Class Act: English teacher Sarah Jane Keegan


Grace Randall

Get to know English teacher Sarah Jane Keegan!

Russell Li and Noelle Alexander

In high school, Sarah Jane Keegan’s English teacher gave her an unexpected B on an English paper.

Keegan, a straight-A student, recalls that her shock at the grade sparked a chain of events that propelled her to become an English teacher over a decade ago. Keegan sought out her teacher, who informed her that her paper simply deserved a B.

Although Keegan was initially worried about her grade, she developed a passion for English after she put more time into the subject and thought more deeply about the literature she studied. Keegan attributes her teacher’s tough love mentality to her increased love of the subject, and she strives to similarly inspire her students at SJS by provoking insightful discussions that enable students to develop and exercise critical thinking.

“He taught me how to write and think about the power of words differently,” Keegan said. “The very best teachers take you seriously and treat you like you can handle the truth.”

Immediately after graduating high school, Keegan dove into studying English, with the intention of passing her knowledge down to her own students. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Master of Education degree in literacy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

After finishing her education, Keegan taught English for 13 years and served as English Department Chair for 8 years at St. David’s School in Raleigh, North Carolina. In her courses at St. David’s, Keegan focused on analyzing and loving literature and teaching writing.

In her previous job, Keegan worked with current Head of Upper School Hollis Amley, the former Assistant Headmaster at St. David’s. After Amley moved to St. John’s, the two kept in touch.

According to Keegan, hearing Amley’s reasons for moving to St. John’s piqued her interest, resulting in conversations between Keegan and Amley about the latter’s experience at the new school.

“I just got to hear all about the wonderful teachers, students and community at St. John’s,” Keegan said. “Eventually, I decided to pursue it for myself and applied.”

Keegan has easily transitioned to St. John’s, and she has loved the opportunity to work more closely with a team of teachers on elements such as planning out curriculum.

“I’ve really enjoyed the team approach,” Keegan said. “It makes for a stronger curriculum as we have many different minds weighing in on the best way to teach material.”

As an English I teacher, Keegan has enjoyed the enthusiasm at which both students and faculty have approached the subject. She believes that the atmosphere at St. John’s is conducive to authentic growth and a strong community.

“Speaking within the scope of the English Department, there is a desire to grow students as readers, writers and speakers, paired with a supportive faculty,” Keegan said.