Earl Schofield - Visual Arts

One summer I had a big solo show at a gallery in Denver, CO, right across from the Denver Museum of Fine Art. I flew out for the opening and to give an artist's talk.

People think art openings must be fun, all those people there just to see you, wine passing around, compliments, everybody all dressed up. Cute "gallarinas" who wouldn't speak to you in high school are now sliding up to you all gush and blush. Well, they aren't fun. They are dreadful. My face always hurts from perma-grin and I want to sneak off someplace dark afterwards. I am always grateful when a student shows up and asks me something I can sink my teeth into. I am the world's worst small talker.

One of the things people like to ask me at openings is a variant of the question, "How long have you been a painter?" Or "When did you know you wanted to be an artist?" Or "Have you been able to draw all your life?" In fact, I have actually been able to draw from birth and asked for my own umbilical cord because I figured I could probably use it in a sculpture someday. In my fourth grade class, there were three boys who could draw very well, and I was easily a distant third to the other two. In seventh grade, I won second place in a school-wide drawing contest. I knew perfectly well who would win first place and I hated her guts with a mad green jealousy. In eighth grade, I won first place because my competitor had moved up to high school. (She did not become an artist-HA!) I also sometimes had the first, sometimes the second highest average in my science class. I wanted to be a doctor, or maybe a vet. I did a research paper on Pablo Picasso that year in my Spanish class.

In ninth grade, I met Mr. Joseph Van West in Drawing I. Mr. Van West was: a) male, b) wore a suit and vest to class, and c) had a snow white goatee. He was like no other teacher I'd had before. Art was a deadly serious business to him. He had been a well known printmaker in Boston. Mr. Van West was not an "art teacher;" Mr. Van West was an Artist. Just like Picasso. Mr. Van West did not blow sunshine at you either. I remember working on a sculpture of a mythical beast and investing all I had in it. He stopped by for a second, picked it up and held it like it might dirty his hands and sneered, "You don't know a damn thing about wings! These are big floppy globs! Go look at a pair of wings for crying out loud." He quickly moved on while I tried to pick my jaw up off the table. Mr. Van West died before the year was over. I was able to study with him for only a few months. The next three years I had "art teachers" again, but I never listened to them, I listened to Mr. Van West. And I listened to the whispers from the drawings and prints his students had made decades earlier, that were still lying here and there in storage. They all said, "You can do better, see, we did it, why can't you? Get to work!"

I knew I wanted to be an artist after I met Mr. Van West, and then met the artist Scott Prior, who worked on a painting in our library for a few days that year. He had paintings at the MFA in Boston by then. I wanted to be an artist because I knew it would allow me to study all the things I loved together, science, history, writing, languages and cultures, philosophy and psychology. I needed to learn each of these to be the artist I wanted to be. Years later, this is why I would advocate using the arts as the hub of a wheel of curriculum for the Dublin School.

I was the first student to go to art school in years and years from my high school, and it would be many more years before I was followed by another. At MassArt, I knew what a privilege it was to be allowed to study what I loved, rather than have to scratch out a living some way that I knew would crush my soul. I spent the summer working in a saw blade factory, and woke up in a panic at night, feeling the suffocating walls of my future closing in around me. I was like a monk at art school. I was going to be the best I could be and I was going to learn all I could. Only five percent of students who graduate from art school were practicing artists ten years out of school. And I was going to be one of them. I was not going to let the factory take me. I wanted nothing to do with teaching at all. I was going to be an artist, not an "art teacher."

Little did I know that nearly all artists who "make it" today teach. Someone talked me into doing a winter session course in drawing at Smith College one year. So there I was, me at 25, teaching a room full of beautiful, brilliant young woman, who nodded eagerly and hung on my every word. And I was going to get paid for this? Sign me up! I taught my first year in a private school seven miles from where I grew up, half a mile from my own public high school. I learned an enormous amount that year, and I hated every minute of it. This was not like my Smith experience at all. Then I read a Want Ad that spring with the words, "located on 400 acres of NH woodlands" and I was sold. My wife and I visited Dublin School and knew we had found a home by the end of the day. I think I knew almost as soon as I drove on campus. We moved in August and my wife found out she was pregnant in September. And today, years after having sworn never to be a teacher, I would never consider giving it up.

People say teachers aren't in it for the money, I only half jokingly tell them that I most definitely am in it for the money. Very few artists are appreciated enough to be able to give only their work to society. The rest of us need the support an institution of learning provides and the stability and enough space to be able to create. I told the Head of School in our first interview that I wanted to be hired only if he would allow me to build the program I wanted, and only if he would support my own artistic practice. I love to teach, because I love to make art. You can't take away someone's space to create, and expect them to be passionate about helping others do what they are denied. Dublin School, in general, and many people in particular, have given me the room in my life at Dublin that I need to create. In return, I try to be the teacher I wish I had had for all four years of high school, Mr. Van West.

I am somewhat notorious for my, shall we say, "straightforward" assessment of student work. But my students know that when I give a compliment, they have earned something. The key word is always earned. I earned the ability to draw and paint and so will my students. They get plenty of encouragement and plenty of, um, "Truth," and they learn the "Courage" to deal with it. If they don't like it, they learn the best lesson of all, how to change the truth. That is to literally make something that is only a dream, come true. Fairy godmother's don't do that, you have to do it yourself.

While I suffered through my opening in Denver, amid the brightly polished shoes, expensive water and cheap white wine, in came Nichole Jarzembeck '07, a recent transplant from New Hampshire to Boulder. She was by far, the best part of my trip west -- open, honest, sweet, unpretentious and funny. The next day, Martha Carol '09, a current student, came to the artist talk at the gallery, and again, I was instantly more at ease, and grateful for her intelligent questions.

Somewhere along the way I grew up and realized I didn't want to be famous after all. (If you ask me to my face, I will swear up and down that my not yet being famous is, in fact, purely a conscious choice on my part.) Gallery success is just a means to an end. That end is the ability to do what I love. The more paintings I sell, the more I am free to make more. To many, paintings are objects, but to painters, they are a performance frozen in paint. I cannot sing and I cannot dance, but when I start moving the brush and mixing color, I am free of my body's limitations. I am there, in the paint, flying far above the doldrums of the everyday grind. Some people call it touching the divine. It is that moment the artist lives for, not the finished painting, which is only evidence of the flight. I stay at Dublin because it gives me a way to keep flying, and it allows me to teach others to find their own way to fly.

When an artist gets really, really lucky, events will work out so that something in the artist's work is recognized by another person. When this happens, the second best compliment an artist can hear is almost always, "Wow," Only one thing beats "Wow," and that is seeing someone cry in front of your painting. If asked how I'd like my life measured, my answer would be to measure it in tears. How many tears was my life worth? I manage to get "Wow" often enough to give me hope, but I have only seen one person cry in front of my paintings. That has only happened once. But I cannot count the tears that have fallen when a student came to say goodbye, either to me, or to one of the other wonderful teachers at Dublin School. You just will never get a better compliment than that. And that is why I stay.

Holly Macy - College Counselor

Holly Macy

What excites you most about working at Dublin?  Working at Dublin School is a unique experience. Having taught at a much larger boarding school prior to Dublin, I have a richer appreciation for the type of programs that we offer and the community that we build with our students. A characteristic of Dublin School that stands out for me is that we expect our students to engage with adults and each other in an inclusive manner. While respecting each other's personal interests, opinions and traits, we work together to learn and create. There is not one niche that Dublin School falls into because we attract students with various academic, artistic, and athletic/outdoor interests. This a refreshing place to work because while we have high expectations for our students, we support our students to help them develop as learners and community members.

Why do you teach and what do you love about your discipline? I moved from the traditional classroom to become the College Counselor because I was looking for a new challenge and the idea of guiding students both in one on one situations and group meetings was appealing. The relationship that I can develop with students is different in that I am never "grading" their work, but rather helping them reflect about themselves, think about the future, and create goals.

What animates you? Outdoor activity is an essential part of my lifestyle. Whether running in a road race, skiing the Dublin School Nordic trails, coaching youth lacrosse, or chasing my children down the ski slope, keeping active energizes me. I have always appreciated the fact that athletics and outdoor recreation are an integral part of a student's Dublin experience.

What do you do to push kids outside their comfort zone in the classroom? The college process is a challenging time for adolescents, and in turn for parents and the college counselor. There is a delicate balance between letting students lead the journey and over-steering their pathway thinking that we are helping by not letting them make mistakes. Throughout the college process at Dublin School, I hope that our students will develop as informed decision makers, take responsibility for meeting deadlines, learn self-advocacy skills, and compose personal writing through self-reflection. Many of these tasks will be new experiences for our students and will stretch them in new directions.

How do you teach to "the range", both the high achievers and those that are challenged by your discipline? I suppose there is a perfect script for how a student should proceed through the college experience, but I have yet to find that student. Each student I work with has their own pace, their own needs, their own aspirations. I respect that and work with each student in the manner that is needed to help each individual proceed through the process.

John Emerson - Learning Skills

After many years of teaching in public schools, I had the opportunity to become a learning skills tutor at Dublin. It was a perfect time in my career to make a change as I had taught math and science in middle and high schools in which class size made it increasingly more difficult to connect with students on an individual basis. The change for me has been a very positive experience as the whole Dublin community focuses on helping individual kids learn about themselves and about their strengths and weaknesses.

I have often felt that true learning can only take place when a student feels relaxed and supported in a way that allows them to take risks and not be penalized for making mistakes. Learning from mistakes is especially true in the area of math as this is an area in which I find myself doing a lot of my tutoring in. Getting the wrong answer too often puts a negative stigma in a student's mind and soon develops into an ingrained attitude of "I can't do this." In my tutoring I try to help my students feel OK about themselves and try to develop in them a sense that making mistakes is the first step in learning. (Having four grandchildren who are all at or near the age of learning how to walk only reinforces my feelings.) Still the important point is I try to help students overcome their feelings of frustration and to help them gain confidence in themselves.

I find this attitude permeates much of the Dublin community as well and it is one of the reasons I enjoy working here. From kitchen help to grounds crew to teachers and coaches, there is an overriding concern about kids that I have not found many other places.

Jonathan Weis - Science and Mathmatics

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What excites you most about working at Dublin?  Community and flexibility are the two qualities I value most at Dublin. Knowing every member of the community brings us together with a sense of common purpose. I also appreciate the flexibility that is available to faculty, regarding teaching styles, for example. Dublin strikes an appropriate balance between offering independence and guidance to teachers, a balance that has been valuable to me over the years, and which is helpful for new faculty, as well. Previously I taught in a small public high school which shared many of Dublin's virtues, but where the community aspect was weaker. We did not share the same goals to the extent that we do at Dublin.

Have you changed at all since you came to Dublin? How so? Dublin has made me more patient, I think. The variety of students and cultures at Dublin has helped me to understand the variety of backgrounds that students bring our community.

Why do you teach and what do you love about your discipline? I teach for many reasons. A principle benefit is the endless variety and stimulation that the profession offers. Teaching has not gotten old after twelve years here. It seems unlikely that this would be true of other pursuits.

What animates you? I am animated by a team of experts at Pixar studios. However, this is a secret and should stay that way.

What do you do outside of school that enhances your teaching? Or, what do you do outside of school that would surprise your students? It's hard to claim that much of what I do outside of school directly enhances my teaching. However I read a great deal on a variety of subjects, much of which informs my teaching indirectly. In addition, I use math constantly, whether I am checking that the volume of cordwood I was sold was priced honestly or working out the effort required to get home on my bike at the required time.

What do you do to push kids outside their comfort zone in the classroom? Students are probably most uncomfortable then they are responsible for demonstrating their thinking at the board. My Precalculus class has to do this a lot, which some of them find problematic.

Why is it fun to be in your classroom? Its fun to be in my classroom because I have fun, exciting, students.

Why did you choose Dublin School? I chose Dublin School in preference to the job I held at the time as a mechanical engineer. Although I had found teaching frustrating in the past, Dublin seemed to offer the potential of a better experience for me. I feel that events have vindicated that decision.

Katri Jackson - Science

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What excites you about working at Dublin?   I love the community here, both the students and the faculty. This is the most warm, welcoming place I have ever worked. It is easy to feel valued and included at Dublin. There is more camaraderie and support here than other places I have worked.

Why do you teach and what do you love about your discipline?  I get excited to learn new things, so it is fun to see that excitement in others. I love science because it is always changing, and the more I learn the better I understand the world around me.

What animates you?  Being outside. I have an obsession with spring wildflowers. I get very excited when the snow melts and they begin to appear. When you see a painted trillium you know that warm weather is around the corner! I love learning new plants, and I always hike with a flower book in my bag.

What do you do outside of school that enhances your teaching? Or, what do you do outside of school that would surprise your students?  I have recently become very interested in photography. Especially nature photography, wildflowers in particular.

What's unusual about the way you approach your subject?  I allow my students time to work out problems on their own before giving them the answers. I know there is more than one "right" way to approach a problem, so it is important to me that my students can find the best way for them.

What do you do to push kids outside their comfort zone in the classroom?  I incorporate as many inquiry based activities in my lesson planning as I can. The more chances that students have to think like a scientist and solve the given problem the more likely they will be to remember the skill in the future.

How do you teach to "the range", both the high achievers and those that are challenged by your discipline?  When science is hands-on it is easy for everyone to understand. I try to do as many labs, demonstrations and activities to help all students remember and retain what we do in class. The more you activity the more you remember.

What is the most surprising thing that happened in your classroom?  The most surprising thing for me is how many students will voluntarily show up for a chemistry club activity in the evening. I always prepare for the worst, there is nothing less cool than hanging out with your chemistry teacher in your free time, but somehow students always arrive and with enthusiasm!

Why is it fun to be in your classroom?  I don't lecture. Students in my classes learn through activities, experiments and exercises. I will hand out notes, but you should expect to be interacting in my class, not just copying from the board.

How did you choose Dublin School?  I didn't think I wanted to go back to working at a boarding school again, but Dublin is different. This is a warm place which sees potential in everyone.

Sarah Doenmez - Academic Dean

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Why do I teach and what do I love about History? I teach because I love to explore ideas and questions, and hear students' ideas developing. I love to see students get enchanted with History when many assume it will be boring, and get excited about issues in the world around us, and ask about their roots. Students come to realize that all aspects of human experience have historical dimensions to them, and that we gain insight rom literature, art, music, and science as well as the more usual historical sources.

History is the field that wrestles with time and our development over time. This is a fundamental struggle for all people: we are finite, times passes, change occurs. Also, both the best and worst aspects of our collective existence are the result of particular stories and developments. Nothing is inevitable about the way we currently live, or about how we will develop in the future. I began looking into history because I was so pained at the existence of things like the Shoah and nuclear weapons and needed to know how and maybe even why evil had prevailed. I have found in this search that so many fascinating questions are embedded in and enlightened by history. History is the best because it encompasses all other fields!  Perhaps too history can help us answer questions like, "How much do I matter in the world?"

What animates me? The process of becoming a freer human being. Watching young people grow wings, gain strength and freedom as they grow skilled and confident. Learning. Trying to contribute to a better world. It sounds corny, but....

What do I do outside of school that enhances my teaching? Read. Travel. Talk with people from other cultures and places. Learn new things myself. Help raise my children. Music. 

What might surprise my students? I speak four languages plus a couple of fragments of others. I ran a a marathon last year and hope to again this year. I watch a lot of soccer with my family. I played in a women's league for five years and quit when I scored my first goal!

What's unusual in the way I approach my subject? Well, I am more interested in big ideas than in dates, etc. Is that unusual? Also, I feel history is not over. Peoples all over the world live in ways we might view as ancient, or promodern, or in mixtures of ways. The events in our collective past influence us all whether we are aware of it or not too, so they live on in our language, our assumptions, out cultural patterns. I also like to pose History Mysteries. I also am very aware of how much I don't know and we don't know, which I think helps students feel how much they can contribute to our collective wisdom.

Pushing kids outside their comfort zone? I mix things up. We don't do the same thing every day. Students don't only use their customary strengths; everyone also has to do things they're less confident about. That way we all grow.

I also ask students to do things they've never done before. For a small example, we learned Chinese characters while studying China. They wrote way longer research papers than they expected to. 

Why is it fun to be in my classroom? Because learning is an adventure we embark on together! Everyone learns from everyone; everyone contributes; everyone listens. I am open to students' questions and interests, and often ask their input into decisions about what we will study or how. I do try to be sensitive to the mood of the group and be sure my class is exciting. We do things like listen to music of different times or places, invite guest speakers, take field trips, eat foods from other cultures, pay attention to the news involving the areas we're studying. 

The most surprising thing in my classroom? Maybe students dancing an Irish jig on the table for extra credit? Or inventing a language to go with the civilization she created? Last year a student had a major original insight that could form the basis of a doctoral dissertation, (that Nazi antisemitism was linked to antisemitism in the Roman Empire) - but that's not so unusual. 

Maybe it's the atmosphere of openness. We talk about anything and everything, and many students seem surprised that history class can wind up feeling so relevant and meaningful. Is that presumptuous?