I am a teacher, writer, athlete, and passionate learner. I hold a bachelors degree in psychology from Duke University, a masters degree in English from the Creative Writing Program at NCSU, and Yoga Teacher Training 200-Hour Certification from Lifetime Raleigh. I am a member of Yoga Alliance. My writing has appeared in Duke Magazine, Young Scholar Magazine, Walter Magazine, 27 Views of Raleigh, and other publications. In 2005, I was honored to receive the Helton Award for Teaching Excellence from Ravenscroft School.
I love helping each student become the trusted expert of his or her own learning process. Many of the students I tutor have diagnosed learning differences. Many feel both controlled and out of control when they set to work on an assignment. Most of my students find school an anxiety-producing place to be, no matter what kinds of grades they are making. Parents tell me that I'm good at helping teenagers manage anxiety and find confidence in their abilities. We break writing tasks into stages that make sense for the student.
Whether we are working at a desk with words and ideas or on a mat with asanas (yoga poses), each student and I are moving toward the student's increasing sense of autonomy.
Competent, inspired instruction enables us to grow. Nonjudgmental guidance allows us to take risks. Ultimately, knowing how to work with our own bodies and minds provides deeper satisfaction than any teacher or coach can offer.
Body and Mind
I left a career of full-time classroom teaching in 2009 following a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia (now called ME/CFS). The diagnosis itself had been a slow, frustrating process. Every lab test said I was healthy, but my whole body hurt. Like many ME/CFS patients, I had a lot to learn in order to improve my quality of life. I am still learning. I got help from many different professionals and from alternative medicine. Gifted physical therapists taught me how to manage chronic pain through mindful breathing. I learned that it is simple, but not easy. Cognitive behavioral therapy gave me a host of tools for reframing daily challenges. Among other things, I was fortunate to discover that deeply tiring my muscles through long, slow distance exercise (swimming, biking, hiking) and through yoga gave me restorative sleep and increased my stamina. (This is not a standard recommendation for ME/CFS or fibromyalgia sufferers. Many, maybe most, need gentle exercise that does not push them to the point of feeling spent.) Yoga drew upon the type of body awareness I had had as a dancer and diver growing up but had mostly lost as an adult. It also gave me new ways of thinking about energy, or chi. I've learned to befriend both my higher energy states and my lower ones.
As I regained health, I began triathlon, a sport that requires the open willingness and curiosity that Zen Buddhists call "beginner's mind." This mindset required a big shift away from perfection and competition and toward discovery and acceptance. Being coached, missing a mark and trying again, breaking a huge goal into manageable parts, and learning from my fears and weaknesses allowed me to know myself in new ways. I became competitive in my age group without having that as my focus. Most of all, I felt strong for the first time in years.
In 2015, I experienced a big setback. I was struck head-on by a truck while biking (in the 70th mile of a 75-mile ride). At first, I was euphoric that I was alive, that I wasn't more severely injured, and that I could recover. But healing involved seven months of physical therapy and lots of hours on my yoga mat--alone and in yoga studios. When my knees no longer hurt, I began to imagine a different focus for my fitness. In 2017, I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training at LifeTime Athletics in Raleigh and have been teaching group and private lessons since. (I still bike, but mostly on the Greenway.)
Other Teaching Experiences
In my twenties, I taught English as Second Language to Italians in a small town near Lake Como ( a plum job!). Over the course of a week at The Oxford Institute of Cantu, my ESL students included preschoolers, middle schoolers, high schoolers, and adults. It was an intense immersion course in nimble planning. Also, I relied heavily on the gift my 7th grade English teacher had given me--a love for grammar in all its intricacies.
Shortly after finishing my masters degree, I began teaching writing at NCSU through the School of Education. The course was designed specifically for at-risk students--mostly freshmen who were non-native speakers or first in their families to attend college. Those young adults and the autobiographical narratives they wrote remain a deep well of inspiration for me. I discovered I hadn't really read The Catcher in the Rye until I'd discussed it with a group that included Afghan refugees, teens who grew up in big city public housing, and farmers' sons and daughters from Eastern North Carolina--each enlightening the other on adolescent angst. During the same period, I also taught literature and writing at the former all-women's Peace College (now William Peace University), where most of my students came from small towns and many were reluctant readers. I honed my ability to cajole students into dense Victorian novels and difficult contemporary plays.
In 2001, I joined the faculty of Ravenscroft Upper School. There, I taught all four grade levels, but primarily had responsibility for Honors and AP Juniors and for students of all ability levels in the required composition course. Teaching high school, I experienced again and again the joy of seeing students move beyond the ever-present pressure of grades and into an exploration of ideas. I loved watching teenagers find a writing voice that was natural, confident, and appropriate to the task at hand. I listened and coached through writer's block those who were discouraged, intimidated, self-critical, or just plain overwhelmed. The tools and stages of the writing process became an increasingly interesting curriculum for me. And I've continued to build a fluid, adaptable approach to the writing process through private tutoring and workshops.