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

Episcopal School of Dallas

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

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! 

Clayton Chmiel: Upper School Spanish Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? I never planned to be a teacher. But when I wanted to change careers, some friends and family members suggested I look into teaching, so I did. I fell in love with teaching, and discovered my ability and passion for it.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? My students are fantastic in a lot of ways. They work hard, they're smart, and they're respectful. But most importantly, they show up every day curious and wanting to learn. That's what makes me excited to teach every day.

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? There are two things that are essential to me, no matter what life my students pursue: 1) The world is full of amazing, interesting people, things, places, and cultures. If we want to live a good life, we can never stop exploring. 2) Every person, no matter who they are or what they've done, is deserving of respect and care. Treat people well.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! Anyone who knows me would know this already, but I love my wife, and I love traveling and eating with her. We try to eat something we've never had before every week, and try to cook something we've never cooked before every week. I love exploring the world's cuisines, especially the cuisines of Southeast Asia.

What is your favorite book and why? La sombra del viento by Carlos Ruíz Zafón will always be important to me. Growing up, I never enjoyed reading, and tried to avoid it at all costs. This book was the first real book that I enjoyed, and it got me into reading lots of other things.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be and why? I'd love to have dinner with Chris Thile, who's an incredible musician and a very intellectual guy. I'd also eat with Anthony Bourdain, because there's no one in the world I would trust more to lead me to the right food in the right place for a super enjoyable dinner. And I'd love to have dinner with my wife. But just to be clear, I'm not sure if she would enjoy dinner with the other guys, so in my dream world, these are three separate dinners.

Posted by englande in Upper School on Tuesday November 7, 2017 at 12:16PM
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Richard Williams: Head Football Coach and Upper School Science Teacher

What motivated and inspired you to teach? The teachers that I had in middle school and high school who helped change my path in life are the reason that I am inspired to teach. It's not what they taught me about the subject matter in their class, but rather what they taught me about myself and how they inspired me to explore outside of my comfort zone. At that time, they believed in me more than I believed in myself and pushed me into spaces and areas of learning where I did not think I belonged or could succeed.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? In my role as a Physics teacher and Varsity Head Football Coach, I am blessed with opportunities to make a difference in the lives of our students; that is why I am excited to come to ESD every day. Every single day is filled with abundant opportunities to impact students, either in the classroom, lunch room, hallway, or on the athletic fields. The sense of purpose and gratification that results from positively impacting kids is addictive and every morning I wake up on a mission to find more opportunities to do just that.

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I want my students to learn that the only limits they have are the ones they place on themselves. Additionally, I want them to realize that they each own unique talents and qualities that make them special.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! My favorite hobby is working on my ranch, raising cattle and bailing hay. My recipe for happiness is a pair of jeans, boots, and a tractor! I have raised registered Limousin cattle (French breed) and baled round hay bales for over 25 years and plan to continuing doing so after this teaching/coaching gig is up.

What is your favorite book and why? Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr. Spencer Johnson, which is about successfully dealing with change in your work and in life. This is a book that I first read during my time in the corporate world when Exxon and Mobil merged to form ExxonMobil. I have just kicked off my sixth year working here and as part of ESD's continued growth and ongoing improvement, I have experienced three Heads of School, three Heads of Upper School, and four Athletic Directors. As a result, this book has been a life saver and one that I refer to often!

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be and why? 1) My dad as he is still very much missed since his passing last year and I miss his advice on being a good husband, father, and coach. 2) My wife because we don't get to have dinner together very often due to the demands of being Varsity Head Football Coach. 3) African American folk hero, John Henry, as his story was of great inspiration to me growing up.

Posted by Emma England in Upper School on Tuesday October 31, 2017 at 11:14AM
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Rachael Bingham: First Grade Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? I wanted to be a teacher since a very young age. I had a wonderful second grade teacher named Mrs. Hagood who gave me a great deal of inspiration. She read Charlotte's Web aloud to the class that year and I was captivated by her voice. She also had a binding machine where we could write our own books and bind them. I would pretend to be Mrs. Hagood during free play any time I had a chance. I also had very inspirational high school teachers who each had a wonderful bond with their students allowing me to see how important relationships with students can be.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? ESD is like a second home. When I walk in the school building each morning with my son, Hudson, we are greeted by not only faculty and staff, but current and previous students. It hard to not have an instant smiling upon seeing these faces. I love the sense of community and how we are all so connected. It is amazing to work in the same place that my child attends school, where my sister is also a teacher, and my nephew is a student as well.

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? It is super important that my students know how I feel about them. I want them to leave each afternoon feeling a sense of belonging and a strong sense of connectivity. Each morning we begin our school day in a circle simply greeting one another and letting each other know how happy we are that we are all here together.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I love to run; I have run 6 half marathons. I am big music fan and loved attending any time of live music venue. Also, I am a lefty!

What is your favorite book and why? Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. This children's book is a book I read multiple times during the school year. It helps drive home the lesson that we are all unique in our own way and we should be proud of our uniqueness.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be and why?  My grandfather: I would love to be able to introduce him to my children. He would get a big kick out of their personalities. Mrs. Hagood: my second grade teacher. I would love her to see where I am now! My first group of students: I would love to see where they are now and what they are up to, as well as apologize for all of my mistakes as a first-year teacher!

Posted by englande in Lower School on Tuesday October 24, 2017 at 01:55PM
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Matt Figlestahler: Upper School English Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? I ran into a former teacher during my senior year of college at North Texas. He asked me, "When do you start teaching?" A simple question on the surface, however, I hadn't planned on being a teacher. It made me think, "This person saw this in me even before I did." From that point on I have been dedicated to being the best English Teacher and Coach, I could possibly be.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? I am excited about the positive culture that has been built here. I want to help further the wonderfully positive environment here. Additionally, I love to help impact students lives, academically and personally.

Beyond your subject-area, what life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? As an English Teacher I always want students to be well-written and well-read. However, I MOST want students to be critical and analytical thinkers.

What are some hobbies you have outside of school? My outside of school hobbies include: running, soccer, baseball, golf, church, and family! (not all in that order!)

What is your favorite book and why? My favorite book is Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. It encapsulates the essence of what it is to question life and question the rules. All of this from the perspective of a teenage boy.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? I would love to have dinner with (in no particular order) the 14th Dalai Lama, Holden Caulfield, and Bill Murray.

Posted by englande in Upper School on Tuesday October 24, 2017 at 01:53PM
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Phil Bryan: Upper School English Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? It seems cliche to say it, but I can think of numerous teachers who genuinely changed my life. A big part of who I am today is because of the teachers I sat under for twenty years. So as a young man thinking about my own career path, I realized that I wanted to make a difference for the future, and directly impacting people's lives is the best way to do that. Becoming a teacher gives me the most hours with people of any job I know, and those people happen to still be young and willing to take intellectual risks. What other job gives you that?

What makes you excited to come to school every day? I like to tell people that I am in the people business. I don't teach English-- I teach PEOPLE English. I am energized by both my students and colleagues, and I love that we are focused on things of permanent value: intellect, character...the very essence of humanity.

Beyond your subject-area, what life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? Humility is more precious than gold. It's easy to hide behind swagger and confidence, but real strength comes from both knowing and admitting your frailties. We cannot live well in community until we admit we need other people's strengths to fill in our weaknesses.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself!  I am an ordained minister, and I worked in churches for 17 years before becoming a full-time teacher. Somewhere in the middle of my time as a pastor, I was asked to teach part time. It was a slow burn, but I eventually realized that teaching was so much more fun than being a pastor. It took me a few years to fully switch careers, but I've never looked back since becoming a teacher.

What is your favorite book and why?  Ugh! That's an unfair question for an English teacher-- it's like asking me which of my kids I love most! I suppose the book that first blew my mind was Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. I'm not sure I've ever recovered from the beauty of his prose and the depth of his message.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be?  For the sake of simplicity, I'll only pick writers: C.S. Lewis, William Faulkner, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. That would probably make for wild night!

Posted by englande in Upper School on Tuesday October 17, 2017 at 03:46PM
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Anna Cornwell: First Grade Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? My third grade teacher, Mrs. Gulledge, was magical! She made learning fun and exciting. She always took the time to get to know her students individually and teach us in a way that we learned best. I work hard on being the same positive influence to my students as Mrs. Gulledge was to me!

What makes you excited to come to school every day? So many things make me excited to walk into my classroom each day! Seeing my students skip in with smiles each morning eager to learn makes my heart happy. I love my first grade team! We support each other and bring out the best in one another. Last but not least, the families, I feel so blessed to be supported and valued by them every day.

Beyond your subject-area, what life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I want my students to understand the value in being a good person and good friend, and spreading happiness wherever they go. It is important that we respect one another and lend a helping hand when needed.

Do you have a sports team or art form that you particularly enjoy or cheer for? I LOVE football! I cheer on my SMU Ponies and UGA Bulldogs every Saturday, and spend Sundays cheering on my Atlanta Falcons. I was born and raised in Atlanta, so when the Falcons made it to the Super Bowl last year I had my whole class cheering on the Falcons. I still cant discuss the loss...too soon!

What is your favorite book and why? Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. I read it almost every year to my students. It teaches so many life lessons about growing up, letting go, and building life long friendships.

Posted by englande in Lower School on Tuesday October 17, 2017 at 01:33PM
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Mary Hansell: Director of Ed Tech and World Cultures Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? I have always loved learning new things. Teaching is an art which requires continuous self-evaluation; there are new challenges each day because every class of students is unique.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? The students are always coming up with great questions and new ways to look at information.

Beyond your subject-area, what life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I hope my students will be independent thinkers and life-long learners.

What is your favorite book and why? I've been in a book club over 20 years and have lots of favorites. I enjoy reading stories that are based on historical events or describe interesting things about other cultures. I recently read Daughters of the Dragon and Mischling.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? Margaret Thatcher, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Leonardo da Vinci.

 

Posted by Emma England in Upper School on Tuesday October 10, 2017 at 05:08PM
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Ellen Neill: Middle School Science Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? When I was in fourth grade....long time ago....I had a teacher, Mrs. Fulcher, who showed me what it was to care about students. She always came to class with a smile and was an inspiration to me. I remember sitting in class thinking, "I want to be a teacher just like Mrs. Fulcher."

What makes you excited to come to school every day? I am so excited to come to school every day because of the students. They keep me laughing and for sure on my toes. I start my day eating breakfast with a table full of Middle School students. We laugh, they encourage me, and I encourage them. They even help me out with my fantasy football team. And, I also come to school because of my colleagues. WOW...what a great group of friends I have at ESD!

Beyond your subject-area, what life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? Enjoy life and have fun!

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! Most people know that I love animals, gardening, the Texas Rangers, and am a die-hard Cowboys fan! But many don't know that I was a missionary on a medical ship for a year that traveled around to nine different countries helping the needy. I was a greeter at the front gate!

What is your favorite book and why? The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. This book inspired me to never give up. It help me understand that when things look pretty dim, I need to keep on paddling.

Posted by Emma England in Middle School on Tuesday October 3, 2017 at 12:21PM
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Angie Millar: Upper School Journalism Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? My professional career as a journalist made me appreciate my high school journalism teacher even more. If it wasn't for her my passion for writing and current events would have never been cultivated. I decided that too many students were missing out on that opportunity to fall in love with news. 

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I want my students to learn how to have confidence in their thoughts and how to back up their opinions thoughtfully and factually.  

What do you enjoy outside of the classroom? Outside of the classroom I love to read and to write. I am obsessed with pop culture and love watching TV shows like Golden Girls and Game of Thrones.

What is your favorite book and why? My favorite book is Harry Potter because it is the first series that really got me hooked. I was obsessed with reading. My grandmother would read it to me every night before bed.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be and why? J.K Rowling because she wrote the timeless masterpiece known as Harry Potter. Walter Cronkite: A phenomenal journalist who really believed that what he did served an awesome purpose. Shonda Rhimes: Television Writer who's memoir The Year of Yes has inspired me in more ways than one. Her creative story telling and dedication to portraying diverse communities inspires me.

*Pictured above is Angie with her wand at Harry Potter World!

Posted by Emma England in Upper School on Tuesday October 3, 2017 at 12:11PM
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Zora Skelton: Lower School Math Teacher and Math Coach

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? For me, the motivation and inspiration to teach is very simple. I am shaping and sharing the future with each student I teach. While key concepts, strategies, and formulas are important components of  an academic education, helping  students build responsibility, accountability, and character is equally important.

Why are you excited to come to ESD every day? The students' passion for learning is the reason I come to ESD every day. Perhaps the greatest example of this passion happens every Friday at Lower School's Chess Club when students arrive as early at 6:50 a.m. for a club that starts at 7:00.  What better reason can I have!

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? My job as an educator, parent, grandparent, and citizen is to help build students that will become assets to society. These students should understand their responsibility, have a work ethic, dare to dream, and show respect for one another.

What is a hobby nobody would guess you would have? Going for early morning walks (before school...at 4:40 a.m.) is my hobby and allows me some quiet time. Some of my best ideas come from my daily morning walks. Also, I have 5 grandchildren with one more on the way, and all of our children and grandchildren live within 4 miles of our home.

What is your favorite book and why? The Children's Book of Virtues is my favorite book because it explains how to live your life.

Posted by Emma England in Lower School on Tuesday September 26, 2017
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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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