Teacher Tuesday: Claire Federhofer

Mishal Charania , Online Editor-in-chief

Q: Describe your high school experience.

A: “It’s a pretty interesting experience. I went to a private all-girls school in South Africa… this was super expensive and my parents were going to have to make a lot of sacrifices for me to go. I had to really work hard to prove to them that I wanted to be there… I was at school from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. I played netball, I played tennis… I was in the choir and I really loved the experience.”


Q: Do you think that your experience in high school influenced you to become a teacher?

A: “I wanted to be a teacher from when I was little, I used to play school all the time. I think my cousin was victim to having the encyclopedia read at him.”


Q: Do you have any hobbies that you like?

A: I love reading, even though I know that sounds like it’s part of my teaching job, it isn’t. I love traveling. I enjoy coloring in, it’ s my big thing. When I lived in South Africa I was a member of a community theatre organization… so anything to do with arts and creativity.”

Courtesy of Claire Federhofer
Claire Federhofer(center) with two of her previous students.

Q: Do you have a role model that inspires you for your job or anything in your life?

A: My dad. My dad is my role model, it’s his positive attitude. He believes that you should make happiness your first priority every day, that’s inspirational because that’s not always easy. He owns his own business and he has owned it for many years and so he’s persevering. When things are tough he stays on top of things.”


Q: How is teaching in the United States similar and different from teaching in South Africa?

A: “What’s similar is that often a teenager is a teenager wherever they are in the world. As much as they have shared different experiences, their histories are different, the way in which you’re able to get them engages and keep them interested in life can be similar. There are a lot of differences educationally but I think the biggest one that I’ve noticed is that in South Africa we have standardized education. As much as there are penultimate exams, that sort of you do pass or fail there is no big SAT. The pressure is not that high. And in South African getting a C and being an average student is great. You’re going to go to college on that and you can choose which college you go to. As much as there is pressure to be successful, because obviously everyone wants to be, having a C is ok. And I think that’s tough for students here because they don’t believe that.”



Q: How do you try to get your tenth-grade students ready for their eleventh-grade English classes?

A: “I think it’s a lot about baby steps when you’re in tenth grade, even though they do come with a great skillset from ninth grade. The ninth-grade teachers really prepare them well but tenth grade for me is the year where you see the most growth. Students come in and they’re just experiencing things for the first time and they think they’ve got them all down and then they move up and really push themselves.”