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Cathy Petrick


My first job out of college was teaching French at a small independent school in Colorado Springs where the school was housed in a mansion replica of “Le Petit Trianon” of Versailles. My classroom had chandeliers and marble fireplaces and gilt-framed mirrors. The experience was as magical as it sounds and I spent three happy years there, which is long enough when you’re not yet twenty-five years old and restless. So I moved on, following my boyfriend who would soon become my husband, and after floundering career-wise for a few years, became a park ranger in Yellowstone, which I also loved, especially in winter when the roads are snowed in and it’s so quiet and peaceful. While I shoveled snow, my husband sat alone in our cabin in the forest and finished his dissertation. Then he became a professor and moved to San Francisco to teach math. I was reluctant to leave Yellowstone but eventually did follow him when I found a job at Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

One good thing about being the spouse of a professor is that sometimes you get to take classes for free, and over time I completed my MFA in Creative Writing at the University of San Francisco. As soon as I finished my MFA, I gave birth to my first child (literally that soon — I attended my final meeting with my advisor while in labor). After my second child was born I quit my ranger job and became a stay-at-home mother for many years, which I enjoyed more than I thought I would. I appreciated being my own boss and setting my own goals, and I spent more time outside, in parks and in playgrounds, than I had as a park ranger.

When my kids were mostly grown, I went back to teaching. I earned my single subject credential in English from Sonoma State University and began teaching in public schools several years ago. I taught AP Language and Composition at El Cerrito High School, I taught ninth- through twelfth-grade English at an online charter school in Santa Rosa, and I taught Senior English at The Oakland School for the Arts. At The Marin School I teach non-fiction writing to juniors. I love TMS because of the beautiful campus that is perfect for nature-journaling in the spring, and I love TMS students (of course) and the small class-size. With small classes, I am able to get to know my students well and help them to become better readers, writers, and speakers.

Cathy Petrick


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