Maine Coast Semester

Jonathan Larner-Lewis

English Teacher

Jonathan Larner-Lewis


Jonathan Larner-Lewis

I love teaching literature and writing because the work at hand is always creative and technical, personal and relational, cultural and political, serious and fun — all at once, all the time. I’ve sought meaningful work at newspapers and journals, teaching skiing, waiting tables, selling wine, farming, cooking, and over a decade in academic research and writing — none of those pursuits felt as multifaceted, dynamic and plain-old fun as sharing a classroom with curious teenagers. Every single day I aim to engage my students in the careful reading, writing, and conversation that leads to critical thought and cultural awareness — indispensable life skills that only become more essential as they move beyond the classroom.


I grew up in Denver, Colorado, spending all my free time in the mountains, forests, and rivers. Thanks to a long line of very good teachers, since third grade I’ve also been obsessed with the everyday magic of reading and writing. These two loves — wild landscapes and vital language — led me to DartmouthCollege, then to CU Boulder, before finally earning my PhD from UC Berkeley in 2017. Writing my dissertation on British poetry of the Great War taught me tons about persistence and endurance, as did the birth of my first child that same year. A desire for more human interaction and control over my professional path brought me back from academic research to my original ambition — to be a great teacher, like those that had inspired me. I learned the trade in a community of incredible students and educators at a great independent school in Seattle, before making my way to the Chewonki Maine Coast Semester, which I had first heard about decades ago from my wife, a Maine native and alum of the program. 
The ceaseless joys of parenthood have interrupted many of my old hobbies and habits, including long backpacking trips, skiing, soccer, surfing, triathlons, reading big novels, and making elaborate meals for my friends. I trust those will all return in their season, maybe with the help of the Chewonki community! In the meantime I fill my few free moments each day plunking around on a guitar, and occasionally still reading and writing poems, which are mercifully short.

What Brought Me to Chewonki?

Thanks to my wife, Nicky, an MCS alum, Chewonki had long been a beacon for me of focused education and intentional community on the land. After five years of city life, we felt a strong pull to raise our kids in a quieter, more intimate, but no less vibrant space. The opportunity to be closer to friends and family in Maine, and to live and work alongside like-minded educators, idealists, and nature-nerds sealed the deal. My family is so grateful to be welcomed by this community, and to welcome others in turn.


BA  Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
MA  University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
PhD  University of California, Berkeley, CA
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