1. You received a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master's degree in teaching, going on to teach high school in Oregon, Vietnam, Kuwait, and now Brazil. What common thread do these experiences have?
The exploration of the human experience. With each of these new opportunities I learned more about myself and the world I live in through my daily interactions with the individuals and societies of that specific place. These experiences allowed me to recognize, challenge, and name my bias, view the world through different lenses, and to appreciate the wide array of views and perspectives that make up our diverse world. The other common thread is that of being a lifelong learner and the belief that the more you think you know, the more you realize you have to a lot to learn.
2. If you could travel back in time and spend five years there, what culture would you choose to live in? Why?
I would return to Berlin right after the fall of the wall circa 1991. It would be fascinating to be a part of the new life and opportunities given to a city after a time where freedom was so repressed for so many. It would be scary, exhilarating, and overwhelming — all at the same time — to try to make sense of something that never really made sense in the first place.
3. What are the last three books you’ve read for fun?
The last three books that I have read for fun are Factfulness by Hans Rosling, Stretch by Scott Sonenshein, and Five Minds for the Future by Howard Gardner. I always tell myself that I need to read more fiction, but I am a sucker for nonfiction text that makes me think and question.
4. What experience from your student years most fed your love of social studies and encouraged you to teach the subject?
When I was in middle school, my parents decided that we would no longer give gifts at Christmas time. Rather, to celebrate, we started taking family vacations together. These trips took us to places such as Costa Rica, Portugal, Austria, and Ecuador. It was through these travels that I became fascinated by the culture, history, geography, and politics of places around the world and inspired me to want to know more. Originally, my plan was to join the Foreign Service. However, the more that I learned, the more I wanted others to find the same passion that I did in learning about the world. Hence, I became a teacher.
5. What’s the worst tasting thing you’ve ever eaten?
Goat meat. It was a regular item on the menu when I lived in Kuwait. As a result, I am now a vegetarian.
6. Tell us about your very first job.
My first job was as a summer camp counselor at Camp Orkila — a residential camp on Orcas Island in Washington state. I was an assistant cabin counselor for a group of 12-year-old boys. Camp taught me responsibility for others, myself, and the environment. It was in this job that I was first trusted to build positive relationships and experiences for kids. As a 16-year-old, it felt like a massive responsibility. However, it pushed me to be flexible, adaptable, and to understand the power of positive relationships. More importantly, camp also taught me that it is good to show your authentic self to others and to remember that life is fun and sometimes it is best to laugh at yourself and make the joke about you.
7. What fills your heart up to the bursting level?
Coffee and green space.
8. What is your favorite thing about Graded?
The atmosphere of Graded, both physical and humanistic. I love the natural beauty that is our campus. Our landscaping staff does an amazing job of creating and maintaining an outdoor space that is inviting and comfortable. The green spaces provide ample opportunities to find a space to think and reflect. I think that outdoor spaces at Graded make it special and are unique for an educational setting. In addition, the atmosphere among all of the humans that are part of the Graded community is rich, positive, and vibrant. We are so lucky to be among people who want to form genuine relationships and build a community that is strong, not only now but also for future generations of Graded students, staff, and faculty.