Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

Participants - 2007

Main content start

Karen Coyle Aylward

I have been teaching English for the past eight at Brighton High School, part of the Boston Public Schools.   I graduated from Boston College and have a master's from Harvard University and I am a Nationally Board Certified Teacher.   I'll be celebrating my 30 th birthday right before I leave for California and I live with my husband, Shawn, and my cat, Sophie, in Boston, Massachusetts.   I'm looking forward to a great summer!

Sue Bach

Greeting from the Big Sky Country! I've taught high school English for thirty-one years in Billings, Montana. I've had a few NEH opportunities in the past, and all have been among the highlights of my teaching career. I love reading, movies, travel, and Steinbeck!!

(Charles) Charley Barniskis

I am a husband, soon-to-be father, English teacher, soccer coach, basketball fan, crossword doer, and fifth child of six.   While I have seen the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, I have never been to California.   I subscribe to the "Grammar Girl" podcast.   I like the phrase "cellar door," and my favorite word is extemporaneous.   I taught English for three years in Sandy, OR and for the past four years have taught English in Minnetonka, MN.

(Diana) Doonie Brewer

I was born and raised in PA, educated at Penn State and Trinity (Hartford, CT), and have worked at secondary schools in RI, CT, MA, and NH. My current position is as teacher, coach, and dorm parent at Holderness School (NH). One of my favorite concepts to teach is the sublimity of nature. I have read a few Steinbeck pieces and I have taught a few; looking forward to doing the former again and the latter better!   

Cora Ducolon

I have been teaching high school English in Massachusetts for the past eleven years.   I teach twelfth grade English, Journalism and Film as Literature.   I attended an NEH seminar on Dante in Siena, Italy three years ago.   I learned a great deal from my conversations with the other teachers in that seminar, and I look forward to a similar experience with all of you.  

Jennifer Freeman

I'm a third generation Californian, but have been living in Seattle for 9 years.   I work at Seattle Preparatory School, where I teach math and English, as well as a class called Collegio, which is an interdisciplinary humanities course that all students take for their first three years at my school.   I'm looking forward to two great weeks on the Monterey Peninsula!

Rebecca Gerik

I'm so pleased to be coming from Alaska to participate in a Steinbeck Institute.   I'll be leaving two high school kids and a husband behind in Alaska for two weeks, but they'll manage just fine.   Studying Steinbeck, reading, walking, creating lessons on a website, taking photos and spending time learning with adults instead of kids sounds highly pleasant.   I love to hike and run and ski, so I'll enjoy the blend of indoor and outdoor activities.   I attended college at Santa Clara University an eternity ago and will enjoy returning to California.

Eileen Gerken

An East coast girl originally, I have lived in the West for twenty years, and for fifteen on them, in the Las Vegas area.   Escaping to the cool clemency of the Central Coast will be an added bonus to my summer.   Teaching high school English, travel, reading, and eating seafood are on my Top Ten List; the Institute should be a wonderful fit!    I look forward to meeting and working with everyone.

Stephanie Gronholz

Paul Grubbs

I teach at a conservative Lutheran high school in Appleton, Wisconsin.   As a Christian educator, I work to reflect my faith in each day's lesson and approach each author and work from a theological perspective.   The Grapes of Wrath , an element of my American Literature course, has repeatedly been challenged for its language and content by local parents and a vocal pastor during the four years since I graduated and accepted this position.   I believe participation in the institute will improve my ability to support Steinbeck's position in our curriculum and explain his relevance to the issues facing contemporary teenagers.   I look forward to learning more about this author through our work together.

Lauren Haslach

Edward Helbig

I have taught US and global history for 10 years in the New York public schools. My BFA in 1980 was in music, but after 20 years as a professional musician I needed security and stability, and in 1997 sought a Masters degree in teaching with a major in history. I pursued public school teaching with enthusiasm and high hopes that I could make a difference. Unfortunately, my career has coincided with the imposition of No Child Left Behind and the expansion of high stakes standardized testing. These public school requirements take all the creativity out of teaching, and have left teachers with only one option: teach to the test. So in June 2007 I will be leaving the public schools and begin in September as Principal Teacher at the Watershed School, a private alternative nature school. The Watershed School offers a democratic, ecology-based, individualized education for students and families unsatisfied with the standardization now mandatory in NY's public schools.

Elizabeth Hughes

I am a twenty-five year old English teacher in her third year of teaching high school English (grades nine and twelve).  When I'm not reading books or grading papers, I spend my time outdoors, hiking, boating, and beekeeping.  My driving ambition is to eventually teach English abroad one day.

Amy Humphrey

I am an English, composition, and sometimes film teacher in Louisville, Kentucky. I'm a graduate of St. John's College (Annapolis) and Spadling University. For the past four years I have focused on writing instruction and assessment within my district and on the state level. I'm hoping to integrate my studies this summer into a project-in-the-making using cultural analysis to address the needs of struggling writers. I'm looking forward to the work and play this summer.

Louise Lavigne

I have taught English in a small Maine coastal town for the past 20 years and for the most part have always enjoyed it. Five years ago, I became a widow, so now with my children grown I am on the brink of a new life. Traveling is a relatively new passion of mine and I have been doing as much of it as I can. I have just sold my house and am in the process of building a new one this summer with my fiancé. Life is good.

Kristel Lehner

I live in St. Paul, Minnesota with my husband of three years and a cat. Handwritten letters and good food make me happy.   I used to be a runner, and now I enjoy being on the other side of the finish line as a coach.   This summer I am looking forward to revamping our outdated kitchen, riding the 1960's Schwinn Twinn tandem around town, and studying in Steinbeck's stomping grounds.

Adam Lutwin

I am a 26-year-old English teacher at Fowler High School in Syracuse, New York.   I taught in Southern California my first year out of college before returning back home.   I love skiing, playing soccer and basically doing anything outside.   I am extremely excited about this project and look forward to meeting all of you.

Bradley McMurray

I am a National Board Certified teacher of art in my tenth year. I live by the beach on the Gulf of Mexico in Venice, Florida. I am an avid kayaker. I'll be returning from summer in Vienna just prior to attending this institute. My last trip regarding teaching was in November 2006. It  was to Tokyo and the southern tip of Japan with the Japan Memorial Fulbright Fund. I have lived in Seattle, Detroit, Minneapolis, San Diego, Los Angeles, NYC, and now Venice, FL. I'm excited and thrilled to be heading back out west.

Traci Mumm

I am a wife, a mother of two and public high school English teacher from Parker, Colorado.   This will be the first time I'll spend any significant amount of time away from my kids and I'm looking to make the best of the experience.   I've never been to Monterey, but I know I'm going to love it there.  

(Charles) Chuck Nowland

I was born in Stillwater, Oklahoma, way back in 1954, and have lived most of my adult life in Austin, Texas, with my wife and two children.   For the past twelve years, I've taught English III, an elective called "The American West," and coached the girls' golf team at Westlake High here in Austin.   My passions include making road trips out West, taking photos of old signs and broken-down things, playing guitar and writing a few songs, and enjoying the local music scene.   I'm thankful to have participated in the NEH Seminars on Lewis and Clark and The Great Plains, and I look forward to our time in Monterey with the Steinbeck Institute.

David Oppenheim

I am an experienced teacher who is also a creative person. I have been a published photographer and a screenwriter. I am also a team player.

Sarah Richard

I currently live in Manhattan and work in the south Bronx for the New York City public schools. I completed my M.S.T. in English education last May, and I will complete my M.A. in English literature this summer. In my thesis, I use a materialist feminist critique to examine the role of women in Emile Zola's Germinal. I enjoy writing, singing, dancing, hiking and snowboarding among other activities.

Thomas Schmidt

Jennifer Stone

I am a proud mother of two boys (8 and 5), happily married for 14 years.

I have just completed my 14th year of teaching English, and I have taught French and Drama as well.   I am also a singer and dancer and have done many semi-professional theatrical productions.   I have a love of sports, animals and the outdoors, especially handy since I live in the beautiful state of Colorado.   I look forward to meeting new people and exploring more of California.   Oh, and I'm a Disney fanatic!

Marybeth Thompson