Jennings Rachael

Jennings, Rachael

Jennings, Rachael.jpg

English Department Chair
Director of Equity and Inclusion

B.A., Middlebury College;
M.A., Bread Loaf School of English

After growing up outside of Philadelphia with my wonderful parents and twin sister, I moved north to Middlebury College, where I studied literature and education, ran the literary magazine, edited Features for the newspaper, sang a cappella, and fell in love with the mountains of Vermont. I got my feet wet through student teaching in Vermont and as a middle school teacher in Harlem and then fortunately found my way to The Haverford School, an all boys' independent school back near my hometown in Pennsylvania.

After teaching at Haverford, where I enjoyed working with the Debate team and building a Gender Studies program for the school, my heart was longing to be back in the hills of old New Hampshire. A summer camp person—who camped and counseled and directed at YMCA Camp Coniston up near Sunapee—I'd missed the open skies and beautiful hiking paths and calm, welcoming streets of New England. Though I'm lucky enough to be in the mountains during the summers, when I study at Bread Loaf, I'm delighted to be back north year-round. I couldn't be more excited to have found a new home at Dublin, and I look forward to the adventures ahead.

What book has made you think the most? It's difficult to pick one, so I'll go with a few: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Hamlet by Shakespeare, This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, The Beauty of Ordinary Things by Harriet Scott Chessman, and Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson.

What teacher has had the greatest impact on you? Why were they special? So many teachers have impacted me, and I include my students in that, too. I love learning from those around me—in all contexts. One of my favorite high school teachers was Mrs. Banks. She had been teaching for decades, and yet she existed as if every poem, every question, every moment was a precious surprise. She found delight in the rediscovered. She had endless warmth, eccentricity, kindness, and joy. In the classroom, I feel similarly delighted and eager to be surprised, and I hope that I will continue to carry that appreciation for thought, mistakes, and the cadence of a particularly stirring line with the same grace—from tomorrow to forty years from now. One of my favorite graduate professors is Rae Paris because she listens into stories and silences, creates community, and allows herself to disappear into a discussion. Rae has this phenomenal way of seeing her students for all that they are and can be and never losing sight of that. Lastly, two of my greatest teachers are my parents. They have taught me an enormous amount about creativity, being good to others, laughing, strength, patience, and resilience.

How would your friends describe you in three words? Compassionate, quizzical, humming-to-herself

What is your favorite course you have taken in high school or college? One of my favorite courses at Middlebury was Professor Cohen's seminar called "Truth and Other Fictions" (and I have since created a senior elective with the same name, actually). The course was rich with obscure, fresh voices, freckled with bizarre metafiction, and often led my classmates and I to just look at each other and say "What just happened?" in the best of ways. It was uncommonly baffling and energizing.

What is your favorite place on campus and why? The library: colorful chairs, big windows, and shelves and shelves of books.

If I had a free afternoon I would... go for a run, swing by the Harrisville General Store for that great kale salad, read a book, and probably try a fun new recipe for a little dinner gathering.