Name: Candace R. Thurman
Department: Social Studies
Year Started: 2004
Classes Taught: AP NSL Government, Connections
Education: B.A. in History and Education and a minor in French Area Studies (American University), Masters in Liberal Studies (Georgetown University)
Previous Jobs: Taught at Lycee Rochambeau (French International School) and at Walter Johnson, Coached field hockey at Walter Johnson
Hobbies: field hockey, swimming, sports in general, watching sports, literature, languages, reading
By seventh grade, she and her mom had decided. She was not going to be anybody's secretary. She was not going to be a waitress. And she was definitely not going to be a teacher. Yet Candace Thurman is currently finishing up her third year teaching at Blair after having taught for 23 years at Walter Johnson.
Thurman teaches two classes of AP NSL along with three sections of ninth grade Connections. She is not sure why she became a teacher, although she guesses it may be simply because she loves being around kids. Taking a variety of courses in college, Thurman was unsure what path to pursue so decided to also get a degree in Secondary Education as part of her graduation package. Once she started working, Thurman just decided to stay in teaching.
Growing up with her parents and her older brother in a small suburb in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Thurman was exposed to a diverse environment. "It was some rural, some government, some people working at community colleges and there were a lot of industries there." She not only lived in a mixed community, but also a mixed family. Her mom was from a white-collar family in the north, while her dad was from a very large family in the south.
In high school, Thurman was a fan of science. "I really liked marine biology and science," Thurman says with enthusiasm in her voice. She and other students in her school were planning on going on a field trip to Wallops Island, but her field hockey coach would not let her go as she was the team captain. Thurman thinks that had she gone to Wallops, she might have ended up in the science field.
Instead, Thurman took a different route. She went on to study at American University, where she acquired an undergraduate degree in History and Education and a minor in French Area Studies. She graduated with a Master's in Liberal Studies from Georgetown University.
Thurman anticipates that she will continue in education, teaching at least part-time even when she retires. Her hope, though, is to write and publish books. "I do like to write," she explains, "But it takes an awful lot of concentration and time and very few interruptions to get a good product out." Thurman has already written a book as part of her liberal studies degree. She does not remember exactly what the title was, but says the book focuses on coaching and different methodologies of coaches. "I looked at popular culture and I looked at social trends and government policies and how it shaped different coaching methods," she says.
Outside of school and teaching, Thurman is as an athlete. She swims, plays soccer and watches other sports. But field hockey is the sport that has dominated her life for the past 30 years. Thurman began playing in her junior high and moved on to be a team captain in high school. Now she passes on her love of field hockey to her students by coaching. "I coach field hockey and I played pretty extensively at a pretty high level," she says.
Thurman coached the Walter Johnson field hockey team for 24 years and the Junior Olympics field hockey team for about the past five summers. She currently coaches at the Academy of Holy Cross along with the Junior Olympics field hockey team. One of her most memorable years was 1989, when The Washington Post named her All-Met Coach of the Year. "That was a pretty special year," she recalled.
One of the most difficult things for her, Thurman says, is balancing life between being a teacher and a coach. But whether it is coaching field hockey or teaching AP NSL, Thurman likes seeing the look on people's faces when they come back to tell her they liked what she did or they learned something new. "It's much of the same thing," she says, "teaching and coaching and thinking about what you've done and how you've impacted [the children]." As for teaching, "my favorite part," Thurman says, "is learning myself."
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