I have a BA in Liberal Arts from New St. Andrews College (class of ‘05), but my roots in classical education go back to high school and some of the first online classics-based tutorials with Wes Callihan and Fritz Hinrichs. I have since taught a variety of classes at the junior high and high school level, including History, Literature, and Latin. My teaching has been both local (including three years at Logos Christian Academy in Fallon, NV and various opportunities with homeschoolers both there and in my current residence of Moscow, ID) and online for nearly a decade.
I have been blessed to see the rise of interest in classical schooling go hand in hand with the rise of technology that makes the study of the classics easier and more attainable than ever. Now my love of Virgil, Augustine, and Dante can be shared across the globe with students just as eager as I was to lay hold of and read the foundational books of western culture.
Outside of classes about long-deceased authors, you’ll usually find me introducing my four children to some of the other joys in my life: things like baseball, mountains, good stories, the music of the spheres, and sleep. I’m going on faith that they’ll figure out that last one in time, as it has yet to take.
On teaching: I use a lecture-based format for my literature courses that mixes in questions and conversation with the lecture period. The questions are intended to guide the students into a deeper conversation of the readings and stimulate creative and critical thinking. Students are also invited to ask their own questions or share observations on the reading. Most evaluation takes place through written submissions (including papers and short summaries) and tests. All submissions are considered final, unless an exception has been specifically provided.
Salvete! (Hello!) I am very excited to teach Latin at the Well-Trained Mind Academy! I have been a Latin teacher for seventeen years, and can’t wait to share my love of ancient languages and civilizations with you. I started learning Latin as a seventh grader in Louisiana, and my first teaching job was at my alma mater. I earned a BA in Classics and French from Middlebury College, and then pursued graduate studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where I earned a Master of Arts in Teaching Latin and Classical Humanities. I’ve taught all levels of Latin, from elementary school to college, and have experience teaching in private, public, and online schools.
I also have enjoyed participating in many extracurricular activities for Latin students such as Latin Club, Junior Classical League, Certamen (Latin quiz bowl), and contests such as the National Latin Exam and the National Mythology Exam. A highlight of my experience has been traveling with students and their families to Italy, Greece, and Roman Britain. We’ve explored Roman forts, climbed Mount Vesuvius, and have even run a foot race in the original Olympic stadium! It’s been so rewarding to see my students flex their passion for the classics outside of the classroom. When I’m not moderating a Certamen match or writing a geography test for Latin convention, I like to spend my free time exercising, hanging out with my husband and our yellow lab Simone, baking, and watching LSU football and gymnastics. Geaux Tigers!
In our class, we’ll learn grammatical topics through brief lectures, but most of the time will be spent reading, writing, listening to and speaking the Latin language, with the ultimate goal of being able to read and interpret Roman literature. We’ll learn what the Romans themselves tell us about their culture, which has so significantly shaped our own! We’ll also strengthen our English vocabulary through studies of etymology and Latin mottoes, and explore Roman culture and civilization. Finally, students will have the opportunity to delve into cultural topics that are of particular interest to them, such as mythology, art, architecture, or history; students will have a great deal of choice in completing projects in these areas.
Regular vocabulary study, reading practice, and active participation in class will be the keys to success in Latin. I pledge to help my students be successful by giving prompt and constructive feedback, and by making our classroom environment a safe and positive place where it’s okay to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them. I’m looking forward to seeing you in class!
While I have always loved writing, my path to becoming a writing teacher has been a winding one. I earned dual bachelor’s degrees in engineering science and civil engineering from Manchester College and Washington University in St. Louis, respectively, before deciding to pursue my interest in cultural anthropology in graduate school. For my master’s degree at Colorado State University, I conducted household surveys on Pine Ridge Reservation and ranches in South Dakota. As part of my doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), I spent a year in Moldova on a Fulbright grant doing ethnographic fieldwork among environmentalists. I also did a year of research in Romania, and after graduating in 2013, I returned to Moldova and later moved to the country of Georgia.
In all of these places, I spent time writing, editing, and teaching. In addition to my own writing, I edited papers for colleagues as well as non-academic clients. At UWM, I worked as a teaching assistant, taught a course on ways of life in different cultures, and worked as a tutor at the university’s writing center. In Moldova and Georgia, I taught English as a foreign language. For some of my advanced students in Moldova, this included a writing course and workshops where we covered many of the basics found in WTMA’s courses. Working with writers from different cultures with their own writing traditions, both at UWM’s writing center and in Moldova, gave me a new perspective on Anglo-American academic writing.
On teaching: Now that I’ve relocated to Chicago with my husband and our young daughter, I’m excited to continue teaching writing in the U.S. As a teacher, I tailor my classes to the interests and temperaments of the students. I try to create an atmosphere in which students feel comfortable asking questions and participating in discussions. I strive to give clear explanations in lectures and useful feedback on written assignments to prepare students for success in their future academic endeavors.
Warm greetings to you and your family! My name is Amy Upperman and I am thrilled to be joining the Well-Trained Mind Academy. I consider it an honor and privilege to provide high-quality science instruction for homeschool families, and I look forward to working with you to provide the best experience possible for the growth and education of your student. To offer a snapshot of my background in science and education, I earned my BS in Biology at The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, and subsequently earned my MEd in Curriculum and Instruction at The College of William and Mary’s School of Education. Through completion of the master’s program, I secured a postgraduate professional teaching license and have undertaken rigorous training in the most up-to-date research-based teaching practices.
My interest and commitment to education began early in my working experience—one of my first jobs involved providing intellectual stimulation and basic instruction to profoundly mentally challenged children in a hospital setting. This experience deeply impacted me, and offered me perspective on the spectrum of challenges presented in life, and spurred me to pursue a career in teaching. Other early teaching experiences include developing curriculum and leading instruction (primarily in the English language) for recent immigrant families to the USA, serving as an intern with the Marine Science Consortium (where I facilitated learning in outdoor marine settings), mentoring 14-17 year old students at a local Juvenile Detention Center in Williamsburg, VA, and tutoring middle school students in Toano, VA.
Since becoming a licensed science teacher, I have taught Advanced Placement Biology and Advanced Biology at the high school level. In addition, I have recently secured publication in Northeastern Naturalist as first author of an ecological research study completed in 2012 in collaboration with the Keck Environmental Field Lab through The College of William and Mary (“The Influence of Recreational Crabbing Regulations on Diamondback Terrapin By-catch”). In recognition of my commitment to creativity and excellence in science instruction, I was awarded the Mary Faust Galfo Teacher Scholarship Award, and have also been awarded the Robert Noyce Scholarship as a highly qualified STEM teacher in the USA. This scholarship afforded me the opportunity to collaborate with international leaders in inquiry-based science instruction at a professional teaching conference held in Europe.
As a teacher, I find that my mind is never able to completely turn “off” all the ideas to tweak an upcoming lesson I have in store for my students. However, in order to maintain my sanity (and not talk about teaching in EVERY conversation I have with my family!), I have a few interests I do enjoy on the side. When we’re able, my husband and I enjoy swing dancing and tandem biking. In addition, I find time each day to take a walk and appreciate the beauty and elegance of nature apart from my textbook studies of its science. I find these experiences energizing, and I hope that the coming school year will also be a source of inspiration and adventure for your student!
On teaching: I teach my courses with a seminar-style approach where I present information to students and then immediately open for class-wide discussion. In practical terms, this means my classes typically incorporate lectures with slides and other media along with interspersed question and answer periods. I am very responsive to student inquiry, and at times let the flow of student questions drive a portion of our learning together. Students are permitted to submit written work before the deadline to receive preliminary feedback before it is formally graded; however, students are not permitted to revise already graded assignments for a re-grade.
I am thrilled to be teaching science at the Well-Trained Mind Academy! I received a BS (magna cum laude) in Biological Science with minors in Mathematics and Biochemistry, and then I went on to complete a PhD at the University of Maryland, College Park. For me, teaching and research have always gone hand in hand. My research on protein binding was in the peer-reviewed journal Biochemistry, and while at the University of Maryland, I received a distinguished teaching award from my department for my teaching in Microbiology and Genetics.
I have taught at the college and high school levels, covering AP and honors Biology, honors Chemistry, college preparatory Chemistry, and Physical Science. I’ve also taken courses in Curriculum Design. I currently homeschool my own children, ages 9, 8, 6, and 4. When I’m not teaching, I love to play the piano. I completed my Level 8 piano exam and Level 8 theory exam with first-class honors through the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Canada. I am a certified elementary piano specialist and I am currently working on preparing for my Level 9 piano exams!
On teaching science: My primary goal is to help my students understand their world. This might mean that on any given day, I am explaining to a student why he can’t take his own temperature with his hand (in order to tell a difference in temperature, heat must flow) or why ice floats (hydrogen bonding between water molecules creates a rigid structure with water molecules spaced further apart than in its liquid form). I hope to cultivate a love for, and fascination with, science. As such, my classes are inquiry-based, with the student asking questions in order to discover new knowledge.
I began my study of Japanese at the age of fourteen. After a semester abroad living with a host family and attending a Japanese high school during my senior year, I made up my mind that I would spend the rest of my life immersed in this beautiful language and culture. While majoring in Japanese at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I spent another year in Japan, beginning at International Christian University in Tokyo. However, my time there was cut short due to the catastrophic earthquake and nuclear disaster of 2011. I transferred to Kwansei Gakuin University in western Japan, where I completed the year. I returned to UMass Amherst for master’s studies, and then worked for two years as a translator, interpreter, and cultural liaison in the prefectural capital of Kochi, Japan. Eventually, family circumstances brought me home to Massachusetts, where I began teaching Japanese on a private basis. I now divide my time between homeschooling my two children and teaching Japanese.
In the classroom, I make extensive use of memorization, particularly at the beginner level. Each day, I assign my students a small amount of vocabulary to commit to memory, as well as written homework. Once per unit, students take the floor to perform dialogues they have memorized in advance. This technique ensures that students have grammatically-correct, formal sentence patterns in their minds, providing useful “frames” on which to build their own polite, original sentences. I encourage them to use their Japanese in class as they gain confidence in their ability to “use the right words at the right time”– an essential element of Japanese culture!
When it comes to the immense complexity of written Japanese, I take time to build a strong foundation, giving students a full year to learn the primary phonetic writing system, hiragana, before introducing the secondary phonetic system, katakana. I teach kanji (Chinese characters) with a focus on connecting pronunciation, meaning, and shape, paying close attention to easily-confused look-alike kanji.
I have been teaching online since 2000, including College Algebra from 2006-2013. I enjoy teaching so much that I went back to school to earn a second master’s degree in Secondary Education. Now, I am certified to teach Social Studies, General Science, and students with visual impairments from birth to adulthood. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, photography, cooking, and sewing. I live in wild, wonderful West Virginia with my husband, our two children, and my mother. Our menagerie currently consists of two leopard geckos, a cichlid tank, a dog, assorted cats, and a guinea pig.
On teaching: My courses are primarily lecture style, although I do call on students to ensure attention to the lecture. Students are not required to present work to the class for peer review, and are not encouraged to critique each other’s work. That said, they are required to participate in online, written, weekly discussions with thoughtful, substantive participation. Revision of assignments is standard in my classes.
I graduated from The College of William and Mary with a BA in Social Psychology. It was there that I recognized my love of writing. After choosing courses in the education department for my electives, I realized that I also loved to teach. I have been involved in homeschooling since 1975—my first teaching experience was helping Jessie Wise with the homeschooling of her three children! In the early 1980s, I accompanied Jessie to Richmond to the General Assembly when she testified on behalf of homeschooling, as the General Assembly was creating and voting on the homeschooling laws we have in Virginia.
I homeschooled my three sons from kindergarten through twelfth grade. My youngest has severe dyslexia and ADD. In seeking answers and solutions for him I learned about different learning styles, different ways of thinking, and impediments to learning. I enjoy connecting with my students, finding out where the glitch is, determining the exact nature of the stumbling block, and then correcting it and bringing the student forward. I enjoy seeing the student’s confidence grow as he or she masters what previously caused frustration. For the last few years, I have also been working directly with Susan Wise Bauer in tutoring Writing With Skill students.
I taught literature and composition classes at homeschool co-ops for ten years, and I have taught in public school.
On teaching: I present themes and concepts in lecture style, accompanied by slides. Students will be engaged through question and answer and practice times. There will not be any peer review or workshop style feedback. Students will be invited to share their work with the class on a voluntary basis. All feedback will come from the instructor. I am most comfortable with an individual approach, and I am willing to meet individually with any students needing extra help.
Apart from teaching I enjoy reading, working out at the gym, running, church activities, and playing with my grandchildren.
I am excited to be joining the Well-Trained Mind Academy! I was born and raised in Virginia, and attended James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I loved JMU so much that I stayed an additional two years to further my education while working as a web developer for the university. My undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Business Administration in Computer Information Systems with a minor in Spanish. One summer, I was given the opportunity to teach computer classes to adults and fell in love with teaching. After graduating with my BBA, I decided to pursue a BA in Mathematics and an educational Master of Arts in teaching with a concentration in secondary mathematics.
My experience with teaching ranges from middle school to high school, and I have also taught as an adjunct professor at a community college. The classes I’ve taught include a variety of mathematics and computer programming courses in Virginia and California.
Besides teaching, I love traveling and exploring different cultures. I have traveled to a variety of countries including India, Ghana, Italy, Spain, Greece, Germany, Peru and Ecuador. I had the awesome opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu — what an amazing time I had exploring these fascinating places! If I’m not teaching or traveling, I enjoy spending time with my husband, two sons, and my English bulldog. I also like watching movies, cooking, baking, and running. One of my greatest physical accomplishments was completing a marathon in San Diego.
On teaching: I love walking alongside students to help them make discoveries about mathematics in their everyday lives. When teaching mathematics, I like approaching concepts using problem-solving strategies. In my classes, I will be using PowerPoints, lectures, and a white board to solve problems and present ideas to my students. As a teacher, my goal is to build problem solvers who are passionate about learning. I would love for my students to grow to love mathematics and confidently use their skills to solve problems.
Elizabeth Weber EdwardsChair of World Languages
I have always enjoyed learning a variety of subjects in various settings, from Montessori school in Dallas to college outside Philadelphia, to homeschooling my children today! I also find myself teaching others wherever I am-this was true even in elementary school. I earned my BA in Religion at Haverford College in 2001 with a minor in Music and a specialization in Math (I also took a lot of Spanish!), and then I earned my teacher’s certificate in Secondary Mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania. I have taught and tutored math on all levels from third to twelfth grade in public, private, and online schools.
I have been homeschooling my children since 2011, and I really enjoy following the philosophy laid out in The Well-Trained Mind. I love homeschooling because I get to explore with my children myriad subjects and make connections among them…plus I have the opportunity to learn things I never did before!
Music has always been an important part of my life. I took over ten years of piano lessons, and I have enjoyed singing in multiple choirs in high school, college, and beyond. Most recently, I sang soprano in the Choral Society of Montgomery County. In college I developed a love of composing and music theory. I also enjoy gardening, reading, and laughing. Our family lives outside of Philadelphia.
On teaching: I primarily employ a lecture style when presenting material in my classes, but students are by no means passive in this process. Typically, I try to balance the class between periods of my direct instruction (presenting new material), opportunities for students to practice new skills or respond to questions, and times of reinforcement or demonstration. In general, I am directing the class. At some points, however, students may have the responsibility to present a research project to the class and help lead the discussion for that day. Overall, I try to balance clear, direct instruction with students’ opportunities to practice and respond.
I am excited to be joining the Well-Trained Mind Academy! I received my BS in Mathematics from Penn State University in 2001, after which I taught mathematics in public high school for a decade. Along with this, I have spent thousands of hours tutoring for the SATs in one-on-one and classroom formats. I enjoy giving students the confidence to succeed in math.
I have been a homeschooling parent for over a decade, and I have read and reread The Well Trained Mind every year! I love learning along with my children, and it gives me joy to see how homeschooling develops their interests.
When not teaching, I enjoy reading, cooking, and spending time with my family. I have a particular regard for the work of Flannery O’Connor, along with the great Russian Masters.
On teaching: My teaching style focuses on problem-solving and is skill-based. When I teach a new topic, I try to draw out conceptual knowledge from practical, problem-solving ability. Once students have developed conceptual knowledge, I like to explore the different ways that students will see the concept, coming at it from different angles. I use a combination of tests, quizzes and homework to assess student progress. I believe students should be given the opportunity to fix work and retry assignments until they can fully understand the concept being learned. Like poetry or art, mathematics is meant to be pondered, explored, and played with.
With WTMA Since 2020
Bonjour à tous, I am really thrilled to be joining the Well-Trained Mind Academy.
I was born and raised in the outskirts of Paris and have been living in Nebraska for the last 23 years. At a very early age I knew I wanted to learn languages. I went on learning English, German and Spanish in high school and had many opportunities to travel to different countries inside Europe.
During college, I studied abroad in Scotland for one year. I loved the experience so much that I decided to come to the US as an exchange student and I have been living in Lincoln ever since.
As a Graduate student teaching French, I soon realized that it was my true passion. I have been a lecturer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for over 20 years teaching French as well as Spanish.
On teaching: During class time, I encourage the use of the target language as much as possible. I also find that talking about culture is a great way to stimulate curiosity and exchanges which are a source of enrichment for both the learners and the instructor.
More than twenty years of experience in math and science education has given me a passion for logic and mathematics. After teaching Pre-Algebra and Physical Science in Virginia’s public schools, I began teaching my own children at home using The Well-Trained Mind as a guide, while also working as a private tutor. I have taught mathematics ranging from Kindergarten to advanced high-school level. After working with both accelerated and remedial students, I remain convinced that a strong start in pre-algebra will allow students to experience the beauty and logic of upper-level mathematics without anxiety and confusion.
I am possibly one of the oldest home school graduates you will ever meet! I was homeschooled when home-education was barely legal, and, yes, my family did own goats. I live with my husband Josh, three sons, and three unruly dogs in Lynchburg, Virginia. I enjoy mystery novels, watching my sons compete in rock-climbing and baseball, and occasional headache-inducing logic puzzles.
On teaching: My math classes primarily follow a seminar approach. Algebra topics are briefly introduced then explored through student questions and comments and problem-solving. During class, work is often completed in small groups with discussion of techniques and methods afterward. Because of the challenging nature of the class, students have three attempts on every assignment to complete and revise work. Each attempt is graded and then students have the option of resubmitting the work to bring up their grade with no penalty, as only the highest grade is recorded.
I joined the Well-Trained Mind Academy in 2016. Prior to that I held teaching positions at Virginia Commonwealth University and The College of William and Mary. I earned my doctorate in Media Studies and my master’s in English Literature from Virginia Commonwealth University, and I received my bachelor’s in English from the University of Virginia. I love getting to know my students and their unique backgrounds, cultures, and skills throughout the year.
This year I'm teaching a new class: Reading for the Logic Stage; it is going very well! Students have been consistently impressing me with their ability to read a lot of material and engage in sophisticated discussions of it! Each week several students take on leadership positions in the class, and guide their peers through discussion of the text at hand, asking thought-provoking and stimulating questions. Hearing from different students each class guarantees that we are getting a range of perspectives on the material, and has so far shown that even some of our youngest WTMA students are impressively proficient in the art of literary analysis!
I teach expository writing and history, too. My class style varies according to content. Writing and reading classes tend to rely heavily on student engagement and participation in guided, in-class activities, readings, and discussions. It is especially important that students remain present and active in these classes, as they never know if they might be called on to help fill in an outline or parse a narrative element. Students in my writing classes tend to complete one graded assignment per week, and these assignments are typically submitted without additional options to revise for a grade adjustment. Occasionally, for larger projects, students will share their work with their peers inside or outside of class, and be asked to revise and edit in response to feedback from classmates, although this is not the standard. In that regard, while my classes do incorporate some “workshop” days (otherwise known as peer-review or editing days), I would not consider them to be workshop-style. Students for whom my writing and reading classes might be an especially good fit are those who are able to stay focused in online environments and who enjoy group interactions when solving problems or learning new modes of writing. My history classes tend to be organized around a lecture format, although I also try to engage students with questions, activities, or polls within these lectures. Students who might be a good fit for my history classes are those who like to sit back and listen to a good story (and can begin to take it in while listening/taking notes), who enjoy challenging readings, and who are unafraid of engaging in both traditional scholarly assignments (essays, tests, and discussion boards) as well as some more creative ones (recreate models of archeological artifacts or participate in a reenactment of a historical debate, for instance).
It was probably inevitable that I would study English in college (BA, University of West Florida…go Argonauts!) From the time I was a child, I was an incurable reader, re-reader, and scribbler-downer.
I have homeschooled my three children for the past eleven years, in settings ranging from urban Florida to dirt-road Virginia. For four years, I taught English as a second language in Guatemala. I love teaching English, not only for the solve-the-puzzle delights of diagramming (not everyone gets as excited about that as I do), but also for the sake of seeing a student learn how to better express herself in clear written communication.
When I’m not teaching, I can most likely be found running the back trails of our Virginia county, or searching for the nearest Starbucks.
On teaching: My classes utilize a great deal of interaction with the students, including frequent in-class exercises, review games, and discussions. I strive to make the classroom feel as “real” and “live” as possible, and I craft each lecture to that end, using slides and practice sessions during each class to engage the students. In my writing classes, I prefer to utilize instructor-led feedback rather than a workshop model.
My seemingly small decision to take German in junior high after my aunt married a German has led to the happiest moments of my life: meeting my husband in a college German class; making lifelong friends; living, studying, traveling and working abroad; hearing my daughter sing along to the theme song of Unser Sandmännchen every night; and sharing my love of the language with my students.
I graduated from Saint Joseph’s University with a BA in German. During my time at SJU, I studied abroad at the Philipps-Universität Marburg in Marburg, Germany. After graduation, I received a Fulbright Grant to teach English at the Friedrich-List-Schule in Darmstadt, Germany. Upon returning to the US, I earned my MA in Foreign Language Pedagogy from the University of Delaware.
I have taught German at the middle school, high school, and university levels. I was a founding faculty member at a STEM Academy high school where I started an International Baccalaureate German program from the ground up and where I also established a successful exchange program with a Gymnasium in Germany. I regularly present at conferences, work as a textbook author, and love learning about new technologies and approaches to make language education relevant in today’s modern world.
On teaching: I create a learning space in which every student feels safe and valued. I believe in second chances and trying until you succeed. My lessons encourage the use of the target language through authentic, meaningful interactions. I often put a STEM spin on the activities to help students make connections between their language learning and future opportunities in German-speaking countries. Cultivating international-mindedness is always at the forefront of my courses.
In my free time, you can find me trying out new gluten-free recipes, crafting, traveling, spending time with my family and friends, kayaking, reading, and listening to podcasts (especially auf Deutsch!)
Bonjour! I am excited to be teaching French at the Well-Trained Mind Academy.
I was born and raised in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, and from the age of six was fortunate to get to spend time every summer camping in the south of France. It was there that I caught the bug for the French language and the people.
Following high school, I earned an associate’s degree in multilingual secretarial studies and moved to Belgium to work for two years. I ended up meeting my husband there and staying in Belgium for 15 years! In 2000 our family of six moved to Waco, Texas, where my husband taught at Baylor University. I returned to school and earned a BSEd with a concentration in French from Baylor, graduating summa cum laude in May 2010.
Since then, I have been teaching middle and high school French, first at Robinson Junior High and High School and then, most recently at Midway High School.
Recently, my husband Jeff, Nellie the golden retriever and I moved out to the countryside and built our dream home. We have started working on building our menagerie with the addition of six chicks. Our children have all grown and flown the coop, and we are now the proud grandparents to our beautiful granddaughter Evie.
I believe that communication and culture are the key to learning a language, and they are central to my teaching. To this end my classes are very interactive and I use a lot of music and authentic readings and video clips.
My name is Kathie Mae Carwile; I was named for my mother and grandmothers. My love for teaching began as a child when I would sit my sisters and the neighbor’s children down in the basement and conduct classes! Over the years, I wanted to be a medical doctor, an archeologist and a teacher; as it has turned out, teaching won! It has proven to be one of my passions. My goal with instruction is to approach each student as a unique person with gifts and talents that, in many cases, are yet to be discovered. My teaching style is that of a mentor and guide, using modeling, example, and discussion about how things can be done with more expertise and precision to improve overall. To say I love teaching is an understatement.
I graduated with a master’s and a doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction and Administration from the Curry School of Education at The University of Virginia. My licensure from the Commonwealth of Virginia is for Teacher and Reading Specialist. My research interest is Gifted Education, especially the twice-exceptional. I served for many years as a residential Professor in The Graduate School of Education at Liberty University, chairing doctoral committees and teaching Reading, Language Arts, Educational Philosophy, Curriculum, Study Skills and Assessment, as well as writing the curriculum and designing courses for the School of Education.
In addition to teaching at the Academy, I serve as Vice-President of Academic Affairs at the Virginia University of Lynchburg, a historically Black college in my home town of Lynchburg, VA. I live in the beautiful city of Lynchburg with my husband and “fur children”: two black pugs called Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennett, and Miss Kitty Bennett, their sister, a Tuxedo cat (like the cartoon cat, Sylvester). My greatest joy is to be with my family, my husband, my daughter and son-in-law and my three grandsons and soon to be granddaughter-in-law! I love to read, I don’t watch much TV (although I am fairly entranced with a British TV show called Time-Team, that follows a three-day archeological excavation on sites around the UK; you can find it on YouTube). I am a true Anglophile, and as my DNA places me solidly there, I go as often as I can save up the airfare! I love doing word puzzles, reading British authors (particularly those who write mysteries), and sailing with my husband.
I earned my BA and MA in American Studies from The College of William and Mary. The writing-intensive environment fostered my passion for expository and creative writing. As a shy undergraduate, I felt my growing confidence as a person was inextricably bound to my writing abilities. Teaching for the Well-Trained Mind Academy allows me to share my enthusiasm for writing as central to students’ academic growth and empowerment.
Besides teaching, I love watching movies and hiking. I also take spoiling my pug, Odie, very seriously!
On teaching: My classes are a healthy mix of lecture and discussion, as students are encouraged to respond to questions throughout our time together. Occasionally student writing is workshopped in class, but most written work is completed independently and is reviewed privately. Students are encouraged to revise work for participation credit or extra credit throughout the year. I also offer to provide feedback on work before it is submitted for a grade. All larger assignments are broken down into smaller parts that allow students to submit work for feedback to improve the final product, and ultimately understand the writing process.
Given a tenacious intellectual curiosity, I view education as a life-long pursuit. One of my primary roles as an educator is to pass on a love of learning. With over a decade of teaching experience in French language, society, and culture as well as comparative health policy, my training in multiple disciplines allows me to draw on broad foundations to offer a richer student experience.
After doing undergraduate work in International Studies at Pepperdine University, I lived and worked on a farm in southern France. This turned out to be a crucial formative experience and a decisive moment for me that allowed me to master the language and become deeply connected to the culture. France would forever thereafter be a second home.
Although I went on to earn a Master’s in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School at Tufts University with a specialization in environmental policy and European politics and history, rural French life retained its appeal, so I went back to Provence to raise goats and make artisanal cheese. Though the comparison may not at first glance seem obvious, I often joke with my students that they remind me of a herd of bleating goats.
Later, after pursuing graduate studies in French language and literature at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, I obtained my Ph.D. in French Studies and Politics from New York University where I wrote my dissertation on the French health care system. Finally, I landed in the Tarn region of France in study abroad management and teaching where I developed courses in language and culture as well as comparative health care systems for both American and French university students.
Having spent half of my adult life living in different parts of France (Provence, Paris, the Tarn Valley), I divide my time often between France and Las Vegas where I grew up and still have family and friends.
On teaching: My aim as an educator is to impart a passion for learning, deep study, and academic rigor. That being said, I still recall being a student myself sitting in foreign language class with all the anxieties that often accompany second language learning. Therefore, I make it a priority to put the learner at ease. I think we can hold high expectations all while having fun. In my language classes, I am accustomed to the immersive approach and believe firmly in remaining in the target language as much as possible from the outset. My interactive style makes for a lot of participation on the part of students. Whatever the subject, my goal is always to stimulate further interest, to challenge preconceptions and assumptions, and to promote critical thinking and analysis.
With WTMA Since 2020
Hello! I am excited to join the Well-Trained Mind Academy. I have a MA in English, and I am a New York State certified English teacher with over twenty years of experience teaching students from middle school through college. I began my teaching career at SUNY New Paltz where I worked as a Teacher’s Assistant while I completed my graduate degree. At the time, I had no plans of becoming a teacher. Yet once I stepped into my first classroom as an instructor of Freshman Composition, I knew that I had found my vocation.
It has been a long time since my first teaching experience, but I still feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with students in order to help them develop as writers and thinkers. As I like to tell my students, “Writing is thinking. And writing is hard because thinking is hard.” Of course, the challenge is what makes it worth doing. I believe that when students master the fundamentals of writing, they gain confidence in themselves in every academic area. To this end I strive to help students achieve fluency in writing and thinking, and to understand the art of writing as a process that can be continually improved. It is essential to me that my students embrace mistakes as opportunities for learning, and that they see each draft of writing as another chance for revision.
I live in the Hudson Valley of Upstate New York with my husband and son, our dog and our chickens. When I am not teaching, reading, or writing, I enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities including hiking, gardening, and kayaking.
On teaching: My approach to teaching is rooted in considering each student’s specific set of interests, talents, and concerns. My students find that I set high standards, but through scaffolding and individual instruction I offer them the support they need in order to succeed. My goal as an instructor is to foster an environment where all of my students can feel simultaneously challenged and supported. My hope is that they enjoy the process as they develop their skills in writing and reasoning.
Salut à tous! I am truly looking forward to joining the Well-Trained Mind Academy and sharing my love of languages and writing with your child.
My passion for French and online learning started when, sick with mono, I was homeschooled for a few months. My French teacher encouraged me to find a penpal who wanted to learn English so that we could practice each other’s languages. Chatting away online with my French friend allowed me to practice new structures and vocabulary, and take risks in a stress-free environment. When I returned to school, my French teacher couldn’t believe how much progress I made. This experience sparked a life-long love of French studies and showed me that the virtual learning setting is beneficial for all types of learners.
I studied French and Spanish at Pace University. During that time I was able to be a student interpreter at the United Nations, and I studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France, known as the “city of a thousand fountains.” I continued on to complete a MA at the University of Georgia and took a special interest in female writers. While pursuing my PhD at the University of Virginia, I fell in love with French as a global language while learning all about Francophone African and Caribbean writers. It amazed me (and still does) how learning a language can teach us empathy by allowing us to experience the world from another’s point of view. Since earning the PhD, I have taught at the college level and for high school students, in both traditional and online settings. I’ve also taught writing courses and served as the faculty advisor for the school’s newspaper. I worked closely with students interested in journalism and helped them to lead a team of editors and writers, develop leads for stories, conduct ethical interviews and research, and write in an interesting and engaging way.
On teaching: Culture is a very important part of my language classes and provides the backbone for grammar and vocabulary lessons. I like to incorporate authentic material such as songs, news articles and short stories into my lessons to contextualize grammar points. I try to get students to speak as much French as possible, and I offer a lot of positive reinforcement in order to build confidence.
I teach writing in much the same way; by having students read and analyze examples of great writing, I help them to develop the critical thinking skills needed to be a sharp reader and writer. Also, by teaching students how to edit their own work, I empower them with the skills needed to hone their writing and produce the best compositions possible.
My passion for history and writing began during my time at The College of William and Mary, where I had outstanding professors (including Susan Wise Bauer!) who cultivated in me a passion for learning. After graduating with my BA in history, I spent a year in Lugano, Switzerland teaching at an international boarding school and visiting many of the historic sites of medieval Europe. History lived is history loved. Soon thereafter I worked with various not-for-profits in the United States and in Central Europe. The latter opportunity brought me to a medieval castle in Vienna, Austria where I worked closely with central and eastern European college students, as they struggled to develop their own ideas in rebuilding their country’s identities following the fall of communism.
While in law school, I continued my passion for teaching by tutoring in a variety of subjects and leading Sunday school courses for middle schoolers and high schoolers at my local church. The reality is that despite my love for the law, teaching is not just my passion but my vocation. I want to pass on what was given to me, and more importantly, I want to plant, water and nurture the seeds of life-long learning in my students. I believe in providing the virtues and tools necessary for every student to make learning a life-long endeavor.
On a personal note, I live with my wife and daughter at the foothills of the Blue Ridge in Hamilton, Virginia. I work closely in the educational ministry of my local church and I also spend my time doing website development for a small company. I’m an avid sports fan—I spent a summer in college touring baseball stadiums in the United States (Camden Yards, Wrigley, and Fenway are your three can’t miss spots). I love cats, corny jokes and books. My wife and I spend our time together on home projects (painting, building, dreaming), the garden and experiencing everything the great Commonwealth of Virginia has to offer. And yes, I do consider myself a retired lawyer.
On teaching: My teaching style aims primarily to walk along with the student as he or she learns a new skill and works to strengthen the skills acquired during the semester and in other environments. As such, student assignments in my courses build on one another; the expectation is that a paper written in December shows significant improvement from one in September. Students should incrementally and steadily build their abilities to maintain confidence and interest in the subject through sustained success in challenging situations. Classes are dedicated to review key points of practice and to deepen subject-matter knowledge through interactive slides, media (including artwork, maps, and photographs), and directed discussion, suitable to the level of the class.
Greetings to our WTMA students and families! I’m looking forward to joining you this year. My name is Meredith Baker, and I am an educator, writer, and historian who holds a graduate degree in history and a museum studies certificate from The College of William and Mary. Recently, I received my provisional Virginia teaching license with endorsements in Social Studies and English.
My educational experience includes museum education, teaching history in private middle and high schools, and operations administration at an urban public school. I also worked as a curriculum consultant on the K-12 Character Formation Project. As a writer of nonfiction, I have been published in numerous national and regional periodicals. My book, The Richmond Theater Fire: Early America’s First Great Disaster (LSU Press, 2012), was a nominee for the Library of Virginia Literary Award and recipient of two national awards, including the Jules and Frances F. Landry Award, an honor I share with John Hope Franklin, Drew Gilpin Faust, and Robert Penn Warren.
My passion is supporting and guiding students as they make life-changing discoveries, improve as writers, build responsible habits, develop critical thinking skills, connect relevant ideas from the past to events unfolding in the present, and prepare for a lifetime of learning. I believe all students are capable of achievement and my class should be a place where everyone takes risks and learns from mistakes.
A love of spellbinding, true stories got me into history in the first place, so I make sure we spend time on the ‘good stuff’- lively sources that excite, connect, are representative, and increase a student’s interest in history. My objective is not only that students master content, but also that the lessons and skills learned from examining history shape them into young men and women of character and conscientious action.
I knew that I wanted to be a teacher when I was in first grade and never looked back (unless you count the year I wanted to be a librarian and taped envelope pockets and index cards in the back of all my books!) I have a BS in Math from Biola University and a master’s degree in Online Education. I taught for several years in a public high school and took a hiatus when my children were born. I started teaching Math at a homeschool co-op when my children were old enough to attend and have been doing this for eighteen years. I have taught everything from Pre-Algebra to Calculus.
I consider myself first and foremost a homeschooling mom and I have followed the Well-Trained Mind philosophy for all eighteen years. (I have worn out all four editions!) When I’m not teaching, the things I love to do are hanging out with our grown children, reading, gardening, and going on long driving vacations (Our family has set foot in all fifty states once, and are half-way through repeating the experience with our younger children.) I’ve been known to get pretty crazy cheering for the Seattle Seahawks as well.
On teaching: My classes are formatted primarily in the lecture-style, although I try to get the students talking and working as much as possible. I will often pose problems and send them to their own blackboard room so I can interact individually with each student. In a typical class period, I will spend about ten minutes going over homework questions that students ask, give lecture notes, give practice problems in breakout rooms or with the whole classroom, and have a quick wrap-up of the learning. I have students correct their own Saxon work so that they have immediate feedback on whether they are doing it correctly or not. When a student knows s/he missed a problem, my goal is that s/he will then ask me to help him/her with those questions. I will always allow a student to make corrections and resubmit his work. My philosophy is that any time a student revises his work, s/he is learning, and I want to encourage learning!
I’ve always suffered from the problem of being interested in everything, especially anything I can find in a book. This made it hard to choose a major in college, but I managed to get it under control enough to decide on a BS in Physics at the University of Dallas. The combination of a science degree and a liberal arts university was fantastic for me, and I took full advantage of the core classes in literature, philosophy, theology, and language while pursuing the science and math I also love. After finishing my bachelor’s degree in 2010, I moved from Dallas to Nashville and earned my PhD in Physics from Vanderbilt University. While working on my doctorate, I missed the eclectic options of my liberal arts undergrad studies, but I made it a priority to keep up my intellectual life outside of science, reading in other disciplines for fun whenever I could.
During my advanced studies, I focused not only on research, but also scientific communication and writing. I worked as a teaching assistant in undergraduate labs, and I led volunteer groups that taught science lessons in nearby schools. One of the highlights for me was teaching four semesters of astronomy labs; this was the perfect outlet for my lifelong fascination with the night sky and the vastness of the universe.
I am excited to be teaching at the Well-Trained Mind Academy! In addition to teaching, I am getting started as a freelance science writer in Corvallis, Oregon, where I live with my husband, a mechanical engineer. When I’m not writing and he’s not building robots, we’re both enjoying the natural beauty of the Willamette Valley and the wackiness that’s unique to every college town. I love walking, dancing, singing, reading, and writing, and try to combine those with being outdoors as much as possible. I’m also a huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy—my imagination always needs feeding, and I can learn just as much from a good story as from a textbook!
One of the things that excites me most about the Well-Trained Mind Academy is the opportunity to synthesize what are often seen as totally separate branches of study. The same habits of thought serve us well in math, music, critical reading, science…so many fields have insights and skills that can cross over into others. They’re all valuable, and we shouldn’t have to choose between them!
On teaching: I’ll be giving lectures with slides made available to students afterward, with plenty of discussion and Q&A time built in. It’s very important to me that students learn to have confidence in their own ability to understand scientific material, and I’ll always do my best to find the specific angle that will really make things “click” for a student. I also want to help students learn critical writing and organization skills, not just the course material, so I encourage students to ask for feedback before submitting written assignments. (This process is built into our largest assignment of the year!)
Hello, WTMA students and parents! I look forward to working with you!
My professional background is in media and communications. I worked as a television news anchor, reporter, and producer for a decade and have also worked in non-profit public relations. Before my communications career, I engaged in public speaking as a teen pageant contestant and won both state and national titles. A California native, my undergraduate degree is in Mass Communications (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of California at Berkeley. Recently, the State of Hawaii granted me a teaching license in Elementary Education.
When I’m not teaching I enjoy time with my children and husband as well as our cat and two guinea pigs. I also love travel, trapeze, and modern art.
On teaching: My classes are dynamic and exciting; participation is a must. We will strive to speak as much as possible. In class we will connect course content to real-world situations, and we will work on communication apprehension (a.k.a. nerves!) as part of the public speaking process. My classroom is a safe space where students may take risks and where we support one another as we work to improve our public speaking skills.
In the struggle between having either la tête bien faite (Montaigne) — a well-developed mind — or la tête bien pleine — a mind full of information (Rabelais), I’ve come to the conclusion that, if all possible, it’s best to have both.
I’ve followed this through during my professional life by teaching a variety of subjects, including French, Spanish, German, English, Literature, Linguistics, History, Film, Politics, Philosophy, and Music in different colleges and universities in the US and overseas, including The American University, University of Maryland, Catholic University, University of the District of Columbia, Eastern Carolina University, Muğla Üniversitesi in Turkey, and the National University of Lesotho in southern Africa.
As dean, I started a graduate school at Mount Vernon College, now part of George Washington University; as executive vice president, I co-founded an international management consulting company focused on renewable energy, traveling the world and working on projects for the World Bank, US Trade and Development Agency, OECD, ABD, and country governments. As assistant general manager, I helped open a boutique hotel and marina on the Mediterranean; as executive director I advanced the legacy program at Creativity Foundation with students from Harvard, Wharton, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, winners of the Intel Science Search, and National History Day. I’ve also co-founded an animal shelter in Turkey, started a language academy at East Carolina University, and have just begun my own non-profit foundation called Occitan Cultural Initiatives, which promotes a remarkably advanced medieval society that very few people have ever heard of. I compose and perform troubadour-style songs, and my second CD — Pretz e Paratge — in French and Occitan will be out this summer. Apart from academia and business, two jobs that I really loved have been leading horse trails though the mountains of Lesotho and working as an archaeological guide for jeep safaris in Turkey. I love to ski, swim, hike, sail, cook medieval feasts, and travel. I love life, and I love sharing that enthusiasm with my students.
On Teaching: I bring my experience into the classroom, no matter what subject I am teaching, to encourage students to extend their potential beyond what they think is possible. Stephen Hawking said it best: “And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. There are no limits to the human spirit.” Although I favor the Socratic method of questioning, I don’t have any one set format for classes; it’s a mixture of methodologies appropriate to the subject matter and adapted to the different learning styles of each class. I want my students to see education as a fun, exciting, and enlightening experience rather than as a boring, monotonous, and necessary drudge. I believe mistakes are opportunities to help one learn to succeed. Go for it!
¡Hola! My name is Señora Mengle, but my students call me Señora Mango. I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas where I had my first impressionable encounters with diverse Hispanic cultures and the Spanish language. I attended the University of Maryland, College Park (Go Terps!) and earned my bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language, Literature, and Cultures and Secondary Education. I fueled my love for this subject area while studying abroad in Salamanca and Barcelona, Spain. I hold a teaching certificate in Maryland, but at the moment I am living in Bavaria, Germany with my husband and enjoying a new cultural environment with many opportunities for adventure and travel. I am looking forward to returning to the States soon and sharing all my life experiences with my future Spanish students.
My journey to become a Spanish teacher began in seventh grade when I took Spanish 1A. After one semester worth of classes, my parents sent me to Spain for the summer to live with an unfamiliar Spanish family. Suffice it to say, I could only confidently produce one sentence in Spanish: “Quiero una naranja, por favor.” I ate a lot of oranges that summer. I also learned the necessity of language to bridge the gap between different groups of people and cultures. That summer I discovered an addiction to world languages, and knew that this passion would be extremely useful as a teacher.
Since receiving my teaching certificate, I have been blessed with many opportunities to teach in various educational settings. I have taught Spanish at the elementary immersion level, the middle school level, and the high school level. I also taught English to students in China through online classes. Each experience has not only given me the chance to share my enthusiasm with a diverse group of students, but also an opportunity to learn from my students about their varied needs and interests as learners.
On teaching: As a non-native speaker myself, I know the intimidation that many students feel in a world language classroom. I encourage all my students to take risks, to celebrate mistakes, and to think of them as opportunities for growth. I believe students learn best when they feel emotionally supported and invested in what they are learning. A main characteristic of my teaching is the importance of student choice. Students have meaningful learning moments when they have real-world experiences that interest them. I also believe in a high-energy environment and in games, songs, skits, and movement as a medium for practice and performance. Throughout class, students should feel they have gained enough exposure to vocabulary and grammar concepts throughout our classroom experiences to produce their own language confidently and appropriately. Our main learning target is always to apply what we learn in class to the real-world. I look forward to seeing how my students display this goal in their work!
Guten Tag, es freut mich bei euch zu sein! I am happy to be with you and have the opportunity to teach for the Well-Trained Mind Academy. As you can see, I have a very German first name and in the English speaking world people call me “Rose” because that w=v thing makes it hard to say my full name.
I grew up speaking German and English and living in Germany, Kansas, Florida and Pennsylvania, as my father was in the military and we moved a lot. I earned my BA in German and English Literature as well as my MA in German Education from the University of South Florida and am AbD (all but dissertation) from University of Florida where my dissertation topic was “The Language of Fascism in the Prose of Ingeborg Bachmann”. I have taught German, English and Humanities in high school, junior college and universities in Florida, Pennsylvania, and now for the Department of Defense schools in Wiesbaden, Germany. I have taught German for Distance Learning for 10 years and have taught live in the classroom for more than 20 years. I have also sponsored Delta Epsilon Phi ( German Honor Society) and travelled with students from Florida and Pennsylvania to Germany in student exchange programs. My favorite part of teaching is when a student suddenly has that aha! moment and discovers that s/he has an insight which gives a whole new perspective on a subject.
On teaching: I feel that I am a part of the team, like a quarterback on the field, helping the team attain its goal, which is to be able to effectively communicate in another language and understand another culture.
I look forward to our joint effort in attaining that goal!
I have always loved all aspects of learning and education. I started teaching piano lessons when I was fourteen years old, and have continued my educational journey since then! I completed a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance and Piano Pedagogy at Belmont University in 2013. After that, I moved straight to Houston, Texas to complete my Master of Music in Vocal Coaching degree at Rice University. In June 2020, I begin my journey at Columbia University as a part of their EdD in Music and Music Education program. I have always loved learning AND teaching.
Since 2017, I have been teaching music courses at Houston Community College and Lone Star College - Montgomery. I firmly believe in establishing a good foundation in writing, and I think this is especially important in young students. I also teach Introduction to the Arts at Lake Michigan College online. This course combines learning about all different forms of art - dance, music, drama, film, and literature - learning how to analyze them, and writing about them. My students are challenged to write different kinds of papers, from short informative paragraphs to scholarly research papers. Learning the different styles of writing required by formal papers, reflection papers, and more is an integral part of becoming an excellent writer. I look forward to teaching Expository Writing at the Well-Trained Mind Academy and exploring these ideas with my students.
My interests are not confined to music. I was fortunate to spend every summer from 2013 to 2019 in Italy, both studying the language and working as an administrator at a summer opera program. I love the Italian language, culture, and food, and I can’t wait to go back someday! I live with three adorable cats named Luna, Neville, and Tonks. Their names accurately reflect my love of the Harry Potter series. Recently, I have been experimenting with new recipes, including sourdough bread, falafel, and salted caramel brownies. I love trying new foods, being in the kitchen, and having friends over to help me eat the food I prepare.
On teaching: I believe in an involved, conversational approach in the classroom. I encourage students to ask questions whenever they have them. We will do many exercises in class together so students have the tools they need to complete assignments. My students are not the only ones learning in my classroom - I am always learning things from them as well!
Hello! My name is Sarah Schuster. I am an English M.A. graduate and current English Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. I'm excited to help students on what I hope will be a lifelong journey of reading, writing, debating, and learning! I was born and raised (and homeschooled myself) in Virginia. I received my undergraduate degree in English and Philosophy from the College of William & Mary, and I've been tutoring and teaching students ranging from high school students, ESL students, to higher-level college students since I entered college.
In addition to my classes at WTMA, I teach introductory courses in rhetoric, writing, and American Literature at UT-Austin. Rhetoric is, by far, one of my favorite subjects to teach. Not only is it a skill essential to becoming an effective communicator in many different mediums, it's essential to understanding the arguments and debates that surround us everyday--and, on top of all this, it's incredibly fun!
When I'm not teaching students media literacy, argumentation, and writing, I'm more often than not engaging with various forms of media myself: reading good books, or watching movies. I have a small dog named Nellie, and a gray tabby cat named Queequeg, who is named for a character from one of my favorite books, Herman Melville's Moby-Dick.
On teaching: My classes incorporate both lectures and seminar-style discussions, such that students can be introduced to rhetorical tactics and strategies and begin to apply them in the same lesson. I use a broad range of teaching methods and include auditory, visual, and peer work to ensure students of different learning styles can achieve mastery over material. I often include peer assignments and group work to encourage students to see their peers as additional resources, and I always include revision assignments--the practice of writing is often a practice of editing, honing, and refining. In rhetoric more specifically, I encourage students to use skills they learn in the classroom in their everyday lives, from movie watching to reading articles or engaging with the news. I tend to "scaffold" my assignments, breaking larger papers and presentations into a series of smaller assignments. With this, students are able to practice writing and argumentation skills and receive a generous amount of guidance for their completed project.
Hello! I am extremely excited to be joining The Well-Trained Mind Academy! I am an Iowa boy who, like Huck Finn, grew up on the banks of the Mississippi River, where my life-long love of writing began. I earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from The University of Iowa in 1981 and a Master of Science in Education in Reading from Western Illinois University in 1988.
In the fall of 1984, I walked into an Illinois public high school classroom to teach English and remedial reading. I thought I would stay a year or two while I figured out what I wanted to do in life. Who knew that I would walk out of that room for the last time in May of 2019—thirty-five back-to-school nights, Christmas vacations, Spring breaks, homecomings, proms, and graduations.
In that time I’ve taught thousands of students The Declaration of Independence and The Gettysburg Address—The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet—Hamlet and Macbeth and The Merchant of Venice—The Rubaiyat, The Bhagavad Gita, and the books of Genesis and Ruth. I’ve taught The Good Earth, A Tale of Two Cities, and A Separate Peace—the stories of James Joyce’s Dubliners, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s jazz age, and Hemingway’s lost generation. I’ve shepherded students through the poetry of Dickinson, Whitman, and Frost, of Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Neruda, and Garcia-Lorca. In addition to all the literature, there were the years I spent preparing our students for the expository writing exam in the Illinois Goals Assessment Plan and later the Prairie State Achievement Exam. And did I mention the sentence diagramming? My goodness, can there be any deeper joy in life than diagramming sentences?
But my desire to write had been percolating just beneath the surface for all those years—so in 2014 with an empty nest, I put all my extra duties aside and set off to pursue an MFA in fiction writing. In July of 2016, I graduated from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. In my time there I studied under some of the finest fiction writers and poets in the United States, including Antonya Nelson, Charles Baxter, T. Geronimo Johnson, Lauren Groff, Lan Samantha Chang, Joan Silber, Peter Orner, Eleanor Wilner, Stephen Dobyns, Ellen Bryant Voigt, and so many others. Warren Wilson brought me to the tribe I had sought for a lifetime and finally found. The experience has left me here hard at work on my first collection of stories. And now, just as I no longer have a school to call home, I find myself joining The Well-Trained Mind Academy. I am so grateful that I do not have to say goodbye completely to my life working with young learners, and I so look forward to meeting you and your families in my classes. It is a chapter I can’t wait to begin.
On teaching: I rely on direct instruction of skills and methods, involving definition, demonstration, and then guided and independent practice. In class I tend toward Socratic questioning, which over time sharpens reasoning and encourages what we usually mean by critical thinking. The balance between Socratic discourse and direct instruction is always pitched to the task at hand and to the age and development of the learners.
For more than a decade, I have dedicated myself to teaching children and adults of every age, origin, and academic background. Whether in the primary, secondary, or post-secondary settings, I believe that true learning, and therefore true understanding, only arises when the student discovers his or her own way of thinking critically while remaining ready and willing to embrace, negate, synthesize, and appreciate any and all perspectives that may come their way.
Most recently, I have dedicated myself to teaching in communities that are economically, politically, or culturally marginalized. I have led classrooms for students with emotional disabilities, students entangled in the juvenile justice system, and students whose behavioral and academic needs exceed that which can be provided in traditional school settings. Which is to say: nothing surprises me. Except, of course, the beauty that arises when a student learns something new.
I have a BA in English from James Madison University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. In my life outside of the classroom (if there is such a thing), I am a father, poet, and performing artist. My writing has appeared widely in national and international journals, and my first book, Letters & Buildings, was published by Subito Press in the fall of 2014.
On teaching: Allow me to be the first to acknowledge it’s unusual for someone to teach both writing and mathematics. Not only are the two disciplines seemingly disparate in practice, but they are—frequently and quite literally— considered the very poles of the intellectual spectrum. Despite their illusory opposition, however, writing and math are all-too-similar in one crucial way: they can bore your child to tears.
This boredom is not inevitable, nor is it inherent to the disciplines themselves. Nor, for that matter, is it inherent to any one type of student. The frustration and limitations that are felt in writing and math classrooms across the country are, in many cases, the direct result of instruction. Process takes a back seat to product. Inspiration is secondary to memorization. As such, the excitement of self-discovery that accompanies critical thinking and analysis gets lost.
In my classrooms, I hope to engage and excite the students in ways they haven’t foreseen. I want the student who refuses to write to find a way to express her thoughts and ideas. I want the student who fears equations to see and understand the math all around him. I want students to take ownership of material, to make it work for them. As such, I try to create an atmosphere of openness and dialogue in all of my classes, regardless of the subject.
There will be times when I launch into uninterrupted instructional monologues, just as there will be times when I ask student inquiry to drive discussion. Additionally, student work will be discussed and evaluated in class to facilitate the synthesis of course material, while also posing great intellectual potential for new and unforeseen opportunities. No matter the class, it is my hope that students leave our time together feeling challenged, excited, engaged, and empowered.