ALBA High School English Teacher
- How many years have you been teaching?
This is my 18th year teaching, including 1 year at Valhalla HS and 12 years at Hoover HS.
- How many years have you been teaching at ALBA?
2015-2016 is my 5th year teaching at ALBA.
- Why did you want to become a teacher?
High school was difficult time in my life and I did not like school very much. However, I had many adults, including teachers, parents and coaches, who helped me in high school when I was making bad decisions and I want to make school more relevant for teenagers to figure out their lives.
- What do you teach?
I teach English 1/2 and Literacy 1/2 (9th grade); English 3/4 and Literacy 3/4 (10th grade); American Literature (11th grade) and English Literature (12th grade).
I believe that reading and examining literature is one of the most powerful ways we can learn about the world and ourselves and want to help my students figure out both. Also, I want students today to learn to think for themselves and how to ask questions on their own that will impact their lives.
- Do you enjoy teaching?
Yes, most of the time! I do enjoy teaching—especially the time actually spent in the classroom discussing with students. However, I can do without a lot of the extra bureaucratic silliness outside the classroom.
- How do you feel teaching at ALBA?
I feel good about teaching at ALBA because I get the chance to really know my students and to help them figure the world and their lives out.
- How do you see the role of a teacher in the learning process?
I believe the teacher should be more of a coach or advisor that helps students figure out what they want and then guides and supports them on their journey to achieving it. I do not believe teachers should be the “authority” on a subject that just gives students information for them to repeat back. Rather I believe teachers should guide them to learn to take responsibility for thinking and doing things on their own.
- How did you come up with your method of teaching?
I always wanted to change the ways schools are organized and run so I have constantly looked for new and better ways of teaching that give more power and responsibility to students. My method of teaching has evolved with that in mind and continues to evolve over time.
- Do you focus on strengths or weaknesses?
Weaknesses. I already know how to do the things that are my strengths. I think you can only progress by addressing what you do not do well and figuring out how to do it better and try to turn your weaknesses into strengths.
- What do you think about ALBA?
Again, I love ALBA. I honestly believe all schools should be organized and run more like ALBA with a lot of adults to support and get to know each student. I like that we get to know our students as people beyond just teaching our subject. I also like that ALBA students are very smart, skeptical and independent and believe they are just like any other kids except they made some bad decisions along the way—like we all do.
- How is learning personalized in your classroom?
I am a big believer in students having the freedom to choose what they want to learn as much as possible and take responsibility for their own learning and keeping track of their progress and grade. As we move toward implementing Big Picture Learning, my hope is that students will have even more freedom to personalize their learning according to their interests.
- Would you like to teach a different subject?
Although I really enjoy teaching literature, there are a lot of other things I wouldn’t mind teaching, like: Philosophy, Film as Literature, Video Production, Physical Education, and others.
- What are your hobbies?
Reading, writing, wrestling and other sports, woodworking, politics, traveling, spending time with my family.
- If you can teach other subjects, what subject would it be?
See answer to #12 above.
- Favorite quotes?
Too many to list here but here are a couple:
· The country which is nowhere—that is the real home. –Lao Tzu
· I am of the order whose purpose is not to teach the world a lesson but to explain that school is over. ---Henry Miller
- Classroom policies
Respect yourself and others. Everything else stems from that rule.
- University attended?
Mainly San Diego State University where I got my Bachelors of Arts in English (emphasis on creative writing) and minored in philosophy. I also got my teaching credential at SDSU and a Masters degree in Education (Reading emphasis). I also attended Columbia University, San Francisco State University and Southwestern College along the way.
That depends what you mean by hometown. I was born in Frankfurt, Germany, moved to Albany, CA, from 2-6 years old, then moved to Blacksburg, VA, from 6 until I graduated high school at 17. If I had to choose one I would call Blacksburg my hometown since I grew up there the longest.
Americana, Folk, Punk…anything thoughtful and with interesting lyrics…
I like movies that keep me guessing so I cannot figure out what is going to happen or movies with deep subjects. I do not like most movies because they are too simple and follow the same formula.