Dean of Academics, English Teacher
In every school experience I have had since Maine Coast Semester 8, I have sought to recreate the meaningful connections between disciplines and the deep curiosity and understanding of place my Chewonki teachers cultivated for me. Until that spring semester of my junior year, I felt sorry for my high school teachers because they were stuck in high school for their whole lives, surrounded by bulletin boards and smelly teenagers, the day marked by the harsh ring of a bell every 44 minutes. My view was limited then. At Chewonki, I got to see my teachers as people who loved this 400 acres and revelled in sharing their wonder and knowledge with students. Although I loved learning and school in general before that spring semester, what I was being asked to do and learn for school felt truly relevant to my life for the first time. Precalculus lessons connected to themes we had learned about in Natural History class. Unbelievable to me at the time, I got credit for a class called Environmental Issues in which we learned about the complexities of different energy sources accessible to the Wiscasset community. During work program, we helped to build a house that still stands (and is right next door to the house where I live today!). My assigned chore on the farm was taking care of the sheep, which meant moving their enclosure as the sun rose through mist and I trudged through dewey grass. Our final exam for Natural History began with a bird identification walk along the entrance road at 5 am!
I finished high school thinking the way I could have the greatest positive impact on the planet was to have a grounding in science but work on the policy side for an environmental group. During my junior year in college, I had a transformative experience while working for one of the big environmental groups. As an intern, one of my jobs was to lobby on behalf of legislation that would benefit the health of the land in the northeastern US. One memorable day I called a congressman regarding a Northern Forest bill. “That sounds like something we could really support,” he said, “but I’m in Hudson County, New Jersey and you’re calling from upstate New York. I guarantee not one of my constituents will contact me about this, and I will therefore vote the party line.” In my frustration, I realized that if there was going to be real and lasting change, the key was that people needed to know and care about the places and other living things around them. I realized the reason I cared was because of all of the hours and days and weeks that I had spent exploring my backyard, riding my bike, hiking, and running on my own and with my family as a child, but also because of the role models at Wyonegonic (a camp in Western Maine I began attending at age 9) , Chewonki, and Middlebury who showed me what loving the world and particular places looked like.
My career as a teacher has been dedicated to helping students live meaningfully, find joy and instruction in stories, and work collaboratively to elevate each other and the values that matter. For ten years, I taught English and Humanities at Northfield Mount Hermon, a boarding school with values aligned with Chewonki’s. At NMH, I helped develop a core ninth-grade program that asked students to examine their sense of self and place, lived in a dorm, coached cross country and track, served on various governance committees, and was the founding chair of the Task Force for Sustainability which was the school’s first committee with diverse representation (students, faculty, administrators, staff). In addition to traditional English courses, I designed and taught an interdisciplinary and expeditionary curriculum that brought my students and me around the country to learn about how people were living in different places from the Navajo Reservation’s Black Mesa to the Central Valley in California to post-Katrina New Orleans and many places in between.
Before returning to Maine, I also taught at the Watershed School in Boulder, CO and Church Farm School in Exton, PA.
What Brought Me to Chewonki?
The time was right for me to move to Chewonki in 2018 where I have enjoyed living into the values of community and relationship with the natural world that I hold most dear. I love the students I have the privilege of teaching and learning from. I am inspired by the creative teaching I witness every day and the exciting ways we push each other to create the world we each want to live in.
B.A. Middlebury College
M.A. in English from the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College