A class would seem meaningless if the teacher, through his or her experiences and interests, could not relate to the subject matter. Perhaps, for this reason, Mrs. Claire Van Zant is so well placed in her job as a humanities teacher.
"I have lived. I have seen. I have suffered." Mrs. Van Zant confirmed.
Born and educated in Great Britain, Mrs. Van Zant has led a unique life.
In 1967, Mrs. Van Zant received two letters from the Rochester School District asking her to teach at the high school for one year. She was somewhat familiar with the Rochester area, because a year earlier, a Rochester teacher stayed with her in Britain. She replied and came to Rochester with the intention of staying one year. One year turned into two, and then she met her husband-to-be. Her presence at Mayo in 1982 reveals the rest of the story.
Mrs.Van Zant comments, "One must adapt to the requirements of society."
Rochester does not offer the cultural activities and traditions that Britain did. While in Britain, Mrs. Van Zant participated in a group titled the "Anonymous Players." Mrs. Van Zant acted in and directed the plays. Her efforts resulted in high quality performances.
In Rochester, Mrs. Van Zant is still intensely interested in drama, especially classical plays. She has acted in and directed plays at the Civic Center. She has just finished researching and writing another libretto; a composer friend will set the writings to music.
"I like to write... to exercise my creative ability, explains Mrs. Van Zant. On October 24 at the Unitarian Church, Mrs. Van Zant was the guest speaker during an anti-nuclear rally.
Along with her activities, Mrs. Van Zant has recently purchased an oil painting set to experiment with that art.
Relating to the present, Mrs. Van Zant believes teaching humanities to students "brings them down to earth . .. to think post-graduation . . . and to consider the reality of life."
"There are lessons to be learned from the plays. Yet, there is more drama in real life. The classes make the students think in different directions, beyond the usual," continues Mrs. Van Zant.
Compared to Mrs. Van Zant's earlier experiences, her life at Mayo may not seem as appealing to an outsider viewing the situation.
"I am a teacher, because I wanted to teach," declares Mrs. Van Zant with a satisfied smile, as she pats a letter on her desk from a former student.