Laura Gates ’14

Laura Gates ’14 works as an Elementary teacher and Librarian, focusing primarily on social emotional learning through parallel play.
“I can’t stress enough how much I felt prepared, honestly - academically or otherwise for college. So many of my friends and classmates at Penn State really struggled academically, and I felt so overwhelmingly lucky for my WFS education.”

Laura Gates ’14 graduated with honors from Penn State University in 2018 with her degree in Sociology. During her time in Happy Valley, she was a member of the National Honors Society of Dance Arts, the Penn State Outing Club, and the Penn State AURORA Outdoor Orientation. Laura, a Schreyer Scholar while at Penn State, continues to work as an Instructor for Penn State’s AURORA program in the summers, leading their orientation classes for first-years students with an embedded backpacking course. 

Upon graduating from Penn State, she continued her love for the outdoors and began working as an Expedition Instructor for the Philadelphia Outward Bound School. After four years of training future leaders through her work with the Philadelphia Outward Bound School, Laura transitioned careers and moved to New Hampshire where she started working at the East Meadow School. At East Meadow — a trauma informed day treatment school whose therapeutic model is developed from components of multiple, evidence based frameworks — Laura works as an Elementary teacher and Librarian, focusing primarily on social emotional learning through parallel play and learning through exploration and experimentation. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Laura will be pursuing her Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Special Education at the University of Vermont next fall. 

Reflecting on her transition to the world of teaching, Laura notes, “I just really like working with young people. My students genuinely make me laugh every day. Although there are plenty of times that I get frustrated with them and things don’t go as planned, I still get excited to come to school every day. And it’s nice to think that just by showing up and providing a safe environment, I am doing enough. I also really love working for an independent school because I have so much room for creativity in lesson planning. My principal has been extremely supportive and flexible in making sure I can meet students’ needs.” 

Prior to her time at Penn State, Laura was a WFS student. During her time at WFS, Laura was the Prism clerk, a member of the Peace and Ecology Club, and an IB Diploma student. Her advice to the Class of 2023? “Don’t ask for permission. It’s so freeing to live without feeling like you need affirmation from others to do what you want to do - plan the trip and go even if no one else is interested, apply for the job even if you don’t perfectly match the requirements.”

Good luck at Vermont and keep up the great work, Laura! 

WFS Alumni Spotlights

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