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Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Meet your teacher: Embracing life with curiosity

Computer science teacher Susan King embraces her environment
Upper+school+computer+science+teacher+Susan+King+inspects+a+bird-feeder+in+the+quad.+Ms.+King+began+bird+watching+in+2020%2C+fascinated+by+their+flight+and+plumage+patterns.
Jonathan Xue
Upper school computer science teacher Susan King inspects a bird-feeder in the quad. Ms. King began bird watching in 2020, fascinated by their flight and plumage patterns.

As the morning light strikes the lake, a curved, slender bill sweeps through the placid water, searching for any trace of fish. The sun casts its gaze onto the bearer of the bill, a lone avocet, pausing just long enough for the dawn to illuminate its golden-peach plumage. Computer science teacher Susan King watches from afar, taking in the majesty of the occasion.   

King took up bird watching at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, captivated by the birds’ melodies and feather patterns. Where once the noise of bustling traffic had pervaded the streets singing songbirds replaced the atmosphere of crowded cars during lockdown.

“It’s fascinating to watch how birds either are kind of collectively together or how they spread themselves out,” King said. “Some birds are pretty cranky with each other and some birds just seem to want to be together. It just is fascinating to me to watch and appreciate the differences. And besides, they’re gorgeous. Birds are gorgeous.”

While bird watching, King noticed a great variety in the birds’ flight patterns. Now, after a long time watching, she can distinguish between species just by looking at their flights.

To King, every flap of a bird’s wing and each intricate pattern that decorates their feathers is a miracle of nature. As a young girl in Montana, King fostered a special appreciation for the natural world. The feeling of movement, whether it be through a human body or witnessing it in other creatures, is magical to her.

I just love fresh air; I love greenery; I love moving. I just love being in a human body and feeling it in motion

— Susan King, upper school computer science teacher

“I just love fresh air; I love greenery; I love moving,” King said. “I just love being in a human body and feeling it in motion. I know that sounds corny, but it is true. And it’s been true. And I think that my love of moving is to be outside in the greenery.”

Her fascination with the world later manifested into a natural curiosity, leading to questions and queries about all parts of life. The same musings about human nature have translated into wonderings about bird structures, and even computer science.

“Curiosity became one without me being aware of it,” King said. “Curiosity just came to the forefront. I love asking questions. I love listening to people. I love watching. I’m not a scientist, but I like just being curious. It’s just such a blessing that I’ve given myself to be curious.”

King’s curiosity led her to explore new fields, a prominent one being computer programming. Having first encountered the prospect of programming in a newspaper ad during middle school, the vast possibilities and novelty of the space excited King.

“It was an up and coming field – being a computer programmer,” King said. “And you had to be good at math. I was good at math. And so I decided to do it as a sixth grader. I lucked out. I truly lucked out. I love it. I loved it very early on, and I still haven’t fallen out of love with programming still.”

Her love for programming eventually led her into teaching. What King initially anticipated would be a two-year stint in education flourished into a long career of teaching, one of over twenty years, after she discovered her love of teaching even outweighed that of programming in industry. 

“At the age that I was at, [I wanted] to give back to the community,” King said. “I loved programming so much that I wanted to share it with high schoolers. My goal was to teach for two years, and instead, I fell in love with teaching even more than I loved programming. So here I am.”

Continually learning and exploring, King strives to find the beauty in all things, whether that be birds, people or computer science. Throughout it all, she attributes curiosity to her continued growth, cultivating a greater appreciation for life. 

“Be curious,” King said. “I think my other advice to my younger self is you may not know it now, but life can become this amazingly joyful experience. I’m joyful now. I’m very glad to be alive. I’m very glad to be around people, to be curious about people, to be curious about the world around me. And I think as a younger person, I did not know that was possible.”

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About the Contributor
Jonathan Xue, Humans of Harker Co-Managing Editor
Jonathan Xue (11) is a co-managing editor for Humans of Harker, and this is his second year on staff. This year, Jonathan hopes to connect more with journalism staff and the Harker community at large. He enjoys Om Noms, Edgar Allan Poe, and the word "taste."

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