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Jocelyn Bohn

Year of Graduation: 
2011
Jocelyn Bohn teaching at Exeter Summer.

"I get to bring the love that I had for being a student here to my students."

For Jocelyn Bohn ’11, some of her favorite childhood memories involve strolling through downtown Exeter with the warm July sun on her shoulders or finding a respite from the heat under one of the shady trees that frame the Academy Lawn. What may sound like unremarkable recollections to some, for Bohn, summertime on and around the Exeter campus was a window into a world far away from home — yet simultaneously familiar.

Born and primarily raised in Taiwan, Bohn spent summers in Exeter with her grandparents, Dave Bohn ’57 and Barbara Bohn ’57 (Hon.), at their home on Front Street. A career in product sourcing and development brought Bohn’s father, Brian Bohn ’81, to Asia where he eventually started a family. But Brian Bohn knew he wanted his children to enjoy New England summers as he once did and to have the opportunity to learn the language and customs of his native country at an early age.

“My dad wanted to make sure we learned English and that we could read, write and speak fluently,” Jocelyn Bohn says. “Who better to teach us than our grandmother, who was an elementary school teacher for much of her career?”

Bohn attended kindergarten and a portion of first grade in Exeter under the care of her grandparents and returned each subsequent summer. The arrangement gave Bohn, and eventually her younger sister, Christina, a home base halfway around the globe and fostered an early connection to the Exeter community. 

“I love that the town of Exeter and the Academy became an important part of my upbringing,” she says. 

Bohn enrolled at the Academy as a prep in 2007, bringing with her a unique level of familiarity with the campus and surrounding community for an international student. As a boarder in Dunbar Hall, she estimates it was a walk of “about 45 seconds” between the back door of her dorm and the threshold of the home where she had spent so many summers.

“I’d drop off my laundry and have breakfast with my grandparents every morning,” she recalls of her time as an Exeter student. “I really had the best of both worlds.” 

Keeping connected

Upon graduating from Exeter, Bohn went on to study at Columbia University. She and husband, Tom Guthrie ’11, would return often to visit her grandparents, still at the same Front Street address. In the summer of 2014, Bohn made her annual summer pilgrimage to Exeter, this time in an official role as an Exeter Summer teaching intern. Working alongside instructor Verity Sayles while teaching creative writing, Bohn thrived in her role as an educator and hoped to one day expand upon her initial experience.

“It was so rewarding to see how much the Exeter Summer students grew in five weeks,” Bohn says of her internship experience. “I always knew that I wanted to come back as a full-time summer faculty member.”

Extended time off became scarce for Bohn after starting her investment management career in New York City. She started to think she may never get the chance to fulfill her dream of teaching full-time at Exeter Summer. However, with graduate school in her future, Bohn realized there was a possibility she’d be able to incorporate at least one more summer of teaching at the Academy. 

It was so rewarding to see how much the Exeter Summer students grew in five weeks."

With business school set to start in the fall for both Bohn and Guthrie, the couple quit their jobs and accepted Exeter Summer teaching positions. Relocating from their Upper West Side apartment, they moved into the top floor of Bohn’s former residence, Dunbar Hall, where she’ll serve as dorm head throughout the summer session. 

“One of the things I love about being in the classroom and in the dorm is that I get to bring the love that I had for being a student here to my students and to be able to give them just a little snippet of what it's like at Exeter,” she says. 

Bohn is currently teaching three formats of political science with a focus on sustainability as part of ACCESS EXETER, a curricular program within Exeter Summer designed for rising eighth and ninth grade students. Guthrie uses his background working at tech-based start-ups to teach an entrepreneurship course. 

Learning from each other

Bohn’s classes are taught using the Harkness method, a concept unfamiliar to many first-year Exeter Summer students. She recalls the growing pains her students worked through in the initial days around the Harkness table.  

“During the first week of class I'd ask, ‘Where would you like to start?’ And the students looked at me like I was nuts,” she says with a smile. "I’d tell them, ‘This is your learning experience and a time for you to actually ask the questions that you want answered.’” 

Now in the fourth week of the five-week program, Bohn has seen her students make tremendous strides in preparedness, listening to others and realizing they have the ability to meaningfully contribute to the discussion. 

“One of the more rewarding things is to see students opening up at the Harkness table and that aha moment of, ‘Oh, wow, I actually can have a say in what I learn and how I learn,’” she says. 

Instructor Jocelyn Bohn interacts with her students around the Harkness table

Leading Harkness discussions has provided Bohn with her own educational opportunity and given her a new-found appreciation for the role her instructors played during her time as a student.

“One of the difficult things about being a Harkness teacher is figuring out that balance of when it’s appropriate for me to step in,” she says. “Sometimes my students will languish on a question for 10 minutes but then one of the quieter students might suddenly speak up and say, ‘Hey, I actually thought about it this way.’ As a teacher, you're like, ‘Yes, exactly. That's it!’”

Settled into her role as an instructor and dorm head, Bohn is using her free time, however fleeting, to enjoy what she’s always loved about Exeter. 

“It’s been really fun to spend my off hours with my grandparents walking around town,” she says. “I just really love this community.”

— Adam Loyd