TEACHER TUESDAY BLOG
"The ESD teachers are so welcoming and open to helping you. They want you to succeed."
- a member of the Class of 2017
Check back each week for a new post!
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? 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.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? Teaching outdoor skills, specifically paddling, at camp was where it all started. I did it because it was fun and I got to go kayaking all the time. After expressing dislike of my job out of college, my Aunt on my Mom's side, Anne Chenoweth, suggested I look at teaching in the classroom. It was because of her I explored moving from summer camp outdoor education to classroom teaching at schools in Dallas. I still do it because its fun!
What makes you excited to come to school every day? My job allows me to be outside basically every single day of the (school) year. I get to share the joy of simply being outside in a world where we are a little too connected, inside.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? Other than the ability to enjoy nature and disconnect from technology, I want students to have an opinion. If they really don't like something, I want them to express it - even if its nature!
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! My current hobby is trying to decrease the number of hobbies I have. I enjoy fishing, kayaking, sailing, working on and riding bicycles, golf, and soccer. I root for all the Dallas sports teams, and love watching the World Cup, Champions League, and Serie A - specifically A.C. Milan.
What is your favorite book and why? The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons. I've been a fan of sci-fi literature, but the first book in the Cantos was an incredible experience. I plan to re-read it every decade. Red Rising by Pierce Brown is a close second!
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? I'm going to go with two. Kurt Vonnegut and my Grandmother. My Dad knew I enjoyed Vonnegut in my high school years, and always suggested I go visit him at his house in New York. He had an open door to anyone who wanted to meet him. I regret never doing that, so I'd have him over for dinner. My grandmother, was a huge influence on my life, and an amazing woman. I'd like her to meet my wife and catch up. Most importantly, we would be eating BBQ and fried chicken.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? I had incredible teachers at Greenhill who motivated me to learn and inspired me to be curious about the world around me. After I studied abroad in Lyon, France, between freshman and sophomore years of college at UT Austin, I started private tutoring French and English for the UT Learning Center. This was the most gratifying work I had ever done. Using my natural talents with language and fueled by my passion for French and English, I was able to help others who struggled in these two academic areas. I was a substitute teacher for French and English at Greenhill for one year, followed by my Teaching Fellowship year in first grade. Then, ESD recruited me to grow the French program, and I have been here ever since!
What makes you excited to come to school every day? I am excited to work with young people and present them with "mirrors"and "windows" (mirrors onto themselves and windows onto the world). Teaching young people about the rich language, history, and culture of France as well as the Francophone (French-speaking) world brings me so much joy. I am passionate about education and, just as I am a lifelong learner, I hope to also be a lifelong teacher. In addition, I love working with the ESD community and with kind-hearted, warm, friendly faculty members and colleagues.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I want my students to be inspired to always follow their hearts and passions, to do what makes them feel whole, like they are contributing in a meaningful way to the world around them. I want them to be global citizens who seek out new opportunities for learning and studying at home and abroad. I also want them to go for every opportunity life has to offer. If they want to learn something new, go for it- it's never too late to develop a skill or talent and to bring joy to your life in a variety of ways.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I enjoy fire-spinning (spinning fire or dancing with fire, which is a traditional Hawaiian ritual). I usually do this on a meaningful special occasion, like a close friend or family member's birthday. I learned how to spin fire by trading arts with a friend in Austin -- I taught her how to slam poetry and she taught me how to spin fire. Slam poetry was also a hobby of mine in college and I used to compete at local venues in Austin and open for other artists and performers. I love to do yoga and love drawing, especially geometric Arabic calligraphy. I have also been learning how to play violin for a few years and have recently started learning how to play the piano -- reading sheet music is like reading a new language! I enjoy the challenge and love to make music.
What is your favorite book and why? My favorite book is Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins because of his unique sense of humor and his ability to weave together seemingly opposite characters. This book made me laugh at loud over and over again and has always been one of my favorite books.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? I would have dinner with Kurt Cobain because his music (Nirvana) was very formative for me, and I would love to pick his brain about his deep and powerful lyrics and the stories behind his songs. I would have dinner with Hanan Ashrawi because of her role in the Middle East peace process, specifically to talk about how to bring people together for lasting and unified world peace. I would have dinner with Vincent Van Gogh and talk about his Post-Impressionist paintings and artwork, especially about what it was like to live as an artist in the late 1800s.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? I had a brilliant professor in seminary who taught World Religions. Even though the classes were ninety minutes long they seemed to fly by. He challenged us to not judge what was not familiar, inspired us think analytically as well as compassionately, and encouraged us to always keep an open mind. He was a great inspiration to me, and I think of him often now that one of the classes I now teach is World Religions.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? Because not only do I get to teach really interesting classes, I also have multiple opportunities to learn from other teachers and students.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? To take risks, and not be afraid to fail. To disagree without being disagreeable. To strive not to generalize or stereotype others. To be respectful of others opinions.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I really love to travel. So far I been to England, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Canada, Mexico, Honduras, Belize, and the Bahamas. If I win the lottery my next adventure would take me down under to Australia and New Zealand.
What is your favorite book and why? It would be impossible to name just one favorite book, so I'll narrow it down a bit and say my favorite book last year was A Gentleman in Moscow. The main character was so beautifully depicted that by the end of the book I felt like he had become a dear friend. I found his charm, intelligence, and inherent dignity in challenging situations compelling.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? Picture Jesus, the Buddha, and Muhammad sitting around a table; I have to imagine that it would not be your ordinary dinner party conversation. I also have lots of questions for all three of them!
What motivated and inspired you to teach? Connecting students to new ideas and inspiring them to become creative, independent thinkers.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? One of the reasons I chose to work at ESD is that the school's Founding Tenets and educational philosophy align closely with my personal values. It's motivating to work at a place where there is this connection.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? Seek understanding, be honest and transparent, demonstrate respect, right wrongs, and continuously improve.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! When I have time, I love to make jewelry and crochet. I used to quilt, but it's been long while. I am from Pittsburgh, so, Go Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates! I bust all the librarian stereotypes -- I don't love to read. I became a librarian because I love connecting people to ideas, and I love to research and follow clues from one resource to another.
What is your favorite book and why? A recent book I love is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. That, and Jodi Picoult's, Small Great Things, challenged my beliefs and assumptions about myself and race.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? I've never really had idols like this, but if given the chance, I would love to reconnect with friends from my youth.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? I can honestly say that I always wanted to be a teacher. As a senior in high school preparing for college I brainstormed which careers I could see myself enjoying; career, in this context, was "something I could do for five or more years." The four careers I came up with were software engineer, professional wrestler, classroom educator, and hip-hop producer. Classroom teaching stuck.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? I'm excited to work with students every day. Education lasts as a career if you enjoy working with students; you will find another career if you do not. My students constantly challenge my knowledge and thought based on current, real-life issues: net neutrality, gender gaps in technology, cryptocurrencies, "Big Data" security issues. Education is something of a two-way street, and I love that.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? The student with the natural talent is seldom becomes the best; the student that has the best work ethic will typically achieve the most success. As a corollary, you have to make mistakes in order to learn; most people that try to avoid the mistakes also avoid the learning. I consider it a success if a student "completes" a project and then goes back to immediately correct his or her mistakes; the first time you do ANYTHING of note you will make mistakes, so we need to prepare you to deal with them.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I am a life-long professional wrestling fan. Growing up, my favorites included Junkyard Dog, Dusty Rhodes (this concludes the "dating myself" portion of the response), Shawn Michaels, The Rock, and CM Punk; I'm more a fan of the Women's Division currently, with Asuka, Ember Moon, Alexa Bliss, and Sasha Banks among my favorites.
What is your favorite book and why? It is hard to choose between Have a Nice Day - A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks by Mick Foley, or The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Whereas I most enjoy the former - an excellent tale about achieving success as a professional wrestler despite being the polar opposite of what someone expects physically in a professional wrestler - the latter taught life lessons needed to navigate the world while maintaining my own sense of morality.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? I got it down to four, but couldn't eliminate someone: Jesus, Malcolm X, Richard Pryor, and Prince. These four were probably the most influential growing up in terms of developing my sense of morality, communication style, leadership style and expectations, my ideas of individual success, etc.. I would LOVE to hear how these four men would examine the world today.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? I was a Volunteer Coordinator for a nonprofit for a few years and during that time I was able to connect people to a specific cause. However, I didn't want to just stop at one cause. I wanted to inspire the next generation to take on the number of issues that plague our communities and beyond.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? The students are always eager to serve. Their passion and selflessness is inspiring. Each student has a unique perspective to bring to any situation and it is fun to see them get creative. The staff are amazing and so supportive especially in these first few months as a new member of the ESD community.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? Although I don't have a conventional classroom, I pray that all of our students learn that regardless of their career choices, they have the potential to be civic leaders.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I don't have a favorite team, but I LOVE college football...especially rivalry games. My mom took stats for a college football team most of my life so I feel I was born and raised on the 50 yard line. My husband and I are super competitive with each other. We have cooking competitions all the time because we love trying new recipes. To this day, I still cannot beat his shrimp and grits.
What is your favorite book and why? A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon. I read this book to a student I tutored a few years ago. I absolutely loved the message. You compromise who you are when you worry about what other's think of you and refuse to be yourself. Don't try to change who you are for the likes of others...be uniquely you!
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? I would love to have dinner with my maternal grandmother. She passed before I was born, but I have her name and my entire family says I have her spirit. I would bring my mother and my baby sister too because my mom always says she wishes we could have met her.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? I loved Latin, and I loved my years of high school (I was an academic nerd). When I lived for a semester in Rome as a college sophomore and saw all the layers of civilization-- ancient ruins, medieval churches, and Renaissance buildings all jostled together-- I became hooked on Roman culture and its influence.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? The vibrancy of youth restores my faith in everything that is good about life. I count my blessings. And I admire my faculty and staff colleagues, and I feel supported by them.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? Patience and kindness.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! My father belongs to generations of bell founders; he emigrated to the Unites States to advance sales in this country. The bell in the tower between the school building and Wellness Center is a Fritsen bell (and that is just a small one).
What is your favorite book and why? Lost in A Good Book by Jasper Fforde. It is an "alternative history fantasy novel." The title says it all.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? I’ve worked professionally in the arts all of my adult life, in opera, ballet, and regional theaters across the country. While I was good at it and enjoyed it, it was when I was working with my apprentices and interns that I really knew I enjoyed teaching and wanted to make the switch in careers. I wanted to be able to teach students everything I had learned and get them as interested in the arts as I was.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? As an alum, I enjoy coming to the place where I went to school and have such fond memories. Granted, there are a lot more buildings than when I was a student, but the campus still feels the same to me. It’s my home away from home.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? Not everything has to be perfect and I’m not looking for perfection when I work with students. I expect you to be putting forth your best effort every time. I’m looking for you to succeed to the best of your abilities. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to push you further than you think you can go. That’s how you grow as a person and an artist.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I run road races and play softball. I’ve completed over 50 races (3 marathons, over 25 half marathons and numerous 5K and 10K). I’ve also been a part of a few coed-softball teams where we have won 5 league championships and 2 tournament championships.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? I would love to have dinner with Lauren Bacall and Katharine Hepburn. My parents named me after them so it’s fitting I went into the arts. I think they were amazing actresses and I would love to hear their stories directly from them. I would also love to have dinner with Julia Child. That woman loved to eat and cook, and so do I!
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