TEACHER TUESDAY BLOG
"The teachers at ESD have transformed my life. In doing that, I have grown and touched the moon!"
- A member of the Class of 2018
Check back each week for a new post!
What motivated and inspired you to teach? I enjoy the daily interactions with young people in a competitive/fitness atmosphere. Each day is always different with young people!
What makes you excited to come to school every day? I hope to bring back a boys volleyball program to the school. This sport has been nonexistent for boys since 2001. A high school volleyball club has been created with over 20 male members involved on a weekly basis.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? Respect! Respect is the foundation to all relationships. & my favorite line from my favorite song: You can lose all your money, you can lose all your gold, you can never lose your heart, you can never lose your soul.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I love the San Antonio Spurs! My wife and I love to travel, we try to create the most fun pictures while visiting exotic locations. A few weeks ago we went to Lorraine Lake, Canada, and the views were amazing.
What is your favorite book and why? Well honestly, I like movies. My top four movies are Big Fish, Serendipity, The Matrix, & Signs. The key theme behind them all is everything happens for a reason.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? Gregg Popovich, the Spurs head coach, he connects to his players with respect and discipline, no matter their level. He is the best coach ever. My grandfather, he got Alzheimer’s when I was less than 12 years old and lived with us for 8 years with the disease. I never really got to know him well at all. My future self, that way I could give myself a heads up on some things!
What motivated and inspired you to teach? My high school art teacher, my own passion for creating, and interest in various cultures are what inspired me to study fine arts. I love sharing my knowledge of art elements, art history, and the plethora of cultures involved to strengthen creativity, critical thinking, global competency, confidence, and motor skills.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? Teaching for the early childhood program here at ESD is a new experience daily. Watching children become wide-eyed with amazement when discovering blue mixed with red makes purple, or finding out the can create a sculpture from clay is consistently a heartwarming reward.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? It's not always about the final goal, but about the journey along the way. Learning from hardships is what helps to build character.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I am a Mixed Martial Artist with 10 professional fights and hold a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Currently, I'm taking a break to focus on my family and teaching.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? Teaching was never in my life long plans until Graduate school. While working on a physics doctoral program at Texas Tech University, I applied and was given a National Science Foundation grant that allowed me access into a local high school. Only 10 Doctoral students In Science Mathematics, and Engineering were chosen each. There I shared my love and passion of physics with teachers and students. What motivated me to teach is the difference I saw that I was making in the lives of the kids that I interacted with. To see light bulb moment and joy of learning in the students while sharing about my passion of physics inspired me to choose the teaching profession.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? I am excited and always look forward to come to ESD every day because I get to work with some of the most amazing students I've ever interacted with. Students who are analytical thinkers, love learning, and love to be challenged. My colleagues are also supportive and great to be around.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I would tell students that learning is more than a diploma. The best learning is through life experiences. To go out and enjoy life. Life is full of so many amazing things, but to make it more meaningful and fulfilling, one must find it in a cause outside him/herself.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! An interesting thing about me is that I learned to speak French before I could speak English. Other languages I learned to speak include Kirundi, Swahili, Setswana, and currently learning Spanish. I have forgotten some of the languages since I learned most of them before the age of 9.
What is your favorite book and why? It might sound like a cliché, but the bible is my favorite book. It has shaped my character and every aspect of my life in general. It is the inspiration of my life as I try to live up to it to the best of my abilities.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? I would love to have dinner with Jesus Christ because of his love and his underserved sacrifice for me. I owe my life to him and I would like to ask him many questions of his life on earth. I would also like to have dinner with Moses because of his life experiences and trials. I would like to hear about his life of going from living in a palace as a prince to spending 40 years in the desert and the challenges of leading the nation of Israel as the weight of the whole world on his shoulders. The third person I would like to have dinner with is George Washington. George Washington has had a profound impact on our nation’s history. To have a chance to spend some time with a leader like him would be very exciting.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? I had some amazing teachers growing up who pushed me and helped me understand things about myself I would not have understood otherwise.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? Every day is different; I never know where kids are going to take the material. Plus, most of them say "Thank you" on the way out the door.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? Working hard is never a bad idea.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I love pop culture. I love trying to figure out what the latest TV show, song, or internet meme says about what Americans care about in that moment.
What is your favorite book and why? I couldn't pick one. Every book I've ever read has given me something.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Teddy Roosevelt. What a crazy conversation that would be! I just think they all have very different Americas that I would like to understand better.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? I have always loved the excitement and discovery in a school environment. What better way to experience that every day than to become a teacher?
What makes you excited to come to school every day? In the library, I have the absolute joy of seeing a wide range of students grow in their discovery of literature, stories, information, and knowledge every single day. I believe so strongly that we are all made up of collections of stories and helping children learn to share those stories and experience the stories of others who may or may not be just like them is what being a human is all about.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I hope my students enter and exit the library with a renewed sense of wonder that continues throughout their lives as learners. Wonder is about a sense of magic, which we could all use a little more of, but we could also use a little bit more of the ability to question and find out more.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! This may not be terribly surprising, but I do love musical theatre and in my younger days performed in a number of school and local shows. Nowadays I tend to perform mostly in my car on the way to and from school.
What is your favorite book and why? Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery has always been my absolute favorite. Anne is very much my kindred spirit and I delight in every re-reading of this story and its sequels each year.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? I would have dinner with my grandmother, the great storyteller of our family and someone I feel with my every day even though she is gone. The second person would be my first grade teacher who I have kept in touch with throughout my life and who always gives me good advice and encouragement. My third person would be Lin Manuel Miranda because he is a genius and if I'm having dinner with him, then maybe, just maybe I can get my hands on some Hamilton tickets!
What makes you excited to come to school every day? I get to directly inspire creativity in a highly energetic field, music.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? Beyond musicianship, I want my students to know that struggle and risk-taking are positive, life-giving experiences that lead to learning.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! Outside of school, Mr. Bryan (Upper School English and Sophomore Dean) and I love rocking out on our guitars in our home.
What is your favorite book and why? My favorite book series is The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? If I chose three people to dine with, I would choose revolutionaries and poets or musicians and our passionate conversations would change the world: Beethoven, The Apostle Peter, and Joan of Arc.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? I was fortunate to have some incredible teachers, coaches, and mentors who hugely impacted my life both in and out of the classroom during my four years at Virginia Episcopal School. Upon graduation from college I, by some miracle, landed a one year internship at Culver Academy - one of the finest independent schools in the country - to teach history and coach. Working with motivated high school students clicked for me and I found that I could have a similar impact on them that my teachers had on me during my formative years.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? I walk into the Study Commons every morning with a smile on my face. It is a place where visible connections are made all day, every day. Not only is book learning happening, but students are building relationships with each other and their teachers. That is a special part of the ESD culture.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I want all students to learn how to ask good questions, advocate for themselves, and build their character. Life lessons are equally, if not more, important as those learned from the textbook.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! My family and I are huge Davidson College basketball fans. If I'm not at a school event between November and March, it is likely because Davidson is playing and we are all gathered around a TV or watching in person.
What is your favorite book and why? The End of Average by Todd Rose. It helped me understand that education can and needs to meet students where they are, breaking the old mold of standardization.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? Don Mattingly - childhood idol; James Madison - would love for him to see our country now and hear what he imagined it might become when authoring our Constitution; and John Henry Heil - while I knew my grandfather as a child, I would like for him to meet his grandchildren (including his namesake) and pick his brain about the interesting life he led.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? When I was young and someone asked me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I'd always say "a teacher!" Over the years, however, my love of writing lead me in a different direction, and after graduating with my English and Journalism degrees, I went into publishing and journalism, which I did for seven years. However, I never felt fulfilled in my job. I started to imagine what it would be like to teach students how to write instead, not to mention discuss literature everyday, and my dreams to become a teacher resurfaced. I've been teaching for 10 years now, and I'm motivated and inspired on a daily basis by the incredible teachers who taught me in high school, all of whom I still think about, and my teacher mentors over the years.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? The environment at ESD feels scholarly and collegiate, and when I'm here, whether I'm collaborating with our talented teachers, working one-on-one with our fantastic students, or sitting in my office or in front of the fireplace preparing for class, I feel supported and valued by faculty, students, administrators, and parents. Seeing my students each day motivates me more than anything; I know that each class will be different and inspiring, and I am thankful that I get to do what I love every day.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? Perseverance. I recently hiked to Picacho Peak in New Mexico, which tested me physically, mentally, and emotionally! I almost quit halfway up. However, my husband and friends were with me, and with their support and a little grit, I made it to the top and was rewarded with amazing views and a real sense of accomplishment. Much of what our students experience in an academic setting is like climbing Picacho Peak, but the rewards are definitely worth the struggle.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I know how to tap dance and took lessons for 15 years; I still tap dance around the house when no one is looking. I also have four chickens, so we always have fresh eggs at home.
What is your favorite book and why? As a student and teacher of literature, this question is anxiety-inducing! However, I can tell you two books that have changed my life in numerous ways: Moby-Dick by Herman Melville and 1984 by George Orwell. 1984 inspired me to study English literature in college, and Moby-Dick is almost a spiritual experience for me; each time I read it I notice something new, and it seems to tell me exactly what I need to hear at just the right time.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? Paul McCartney, Jane Austin, and James Baldwin. Each of them fascinate me in different ways, but they're all phenomenal storytellers.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? I think I knew I was going to be a teacher from the very beginning; it is almost like a family business. Both of my parents were teachers and three of my four grandparents were teachers. I had four uncles and five aunts that were teachers. My childhood and all my family memories were shaped by school schedules and talk about school. I remember the first time I realized that not everyone had all summer off to travel and play with their families and three weeks of vacation at Christmas to spend with each other; it was really eye opening to what a large role education played in my family. I loved the critical thinking, experimenting, and striving to find answers to the world that my father, also a science teacher, opened up to me which inspired me to teach.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? I am always excited to come to ESD because every day is always something new. Despite teaching the same class five times a day for 20 years, there is always something new happening in science, and I get to share that with my students. I also learn new things from their news items and projects.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I hope my students learn to have confidence and not worry about not always having the right answer.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! During the summer I head on up to Wisconsin to enjoy the weather, festivals, and old friends. I also run a small raspberry farm. I started picking raspberries as a job when I was seven years old and have been involved with raspberries ever since.
What is your favorite book and why? My favorite book is Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. It is about an alien spaceship that enters our solar system and the people that try to explore and unlock the mysteries of it. I like the book because it has that sense of adventure or exploring something new and trying to figure out how it works.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? I would first pick my mother. She died just over a year ago, and she would love to hear about what is going on with my kids. I know she would have loved to have been able to see them grow up and teach them how to bake. I would also pick my Uncle Ed. He was one of my favorite uncles (and a history teacher) and died when I was in seventh grade. He was like a big kid: fun-loving, not afraid to look silly, and irreverent. Lastly, I would pick Andy Perry (former Outdoor Ed. Director at ESD). I haven't seen him in a few years and would love to hear all of the crazy stories about what he has been up to. And with him there, I wouldn't have to do much of the talking; perfect!
What motivated and inspired you to teach? My love for teaching started when I was a teenager and I was teaching kids how to do kinesthetic things such as swimming, soccer, or lacrosse. I realized that instruction gave me a licence to be creative and find different ways to help different kids understand how to do something in a way that made them feel good about themselves. Watching kids be successful at something they previously struggled with is the purest form of joy I have ever experienced. As I got older and realized I could make teaching a career, I had to think about what it was I wanted to teach. I have always loved science, so I ended up picking and majoring in chemistry. The real reason I chose to teach chemistry is because I struggled with it every day. Sometimes people think that because it was my major it must come naturally to me, and while parts of it do, my struggle with chemistry forced me to find creative solutions to my own problems and struggles. I now have the ability to take the same creative solutions and tricks I learned or came up with to help students understand a notoriously difficult subject. Watching students succeed at something as complicated as executing stoichiometry problems and getting excited about their own understanding of the atomic world around us is the most wonderful feeling in the world to me.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? Aside from my amazing coworkers, the kids at ESD are what make every day here something I look forward to. The genuinely understand how much effort and work I put into their learning and understanding of chemistry. ESD is a place that allows me to create a curriculum and a classroom environment that involves both teacher and student in learning. We work together to tackle difficult topics and they help make me a better teacher every day by letting me bounce alternative ideas and ways of doing things off of them. Having an involvement in their own learning keeps the kids engaged and excited about chemistry. Being able to come to a place like ESD everyday knowing that I am appreciated and that I have the ability to try new things, make adjustments, and have fun making mistakes is what makes me so excited to come to work every day, ready to tackle chemistry together.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I really emphasize the art of making mistakes in my class. Learning how to deal with failure or messing up in a constructive way and understanding that to a degree its inevitable, so don't put so much pressure on yourself to be flawless all the time. On that same note I really try to encourage students to find their voice. Learning how to articulate what you need in order to be successful is a life long skill. Constructive communication with both adults and peers is an art that takes practice, recognition, and reflection.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I love kick boxing and running with my pup, Beasley! I enjoy watching college lacrosse, the NHL (Go AVS!), and the NFL. I also enjoy painting and crafting a variety of art projects. My daily therapy is cooking and baking, after all cooking and chemistry are the same thing, just don't lick the spoon in the lab!
What is your favorite book and why? My favorite all time book is The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss. It is just a timeless, comforting classic that will always have a place in my heart. My favorite "grown up book" is a little harder to pick. I kind of bounce from genre to genre so it is difficult when you have to compare Outlander to The Glass Castle to Romeo and Juliet to A Series of Unfortunate Events to 13 Reasons Why to The Hunger Games to The Great Gatsby to Outliers...
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? I would love to have dinner with my Lolo (grandpa). He passed away when I was in sixth grade and I would really like to know him as an adult. He was such a fascinating man that accomplished so much that I don't think I had a chance to really comprehend the value of his experiences when I was just a kid. He was a Monument's Man who rescued artwork from the Nazis in WWII and he also had a chemistry degree, just to name a few of the extraordinary things he did. I think he would be really proud to know his granddaughter has a chemistry degree too. I would also like to have dinner with Seth MacFarlane because I think he is hilarious but I also really appreciate the underlying (and somewhat overlooked) creativity in his works. Roger the alien is one of the greatest most creative, reckless, and versatile characters ever invented. The last person I would like to have dinner with would be Jane Goodall. She is my hero. I love anthropology and zoology (I am like the best person to take to the zoo) and I think I could just talk to her for hours about what an icon she is for women in science and her experiences, but also probably mostly about primates and other amazing animals.
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