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Sarah Goldstein has an adventurous spirit: She likes to “try things that scare me a little bit.”
When she spotted an aerials set-up on a trip to New York City, she gave climbing silks and trapeze a go and signed up for classes when she was back in Durham. A fear of performing led her to take dance classes and perform before an audience in dance recitals. And if she sees a zip line on a vacation trip, she’s ready to hop in the harness.
An enthusiasm for adventure and a love of trying something new and challenging herself serve Goldstein well in her roles as Durham Academy’s Extended Day enrichments coordinator and pre-k teaching assistant. She has worked with the Extended Day program since 2011 and just this year added Preschool teaching assistant to her responsibilities.
“One thing that influences my work here is as a kid I always went to the Y after school and did summer camp, day camp a lot. … You spend a lot of time with the counselors and they become important people in your life and you grow to like those people. I know I always benefited from that kind of thing while my parents worked. It was good to have something to do.”
The first-graders Goldstein worked with when she joined DA’s Extended Day program are in their last year of Middle School now. “That’s how I remember when I started, that’s how many years I’ve been here. It is crazy to see them grow up, and it makes you realize how fast time goes. It is nice really knowing kids all their years at the Lower School compared to teachers who only get them in first grade and don’t get to see them as much anymore. The kids I knew as pre-k students are in sixth grade now.”
Goldstein enjoys her new role as a pre-k teaching assistant, and says it’s very different from her after-school work. “When kids come to Extended Day, it’s free time — you’re not trying to get them anywhere at a certain time, you’re not trying to rush through an activity. I like being in the classroom and getting to see that side of kids. Being with kids all day, that’s the main reason I like this job.
“Seeing them smile, there’s nothing else like it. You develop these special bonds with kids because you are spending time with them and want them to be happy and safe here.”
Goldstein grew up in Raleigh, the oldest of three children in a close-knit family. She took six years of Latin at Martin Middle School and Broughton High School, then switched to French when she got to UNC-Chapel Hill.
“Language was my first love, but I just didn’t see myself going anywhere with Latin so I thought French would be better.”
A French major, she spent the fall semester of 2007 studying at Montpellier, in the south of France, and then returned after graduation and taught in a small town in the Jura Mountains.
“That was a great time, just getting to live in France. It was the first time I’d been away from home for a long time. It taught me that I could rely on myself and do a lot of things by myself and I’d be fine. It was nice to see what it’s like to be a foreigner in a place and know how that must feel. Culture-wise, it’s just so different over there. Everything is so old. The food was amazing and getting to use the language.” Goldstein still knows French but says she hasn’t practiced as much as she should to keep fluent.
Foreign language is among the many after-school enrichments available for students from Preschool through Middle School. Goldstein coordinates a group of 35 instructors, many of whom also teach at DA during the regular school day.
Aerials, trapeze and dance are Goldstein’s “enrichments.” She has taken gymnastics, aerial and trapeze classes at Triangle Circus Arts and music video choreography at Ninth Street Dance, including a Thriller workshop the weekend before Halloween.
Goldstein, her husband, two dogs and two cats live in a cabin on 80 wooded acres by a lake outside of Chapel Hill. They keep busy with their pets and are planning a three- to four-week trip to Southeast Asia for this summer. Their place is only five minutes from town, but seems a world apart geographically.
“When I get home from work, something I think about is a positive thing that happened with a kid — I think just seeing them smile, laughing with them, hearing how honest they are about a lot of things. You build such close relationships with them. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t have kids yet that I appreciate it more, and I don’t have to take them home! That’s probably what keeps me here.”