Emma Treadway learned how to be a good listener in Kroger Supermarket in her hometown of Amelia, Ohio.
Pulling groceries to fill online orders and chatting with colleagues on her 5 a.m. shift, she witnessed how empathy and stories connect people, in ways that would come to define her Princeton experience.
“There was Dave, who’d been at Kroger for 40 years, he would call me Sunshine,” Treadway said. “There was this taciturn guy in produce whom I kept talking to and found out he forged swords. It was fascinating to hear each person’s story.”
More stories came from her grandfather who hailed from a long line of West Virginia coal miners and hauled coal for long hours from his early 20s, even after watching his own father develop black lung disease. Homeschooled through seventh grade, Treadway and her three siblings took weekly trips to the public library, where she discovered a favorite book about traces of ancient Pompeiian civilization. “I really look back to that book for sparking my curiosity about the real-life ancient world,” she said.
Her senior thesis explores how some of the basic tenets of Stoicism — a school of philosophy that dates from 300 BCE — can help address problems in K-12 public education. She examines how an emphasis on social and emotional learning, as opposed to purely academic learning, “when combined with a Stoic twist,” can teach students to engage empathetically with the world and address in the classroom inequalities that disproportionately harm children of color, girls and children with disabilities.
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