whitman author substitute teacher

Sally Esquith

Robbins facilitates a Secret Santa activity in chorus teacher Michelle Kim’s class.

Five-time New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Robbins (’94) — who wrote the 2006 novel “The Overachievers” about her alma mater — returned to Whitman today as a substitute teacher for chorus teacher Michelle Kim.

Robbins began working as a substitute teacher in 2018 in response to shortages across MCPS, she said. As demand for educators rose during the COVID-19 pandemic, she increasingly devoted her efforts to her part-time role in the school system. During the 2021-2022 school year, Robbins filled in for MCPS teachers for more than 150 days. 

“I saw an article that MCPS was low on substitutes and teachers,” Robbins said. “I thought I was going [to substitute] once every couple of weeks, but they really needed my help.”

Since 2001, Robbins has authored nine non-fiction novels about young adults’ educational experiences, with five titles earning the distinction as New York Times bestsellers. In “The Overachievers,” Robbins followed the lives of eight Whitman students as they struggled to navigate the pressure and expectations of achieving perfect grades and acceptance into elite colleges.

“In general, I don’t think all Whitman students are overachievers,” Robbins said. “This is happening all over the country. I just happen to know Whitman.”

The bestselling author was Editor-in-Chief of Volume 32 of The Black & White. After graduating in 1994, Robbins has returned multiple times to speak with students in Whitman’s journalism program.

When she returns to Whitman, Robbins said that she looks forward to seeing her former teachers, like substitute teacher Robert Butler, who is still teaching at the school.

“It is always trippy to be back in my old high school,” Robbins said. “Especially going to all the places I wasn’t allowed to go as a student.”

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