From an early age, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Both of my parents are life-long educators and administrators, so I was fortunate to grow up in independent schools. A school campus is an invigorating place to be - the energy of the students and the passion of the faculty is inspiring. And with each year the dynamic changes; it never gets old.
After I graduated from Davidson College, I accepted a job as an English teacher and head volleyball coach at Providence Day School in Charlotte, NC. I was there for 4 years before my husband, Jon Downs ’98, accepted the director of admission position here at Millbrook. We’ve been here 5 years now.
I strive for balance in my classroom. The work is demanding and the material is challenging; however, I always try to bring an element of humor to my teaching. My goal is to make the classroom a place where students want to be because if they want to be there - they might just want to learn something.
In addition to being the Chair of the English Department, I am an advisor to six amazing girls, the co-advisor for the yearbook, and a tutor for the SAT prep class. In the past, I have coached boys fourths soccer and JV girls tennis.
My favorite, and probably the most fulfilling, experience at Millbrook is spending time with my advisory. The relationships I have formed with these girls have been incredibly meaningful to me. I appreciate immensely how much trust they’ve put in me with more than just their academic lives at Millbrook. And when you get that email after they’ve graduated that simply says, “thanks for everything,” - well, that just means the world.
One of my favorite assignments is the visual essay. It started with my VI form class when we read Elie Weisel’s Night. I was trying to craft an essay topic for them, and I kept coming back to the power of the imagery in the text. I thought, “why not let the students use these as actual visuals in support of their thesis statements?” So, in lieu of a written essay, they had to create a board of drawings, photography, and other artistic images mixed with a thesis statement and quotations from the text. As they present their visuals to the class, the experience becomes like spoken essay. The students not only love the assignment, but also they take away some great lessons about essay writing and visual literacy.
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