Not everything is as it appears. When I learned that Connor Frame ’08 was a lower school teacher in London, I assumed he was following in the footsteps of his mom, Kathy Kearns Frame ’73, a now retired but dedicated teacher for many years at the Pittsford Unified Nursery School. Turns out, that while he has found fulfillment in his work, he never had any intention of pursuing a career in teaching.
Connor started at Harley in 6th grade, after his parents, Kathy and Scott Frame ’73 moved back to the Rochester area from Connecticut. The Frame family had moved a lot due to Scott’s work at Xerox and were planning to settle in the Rochester area to be closer to family, for the long term. Connor and his sister, Caitlin ’05 were definitely ready to stay put and stick with one school. Connor said his parents looked at some of the local public school options, but in the end, decided they wanted Connor and Caitlin to get the “Harley experience” like they did.
Connor loved Harley from the start, he said middle school was great, but upper school was even better. A main reason for that was his involvement on the HAC swim team. He started in middle school and continued through upper school, enjoying serious bonding time with coaches and friends. He had a strong connection with Coach Lorie Rick and Coach Peter Mancuso. Outside of athletics, he had several teachers that made an impact on him. Dr. Betsy Vinton, often called “Mr. Feeny” (from the show Boy Meets World) by the class, because she taught them for so many years, first Science in Middle School, then Geometry, Algebra, Functions, Statistics, and Trigonometry in Upper School. Connor said he had her as a math teacher throughout his time at Harley. She was a great influence on him and his classmates, even though he was not that great at math. Sidenote: Connor says teaching math to his primary students is now one of his favorite classes. History teacher, Bill Schara, opened Connors mind about the world and he recalls grand debates in class that “pushed the bounds of our thinking.” Dr. John Dolan was also a great influence. Connor had thought about pursuing a writing career due to the inspirational writing classes with Dr. Dolan, and the incredible English classes with Mr. Alex DeSantis and Ms. Kim McDowell, but his senior year, as he was thinking about college, his work with Bob Kane in the Harley Hospice class drew him to an interest in working in elder care. The hospice class trip to India later that year sealed the deal and he decided to major in Social Work at Skidmore College. Throughout college, he continued to volunteer in hospice homes and even had the opportunity to join Mr. Kane on another hospice trip, this time to South Africa, as an alumnus.
During college he interned at a nursing home and his interest in elder care work grew, but his first job out of college, working at a nursing home facility, was a little less inspiring. He didn’t have the best experience and he decided to reassess. Every summer through his teens and early 20’s, Connor worked as a summer camp counselor at a camp in Maine called Winona. He worked with 7-year old kids and he enjoyed it immensely. Over the years, he had been told my several people that he was a “natural” with the little kids and should think about becoming an elementary school teacher. Now, post college, he decided to take that advice and look into teaching.
Connor was living in New York City when he found a teaching assistant position at Success Academy Charter School and they had a program where you could teach and get your Master’s in teaching at the same time. Connor says it was a very stressful year, but in the end, it was worth it because he had a Master’s degree from Touro College and was prepared to take on a full-time teaching position.
Five years ago, he and his wife Becky moved to London, United Kingdom. Becky was going to school for her Ph.D. in Maternal Mental Health at King’s College and Connor was able to find a teaching assistant job at the American School in London. He was at the American School for three years working with children ranging from Kindergarten to 3rd grade. While he loved his job at the American School, Connor wanted a teaching position vs. teaching assistant position, so he saw an opportunity at the International Community School, moved there for one year, and then a job opened up for a full-time teacher at the American School. He went back and is now teaching primary students. I asked Connor if he was inspired at all by his mom and her teaching career and he laughed and said, “No, not really. It was kind of an afterthought that my mom was a teacher.” He says now he takes full advantage of her expertise and will often speak with her about child development, class room management, and other teaching tips. He says she is an incredible resource and he’s learning a lot from her.
Connor says he forgets sometimes how fortunate he was to experience the unique opportunities he was offered at Harley, but he was reminded the other week during a professional development day Zoom at school. The group was talking about work diversity and the various faculty experiences. Connor shared his experience with the Harley Hospice program and how oncoming death “brings down all barriers” in a human. His colleagues were pretty shocked to hear his story. In fact, he says, “It kind of blew their minds.”
Connor says that his experience at the charter school in New York City and London’s American School, a private institution, are quite different. He says despite 70% of the population of his current school being American, the other 30% is made up of a mix of students from all over the world. He said he teaches the full gamut of “regular” classes to his students (like math, science, English), but in addition to that, for the last four years he has also been teaching English as an Additional Language (EAL). Since some of his students do not know English all that well, he has to change his teaching style slightly, working more with pictures than words to ensure that students understand what he’s teaching. It’s been quite an experience.
Living in London has been a fantastic experience, but Connor says they will probably only stay there for a few more years, and then move back and live somewhere on the East Coast. He says his family and Becky’s family are there and that’s where they want to be.
He says this past year has definitely been different as a teacher due to the pandemic and he’s actually found the remote learning “rejuvenating” and a great challenge. Unlike the United States, teachers do not get a priority for vaccines in the United Kingdom. He’s hoping vaccines will become available by the summer and maybe he and Becky can come home and see the family. Those standing family Zoom calls on Sundays are great, but definitely not the same!