Shannon Scott '04

April 20, 2016
by Shannon Scott '04

A vertical jump at the end of arena on a continuous loop of figure eights and thirteen years later, I can still feel the calming, repetitive rhythm sitting on Clark’s back. I return to this memory often when the days get long or I need to be reminded of a moment when I felt successful. Clark was a tough nut to crack and as sure as he was sweet, he could also peel out before that jump and leave you on your butt in a second. He was one of my first loves. He taught me to not try to change the people around me, but to love them for who they are. Riding at Madeira taught me not to compete with the women around me, but to look to them for support and inspiration.

After Clark and after Madeira, I meandered, looking for the sweet spot where I could develop a compelling career and live a life with horses. Professionally, I have made a career working in education and leadership development. I started as an English teacher. Teaching students to love poetry and develop strong thesis statements. Then I taught teachers to connect with and inspire students. Then I taught the people-who-taught-teachers to develop a theory of change in their schools and communities. Then I realized that my theory of change, my vision for adding something good to this world was not in the education conglomerate, but was in horses.

This year, I started a non-profit organization called Fenix Farm. It is a place for students, who are at risk of dropping out or being expelled, to build confidence and leadership skills with the help of horses. We combine farming and therapy to develop character strengths and aspirations in children, while working in collaboration with families, schools and communities to make sustainable changes in the lives of children. It is an amazing venture that boasts some incredible support from my Madeira sisters. We have found the sweet spot and continue to support and inspire each other.