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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! 

Allison Darnell: Middle School Math Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? I joined Teach for America after college and taught for two years at an inner city charter school in Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York. I grew up in Dallas and attended Ursuline, so teaching in the projects was definitely an eye-opening experience. It was through those experiences that I realized that I love teaching. Helping students learn new ways to solve math problems and teaching them different ways to think is what motivates me.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? The joy on the students' faces and the interactions with my co-workers makes me excited to come to ESD. There is a special community here. I am excited to make learning fun, make math exciting, and help the students' minds grow by teaching them new ways to think. One thing that I really appreciate is ESD's focus on whole-child development.

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? You are going to have set backs throughout your life, but it is important to stay true to yourself and to not give up!

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I have still have my horse that I competed with throughout high school and college. Shadow is his name and I got him at the start of my eighth-grade year in August 2000.

What is your favorite book and why? I love the book, Wonder. It is an easy read, yet full of life lessons - kindness, perseverance, stay true to yourself, and getting to know people for who they really are.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? My Grandma who passed away in December 2015 - I have so many fond memories of her and would love to have one last laugh with her. Grandma made everything fun! Princess Kate Middleton - I love following the Royal Family.  I follow them through their multiple accounts on social media. I would love to be able to talk to Kate and how her life changed from being a "normal" person to marrying into the Royal Family. Ben Franklin - He had so many great inventions. What would he think of our world today?

Posted by in Middle School on Monday February 19
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Wendy Kenneybrew: Lower School Art Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? Making a difference in each child's life motivates and inspires me to teach.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? To work with each student and to watch the children learn and grow is why I like to come to ESD every day.

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? To treat others the way you would want to be treated.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I like music and will be taking guitar lessons. I enjoy singing karaoke, taking pictures, and spending time with my two grandchildren.

What is your favorite book and why? I like reading spiritual books and one of my favorite authors is Joel Olsteen.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? I would have dinner with my Grandfather because he was my hero. I would also include my Great Great Grandmother because she told me a lot about my family history. Finally, I would invite Joel Olsteen because he inspires me.

Posted by in Lower School on Monday February 19
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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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Hannah Brown: Second Grade Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? I've wanted to be teacher since I was in Kindergarten. I thought about different roles as a teacher, but when I was in undergrad, a quote by Frederick Buechner really spoke to me. It says, "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." I knew that I wanted to teach young children how to navigate through our world- which continues to be trickier each day.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? ESD is a community and a family. The faculty and staff support each other, and the families support teachers and the needs of the school. The students are creative and hungry to learn. It is the best place to be a teacher.

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I tell my students all the time that I want them to learn the basics, such as reading, writing, and math. However, the most important thing I want them to learn is how to be a good person in this world. I tell them to fall forward, develop a teachable spirit, and to always be thankful.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I love making photo books from each year of my life to remember everything I do. I also enjoy running and dancing. I teach dance at a dance studio in Richardson. I adore all performing arts. I also spend a lot of time with my brother and sister.

What is your favorite book and why? My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. I love the time period that this book was written in, and the hard questions that the reader must grapple with - similar to things that we still face today.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? Abraham Lincoln, Rodgers & Hammerstein

Posted by in Lower School on Monday February 12
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Jill Sayre: Middle School English Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? I have always loved to learn, so I wanted to pay that forward. I especially love teaching at the middle school level. My background is in art and creative writing, so I try to design lessons that are as much fun as they are challenging.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? I am all about my students -- they are my favorite part of ESD. They are clever, silly, kind, and ready to learn. I look forward to seeing their faces every day, especially when they light up after making a connection in class.

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I want students to learn that an important part of life is creativity. It is all around them, like a song on the radio or the computer they use. Everything was created by someone, and creativity is an important part in all disciplines, not just music or entertainment. It's those who create that innovate.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I love watching high school and college football. This started way back when I went to high school. In my junior year, I was actually a mascot-- I ran around the field dressed as a tiger!

What is your favorite book and why? My favorite book is Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. This story helped me realized how books can put the reader in each scene alongside the characters, transport to another place, and cause strong emotions. I was further inspired when I read the book on writing that was co-authored by E.B. White, The Elements of Style. It inspired me to write my first book!

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? If I could have dinner with three people, it would be both of my grandmothers and my mother-in-law. All of them are in heaven, so it would be wonderful to catch them up on all that has happen over the years. Although I know they are watching over us, I miss them.

Posted by in Middle School on Tuesday February 6
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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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Brenda Wilder: Fourth Grade Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? My mom was a teacher and my dad was a principal, so it's in my blood! I grew up understanding the importance of education and the dedication required to teach with passion.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? The nurturing environment, daily chapel services, long-held traditions, and the focus on developing compassionate and responsible citizens are some of the things that drew me to ESD. As teachers, we are blessed with the opportunity to impact lives every day and form positive relationships with colleagues and families that last a lifetime.

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? They are loved, they are special, and they are capable. I push them to be their best because it matters. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard, or as Thomas Edison said, "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration."

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! Outside of the classroom, I enjoy going to movies and concerts and playing dominoes with friends and family. I am also a die-hard Aggie! I graduated from Texas A&M and love going back to football games in College Station every year. Gig 'em!

What is your favorite book and why? Small Steps by Peg Kehret is my favorite book. It is the inspiring story of a young girl who survived Polio. I read it every year to my students when we study the bones and muscles. It reminds us to appreciate our health, to not take simple things for granted, and to believe in the power of perseverance.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? Easy...my dad and only my dad. I wouldn't want anyone else there to distract me from soaking up every minute with him. He was an incredibly selfless and self-taught man who died from cancer when I was 23. He lived a life of faith and integrity and is greatly missed.

Posted by in Lower School on Tuesday January 30 at 12:10PM
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Adrian Demian: Instrumental Music Teacher

 

What motivated and inspired you to teach? A few of my teachers growing up were mean and unskilled. I decided then that I would be a teacher in order to give positive school experiences to as many children as I can.

What makes you excited to come to school every day? I am excited to meet with my students; to teach them and to learn from them as well.

What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I want my students to be self-sufficient, to be able to self assess, to be confident, and proud of their hard work.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I was born and grew up in Transylvania (remember Dracula?), which is a beautiful region in my native Romania. It is a region full of old traditions, wonderful people, and very tasty food!

What is your favorite book and why? The Idiot by Dostoyevsky, because I am an incorrigible romantic and dreamer.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? Mozart, because he wrote the music that penetrates closest to my heart; King Louis XIV, the Sun King, because he was both one of the greatest dancers of his generation and one of the greatest rulers; J.K. Rowling, so we can talk about Harry Potter

Posted by in Middle School on Tuesday January 30 at 11:39AM
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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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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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