Photo courtesy of Brophy Flickr | Ms. Clarke gives a speech at the Senior Farewell Dinner in the Great Hall on Thursday, May 2, 2019.
By Noah Lederer ’21
At the end of this school year, Ms. Elizabeth Clarke will be taking up a teaching position in Taipei, Taiwan and will be leaving Brophy.
Ms. Clarke, who has been teaching at Brophy for 16 years, will be teaching at the Taipei American School.
Ms. Clarke will be teaching public speaking and will be coaching speech and debate.
“It is an American-style school and it is accredited through the same accreditation services that accredit schools in America and it is all in English,” said Ms. Clarke.
Ms. Clarke was offered this job through a friend who was recently employed there.
Ms. Clarke said, “A friend of mine who coached speech and debate at Catalina Foothills ten years ago is being promoted to headmaster [at the Taipei American School] so he called me and asked if I would be interested in a job.”
“At first I thought it was totally crazy but I have another friend who works there too and it sounded like an amazing opportunity,” said Ms. Clarke.
Brophy student Zachary Linhart ’19 has known Ms. Clarke for a while now and has gotten to know her pretty well.
Linhart said, “I was introduced to Ms. Clarke in eighth grade at [Phoenix Country Day School] and then I had her as a scripture teacher and speech and debate coach.”
“I have also led a Kairos with her and have gone on many trips with her,” said Linhart.
Ms. Clarke isn’t just a teacher to Linhart, she is also considered a dear friend.
Linhart said, “[Ms. Clarke] is more than just a teacher to me now. I don’t even call her ‘Ms. Clarke‘ anymore; I call her ‘Beth’ because we are basically just friends now. She knows who I am more than I know myself at times.”
“Ms. Clarke has gone to bat for me so many times on dumb mistakes that I have done. Whether it was going to the wrong praxis community for community service and she cleans up my mess or when I do something stupid with other teachers, she will go to bat for me,” said Linhart.
Mr. Mike Welty ’83 has been one of the speech and debate coaches with Ms. Clarke for a while.
Mr. Welty believes that Ms. Clarke is a pivotal member of Brophy’s speech and debate team.
Mr. Welty said, “She really is the center of how the Brophy team operates. It is kind of a living embodiment of her priorities, the way she sees the world and the way she sees how a young person should move through the world.”
Mr. Welty praises his fellow coach for the good things she does for students outside of the classroom.
Mr. Welty said, “The kids who know her know this, but she is profoundly devoted to the kids developing themselves outside of the classroom. In particular, helping them become good people.”
“The thesis of the speech and debate program is to find your voice and look at something in the world that needs changing and change it. That is what she tells people to do. So for anyone who doesn’t know her, this is the shame of her leaving: she’s really good at getting the best out of an individual and causing you to think really deeply in how you want to spend your life and how those decisions are more important than money or power,” said Mr. Welty.
Ms. Clarke had one last thing that she wanted to share with the students of Brophy.
Ms. Clarke said, “At graduation, the words of Fr. Anton Renna, SJ will be invoked as a parting message to the graduates: that if they leave Brophy satisfied with the world as they see it, then we have failed them. Of course, Father Renna was right, but my fear is that sometimes we see Brophy as a fortress. All of the problems of the world are not outside our walls, they are all also right here at Brophy too. If you, as a member of this community in your time here have only felt intellectual and spiritual comfort, then we have failed you. I pray that we continue to seek and find comfort in discomfort.”
Ms. Clarke has left her mark on this school and will be remembered as one of the most cherished and successful teachers on campus.