At St. Stephen’s I have the freedom to teach texts that I love in ways that challenge and energize me. I get to share my passion for literature by teaching books that continue to inspire me after countless readings — books that I know will draw my students out of their comfort zones and into difficult, meaningful conversations.
The Internet has fundamentally changed the way young people think. Our students are exposed to hundreds of messages every minute. The answer to virtually any question they can think of is just a click away. But in English class, they are asked develop abstract ideas; to express themselves in original, carefully crafted writing; to live and grow with a book over the course of several weeks with no specific purpose aside from the simple act of discovery. They are forced to ask the types of questions that do not always have answers, which I think is a necessary stage in a student’s personal and intellectual development.
Much has been said about the ever-changing nature of education in this digital age. Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe that having thoughtful conversations about stories written hundreds of years ago is essential to our humanity. In fact, I often wonder if it might be what we need most these days. I aim to achieve four goals with my students every day: make them laugh, change their minds about something, learn something new about a classmate, and believe they have valuable ideas to share.
I hope my students leave my class — and our school — with a sense of ownership for what they have learned and experienced here. We are all outrageously, unspeakably privileged to be able to come to this gorgeous campus every day and surround ourselves with so much talent, intelligence and curiosity. Most people in this world do not get that. In fact, most people do not get anything even remotely close to that. As is the case with all forms of privilege, it is our duty to make the most of the opportunities we are given and to use what we learn selflessly and responsibly for good.