Meet the Unstoppable Kristen Scott of Archway Chandler

Archway Chandler July 13, 2023

Kristen Scott

Within only minutes of meeting Kristen Scott, the Assistant Headmaster at Archway Chandler, you know just how passionate she is about math, her scholars, and coaching new teachers. While her energy is contagious, you might be surprised to learn that this extravert has been through some hardships in life, attributing to her resilience and perseverance throughout her 24 years in education.

Scott’s family moved to Arizona from New Jersey after a doctor told her father that the air pollution in New Jersey was too much for his poor health. She said her father had been ill since she was five years old and was later diagnosed with cancer. After a decade of failing health, her father passed away when she was just 15 years old.

A middle child of six children (she is the third oldest), Scott found herself tutoring her brothers and sisters and various family friends since she was in third grade. “Math has always been a love for me since I was young,” said Scott. “I don’t know that I would say anything ever really came naturally to me, but I would definitely say that I was always very curious and loved how [math] was so objective. I appreciated the truth.”

When she went to college, she considered a career as an engineer.  She thought there was so much beauty in doing something like building bridges and it would utilize her mathematic skills. “But I had to think too about my desire for being social and for being able to connect with people, because I’m definitely not an introvert and I feed off of energy,” she said. “I just couldn’t see myself being in a cubicle all day and not being able to connect with others.”

Kristen Scott

That desire for connection led her to consider education. “I was an RA in college as well and there was a little aspect of teaching and mentoring in those conditions.” She got her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in math and then went on to get her master’s in mathematics education.

Scott taught junior high, high school, and college students for 15 years but became disillusioned by the emphasis placed on testing, teaching to the tests rather than shaping hearts and minds and making any significant difference in the lives of her students. “I actually even considered leaving education.”

She began teaching fourth grade at Archway Chandler when a family member recommended that she look into teaching at Great Hearts. Scott found that the mission of Great Hearts lined up well with her personal philosophy of teaching. “I didn’t know it was an option to have leadership and administrators that trusted you and allowed you to really make decisions for your class and the culture that were aligned with my beliefs and my values, and that’s what I found here.” Scott knew she was ready for leadership and soon became the Math Specialist and joined the leadership team at its inception. After seven years teaching fourth grade, she took the job of Dean of Students before becoming the Assistant Headmaster last year. Scott has a focused passion for supporting, coaching, and raising up new teachers.

“My current position allows me to be in the classroom as far as the coaching aspect goes. It allows me to still connect with students. If there is a certain class that might need a little more guidance or if there is a teacher or a student that needs a little extra help, I participate in their classrooms. I feel like I’ve done a nice job of continuing to build our community by choosing to hang out in classrooms, step in when a teacher is out, or when a teacher wants something demonstrated. I have a lot of students who would recognize me as one of their teachers even though I don’t spend every day in their classroom. “I would say one of my greatest accomplishments was finding a community that really fostered my strengths.”

“Last summer, Leanne Fawcett (Executive Director of Lower Schools in Arizona) asked me to step in for her to give the Growth Mindset speech to all of the new faculty at NFO (New Faculty Orientation). I know that maybe sounds mild, but that feels like an accomplishment to me to be the person that she thought of to take her place, because I know that means there’s an immense amount of trust.” Scott used the opportunity to tell her story of how she got here and her growth mindset throughout all of it.

During her speech, Scott also recalled difficult hardships she experienced in her life while teaching at Archway Chandler. “I was teaching here when it all happened, and it was through COVID. It was 2020 when COVID hit.” The challenge of teaching hybrid was a lot for any teacher to manage, but she wasn’t prepared for what came next. “In September, on my 44th birthday, my mother and my stepfather were sent to the hospital to be treated for COVID. In October, my mom passed away due to COVID and two months later, so did my stepdad of 27 years.”

“This community [at Archway Chandler] was absolutely incredible through that, because I don’t know that I could have managed all of those things anywhere else. There was just so many different hardships hitting me but losing both of my parents in a matter of two months while navigating some students at home and some students at school. It was really tough, but we did it.”

Scott continues to share her strengths and vulnerabilities through her years of experience with new teachers and colleagues. “One of my biggest strengths is training others and helping them, you know, kind of navigate the whole teaching world.”

Kristen Scott skydiving

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