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A Coeducational, College Preparatory School for Ages 3 Through Grade 12
A Coeducational, College Preparatory School for Ages 3 Through Grade 12

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! 

Lisa Rusnak: Middle School English Teacher and Fifth-Grade Advisor

What motivated and inspired you to teach? 
I love working with children and helping them discover new things about themselves and the world around them. I feel like I am making a difference in the profession I have chosen.

Why are you excited to come to ESD every day? 
The students...the students...the students. If I have a rough morning or if I feel stressed, as soon as I see my students and their smiles, my mood is immediately lifted.

Beyond your subject-area or discipline, what life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? 
The theme for my class is self discovery. I want my students to learn more about themselves and their place in the world.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! 
When I have time to work on my hobby, I love to scrapbook, and so far I have completed fifteen books. They are a gift to my children. A fun fact is I have my private pilot's license.

What is your favorite book and why? 
My favorite book is BOYS IN THE BOAT. I love enjoying a good story while learning historical facts.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be and why? 
I would have dinner with Jim Morrison because I love The Doors, and his voice is mesmerizing. I would also choose Maya Angelou because I love her poetry and her outlook on life ,and Katherine of Aragon, Henry the VIII's first wife. I am very interested in that time period in history, so I would pick her brain as to what her life was like.

Posted by Katie Voss in Middle School on Tuesday December 11, 2018
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Chelle Wabrek: Interim Head of Middle School

What motivated and inspired you to teach? 
My college advisor, Tony Aveni, was an archaeoastronomer who cared deeply about teaching his students how to think. He constantly pushed me out of my comfort zone to think creatively, collaboratively and with an open heart. I wanted to pay that gift forward.

Why are you excited to come to ESD every day? 
The AMAZING students, talented faculty and dedicated staff.

Beyond your subject-area or discipline, what life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? 
When I completed my final education class my Senior year at Colgate, I had to write a one sentence mission statement for my teaching life. This same note card hangs in my office to this day, more than 20 years later, and reads, "To create a world of actively engaged problem solvers who find joy in everyday life."

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! 
I grew up in a family that believed food was love so it brings me great joy to cook AND watch the Saints win football games!

What is your favorite book and why? 
C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. My mom read this series to me when I was a kid and I read it to my boys as well. It is a book that can be read at so many different levels and its lessons about forgiveness, courage and transformation stay with me each day.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be and why? 
Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of both France and England, Mother Teresa and Beyoncé -- three strong, interesting women who are always pushing the boundaries in their work.

Posted by Katie Voss in Middle School on Tuesday December 4, 2018
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Carson Krook: Middle School Science Teacher

What motivated and inspired you to teach? 
Partly my father who was a science teacher. Also, when I was teaching swimming lessons one summer I saw all the eager faces of the kids as they were about to start lessons and I said to myself, "I want to teach."

Why are you excited to come to ESD every day? 
In a word, people... students, colleagues, staff, parents.

Beyond your subject-area or discipline, what life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? 
Never judge a book by its cover and don't just know the "rules of the road," follow them.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! 
I have been competing in triathlons since 2013.

What is your favorite book and why? 
Einstein: His Life and Universe. I admire Einstein's belief that imagination is more important than knowledge.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be and why? 
Albert Einstein, my mother and father.

Posted by Katie Voss in Middle School on Tuesday November 13, 2018
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Dave Phillip: Middle School P.E. Teacher

 

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!

Posted by Katie Voss in Upper School, Middle School on Tuesday October 16, 2018
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Scott Goetsch: Middle School Science Teacher

 

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!

Posted by in Middle School on Tuesday May 8, 2018 at 01:40PM
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Davis Felder '06: Assistant Director of Outdoor Education

 

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.

Posted by in Upper School, Middle School, Lower School on Tuesday April 24, 2018 at 01:56PM
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Joumana Arraj: Middle School French Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher. I used to have a sliding door in my room with a dry erase board that I used to teach dolls, stuffed animals, my younger brother, and my cousins (I have about 30 cousins).

What makes you excited to come to school every day? I love ESD, it is a great place to be. I would pick it also if I were a child looking for a school.

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I want them to learn that with "great privilege come great responsibilities" and that character is what makes a person. Education, wealth, prestige, and status, all these follow.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I like to write songs. I like to paint. I like to invent things and go on Shark Tank. I want to do and be so many things. I feel that I am only at the beginning.

What is your favorite book and why? I like self help books because I love to learn about life and how to live it in the best way possible. So that makes me think about The Bible.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? I need it to be with six people. My husband and two sons. My parents that are deceased, and Jesus.

Posted by in Middle School on Tuesday April 10, 2018
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Bill Cook: Middle School English Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? My fifth-grade and, then, again, seventh-grade teacher, J.J. Connolly, inspired me along with a few thousand others at St. Marks. Caustic witticisms and a warm regard that shoots straight to the students’ souls was his calling card, and I stole as much from him as I could remember.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? I can’t remember a day in my 35 years of teaching that I haven't entered school full of excitement about the new day, and I can’t remember a day that a kid’s excitement didn’t rub off on me.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I’ve been known to be a car guy but maybe not as well known to be a movie guy.  Watching older movies is a favorite passion, and since all of the cast and crew of "Witness for the Prosecution" are long gone, I have anointed myself as its greatest authority.

What is your favorite book and why? When I was the age of the students I now teach, the mystery of Beau Geste captured me, but it’s the novel’s gallant gesture that has endured these many years.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? Will Rogers, the Dalai Lama, and Bugs Bunny.

Posted by in Middle School on Tuesday March 20, 2018 at 04:05PM
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Courtney Phelps: Director of Community Service Learning

 

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.

Posted by in Upper School, Middle School, Lower School on Tuesday March 20, 2018 at 03:24PM
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Glen Dawson: Dance Instructor

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? I'm inspired by the joy I feel when watching students learn skills, use creative thoughts, and develop identity and self-esteem.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? The students, faculty, and environment. I love having the ability to teach what I know and have the freedom to be creative.

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I want my dancers to learn independence, integrity, and the importance of community and self-motivation.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I work in the wine industry. I have picked grapes and worked in the tank room, helped make wine, teach wine classes, and worked with Robert Mondavi and Kendall Jackson.

What is your favorite book and why? Anything by Jane Austen. I love the spirit of her novels and the time period.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? Lady Godiva, Audrey Hepburn, and Jesus.

Posted by in Upper School, Middle School on Tuesday February 27, 2018
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Choose groups to clone to:

Lower School

4344 Colgate Avenue
Dallas, Texas, 75225
214-353-5818

Middle & Upper School

4100 Merrell Road
Dallas, Texas, 75229
214-358-4368

Wolf Run Ranch

located near Anna, Texas

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