Tara Duran was helping out at an Upper Iowa University softball camp when she stumbled upon a teaching job at Clarke.

player_TaraIn her 5th year at Upper Iowa, Tara was earning her Masters after receiving a degree in elementary education. She decided to pursue another year of her passion, softball, while earning endorsements in reading, English as a second language, and coaching.

At the beginning of her final year, Tara was feeling the pre-graduation pressure and asking the question that occurs to many college seniors, “what now?” She knew she wanted to stay in Iowa, but also wanted to be closer to family in Kansas City. Tara had looked into a few teaching positions in Des Moines, but was still undecided as her final semester rolled around.

In January, Upper Iowa hosted a softball camp for Elementary, Middle and High Schoolers hoping to be recruited. One morning, Tara was talking with campers and their parents when she mentioned her interest in teaching in Central Iowa. A camper from Clarke urged her to look into the school district, just an hour south of Des Moines. Tara became interested in Clarke’s great softball program and noticeably welcoming school district. Online, she saw that the Activities Director, Ryan Sweeney, had also graduated from Upper Iowa University. The two got in touch and soon Tara had an interview.

But Becoming a Clarke Teacher couldn’t be that simple…

Tara’s interview was scheduled on a cold winter morning in Iowa. She drove down to Osceola after her 5:45am softball practice—in the middle of a blizzard.

“There were cars in the ditches. I was sliding around on the Interstate, so I called to let them know I might be late,” Tara laughs now as she remembers the distressing experience. She says the Clarke administrators were shocked that she was still on her way, “but it was too late to turn around!

So, Clarke has an energetic new ELL teacher and middle school softball coach. She starts coaching on May 15th. Please give Tara a warm welcome when you see her coaching this summer or teaching next year. We’re so excited for this passionate, dedicated teacher to join our growing district!