgers “animal style” at In and Out, learned how to spearfish in Panama, ate way too much BBQ in Austin, Texas, navigated the norovirus while working at a retirement home, and served countless people focaccia bread with caramelized onions.
It was at this time that my dad asked if we could have a chat, he shared with me, “I know you’re happy with your life and work, but I think you may be missing out on the opportunity to feel fulfilled by the work that you do.”
With that brief conversation, the next chapter of my life was set into motion. Through a series of fortunate events, I found my way to Landmark’s High School campus for an interview. I sat in on classes, participated in coverage, mingled with the staff, ate cupcakes, and helped students with their homework. After a full day of observations and interviews and a night of coverage, I knew I had found the community that was right for me. Fortunately Landmark felt the same way about me (or they really needed teachers), and I was offered a position of being a dorm live-in and teaching, well, whatever needed to be taught.
When it was not longer a choice, but a way of being
My first year at Landmark I lived in a dorm, was enrolled in grad school, taught two Oral Expression classes and four tutorials, did weekday coverage, weekend coverage, cash for coverage, coached, ran Saturday schools and slept….sometimes.
I didn’t even notice that I didn’t have much opportunity to sleep because everyday was so exciting for me. My job was to help students unlock parts of their brains they hadn’t accessed before, encourage them to trust themselves and the process, and support them through school and life challenges. To be a part of a teenager’s evolution is to help shape the future and a way to rewrite my own past. I finally understood what my dad meant about fulfillment through work.
Why I will stay
Landmark isn’t a place. Well, it is a place. A very beautiful place, in fact. But it’s more than that, it’s a way of life. It’s starting work before the sunrise and going to bed well after the sun sets. It’s working days, nights, and weekends. It's learning while teaching and teaching while learning. It’s coaching sports teams, acting in plays, facilitating clubs, living in dorms, working in dorms, creating curriculum, running Saturday schools, connecting with students, and stretching your limits intellectually, emotionally, and physically.
Landmark is a community of people who, with students at the center of our focus, are deeply committed to work together to help each other reach their collective potential.
I will stay at Landmark because Bill Barrett, head of the School and navigator of the pandemic, takes time out of his day to pop into a class, just to connect with a student feeling debilitating anxiety about something they both love, fishing.
I will stay at Landmark because Andrea Meade, residential dean, student, Emergency Response Team leader will say, “Yes, you can talk with me right now if you’re willing to jog. I have a situation I have to get to immediately.” And somehow, she still manages to give her full attention while running up a hill in work clothes.
I will stay at Landmark because my co-workers give and give. They give while teaching and on coverage. They give by tutoring after school and working second jobs to make ends meet. They give by using entire paychecks for daycare. They give up Saturday mornings to teach school and still manage to smile. They live in dormitory-style housing with other adults, because they can’t afford their own homes, and they eat three meals in the cafeteria because they have to save money where they can.
I will stay at Landmark because Bill, Andrea, and my co-workers share the belief that our students deserve the opportunity to unlock their brains and achieve their potential and make personal sacrifices regularly for this belief.
I will stay at Landmark because the students here are the future, and I thrive knowing that the future is going to be brighter because of them.
To read more about why teachers choose Landmark visit our Faculty Voices page.
Learn about Landmark Cares events for Fall 2021.