When asked to describe what she does for students, Sara Schuman first wants to talk about what a Sage professor once did for her.
You see, while Sara is now director of academic support, as well as an adjunct professor, she was once a Sage student, Class of 1992. That’s how she arrived into the orbit of now retired Psychology Professor Syb Jennings, Ph.D.
“She was my mentor,” Sara says. “She was brilliant and compassionate, and she never stopped believing in me, and giving me the confidence I needed.”
Professor Jennings also stayed in touch with Sara. And after Sara had been gone from Sage for years, well into her career as an elementary school teacher, Professor Jennings called her back home, encouraging her to take on the challenge of running the new Academic Support office at Sage, and teaching at the college level.
Sara had her doubts, but not in the wisdom of her mentor. So, she took on the challenge, and has loved everything about the job. It’s allowed her, in her own way, to follow in the line of Professor Jennings. “I can’t be her,” Sara says. “But I can try to be at least a little like her.”
So, what is it that Sara does in these roles she has? Well, Academic Support offers tutoring for a variety of courses, as well as individual appointments with writing tutors. Sara coordinates and manages the program, and she tutors students in writing.
Her writing work is much more than talking about words and sentences. In these individual sessions with students, Sara also serves as something of a “life coach.” Good writing is about clear thinking, sound organizing and imaginative exploration, and it’s these kinds of conversations that make Sara’s day.
She also teaches writing courses, and a capstone course, “Women Changing the World.” She’s deeply ingrained in the Sage community, and it’s a community she’s so proud to be a part of.
“It’s easy to say you’re a small school,” she observes. “We’re more than that. We completely know our students. We take the time to know them, and help make them shine. A lot of schools say they do this, but we do it to a different degree. It’s not pretentious or showy. We just care.”
And in Sara’s mind, Sage students play a very important role in the power of this community to make good things happen. “We learn from our students,” she says. “They’re our teachers. They offer so many good ideas. They help us create approaches that are meaningful and fun. For all of us.”