I teach English and Latin, coach the varsity volleyball team, help advise the Christian Fellowship Club, and advise sophomore girls.
I knew I wanted to work at Thacher when
I felt something was missing while teaching at a day school—I wanted to be part of an institution that was set up to educate the whole person. Then I was offered the opportunity to come back to Thacher for Mully’s last year—you just don’t pass that up.
What my students call me
Just Ms. Popa, for now…but I’m actually also still just getting used to my name after getting married this summer!
Favorite Thacher teaching moment
You won’t believe me, but definitely the time that Mully [former Head of School] launched himself headfirst through my classroom window humming the Mission Impossible theme song. He then gathered himself, stood up, and demanded we “Ask him a question!” about what we were reading. It happened. Ask my juniors.
Since you asked me to brag, here are the professional accomplishments I'm most proud of
Surviving my junior year abroad at Oxford—intense one-on-one tutorials with brilliant professors, early morning rowing practices, 50 books read, and 300+ pages of essays written...
When not in the classroom I can be found
Throwing a tennis ball for my golden retriever, Scout!
Favorite job perk
Definitely a tie between Robin’s cookies (which are just as good as they were ten years ago!) and fresh raspberries and blueberries every morning in the Dining Hall.
Favorite place at Thacher
It’s cliche, but the Outdoor Chapel. Like the Grotto at Notre Dame, it’s a place that shocks me into stillness and reminds me to be humble in the face of things that are so much greater than myself.
Favorite place in my imagination
Mr. Keating’s classroom (from Dead Poets Society).
Favorite places on earth
The big reading chair in my childhood home, the waterfalls on the Havasupai Reservation, the Grotto at Notre Dame, the cobblestone streets of Oxford, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, and Blessed Gerard’s Children’s Home in Mandeni, South Africa. And just in general, mountain peaks. As my husband always says, “see you at the top!”
The book, movie, work of art, or piece of music I cannot imagine life without
The entire Great Books curriculum, because at a certain point in college, I started to appreciate that the greatest works of philosophy are all part of the same human conversation. At the top of the list: Plato’s Republic, Moby Dick, The Tempest, Ulysses, and The Brothers Karamazov.
When it comes to art, I’m partial to sculpture, especially the Sphinx, the Nike of Samothrace, the Pieta, and most things by Rodin.
What I wanted to be when I grew up (when I was 10)
A nurse, just like my mom, because it made her so incredibly happy to take care of others. I also thought about becoming a nun for a similar reason—all the ones I knew were so joyful.
What I want to be when I grow up (now)
There’s this incredible quote by Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” I want to be someone who’s found that place.