Meet Eireann Corrigan

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photo courtesy of Oona Copperhill

In high school, Eireann Corrigan played basketball and was nicknamed killer for her determined and aggressive technique. “I fouled out, you know, pretty much every first quarter my freshmen year,” she said.

Gabrielle Krieger, Print Editor

In 2020, Eireann Corrigan joined the Annie Wright Schools community as the new director of Upper School for Girls. Previous to coming to AWS, she worked at the Rutgers Preparatory School in New Jersey.

Corrigan started her teaching career at Rutgers Prep, her high school alma mater, at the age of 22 when her old headmaster offered her a temporary position teaching English. While she didn’t originally intend to pursue a career in education, Corrigan said, “I just kind of fell in love with that space,” noting that out of “many of my peers and my friends who were also living in New York City… I had to wake up earliest for work every morning, but I was the only one who didn’t dread it, and that felt really lucky to me.”

After gaining experience as a teacher, Corrigan began pursuing more administrative roles. She used her positions in the administration to “improve the Upper School experience for the better and to focus a little bit more on wellness and balance in addition to, you know, the top notch scholastic successes that we’re kind of used to achieving in a college preparatory school,” she said.

While working at Rutgers Prep, Corrigan worked in a range of roles including English teacher, Dean of Students, and Assistant Director. She also took on other responsibilities such as coaching the pom squad, running the diversity club, directing drama productions, and running a fancy hat club where according to Corrigan, people “got together and designed weird hats.”

However, after working there for 20 years, “I felt really comfortable in my community and at a certain point I wondered if being so comfortable might stop me from growing,” Corrigan said. So she began looking for a change. 

When she planned her career outside of Rutgers Prep, Corrigan knew she wanted to work with young women at a girl’s school. “But because I had boy/girl twins, I really wrestled with that, like what that meant for my own children,” she said. 

Corrigan looked at a variety of single gender schools across the country in search of an institution that would suit both her and her family. “When I saw Annie Wright’s model of coordinated learning where there would be social interaction with the USB but also single gender education in the classroom, it really felt perfect for me,” Corrigan said.

Corrigan’s visit to the AWS campus last February confirmed her initial instinct that it would be a good fit. “One thing that I immediately noticed, even in my interview, was just how strong and forceful and confident the students were,” she said. “I like to joke that my toughest interview wasn’t with either Mr. Sullivan [former head of school] or Mr. Guadnola, but it was with the panel of students who interviewed me, and I really absolutely love that.”

Because of the pandemic, Corrigan’s first year working at AWS has looked very different from what she expected. “I was so looking forward to getting to know all of the rich traditions…, the inside jokes and the fun activities that I think really make this community unique,” said Corrigan. “But I’m getting glimpses of that, and I’m getting to see the resiliency of the student body spirit in the way that I think it might’ve taken me longer to see in a more normal year.”

When she’s not working at Annie Wright, Corrigan maintains another career as an author. Since the age of 22, she has published several novels and a poetry memoir. She describes the relationship between her writing and her work in education as being mutually beneficial. “I like to think that I create characters that I’d want to see in my own school community, and I also feel like I’m helping to build school communities that I’d want my characters to live in,” she said.

Balancing careers in creative writing and education also helps her relate to the struggles of many students. “I can understand missed deadlines and overwhelming homework and just that feeling of never being done with work, because sometimes that’s really a part of my existence too,” she said.

For Eireann Corrigan, writing reflects her own philosophy on education. “It’s important to me that when we think about education, we don’t just think of like four years of college and four years of undergrad, and we don’t think of it as a process that ends,” said Corrigan, “but that we realize that there are ways that we can build our lives so that learning can keep going. And writing is one way that I do that.”.