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Aylett alums return as teachers

This fall Aylett Country Day School has three alumnae who have returned to teach at the school. From left are JoJo Elliott McKinley, ‘78; Sarah Copeland, ‘00; Sarah Richards France, ’97.

“Along with alumni parents enrolling their own children in the school, one of the most genuine compliments and highest forms of validation that can be placed on a school may be to have its alumni return and teach there,” says Aylett Country Day School Alumni Director Judy Allen. 

This fall three Aylett alums are back at Millers Tavern in classrooms, but they are looking at things from a somewhat different point of view.  They are back this time as teachers. 

JoJo Elliott McKinley graduated from Aylett in 1978 and went on to St. Margaret’s School and the University of Richmond and was a member of the Baptist Student Union and the University Choir. 
McKinley decided early on to become a teacher because she said, “I wanted students not to be afraid of math. I wanted my love of math to give them the confidence to learn.”

Before coming back to Aylett, she taught math at Rappahannock High School and St. Margaret’s School. About five years ago, she returned to Aylett and has done everything from teaching pre-algebra, physical science, and computers to coaching soccer and chaperoning the Sheridan School Mountain Campus trip for eighth graders.

McKinley’s daughter, Rebecca, is a graduate of Aylett and a student at St. Margaret’s and her two younger children, Elizabeth and Alden, are current Aylett students. 

In addition to teaching, McKinley is the current president of the Aylett Country Day School Alumni Association. 

Now in her second year of teaching third grade at Aylett, Sarah Richards France from the Class of 1997 graduated from West Point High School in 2001. She received a BS degree in liberal studies from Longwood College where she was a cheerleader, member of Alpha Sigma Alpha, and Special Olympics volunteer. 

France, too, decided to become a teacher at an early age as she explained, “As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a teacher. My brother and I played school when we were young. I was always the teacher. I love interacting with the children now and seeing their faces light up when they get it.”

Regarding her affection for the school, France said, “As a student at Aylett, I formed many close friendships that I still cherish today. Even though you graduate and your class moves on to different high schools, the friendships you gain at Aylett are ones that stay with you for your entire life.”

Sarah Copeland is returning this fall as athletic director and coach as well as physical education and health teacher for grades 3-8. After graduation from Aylett in 2000, Copeland went on to St. Margaret’s School and Frostburg State University where she received a BS degree in recreation and parks management with a concentration in adventure sports (kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and team building.)

She was the university representative for the Adventure Sports Program and worked at Wisp Ski Resort as the Assistant to the Director of Operations.

Visibly enthused about being back, Copeland said, “Aylett has always been like a second home to me, so I could not be happier about being back here. Some things have changed, but a lot of things are the same.”

posted 09.25.2008

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