M.F.A., Theater, Sarah Lawrence College
B.A., Dramatic Literature, Theater History and Film, New York University
What is your teaching philosophy?
In the middle school, I like to choose activities which highlight key elements of different theatrical styles and eras, so that the students have fun while learning a little history. I also focus on small group work which taps into the awesome imaginations these kids possess.
In the upper school I work mainly on improvisation and devised theater. This means the students are creating their own material, either on the spot or through various methods I’ve learned in my own work. They can then see how the skills involved in this translate to acting an already published script. But I want a more dynamic environment than one where kids are presenting monologues and scene studies. t.
When nothing else is working, what is your go-to?
I spent two years working with an at-risk student population in New York. We brought all kinds of lesson plans and grand schemes for projects. Many of them weren't properly tailored to our students, and were unsuccessful. Then one day I decided to start out by spending a few minutes asking each student to talk about one positive and one negative thing about their days so far. Simple, but it took prodding. Some of them believed they had nothing to say, or that no one would want to hear it. Once those notions were dispelled, we embarked on regular sharing and venting sessions which became the foundation for our devised theater work. So I always remind myself to take time now and then to listen to the students, hear what's important to them, the stories they tell, and let those things, occasionally, take the place of my fancy plans.
What was your biggest a-ha moment as a teacher or school administrator?
I had an encounter with a student during my first year of teaching where I became very angry and threw him out of the classroom. I drew a line in the sand: he can't come back into my class until he has apologized. I was lucky to have a friend in the office to gently remind me that I was the adult in this situation. The next day, I spoke with the student and apologized for my part in letting the situation get to that point. I could tell it made an impression on the young man, and I wondered how much more often he had been yelled at by authority figures than apologized to. That humbled me, and I think about it all the time.
What is your favorite Bible verse?
Job 38:4: Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.