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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! 

Jerone Mitchell: Upper School Computer Science Teacher

 

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.

Posted by in Upper School on Tuesday March 27 at 03:01PM
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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 at 03:24PM
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Angela Fritsen: Upper School Latin Teacher

 

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.

Posted by in Upper School on Tuesday March 6
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Lauren Redmond '01: Tech Theater Director

 

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!

Posted by in Upper School on Tuesday February 27
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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
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Matt Varvir: Upper School Science Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? Growing up, I never knew what I wanted to be when I became an adult. Unfortunately, this extended to my college education, too, and I ended up just majoring in physics and theater because 1) I was good at those disciplines and 2) I enjoyed them. However, when I visited the Galapagos Islands when I was 20, I was informed that many of the efforts that were being put into place to protect the fragile environment of the archipelago were aimed at children because the adults were, in many ways, too old to adapt.  When I heard this, something just clicked--if you want to see meaningful change in this world, focus on children. Students have the capacity to learn, to grow, and to make a better future--teaching them is the most impactful choice I could ever make.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? The community at ESD, the teachers, the staff, even the students, is so supportive that my job does not actually feel like "work." I already enjoyed teaching science to students; this environment pushed that even further.

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I do not think I do an overly good job of getting this across simply because it is so antithetical to the stressful environment that many of my students find themselves in, but I want my students to learn that their value is in no way determined by their performance. Yes, good grades are nice, but a willingness to work and a desire to learn are, in my opinion, way more valuable. I can teach students physics (slowly, but surely). I cannot necessarily teach them perseverance or intellectual curiosity--that is something that they often need to bring to the table themselves.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I practiced martial arts for most of my life (starting back in the first grade). Over the years that includes karate, tae kwon do, Brazilian jujitsu, kuk sool won, and kickboxing. I actually practiced mixed martial arts (MMA) for a few years when I was a bit younger as well.

Outside of the classroom, I watch a lot of movies and very much enjoy learning about the finer aspects of film, such as editing, cinematography, etc. My goal this year is to see at least one movie in the theater every week.

I watch baseball religiously and have been a lifelong Texas Rangers fan. Needless to say, I am used to having my hopes and dreams obliterated.

During my theatrical career, I acted in many different roles. While playing Hamlet in college was definitely the most prestigious role I ever had, my favorite part was playing Estragon in Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot."

What is your favorite book and why? This is an extremely hard question. So I am going to cheat and list a few: The Call of the Wild by Jack London; the idea of the "western frontier" has always held intrigue for me. That combined with Buck's perseverance and ability to adapt to desperate circumstances makes this an exciting, powerful read. The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut; Vonnegut may be my favorite author due to his odd humor, quirky style, and unrelenting devotion to irony. This was the first book of his I ever read and exemplifies everything I like about his writing. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell; this book was extremely emotionally affecting for me. An interesting premise and a heart-rending tragedy. (This book is definitely not appropriate for younger students.)

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? 1) My grandfather, who in many ways was the only extended family member that I was particularly close to. He passed away when I was a freshman in high school and I would have liked to have talked to him as an adult. 2) Stephen Colbert. I am a big fan and I just see him being very entertaining but also polite in a setting like that. 3) Albert Einstein. A bit cliche coming from a physics teacher, but he was such a unique and entertaining figure. A model of genius, but also a flawed man with many different passions and aspirations.

Posted by in Upper School on Tuesday February 13
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Marc Salz: Upper School History Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? During my freshman year of high school, I lost my favorite history teacher to diabetes related blindness. I was determined to someday try and fill his shoes.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? The students' willingness to work hard in small groups and find the answers on their own with my guidance.

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I want them to learn more about an educated conscience and see that some issues are truly about right and wrong.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! After a lifetime as a football and basketball fan, I've become such a soccer fan that I'll skip an NCAA tournament game or an NFL playoff game for an FC Dallas soccer match.

What is your favorite book and why? The Lord of the Rings trilogy, since it teaches lessons about history and about the value of comrades on our way through life's struggles.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? My kids, but they'd actually have to communicate over food.

Posted by in Upper School on Tuesday February 6
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Joe Snyder: Upper School Choir Director

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? My father was a teacher, so I grew up in the educational environment. Music has always been a part of my life, and I feel that every person needs the arts in their lives. I had the desire to share that belief with young people.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? I'm excited to see the faces and feel the energy from the students. There is nothing else like it to motivate me to be better at what I do.

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I want my students to have confidence in themselves and in what they can accomplish. If someone doesn't feel they can do something, they won't try.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I am a Broadway addict. I travel to NYC whenever I can and see as many shows as possible. My all-time favorite shows are Cabaret, Hairspray, and Westside Story (in alphabetical order).

What is your favorite book and why? I enjoy books by Dan Brown - The Da Vinci Code was my introduction to the author.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? Johann Sebastian Bach, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Oprah Winfrey.

Posted by in Upper School on Tuesday January 23 at 04:27PM
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Barton Burnett: Upper School Engineering and Robotics Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? I actually fell into teaching by accident. I was working on joining the academy for the officers at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport who become licensed state police and firefighters, but the opening was later then I could afford. I saw there was a want ad for an electronics instructor for Fort Worth ISD and I was an electronics warfare supervisor in the US Navy, so I applied. I figured I would just teach for one year and then go into the academy. This was an inner city school and was very rough. But while it was rough to start, after my third or fourth month, I could not imagine doing anything else.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? I have never been to a campus that, from the physical structure, landscaping, teaching philosophy, students, faculty, and administration, is as harmonious as ESD. Our campus makes me feel like anything is possible and that the best part of my teaching career and my students' accomplishments are still ahead of me.

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I have a philosophy that basically says, "Professionalism is not what you do when it is easy. Professionalism is what you do when it is hard." Bottom line, anyone can look good when life is easy. But, who you are as a person you will never know until things are hard. Also, I fully believe in dream big, then figure out all of the little things one must do in order to accomplish the big. For it is the little things that make the big things work. Believe that you can make difference, as long as you are willing to work for it. Know when to stand your ground no matter what anyone says and know when to compromise. Last, show compassion and mercy when you can.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I love the outdoors: hiking, swimming, stargazing, and anything else along those lines. I am also a sci-fi/fantasy geek, as well as loving Renaissance Faires. One time I was a traditional archer and a swordsman.

What is your favorite book and why? I have a series of books I like. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, anything from John Ringo, and historical books like Six Frigates and Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? For humor, Robin Williams; I would love to see how his mind worked. For personal courage, there was a 2nd Lt from an armored cav unit that stood guard over an Iraqi woman, who was shot by Iraqi soldiers during a battle. He protected her with his body till an armored ambulance came up and took her to a hospital. Last, would actually have to be a pair. Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass, and hear them talk about the issues they had.

Posted by in Upper School on Tuesday January 23
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Amy Henderson: Upper School Science Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? I used to make my sister play school with me for hours. I love sharing knowledge, exploring, and seeing faces light up. I like to make students think and feel the reward of figuring things out.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? I love relating science to real life and giving students confidence in science subjects. The students and faculty I work with make me excited to come to ESD every day. I love the special community and advisory we have to make connections with students at ESD.

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? Anyone can do anything they put their mind to. Explore and search for answers and reasons - don't let curiosity fade.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I enjoy teaching piano, reading, spending time with my family, cooking, and traveling outside of school. I have lived in Dallas my whole life - same with my husband, whom I met in seventh grade. We are SMU fans.

What is your favorite book and why? I love Wonder. I just reread it with my daughter this summer. Live your dreams and be yourself no matter what people say or do to you.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? I would say Mary (Jesus' Mother), Einstein, and my great great grandmother.

Posted by in Upper School on Tuesday January 9
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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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