A day in the life of Kate Webster starts with a cup of coffee, a gorgeous pair of Louboutin’s left over from her time in the fashion industry and a classroom full of high school sophomores.
Webster is a “devoted” first year teacher and a “treasured” alumna of the Archer School for Girls, according to Director of the Upper School Samantha Coyne-Donnel.
Webster attended Archer as a student, starting in sixth grade.
“It was the only school I applied to,” she said. “My parents were planning to send me to the local public school when they heard about Archer and attended some meetings about it, and it was the only sort of thing that crossed my path.”
“I was really excited about it. I had to take my ISEE in the Dining Hall and it was so beautiful,” she said. “I felt like I was at Hogwarts.”
After graduating from Archer, Webster attended New York University.
According to the website of her previous job at Weathervane, she graduated from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Her coursework focused on media, fashion, art theory and French.
Webster explained in an interview that with this background, the combination made her most qualified to intern in fashion.
“My initial interests were more directed towards art or film… Elements of both of those things exist in fashion,” she said.
“I sort of fell into fashion by accident,” Webster said.
“I made a list when I was 19 of the things that were important to me because I wasn’t thinking fashion was doing it for me,” Webster said. “A lot of things on that list which still hold true to me today were learning and being around people and children and trying to make a difference in other people’s lives instead of dealing with 1700 dollar shoes.”
“I felt like I was either going to go down a road that, while glamorous or at least while appearing glamorous, was so unfulfilling,” she said. “While on the other side, I could have made a huge change, which is ultimately what I did.”
Maddie Marcus is Webster’s friend, former classmate and current colleague. She has known Webster since they were three years old.
“I always imagined [Webster] as a teacher,” she said. “Her decision to change careers from fashion to teaching took a lot of courage.”
Coyne-Donnel has known Webster since she was in eighth grade and acted as her dean for four years, working closely with her while she was on student council.
During Archer’s week-long Spirit Week celebration, Webster got on stage, alone, in front of the whole school for a lip sync competition.
[Webster] was so shy when she came to Archer, incredibly shy. She would never have gotten on that stage, in fact I don’t know if she would’ve gotten on that stage even in her ninth or 10th grade year but over time, I definitely saw that confidence evolve. She’s always been independent and I do see those qualities in her but I think the biggest gift that perhaps she got from Archer was that confidence,” Coyne said.
Arts Department Chair Tracy Poverstein taught Webster and directed her in productions for many years.
When asked to define an Archer girl, both Poverstein and Coyne shared similar sentiments.
“What I love about Archer girls is that there is not one type of Archer girl. They are quirky; they sort of embrace each other’s differences by the time they graduate,” Poverstein said.
“They don’t always necessarily come to Archer this way, but I think over time all Archer girls evolve to be confident, articulate, curious,” Coyne said. “[They are] passionate about learning, kind and yet fiercely independent and comfortable in their own skin to be an individual and to stand apart from the crowd.”
“I feel like I’m going to sound like such a cheese ball,” Webster laughed. “I would say the through line would be enthusiasm, tenacity, genuine intellectual curiosity and always having a smile on your face.”
As a new teacher, I’m coming to see that it is so much more than the content being taught. It’s about how to arrive at an understanding and that is so interesting to me as someone who is sort of new to this field and for me it’s been about trying to engage the students in a way that makes them excited about learning.” she said.