Alumni Spotlight

Stephanie Briggs, '64, MA '65

Stephanie Briggs is one of five School of Education graduates who played women's basketball at Stanford. As part of the GSE's centennial celebrations, the GSE and Stanford Athletics spotlighted these alumnae players -- Briggs; Mary Ann Somerville '65, MA '66; Judy Griffith, ’86, MA ’88; Clare Bodensteiner ’06, MA ’07; and Jessica Elway Delgadillo, ’08, MA ’09 -- at Maples Pavilion during the Jan. 26, 2018 game against Arizona State. 

Basketball then was half-court, nothing like it is now. But I appreciate the gesture of being recognized as a player. I remember playing with Mary Ann Somerville, who was a year behind of me both in undergrad and at the School of Education. We called her “Captain.” 

As student teachers at Stanford, we had full responsibility for two secondary-school classes for the entire year. It was a long time ago, but I recently had an opportunity to reflect on it. I just visited retired Professor Dwight Allen, director of teacher education in what is now the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP), as he was recovering from surgery near my home in Colorado. He was unusual in that he got all his degrees at Stanford and then joined the faculty. He did a lot of work in southern Africa and in China, setting up teacher education programs. His son lives near me and teaches at Denver University business school. Dwight and his wife moved here to be near them.

Dwight didn't remember me, but, you know, I was one of maybe 120 students in his classes for only part of a year. But we picked up just as if it had been no time at all. It was interesting to hear what he had to say about his career. He told me his goal had been to change classroom teaching and he failed at it. 

I myself was not a lifelong teacher. I taught for a short time and then went into science. Computer programming at first; then I went to UC Davis and got a PhD in nutrition. I taught at Kansas State University and did nutrition research. Most recently, I was asked to teach a couple of classes on controversial topics in nutrition for OLLI, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. 

Was there transfer of skills from STEP to the rest of my life? I think probably. I think I was probably not the right temperament for classroom teaching. I wanted to be part of it, but I thought I needed to be the expert. I could prepare up to the minute before class and never feel ready. It didn’t lead to a happy life. 

Lately, I’ve been doing pastels. I go to the Art Students League of Denver every Monday for open studio. I’ve really been enjoying that. There’s a faculty member who comes in … and he’s SUCH a teacher. He can’t resist if you ask for advice. 

As for me, every time I go into teaching, it’s the same thing. It takes up all my life. I’ve never learned to let go and trust in my ability and the students’ abilities. So I’ve done lots of different things in my life other than teaching. But I keep coming back.