Even before she majored in psychology at Princeton, Cory Terry ’04 was on a path toward becoming a school psychologist, thanks to influence of her high-school psychology teacher and her elementary-school guidance counselor. But Terry also pursued her teaching certification, through the University’s Program in Teacher Preparation. Her experiences in Teacher Prep — in particular, her semester of student teaching — changed her career outlook.
“I was able to see how deep of a connection you have with your students,” Terry says.
After graduation, she returned home to South Jersey and started teaching middle school and coaching field hockey. Her work at Ocean City Intermediate School eventually brought her back to Princeton, where she was one of four outstanding New Jersey secondary school teachers honored at Commencement June 6.
Terry, who teaches science to 7th- and 8th-grade students, “models reliability, punctuality, organization, academic growth, and service to the community,” according to Geoff Haines, principal of Ocean City Intermediate School, who helped to nominate her for the award. Terry passes that praise along to her family: Her mother, step-father, step-mother, and an uncle all were teachers. “I looked to all the things they had done for their students,” she says. “That was kind of a norm in my life, to see that modeling from my family.”
Terry has found a niche with middle-schoolers because she appreciates both their youthful excitement for education and their ability to explore more complex topics, often for the first time. Her personal interests lie in biology and ecology (she traces her fascination with the natural world back to her childhood explorations, climbing trees, and watching bugs). But her curriculum spans a wide range of scientific disciplines, incorporating the Next Generation Science Standards, which aim to make science and engineering education more engaging. “It’s nice to see that shift from the textbook to being more creative,” Terry says. “They’re given a lot more freedom to explore … and it’s amazing what they come up with when they’re given that freedom.”
At Princeton, Terry (then Cory Picketts) captained the field hockey team as a senior and helped the Tigers win Ivy championships in all four years. As coach at Ocean City High School, she’s led her teams to six South Jersey titles and three state titles.
The takeaway from Princeton that has meant the most to her as a coach, she says, is not any on-field strategy or skill. It’s “the mindset of the complete person” — the understanding that the ideal player is not just an athlete or a student but both, and more, taking an active role in serving the community.
In addition to Terry’s teaching honor, a handful alumni received recognition during the Commencement festivities. Anne Holton ’80, the former first lady and former secretary of education of Virginia, delivered the Baccalaureate address June 4. And four alumni were selected as honorary members of the Class of 2017: Bryant Blount ’08, assistant dean of undergraduate students; President Eisgruber ’83; Ann Halliday *78, associate secretary and special assistant to the president, and special assistant to the dean of the college in the Office of the Vice President and Secretary; and the late author F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was a member of the Class of 1917.