By Chase Commander ’21
Dr. Ansel Sanders ‘00 has returned to the Forest to teach in the English department. Dr. Sanders is extensively educated, having received a B.S. in English from Washington and Lee University in 2004, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University in 2006, a Master of Arts in School Leadership from Furman University in 2010, and a Doctor of Education Leadership from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in 2015.
After graduating from W&L, Dr. Sanders spent nearly two years as a Corps Member for an organization called Teach For America, a program in which recent college graduates commit to teach in under-resourced urban and rural public schools. Following his tenure with Teach for America, Dr. Sanders continued to teach in Baltimore City Public Schools. After spending several years as an administrative assistant at Mauldin Middle School in South Carolina, the Greenville County superintendent appointed him Director of the Founding Program. In that role, Dr. Sanders would help open the first institution in South Carolina with a school-wide engineering program, the A.J. Whittenberg Elementary School of Engineering. Whittenberg Elementary was the first new school to open its doors in Greenville in more than 40 years.
During this time, he was also appointed to plan a STEAM-oriented (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) middle school, now called Phinnize J. Fisher Middle School. In his most recent employment, Dr. Sanders served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Public Education Partners, an education think-tank, whose aim was to strengthen and advance students achievement in Greenville County Schools through innovative programming, researching, and advocacy.
Dr Sanders expressed that his experience at Woodberry as a student heavily influenced his decision to return as a member of the faculty. Also, he said that Mr. Ted Blain was instrumental in his decision to become an English major in college and then an educator after that. Dr. Sanders said that despite the many changes in rules and buildings and teachers, Woodberry has remained true to its purpose and values. His bright, energetic personality paired with his immense love for Woodberry makes him a perfect fit for this place.