Alumni Spotlight Profile

Rachel Milner '11

What do JDS and professional clown school have in common? Rachel Milner '11 often draws that comparison, as she prepares to graduate from the Clown Conservatory in San Francisco - the only professional clowning school in America.

After spending 13 years at JDS, Rachel attended the University of Rochester and received a B.S. in Biology concentrating on Ecology and Evolution. She graduated in 2015 Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. In college, Rachel also discovered juggling and Capoeria - a Brazilian martial art disguised as dance. After college, Rachel taught math for two years through Teach for America and continued juggling and exploring circus arts. She then found a school in New Orleans that had a circus arts program and knew she had to work there. "I taught circus arts at the International School of Louisiana for K-8th graders.That job opened my eyes to the world and opportunities of social circus".

Rachel discovered that circus arts are incredibly challenging and grounded in a strong sense of community and history, bringing her full circle from her JDS education. "I always identified as an athlete and not an artsy type. However, my right brain was flaring and had a drive for the arts. While I didn't always give my creative side the credit it deserved, I was able to take courses like ceramics and photography at JDS, and that access to creativity and expression has encouraged me to take risks as a performer, creator, and educator".

At JDS, Rachel played soccer, basketball, and a little bit of softball with the Lions, and served as captain of the Varsity Soccer and Basketball teams. She participated in the all-star PVAC games and loved representing our school in athletic competitions. Rachel felt immense pride in her teams and coaches throughout her years at JDS and also felt nourished and nurtured in the intellectual and social community that JDS provided.

Rachel's passion for education, thanks to Ms. Ball, Mr. Silberman, Ms. Gobin, Ms. Rabinowitz, among others, led her to participate in Teach for America and to pursue her certification in Secondary Mathematics Education from the Louisiana Department of Education. "The biggest imprint that JDS has had on my life is fostering an environment of learning together. This impacted my access and exposure to teaching roles whether it be teaching match or circus arts."

Each day Rachel finds herself taking risks and challenging herself to be vulnerable emotionally, mentally, and physically. Clown school ignites mindsets of creativity and self exploration in a trusting community. It is a safe space to fail, reflect, and grow. Just like at JDS.

When reflecting on her years at JDS, Rachel admits that she is still a little bitter about the 2010 Color War winner decision as the Golden Ninjas Captain, but keeps her mind off of it by exploring the beautiful nature in California, cooking, spending time with friends, playing Capoeira, and enjoying her excellent cat, Babka.

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