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Sarah Rhymer Clayton

Animal Science Teacher at Brevard High School

Years as a Camper: I WISH!! (Sadly… never a camper)

Years as a Staff Member/Positions held: 6 years, Horseback Riding Director

Years as a Professional Staff Member/Positions held: 6 years, Director of Community Programs and Assistant Director of Extended Season

Current Profession and Title/Years in role: Animal Science Teacher at Brevard High School in Brevard, NC, 7 years

Can you provide a brief overview of your job responsibilities? 

I teach 9th-12th grade students at Brevard High School, a public school nestled in the mountains of Brevard, NC. I teach animal science classes that expose students to large & small animals in the agriculture world, as well as domestic pets such as dogs & cats. I have an outdoor classroom (a school farm) that houses over 40 animals such as cattle, goats, horses, pigs, and chickens. I also have a small animal lab in my classroom where we often host dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, rabbits…and anything else that has a fuzzy tail.  Students can become nationally certified as seniors in high school to be a Veterinarian Assistant by completing the course of studies in the Animal Science program. They work one-on-one with a licensed veterinarian to receive training so they can choose to get a job directly out of high school or continue their education in an animal science related field such as veterinary medicine.

Do you have any career advice for members of our Camp community?

The sky has no limit!!  Expose yourself to as many opportunities as possible to determine what you are truly passionate about.  Take risks, get out of your comfort zone, and do something where you can challenge yourself. 

What do you believe have been some of your greatest personal and professional accomplishments? Is there a goal toward which you are currently working?

I found my passion of working with youth at Camp, both in my role as HBR Director and as a full-time Director in Community Programs. The YMCA Youth & Government program that Sea Gull & Seafarer offers to students at Pamlico County High School is where I found my passion to work with high school students. I saw them grow in leadership, confidence, and even visit places (like downtown Raleigh) that they would have never experienced if not for what Camp had to offer outside their gates. The Community Programs that Camp offers to youth in and around Pamlico County is LIFE-CHANGING!  I still keep up with some of those students and they became the person they are today thanks to what Camp offered to them as a young person living in Pamlico or Craven Counties.  The Y-Learning tutoring program, YMCA Middle School United Nations, Summer and Spring Break Day Camps, and YMCA Youth & Government was just another way that YMCA Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer instill values in youth all year long.

I don’t have awards or accomplishments I display on my desk, but I have a wall in my office of letters, notes, drawings, and pictures from students over the past 7 years that I’ve somehow impacted in some way while at Brevard High School.  I treasure these more than any award or recognition I could receive.  They remind me every day why I do what I do…AND I LOVE IT!

How do the values or skills you learned at Camp show up in your everyday work and/or personal life? 

I don’t have typical classroom rules hanging on the wall in my classroom. I have four beautiful paintings of the character traits that Leo Cort painted in the Arts & Crafts building at Seafarer one year (I won them in a game of White Elephant gift exchange one Christmas): CARING, RESPONSIBILITY, RESPECT, & HONESTY.  I have treasured them and I use them as my classroom expectations.  They encourage students to learn what those character traits mean and I strive to keep the atmosphere to where these character traits are shown every day.  My goal every day is to offer students opportunities to succeed.  We celebrate the little things and the big accomplishments.  I strive to help them find their potential and I want them to feel accepted and know they have a place in my class.

Is there a person or a situation that had a huge influence on you while you were at Camp? How and why did they/it impact you?

Every time I say her name or think of her, my eyes fill with tears.  Lynn Moss was by far one of the most influential people in my life while at Camp.  The first time I met her, she hugged me so hard I couldn’t breathe. I’m pretty sure I was covered in sweat and horse manure, too. No matter what life threw at me, I knew who I could celebrate with, cry to, express my frustrations to…and I would always walk away feeling like I was the most important person in her world.  She pushed me to go outside my comfort zone and try new things with the programs I ran.  Even if I failed, she always shined on the positive (even if there wasn’t any at all). She loves animals as much as I do and we developed a friendship over my 12 years at Sea Gull & Seafarer that is truly a blessing. Her influence at Camp and watching how she interacted with campers, staff, directors, and visitors gave me hope in humanity.  Everyone needs a Lynn Moss in their life!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Take each moment in your life a little slower. Don’t fret over the little things that eventually will become a faint memory of the past.  Stop and love on people around you. Make them feel special; make them feel like they are the most important person in your world. Take care of yourself so you can take care of those around you.

Favorite Camp meal: Fried Chicken & mashed potatoes

All-time favorite skit memory: HBR—Big Kahuna skit with Beulah and Evelyn and their “selfie stick”

Favorite special event at Camp: Candlelight…but especially watching the light travel back to the cabins

Do you have a hidden talent?  I can sleep anywhere (just ask my husband…)in the car, at the dinner table, at the checkout line at the grocery store, etc.

What profession other than your own would you like to try?  I’d like to be a baby panda cuddler (YES…there is such a job)