By: Makena Vass
From teaching in rural Pennsylvania to helping raise money for a refugee school in Thailand, Carrie Clippard-Cope is on a mission to improve the world around her.
And now that includes Glenelg.
Students at Glenelg know her best as an Advanced Physical Science and GT Chemistry teacher, a profession which she began after graduating from Penn State University in 2013 with her undergraduate degree in chemistry and from Ohio State University in 2014 with a masters in education. However, she decided to pursue this path because she “wanted to give back to the world and have a positive impact on others and [teaching] would be a really good job to do that.”
Clippard-Cope’s first job took her back to Pennsylvania as a teacher at Bellwood Antis High School in Blair County where she was the only chemistry teacher for seven years. While there, she advised the Renaissance Club, which promoted inclusivity within the school.
She described the Renaissance Club as “a school culture and climate club, like a belonging club where we made sure all students had a place to feel seen, heard, and loved at school.”
After getting married and moving to Maryland, Clippard-Cope joined the Glenelg Science department in 2021 where she continues to promote inclusivity, especially through her advisory roles of the Glenelg Earth Organization (GEO) Club and the Key Club, both organizations that work to give back to the community.
“Glenelg is much more inclusive and diverse, the schools are fantastic, and we found there would be better opportunities for us in this area financially and socially,” she said.
Students know Clippard-Cope as a caring and compassionate teacher, two qualities that can be attributed to the 40-day bike ride she took in the summer of 2021 from Los Angeles, CA to Jacksonville, FL. The 3,000-mile ride helped raise money for a refugee school in Thailand.
Clippard-Cope said she loves road biking, so when the opportunity came to tackle a ride this big with an experienced team for a good cause, she took it.
Before starting the trip, Clippard-Cope set aside money from teaching to fund it. She also asked friends, made phone calls, and knocked on doors to raise money for the trip and the school in Thailand. The efforts she made were worth it.
“I got to see some pretty cool places in the US and it gave me a perspective of where I live is not the only culture that there is in the United States,” she said. “There are very rural communities that live in a very different way than myself … it was very difficult, but it was a great time.”
The trip gave her an understanding for different cultures that many people do not have, but gaining it was the furthest thing from easy.
She and her team were warned of an infamous part of their route that came two weeks in. The route would span 70 miles with 9,000 feet of elevation gain, but Clippard-Cope came up with a new plan.
“I thought, wouldn’t it be a great idea if we just took this shortcut road to cut off some miles and make today easier and we could get done faster. The problem was, we took a shortcut up a mountain… and that made the route a lot harder!”
To make the trip even more difficult, she and her team opted to stay in gyms and churches that would let them stay for free. The money they saved staying in these places went straight to the school in Thailand.
“I was just constantly impressed by the hospitality of the people that took us in,” she said.
She successfully finished the ride, expanding her perspective and changing the lives of some people in Thailand along the way, but her journey is still incomplete.
For a person who has visited every state in the US, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and China, Clippard-Cope continues to seek new opportunities to open her mind to cultures and lifestyles around the world in hopes of being able to better understand both her students and other people in her life.
Clippard-Cope is more than just a science teacher many students see her as. She is a person who strives to learn as much as she can about the world around her and make it a better place.