Meet Claire Sanchez

Jan 15, 2020 | Spotlight

Where's Claire? Look for the arrow! She's at home among these great students at George Elementary in Springdale, Arkansas.

Where’s Claire? Look for the arrow! She’s at home among these great students at George Elementary in Springdale, Arkansas.

Meet Claire

She invests her time helping young students who have been abused or incarcerated

Claire Sanchez’s ultimate goal—her life’s work as she calls it—is to design a school and curriculum that helps students coming out of severe trauma, abuse, and human trafficking to become strong, empowered members of their community who stop the cycle of violence.

Several personal experiences have shaped that plan.

Claire has worked with girls coming out of human trafficking and sexual abuse in a school in India. And for the past three years she’s worked with troubled students, many of whom had recently been released from a juvenile detention center in her hometown of Springdale, Arkansas.

“I have been able to see how these students are living in cycles of violence and poverty,” she said. “I even had one student this past week who mentioned he was the brother of a student I had three years ago who was shot in gang violence. Now he is his brother’s caregiver because this student’s legs were amputated due to this gang violence.”

For Claire, that discussion reaffirmed that violence and poverty are a cycle that education has the power to break.

Claire Sanchez, baby on her back“My goal is to stop the cycle of child abuse and generational poverty through education,” she said. “Teachers can facilitate grit, resilience and higher ordered thinking skills in many generations to come. I’ve seen it in Africa, India and Springdale.”

Claire is a graduate student at the University of Arkansas completing her Master of Arts in Teaching degree. The M.A.T. program enables Claire to teach in a real classroom—with experienced mentor teachers—before she has her own to lead. Claire was assigned to George Elementary in Springdale for her first semester, and she’s now teaching at Kirksey Middle School in Rogers.

“I am loving my internship,” she said. “Through my time at George, and now at Kirksey, I have learned so many different tools to better help my future students. This internship has increased my excitement to be a classroom teacher even more, which is incredible considering how excited I was before the program began.”

In addition to juggling schoolwork and volunteering, Claire works with her father running their dog training business.

Claire said being a student at the University of Arkansas has helped her learn that it’s better to focus not on the career you want as much as focusing on the problem you want to solve.

“What I really want is to leave a legacy beyond my lifetime that helps people for generations to come,” she said. “I don’t really care if people ever know my name. I just want them to be impacted for good through my actions. 

“When my time on this earth ends, I hope my fingerprints are everywhere, but my name is nowhere. That’s what I would consider a successful life.”

Has Claire inspired you to consider the  Master of Arts in Teaching program at the University of Arkansas? The program prepares students for rewarding teacher careers in kindergarten through 12th grade across multiple disciplines and grade levels.