Sprinting Towards Success: How one Upper School mathematics teacher strikes a balance within her busy schedule.


//PICTURED ABOVE: Upper School math teacher Rachel Grabow offers assistance to AP Computer Science student, senior Ponette Kim. Behind the desk in her classroom, a whiteboard embellished in magnets and numbers from her previous races emphasize her dedication to running and her many accomplishments in the sport.

Saturdays: the day seen by many as an opportunity to catch up on the sleep that they have been deprived of throughout the painstakingly long nights of the week. However, Upper School mathematics teacher Rachel Grabow has a different outlook: when the clock strikes 4:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings, Grabow rises, ready to take on the new day.

Why might she wake so early on a day designated for rest, you might be asking? Because on Saturday mornings, Grabow runs anywhere from 10 to 22 miles with her running club, the Dallas Running Club.

“I love running,” Grabow said. “I really like running with a team and sharing that love of running.”

Grabow has been running for years now. She first started when she was in college. How- ever, she began distance running six years ago, when she completed her first half marathon.

Although the distances can be long, Grabow sees running as an opportunity to destress and take a moment to herself from the usual buzz of life.

“Running is challenging, which I like. It is a break from work, it is a break from my usual day-to-day life,” Grabow said. “I don’t take my phone when I run, I’m completely disconnected, so you can just let you mind wander and think about things and get out stress and just kind of relax.”

Grabow has taught at Hockaday for eight years. She currently teaches five sections of math, including Advanced Placement BC Calculus, AP Multivariable Calculus and AP Computer Science.

However, within the Hockaday campus, Grabow’s involvement is not limited to teach- ing. She has gone a step farther by helping coach not one, but two varsity sports: cross country and swimming.

Grabow has been involved in the Hockaday cross country program for four years now, coaching Middle School cross country for two years and Upper School cross country for two as well. Additionally, this will be Grabow’s sixth year coaching swimming.

Laboris Bean, Athletic Director, coaches the cross country team with Grabow. As a result, he worked closely with her and admires the ways in which she is able to motivate the runners.

“[Grabow encourages the girls] by example,” Bean said. “I remember her 100 mile run—that encouraged the girls that if Coach Grabow could run 100 miles, they could definitely run three. Which also encouraged me as a coach.”

Even though she coaches these two demanding sports, Grabow still makes time with- in her schedule to workout outside of school. For her, typical workouts alternate between running and swimming because “you still get a good workout, but it helps you avoid injury,” according to Grabow.

She first started swimming after receiving a stress fracture from running six years ago.

“I swum when I was in a boot and couldn’t run, and then I just kept it up as good cross training even after I was able to run again,” Grabow said. “I think it’s really useful because I’m usually not running every day, so I alternate running with swimming typically.”

A typical week’s workout for Grabow looks something like this: On Mondays and Wednesdays, she swims. On Tuesdays, she helps lead a training group of runners who are apart of the Dallas Running Club. On Thursdays, she and some friends gather to run six to 10 miles, making sure to grab dinner after. Fridays are Grabow’s designated day of rest during this workout cycle. Saturdays are generally the most intensive day, as Grabow once again works out with her training group, this time running anywhere from 10 to 22 miles in the early hours of the morning. Grabow concludes her week with a Sunday run—anywhere from eight to 10 miles. Additionally, twice a week, Grabow will do strength training, which usually entails working out in the weightroom.

However, Grabow has not limited her run- ning routes to the immediate Dallas area. For the past few years, she has been competing in races—either marathons or longer distances— eight times per year. These longer distance races, or “ultra-running” races, tend to take place out of state. For instance, this past fall, Grabow completed in her longest race yet—an excruciating 100 mile run that took place outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. It is not uncommon that she take a weekend trip to a neighboring state to participate in these longer races.

“I like the challenge [of running longer distance races]. I think especially in the really long distance running, like the ultra-running, it strips away everything, so you aren’t focused on what anyone else thinks or anything else in your life,” Grabow said. “You are just trying to get through the run.”

So, due to the business of her schedule, one might question how she has time to balance teaching, coaching and making room for her out-of-school workout pursuits. For Grabow, the answer lies in one simple word: planning.

“I am a very organized, Type A person. At the beginning of the week, I map out my whole schedule for the week, like what I’m doing during my off periods at school, when cross country or swimming workouts are, when my own workouts are—all that stuff is mapped out,” Grabow said. “And for my classes, I have all that mapped out, too—anything I have to grade, anything I have to make or plan, when it has to be done and when I’m doing it.”

With the help of these Excel sheets that she creates, Grabow is able to more effectively stay on top of her schedule. This is apparent to her students. Senior Maddie McBride, a member of Grabow’s BC Calculus class, appreciates Grabow’s willingness to be accessible to students.

“Even though I know Ms. Grabow would have cross country practice in the morning, she always seems to make time for her students,” McBride said. “It is really helpful, especially on days that we have quizzes or tests, she was always there before school.”

Senior Ashna Ahuja has a unique connection with Grabow, as she is not only in her BC Calculus class and on the cross country team, but in her advisory as well. For this reason, Ahuja spends a lot of time with Grabow and can speak to the determination with which her advisor approaches all activities.

“She not only shows the same amount of dedication [for teaching and coaching], but she also shows the same amount of passion for both things, which is really inspiring for me as someone who really likes math but also really likes running,” Ahuja said.

Ultimately, although Grabow’s schedule is more crowded than most, she loves what she does.

“[My schedule] is definitely hectic,” Grabow said. “It’s a packed schedule, but I really like what I’m doing, so I don’t mind being busy.”

Story by Charlotte Dross, Editor-in-Chief

Photo by Charlotte Dross