Profile: Chelsea Koehler

“[Chelsea is] fabulous,” says math teacher Peter Lai. “She is so kind and has a good sense of the pulse of the Middle School…. She relates well to the kids of the Middle School and you can see it every day.”

Chelsea Koehler, is one of the English teachers for the 8th grade, but she has recently left for maternity leave to care for her new child, Hana Rose. The following is an interview that I did with her via email.

Izzy Rasmussen: What made you want to be an English teacher?

Chelsea Koehler: I really like stories and language, and so it is fun to share these things that I love with students. I think that reading and writing are really important venues for expressing oneself and for feeling connected to others, two really important (in my opinion) ingredients for being a happy and fulfilled contributor to society. One of my favorite things about teaching English is that, while we are learning specific skills such as how to analyze a metaphor or how to write descriptive prose, we also get to talk about big ideas that matter. I also enjoy how there can be more than one “right answer” to a lot of the questions put forth in class. I particularly love getting to read student writing, and how the content of class lets me really get to know so many layers of my students (I miss you guys!).

IR: What is it like having a new baby? How are your sons responding?

CK: Having a new baby is fun, overall. Babies are so funny! Hana hardly knows how to be human- she constantly looks surprised by everything. But, she does know how to snuggle, which is super sweet. The boys are doing well with her. My older son, Sam, was very excited and loves to kiss and hold her. Leo, who is three, was less psyched at the beginning but is warming up to her. They are definitely going to keep her life interesting.

IR: Where did the name “Hana Rose” come from?

CK: Hana Rose was our chosen girl name way back when we were expecting the first baby. Then, we sort of forgot about it (especially since we had two boys in a row). We couldn’t settle on a name for this baby for the longest time, and then we decided to go back to our first idea. We like how Hana Rose sounds (we pronounce Hana so that it rhymes with “iguana” but not “banana,” just to clear that up), and it also has a bunch of family meaning. My husband’s great grandmother was named Hannah (pronounced “Chana”). Also, his grandfather’s name was Hans, so Hana comes from both of those names. In the Jewish tradition, babies often get named in honor of a family member whose name starts with the same letter as their name. Hana’s middle name, Rose, was my paternal grandmother’s name, and it just so happened that my husband’s grandmother, and both my maternal grandparents all had names that began with R. That’s the story of Hana Rose.

IR: How are your sons doing with having the new baby in the house?

CK: They love taking care of her and do a lot of aggressive cuddling. I say “be careful with the baby” about 100 times a day. It is sweet, though.

IR: What are your favorite activities? Why you like them?

CK: Let’s see. Between teaching and being a mom of little people, I don’t have a lot of time for activities of my choice, but there are a few that I squeeze in. Running is one of my favorite activities. When it isn’t cross country season, I usually run in the early morning before school, which means I get to see a lot of sunrises. I like running because that is when I think about things and clear my head out. Other things I enjoy include going to the Trolley Car for dinner with my family, and hiking in the Wissahickon or any other woodsy place.

IR: What is your favorite book? Why?

CK: This is such a hard question!! I don’t think that I can chose one most favorite book. Here are some books that I have enjoyed enough to read more than once: Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.


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