Urban teachers experience massive baby boom


Ariane Goldsmith

Laura Hawkins, Raina Mast, and Sarah Clowes show off their baby bellies.

Ariane Goldsmith, Staff Writer

In the past two years at Urban, five teachers have had babies and four more are currently expectant parents: Raina Mast, Laura Hawkins, Sarah Clowes, and Joe Skiffer. Urban has always been supportive of developing families, but the school’s recent baby boom is unprecedented.

“The fact that there are three of us this year is bizarre,” said Hawkins, math department chair. “I think that Urban is a good school to work at if you’re pregnant or thinking about starting a family because of the trimester system. I really appreciate that I can take a term off and then come back and my classes aren’t different than how I would want them because a sub started the year.”

With Urban’s schedule mirroring that of a pregnancy, it seems like having kids and building families is encouraged. But it also requires more than just scheduling.

“I think a lot of it is the age and feelings of stability,” said Margot Schou, math teacher, whose son, Oliver, was born last year.

“Being a teacher provides some breathing room in family planning since this career allows time with a newborn during the summer,” said Mast, Spanish teacher and Urban Legend advisor. “That month and a half is free of the fear, guilt, and huge financial consequences that can come with missing work outright.”

According to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing of California, maternity leave qualifies a pregnant person for up to four months of disability leave, which can be used during or after pregnancy. The employee must be disabled by their pregnancy, and can leave for “prenatal care, severe morning sickness, doctor-ordered bed rest, childbirth, recovery from childbirth, or any related medical condition.”

“The administration is definitely really supportive of teachers and because I’m having twins, we’re not exactly sure how long I’ll be able to stay,” said Hawkins. “The administration is like, ‘It’s fine, whatever you need is fine. We’ll handle it.’”

As well as Urban’s administration, students and other faculty members have responded very positively to the soon-to-be baby Blues.

“My students were very supportive and many have shared in my excitement by helping me come up with names,” said Mast, who eventually chose “Crawford” after the San Francisco Giants shortstop. “My colleagues have been so wonderful by offering me extra food, loaning me their baby gear, and even organizing an office baby shower brunch.”

“My advisees have been particularly sweet and adorable about it,” said Clowes, science teacher.

“Other parents on staff have given me advice,” Hawkins said. “And students have been really nice. They definitely don’t want to pry, but it is this really personal thing physically in their face.”

Some new and soon-to-be parents mentioned that because teachers are around kids all day, their jobs have given them a lot of practice with teaching and communicating with children. Emotional, academic, and general support are part of their job descriptions as both teachers and as parents. Being in these two positions simultaneously can change one’s perspective on his or her students and shape his or her role as teachers. The intersections can make it easier to empathize with parents worrying about their child’s education and also influence a teacher’s parenting techniques.

“I think about how frank I want to be with my kids,” said Hawkins. “My husband is black so my kids are biracial and a lot of conversations I’ve had with students about race, ethnicity, and social justice in the world has given me some practice with conversations that I’m going to have to start having with my kids much earlier than I’ve had to have with (students).”

Schou said, “I look at high school kids and think, ‘Okay. You’re someone’s child.’ And I had never looked at my students that way before. Someone has watched them grow up from a being as young as my son is to how independent and mature as they are right now. I’m really excited to watch my son go through the journey my students have gone through.”