Sofia is a senior and is Editor-In-Chief of the Globe this year. She started Globe because she is interested in writing and exploring different issues in the Clayton community....
Erica Whitfield is an incoming English teacher at Clayton High School
October 14, 2020
“I became an English teacher because I enjoy sharing literature with students. I enjoy exposing them to things that they normally wouldn’t read. And I enjoy writing a great deal… I think that combining the two as a career is like a match made in heaven,” said incoming CHS English teacher Erika Whitfield.
Whitfield has been an English teacher for eight years. She taught in St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) for six years and then at the Archdiocese of St. Louis for two years. But this fall will be Whitfield’s first time working with high school students.
“I’m really excited about working with high school students,” Whitfield said. “I’m really excited about talking about more relevant issues that are happening in the world today like talking about race issues, talking about gender issues, finding readings that really resonate with that and having some open dialogue about it.”
Despite her passion for teaching, Whitfield did not start out as an English teacher.
“[Before teaching] I worked in a corporate office at a grocery company, and I used to be a pricing analyst. So that’s a big difference from being a teacher. And I learned that my appreciation for literature and students weighs so heavily that if I didn’t do it I wouldn’t be okay with myself,” she said.
After transitioning to become a teacher, Whitfield was able to experience the bonding with students she had missed as a pricing analyst. Her favorite memory of teaching so far happened while she taught at SLPS.
“I once had a student who was really low in reading and he was embarrassed to try,” Whitfield recalled. “And so I really enjoyed working with him one-on-one to help him build his confidence. And then, probably about second semester, right when we came back from break, he raised his hand in class.”
I want students to know that I really pride myself on advocating for them”
— Erika Whitfield
While she hasn’t been able to teach this book in a class yet, Whitfield’s favorite novel is Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.
“I just enjoy the story just because Siddhartha is going through all of these different changes to become this enlightened person, which is kind of like who we all are as people trying to become our best selves.”
Although this school year will be unorthodox, Whitfield is excited to create systems to help students get as much of a normal classroom experience as possible online.
“I want students to know that I really pride myself on advocating for them. And I pride myself on allowing them to advocate for themselves.”