#HumansofImpactHub Sarah King

BY KATE LUCAS

 

 

 

“When I was a kid, I wanted to be Josephine March from Little Women, the novel by Louisa May Alcott. I dressed up like her for Halloween—in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. Or, I dressed how I thought she looked, based on the book, like, I’m a dork lady writer from the 1860s. I really, really loved her. I did not end up becoming a groundbreaking author like Jo March, but I did feel a weird connection with her. She had a big family. I did, too. She had an adventurous spirit and was a very curious person. I’m not sure I’ve always matched that, but I’ve always really admired those qualities.”

Sarah King loves books and stories of all kinds, and she tries to fit reading into every day. She also finds ways to do some storytelling herself, though hers are true ones. “A big part of my work is trying to capture and amplify other people’s stories, the teachers I support, when they are doing good work by kids.”

Sarah trains and supports teacher trainers for Teach for All which supports education entrepreneurs around the world developing similar education programs, tailored to their own culture and context. Sarah loves the diversity of perspectives celebrated and encouraged through her work. “Amplifying voices of people who aren’t often heard, people who are often ignored, is something I’ve always been interesting in doing. I was a history major in college and studied the history of power, uncovering some of the voices of people who aren’t just the great white dead men of yore. So I like being in the role of sharing other people’s stories.”

Another story of Sarah’s does come from her own experience, but it amplifies the larger story of our culture’s difficult relationship with death and dying—and the people who are helping change that. “My dad passed away last spring. He had heart and lung disease, and because it was a really slow illness, we didn’t talk about it for a long time. Even though I’d go with him to every appointment, it was just so slow we didn’t acknowledge what was happening in an explicit way.” When her dad started to get really sick, Sarah read a book called Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, which gave her the language for our culture’s strange relationship with death. “There’s this sense in the medical community that death is something you defeat until you die. There’s still this massive discomfort with dying. But the book helped me to think about palliative care. Our doctor, while he was great, wasn’t talking about these things. He was kind-of kicking the can down the road.”

Sarah and her family found a Hospice service called Journey Care that made a very difficult three months much easier, she says. “My dad died at home, a few months after he admitted that he was terrified to die in a hospital. Work was really flexible with me, and my mom and I could care for him 24 hours a day. In retrospect, it really was an inspiring time, because I felt like I was facing a problem head on—and people responded to it. It was just a privilege to be there and take care of my dad when he died. My dad and I had such a good relationship, and I miss him so much. But it has softened the grief a bit, to have been there. All because of this organization. They literally brought in a harp player the day he died. Research shows that it calms you, your heartbeat and breathing. And all afternoon, his heart rate and lung exertion was perfect. To be able to provide that level of service is just incredible.”

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