Who Educated You?

Who educated you? Rarely is this question asked. Instead, questions focus on, “Where did you go to school?” It’s actually the teachers that made us who we are, not the walls that surround the classrooms.

Each of the TWB staff can share stories of inspirational teachers and how they shaped their career. I want to reflect on one of the wisest, most patient, and most inspiring educators that is a part of my story, Ann Pollina.

Ann was the Head of Westover School from 1997 – 2015 and served a total of 43 years as a dedicated teacher. Her accomplishments are countless, but the least quantifiable and most important has been the thousands of girls she motivated, believed in, and inspired.

No matter how busy she was as Head of School, Ann always made time to teach Advanced Placement Calculus BC. She ushered me and close to 20% of my classmates into her course believing (more than we did) that we were capable of mastering two semesters of college level math. At the end of the year, all but one classmate received the top national level score on the exam. I wasn’t even good at math, but somehow she inspired my success!

In a world where lack of self-confidence can be detrimental to success, Ann told us that we were valued, had skills to contribute, and were beautiful inside and out. She reminded us that the opportunities we had as students at Westover were not accessible to everyone. That women and girls across the world still struggle for human rights, access to education, and self-confidence (to name a few).

Ann reminded us that what we learned in the classroom was a gift we should share with the world - holding us to the highest expectation that we could solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. She fought to ensure we had the best and brightest opportunities and told us that we could fight for the same opportunities for others.

At TWB, we are fighting for women’s education. Ann Pollina inspired my fight.