In Greenwich Village there is a new, state-of-the-art high school that is nestled among parts of New York University and Cooper Union. It has a college vibe of independence combined with a warm feel of community. It is the new High School division of the Grace Church School (which was founded in 1894). Walking through the halls during the break period, one sees students sharing music with one another on their computers, talking quietly amongst themselves, or spending their lunch making last-minute touches on an art project. Among the faculty of this fascinating new school is a Trinity alum, Claire Bigelow Nalley ’83. She wears several hats serving as an advisor, elective supervisor, and French teacher. Not only is she teaching French, but she is working on creating the new curriculum for the discipline. Nalley says of the school’s vision, “I feel fully supported every day by school administration and fellow teachers. This place is different, really, from other NYC independent schools because it is focused on community and a sustainable global view on the world.” Before teaching at the Grace Church School, she was at The Chapin School, also in Manhattan, where she is also an alum. Nalley feels that teaching and education in general is all about a balance. She says, “we’re not paperless, but we have iPads. It is about the learning not about labeling our methods”
Nalley explored other career fields before becoming a teacher. She spent a decade in Paris working for the International Herald Tribune, A&M International Records, and Euro Disney during the Grand Opening. Despite her impressive and varied career, she is thankful for her experiences and says she brings what she learned to the classroom. Nalley says of teaching, “it was immediate gratification from the second I started, and I haven’t stopped feeling that way.”
At Trinity she majored in English and wanted to write. Since her Trinity experience, she has maintained great friendships. She shares, “My Trinity friends are an incredible group of people that have followed me over the last 30 years. Through times of great tragedy, it was Trinity friends who rallied around me and served as my foundation.” Nalley seems perfectly suited for her role teaching and advising high school students. She says an important constant through her post-college life has been her Trinity family. Paradise isn’t lost when you graduate, it’s found.