“Read the room.” During advisory on most days, this verbal sentiment echoes through Anne Golding’s classroom as her freshman advisees make rambunctious remarks.
Upon first meeting Golding, a special education teacher and the varsity field hockey coach at Oyster River High School (ORHS), students and players alike sometimes often find themselves intimidated by her determination. But, once they get to know her, students love Golding for her caring nature, her direct and realistic advice, and her charismatic humor. However, after working at ORHS for nearly 15 years, Golding is leaving the teaching profession. What she is also leaving, though, is a lasting impact on students, players, and teachers alike.
Golding never intended to become a teacher. Instead, she worked in hospitality for nearly 15 years prior to starting at ORHS. Shortly out of high school, Golding became a waitress, then bartender, and eventually manager at Kelley’s Row in Dover (now in Somersworth) before continuing work in hospitality. There, Golding says, “I learned a lot, but mostly I learned that I loved working with people.”
Taking a break from hospitality work, Golding began working at ORHS as a paraeducator. “It was right up the street from where [my] boys were in school, and it had similar hours to their day.” Having no initial intention of becoming a teacher, Golding described her eventual teaching position at ORHS as a “happy accident.”
As a member of ORHS’ special education department, Golding is responsible for teaching students who have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). In her class, Study Skills, she covers broad topics like overall executive functioning skills to narrow topics such as math or other specific course material that students may be struggling with. Through this role, Golding not only helps teach the curricula of students’ classes, but also teaches students how to succeed.
In addition to teaching at ORHS, Golding is also the ORHS varsity field hockey coach. Golding started coaching field hockey at ORHS in 2014 as an assistant varsity and a JV coach and assumed the role of head varsity coach in 2017.
To the delight of her players, Golding will remain the varsity field hockey coach despite her departure from teaching. “Just being able to [coach] is something that I enjoy profoundly. I’m not giving that up.”
Golding’s coaching has led the field hockey program to grow tremendously during her time as coach, both in numbers and in ability. “We’ve made it to the playoffs for the past five to ten years [because of her] coaching,” said Jordyn March (’23), a senior who’s played on varsity for Golding since her sophomore year.
This growth has been one of the most memorable things for Golding to witness. “It’s been a very long time coming, and it’s really been a community effort. […] Their willingness to really do what is necessary to continue that growth in that legacy has been an awesome thing to watch,” she said.
Golding’s determination is very apparent to her players. “She never gets sidetracked, and she always is wanting to win, empowering us to win,” said March “I was kind of intimidated by her [in the beginning] because she’s very focused and determined, so she always had this serious look on her face. But, once you get to know her and she opens up a little bit, she’s very funny and super nice.”
Behind Golding’s determination, and her sunglasses, is a strong care for her players. “She can always tell if we’re having a bad day and she’ll pull us aside and ask how we are,” said March. “She always offered to help connect us with people if we needed to talk to people, or to help us with schoolwork, or, if we were [struggling] with time management, she would just help out with whatever you needed.”
Golding’s care is shown in her classroom, too, through her teaching style and personality. “She’s very real with kids,” said Cam Calato, a paraeducator who works alongside Golding. “She just lays it Golding Hour “Kids love her and really respect her.” on the line, very black-and-white, sometimes in a way that I don’t know if kids are used to. But I think it’s a really effective way to work with students and help prepare them for their future.”
“Another great thing about her is that she’s not afraid to say, ‘This is what I think, and here’s why,’” Calato added.
Students greatly appreciate Golding for this. “Students love her— how she’s very real with them—kids respect that so much, and that’s what they really want. They don’t want things sugar-coated; they don’t want things hidden from them. They want to know how things are, and she gives them that,” said Calato.
This direct, realistic advice that Golding gives students in her teaching leaves a lasting impact, especially on younger students like her freshmen advisees. “There’s sort of a running joke in advisory with the statement ‘read the room,’ which [Golding] has to say very frequently to people,” said Calato. “But—as far as life lessons go—it’s true. Especially dealing with […] young people, just helping them broaden their perspective to beyond just [themselves]; to look around and say, ‘okay, what’s going on in the room? What’s appropriate for me to do right now?’”
Jennifer Weeks, an English teacher at ORHS who’s friends with Golding, said that Golding also taught students the life-long skill of being accountable for themselves. “[She] really pushes her students to be responsible for themselves and to take action in their own lives. I think she pushes them to get out of their shell a little bit more than they would otherwise.”
Weeks has learned this accountability for herself, too. “Over the years, [Golding] has definitely rubbed off on me, in a good way. I’m more willing to give my opinion on things and stand up [for myself] when I need to.” For faculty and students alike, Golding’s personality leaves a positive impression on everyone.
This is driven by Golding’s outgoing nature. “She’s very much a go-getter. And she’s always willing to try new things and put herself out there, and I just really admire that,” said Weeks.
Sometimes being a go-getter can be a lot, though. Golding described herself as “one of those people that, even when I’m not working, I’m still working,” especially during the field hockey season. However, the hustle and bustle has been worth it, as Golding finds motivation in working with others.
As Golding reflected on her time at ORHS, she said her biggest accomplishments were “the relationships I’ve built with students, with families, and with my peers and colleagues.” Her positions at ORHS, both teaching and coaching, have allowed her to learn just as much from her students, players, and colleagues as they’ve learned from her. “I’ve learned from so many different people. Maybe not huge things, but even the smallest things—it’s a pretty unique experience. Small things are important.”
Whether it’s taking the time to notice when someone may be facing a challenge in life, or just keeping snacks in her desk for students who need them, the small things are essential for Golding. “Fruit snacks: wildly popular. Especially with the freshmen,” said Golding. “When people are hungry, they have a really hard time focusing. It’s a small thing, but it sometimes makes a huge difference.”
These small things do make a world of difference to students. Another reason why, in Calato’s words, “Kids love her and really respect her.”
As she leaves teaching, Golding still hopes to find herself in a “helping” profession. Her husband is a division chief with Dover Fire and Rescue, so “the two of us have spent many moons in helping professions, and we’re kind of just looking forward to shifting gears a little bit,” she said. Golding holds a license as a part-time realtor and will likely pursue that as her next career. Plus, as a self-proclaimed ‘home body,’ Golding will now have more time to focus more on her family. “I just love spending time with my boys, you know, just being able to enjoy that aspect of life has become really important the last couple of years.”
Now Golding can take some time to enjoy the small things, rather than providing them for students.
Golding has one last piece of advice for her students. “You have to give yourself some permission to fail.” She added, as something she’s learned from teaching her students, “being kind to yourself leads you to being kind and having empathy for others.”