Weekend Wisdom

Amy Todd Klug ’98

“Do the work.”
“Like most of the other alumnae of my era, I was profoundly influenced by the brilliant and formidable Dr. Jane Cole, English teacher extraordinaire. I specifically remember one interaction early in my senior year when I asked Dr. Cole for her opinion on the high-priced tutors and review classes that some of my classmates were using to study for the SAT. She looked at me with one eyebrow cocked and said, ‘Read the books in my class. If you don’t know the meaning of a word, look it up. That’s all you need.’

“That was Dr. Cole’s style: simple, to the point, no frills. She once handed me back a particularly half-baked essay with only a frowny face drawn in red pen in the margin. The message was clear. I put my head down, I read the books, I opened the dictionary, I analyzed the text. In the end, I did very well on the SAT (and in her AP English classes). I received early admission to my first college choice, based in part, I’m sure, on those SAT scores and a recommendation from Dr. Cole herself.

“As I look back on my career as a litigator in private practice, and now as in-house counsel at a global pharmaceutical company leading U.S. litigation, I realize that Dr. Cole’s simple but insightful words have guided me throughout. There are no shortcuts for careful reading, precise writing, and thoughtful analysis, whether I’m presenting to a federal judge or to the highest-level executives at my company.

“Since that conversation 20 years ago, the technology has changed — my kids ask Siri for those vocabulary definitions now — but the pathway to success remains the same: Do the work.”

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Kent Place School is an all-girls K through 12 independent college preparatory day school with a coeducational Preschool, located in Summit, NJ.