Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I decided to become a teacher in my senior year of college. My three or four interviews with corporate recruiters did not go well on either end--they didn't call and I didn't answer. I thought about great teachers I had, particularly Mr. Dougherty, my Middle School creative writing teacher, and Mr. Lucker, my sophomore history teacher, and thought that what they did and the impact they had on me was something worth pursuing. The rest, as they say, is history.
Who was your mentor growing up?
I'm going to talk about my mentors in my early years at Pennington--the ones who got me going on the right track. Of course there was Terry Burns, my department chair, who basically let me go my own way, but was always there to guide me and make sure I stayed on the trail. Kie Ahn was not only a father figure to our Korean students, but he also always took the time to make sure everything was okay for everyone. Bill Long helped shape me as a football coach and I wish I had taken better notes on all he taught me. My Junior Faculty buddies--Stephen Edele, Tripp Peake, and the late Brad Henderson, were there to talk about how things actually worked. Mike Winkler and Dean Waters always looked out for me as the new kid. Last, but most importantly, there was Dr. Cervone, who not only told me about the opening here, but also constantly called me in to talk about what teaching and education were all about and ultimately shaped me as a teacher. My mentors are a group of Hall of Fame of Pennington greats.
What's your teaching philosophy?
I think my philosophy is best represented by Gary Graham and Jeff Maiden--two average Pennington students who ended up presenting their paper on Lewis Caroll to a convention of Carroll scholars. Anyone can come up with a new way of seeing the world; you just have to keep your eyes and mind open. Don't be afraid of being wrong because you disagree with the teacher; even the teacher is going to be wrong every once in a while.
Nachos, tacos, burritos, or a dozen fresh oysters.
The Maltese Falcon. You can't go wrong with Humphrey Bogart and Dashiell Hammett, an author I featured in my course on The Hard-Boiled Detective years ago.
Favorite thing to do in the summer time?
Chill on the sand in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, with my family and all the books I couldn't find the time for during the year.