English teacher Anthony Hagmann

Q&A: New English teacher replacing Lauren LaMay trades Arizonan, Moroccan deserts for SCDS

Shimin Zhang
English teacher Anthony Hagmann

After teaching at Green Fields School (Tucson, Arizona), Desert Marigold Charter School (Tucson), Mesa Preparatory School (Mesa, Arizona) and the American School of Tangier (Morocco) for the past eight years, Anthony Hagmann has replaced eighth- grade English teacher Lauren LaMay, who died unexpectedly in July.


Q: Where are you from?

A: I was born in St. Cloud, Minnesota, grew up in Mesa, Arizona, and (have gone) to many different places since then.


Q: Did you learn a lot from going to those different places?

A: Oh yeah, absolutely. Each of the places I have been to is very different. I went to school in New York after growing up in Arizona, so that was an incredible transition. One of the first things that I remember was just people in New York City walking so much faster than I was ever used to doing, and sort of trying to play catch-up, realizing that the city was going to be really busy.


Q: Did you go anywhere this summer?

A: This summer, no, I did not really have a chance to travel too much. Early in 2016, I had the chance to actually visit a cousin in the Bay Area.


Q: Why did you decide to pursue education?

A: Both my parents were educators. They also emphasized education, probably as much as any parents could, so the value of it was always clear to me. I think I was also just a natural learner and someone who wanted to communicate their ideas to other people.


Q: What other grades have you taught before?

A: I’ve taught everything from seventh to 12th grade.


Q: Which grade did you like the most?

A: That is a tough one. I think that I really enjoyed 10th grade. That’s really kind of a special year. I think in 10th and 11th for most students, there’s an additional transformation that takes place. As a teacher, you can do things with them that you really cannot do with ninth grade (in comparison).


Q: What was your last school like?

A: (Green Fields) in some ways was similar to this school, but the high school was kind of struggling in terms of enrollment. It was a school that was really hit hard by the recession. Green Fields was actually a Country Day School. Just recently, they have taken the “Country Day” out of the school.


Q: Why did you switch to Country Day?

A: I accepted this job because it was an incredible opportunity, and a lot of the good things that I was looking for in the Tucson position, I saw here.

I am teaching eighth-grade English, Film Studies (and) the book club in the first semester.


Q: What do you like about the school so far?

A: (SCDS) has an emphasis on education that is really not found in other local schools. And definitely the collegiality – (I’m) extremely impressed (by) how giving people have been in their time, their background and just wanting to help me fit in and become a better teacher.


Q: What changes are you making to the curriculum?

A: Not too many. Because Ms. LaMay passed away (in) the summer, many of the students (had) already ordered books or prepared certain titles.


(Photo by Hagmann)
English teacher Anthony Hagmann snapped a photo of the early morning sun in Yosemite when he took a trip in spring 2016. Hagmann was hired to fill former teacher Lauren LaMay’s position after she died earlier this year.

Q: You mentioned you taught in Morocco. How was that experience?

A: Morocco was incredible! It was challenging on some levels because I did not speak the language (Arabic). But I really wanted to teach history outside of college, and I was given (the) chance to teach everything from Moroccan history to European history, which I did not know as well as U.S. history.


Q: How long did you teach in Morocco for?

A: I taught (high school) in Morocco for three years right after I graduated from college.


Q: Where did you live in Morocco?

A: (Tangier), which is just across from Spain.


Q: What was it like?

A: It was an interesting experience. Tangier is a pretty busy port city, so there were a lot of different people. There was a tremendous amount of diversity in Tangier.


Q: Did you feel different when you returned to the U.S?  

A: I think my understanding about what it meant to live in another culture (grew) even though I was still an American and an expatriate. I had a much better understanding of just what a non-American life has to offer as well. I had a glimpse into some of that.


Q: What was your favorite part teaching there?

A: My favorite part was (how it was) an incredibly collegial bunch of teachers. There was a lot of interest in what we were doing and a real ethic of sharing (and) learning from one another. And the students, I thought, were also very creative.


Q: What hobbies do you have outside of teaching?

A: I love current events. I am very interested in what is going on in the world, and I have been since I was in high school. (I’m also) very interested in athletics and sport – (I’m a) novice NBA fan.

Mostly I play things like soccer – indoor soccer in particular – and basketball. I (also) like to run, and I like hiking.


Q: What is your favorite TV show?

A: This might sound very teacher-like but “Charlie Rose.” A lot of the recent stuff I haven’t really watched as closely.


Q: Describe yourself in three words:

A: I am definitely a reader. My background is in history, so (I would call myself a historian). I would also call myself an athlete and a teacher.

By Keshav Anand

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