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Institute 2009 - Participants

Marg Blake

Born in Missouri, I was the first and only child for ten years. My father was career military; in Germany, my only sister was born. Important place and time for me. I probably fell in love with language while standing in front of the Gutenberg Bible there. Years pass quickly. Wonderful husband. One dog. No children.

Constance Booth

Currently in my nineteenth year of teaching English, with time spent in the middle as a full-time parent and a part-time business person, I am so thrilled to be sharing the best of American literature with my honors and academic level juniors here at Mt. Lebanon High School in Pittsburgh. I am a graduate of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh with a M.Ed. in Language Communications. When not grading essays, I enjoy reading novels and literary criticism, writing creative nonfiction, and studying art history. I reside with my husband and three almost grown children in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania.

Corey Bulman

I live and teach in suburban Minneapolis, MN. I teach 11th and 12th grade American Literature and Advanced Placement courses. I also direct the school’s play. I am married to a great lady named Mimi. While much of my time is spent grading stacks of essays, I also enjoy sea kayaking, biking, reading, and traveling.

David Chamberlain

I teach American History at Kennett High School, located in the scenic White Mountains of northern New Hampshire. In my spare time I enjoy rock and ice climbing near my home and amid the other great ranges of the world. I am looking forward to learning from the other participants and walking along the Pacific coast.

Juliet Chiarella

I am a fourth-year English teacher at Albany High School, just north of Berkeley, California; I also keep very busy coordinating Connect Academy (the high school’s first small school), advising the yearbook staff, mentoring new teachers, working with students in the Future Leaders Institute (FLI), and advising the buildOn club. A Bay Area Native, I grew up with a love of Steinbeck and his California focus. Despite a deep love of my home state, I completed my undergraduate education at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with degrees in English and Communication Studies and then headed to New York where I worked in sales and marketing. Upon my return to California, I attended UC Berkeley’s Multicultural Urban Secondary English (MUSE) program and earned a masters degree in Education in 2005.

Sue Curtin

I hail from Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, about fifteen minutes outside of Scranton for all you Office fans. I have been teaching English for twelve years, first in Manhattan, and for the last eight years in Milford, Pennsylvania. I have been fortunate enough to teach American Literature every one of those years and look forward to knowing Steinbeck better. I am an avid reader, cook, and traveler. I live with my husband Jon and my chocolate lab Theo.

Linda Fix

I am a native of southeastern Georgia and continue to live there. I have two children, Amy and Mike, and am married to Mike, Sr. Our black lab, Harley, rounds out the family. A graduate of Georgia Southern University, I earned my M.Ed. in 1998 and my Ed.S. in 2004. I have taught grades 9-12 at all levels for 15 years. Currently, I teach 9 Pre-AP, 9 College Prep, and 12 AP English Literature.

Adam Frank

I live in Houston, TX. I have been a teacher for 6 years. I’ve taught Spanish, Texas History and World Geography. Each year, I enjoy traveling abroad. In the last five years, I’ve been to Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Chile, Costa Rica and Thailand. Before teaching, I was a soldier in the U.S. Army and was, at one time, stationed at the Presidio of Monterey. I look forward to returning to Monterey and collaborating with so many excellent people.

Jeff Gerdes

I am currently the English Language Development teacher at both Horizon Middle School and Sunrise Middle School for Kearney Public Schools in Kearney, Nebraska. I teach 6th, 7th and 8th grade Language Arts, reading and a newcomer’s class at Horizon Middle School and administer federal assessments, offer guidance and advocacy at Sunrise Middle School. I graduated Cum Laude in 2007 from the University of Nebraska, Kearney. I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double endorsement in English education and English as a Second Language. I enjoy camping, canoeing, hiking, woodworking and, of course, sitting on my second-story star-viewing deck along the south bend of the North Platte River with a cup of hot cocoa while holding my wife’s hand.

Jeffrey Gilden

I have been teaching English in New York for nineteen years, first at Newtown High School in Queens and, for the last fourteen years, at Great Neck North High School on Long Island. In addition to teaching core courses, I have developed and taught STAGES, an interdisciplinary senior alternative in which students spend senior year writing an original full-length musical that is presented each year in June. I have also written the libretti for two operas: En Mis Palabras, a bilingual piece commissioned by Central City Opera in Colorado, and Shadows, an educational piece commissioned by Broadway Cares in New York.

Kelly Gionti

I teach 11th grade English and Journalism at Dr. Martin Luther King High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice in New York City. Before making the switch to teaching six years ago, I worked in book and magazine publishing. I have both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from The University of Akron in Ohio, in addition to a master’s in English Education from the City College of New York. I live with my husband in Manhattan.

Colleen Harnett

I’m from southern California and have been teaching English in Orange County for seven years. I also taught English in Russia for two years with the Peace Corps, which voted me “Most Likely to be a Babushka.” I’m married to a history teacher and we just celebrated our first anniversary. I enjoy reading, cooking, hiking, and traveling — I’m on a mission to see the California Missions. I’m very excited to study Steinbeck in such a beautiful place, and I’m so looking forward to meeting everyone!

Eric Hedman

Since completing my undergraduate studies at Cornell University, I have taught English in Japan as part of the JET Program (Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program), received a Master of Arts in Teaching English from Union College, and taught English at the high school level – the past ten years of which has been at New Rochelle High School. While at New Rochelle, I also completed a masters program in administration and supervision, an undertaking that connects to my interest in shaping and leading developments in curriculum and instruction.

Cheryl Hughes

I am a 9th and 10th grade Communication Arts teacher in Missoula, Montana, where I have lived for most of my life. I am part of a Small Learning Community teaching team and have had the opportunity to teach multi-disciplinary units, melding the literature with the history and sciences of the beautiful Northwest.

Andrew Kasprzak

I am in my second year of teaching at Berwick Academy, a country day school, in South Berwick, Maine. At Berwick, I am a member of the English Department where I am humbled by 9th graders, challenged by juniors, and inspired by the seniors I am fortunate enough to learn from. I was born in Connecticut yet wish I was a westerner; I have an infinity for yellow labradors, a growing appreciation for the tranquility fly-fishing can provide, and a desire to one day raise chickens.

Kristen Kavanaugh

I am a 28 year old New York native who loves to work in what I think is the best city in the world! I am in my fifth year of teaching high school English (grades 9–12) at the only Dual Language Mandarin/English high school in New York and I love how unique and challenging our school can be. I enjoy reading, running outside, yoga, eating at nice restaurants, dancing with friends, outside activities, and going to concerts. Teaching has allowed me to travel to some wonderful places such as Prague, Vienna, China, Italy, Ireland, London, New Orleans, Miami, San Diego, and even a road trip across the United States. I really look forward to seeing Steinbeck country!

Claudia Miller

I’ve been teaching impoverished middle school students in Santa Fe since 1990; clearly, I’ve learned as much or more from them as I’ve taught them. The population is 97% Hispanic, and my 7th and 8th grade classrooms require differentiated instruction for reading and writing levels 3rd grade to post-high school. I incorporate media literacy and the performing arts into my curricula under grants that I write. I raised three daughters as a single mom and they and their amazing husbands are raising my five grandchildren.

Kristi Quillen

I am originally from the Houston area and have taught high school English for over three years there, two and a half at a big suburban public school and one now at a small independent school. Before becoming a teacher, I studied at Trinity University (in San Antonio) and at University College London. Not surprisingly, I spend a lot of time reading and writing, and I love to travel. I once again have a busy summer of traveling planned—Greece with about 20 high school students and Chicago visiting friends—but I am most looking forward to spending time in Monterey and to meeting and working with all of you!

Tim Roberts

There seems to be a form to these judging by the 2007 participant statements. Teaching career? Finishing 18th year, the last 12 at San Dieguito Academy, a sort-of alternative public high school in Northern San Diego County (skate P.E., no football team). Do English and journalism. Interests (usually something outdoorsy and physically strenuous)? Like to take a walk now and then. Family (including pets)? A wife (teaches English at a junior high); two kids (one in college, a second graduating from high school); old dog. Personal quirks? No, not really.

Kristine Sieloff

I began teaching high school English fifteen years ago on Chicago’s south side; I was a founding teacher of one of Chicago’s first charter schools. After moving to Baltimore in 2004, I both taught and served as a systemic mentor for new teachers in the Baltimore City Schools. I currently teach IB Theory of Knowledge and sophomore American Literature. I consider myself a ravenous foodie and also enjoy long distance running and yoga.

Bill Teter

I went to college in San Francisco in the 1970s. After graduation I headed for Hawai‘i to get my masters in Japanese Literature. I ended up with my MA in English. After working for several years as an administrator at Chaminade University in Honolulu, I began teaching high school English at the University Laboratory School in 1988. I’ve edited two anthologies of literature from the islands, Growing Up Local (1998) and Hãpai Nã Leo (2009). I’ve had a few short stories published here and there. Though I live in a beautiful place, I love the central California coast and inland valleys, and I can’t wait to rediscover the country in and around Monterey.

Marc Vickers

I was born, raised and educated in England where I taught English and Drama for eight years before moving to Michigan on a Fulbright exchange. I have been teaching American and British Literature at Okemos High School for the past five years in addition to running the Drama program, the best part of my job. I love to travel, I enjoy film and am happiest when being walked by my two rambunctious beagles.

Julia Webb

I am a literature teacher in New Haven, CT. I am deeply interested in the ways that creative writing, performance, and art develop her students’ analytical perspectives. In my time away from school, I love to read and write. I am eager for a chance to immerse myself in the fictional and real worlds of Steinbeck.  

Melanie Webb

I have taught English honors and Advanced Placement courses at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Florida, for 5 years. In the past, I have taught English as a Second Language in Berlin, Germany and Wuxi, China. I enjoy travelling, the outdoors and cooking and of course reading.

Susan Young

I am just finishing my fourth year of teaching high school English in Portland, Maine—a surprisingly diverse school district in a not-very-diverse state. Prior to entering the public school realm, I taught for nearly 20 years in various private schools in the Northeast (Deerfield Academy, Hyde School, and the Pingree School), where I also coached soccer and track. I have also taught at the college level while pursuing a master’s in English at the University of Notre Dame, and later when gaining a degree in Theological Studies from Southern Methodist University. As an undergraduate at Harvard, majoring in Folklore and Mythology, I wrote my undergraduate thesis on the Arthurian legends, where I first encountered Steinbeck’s fabulous rendition of Malory’s Morte D’Arthur. I am married, with one son (adopted six years ago from Nepal!).

Pam Zipfel

I have taught high school English for 30 years, 25 years at Maize High School, a suburban district outside of Wichita, Kansas. During my time at Maize I also developed two elective courses: Multicultural Literature, and American Literature and the Environment. This year I became sponsor of MHS AfricAid, a new organization founded by three of my students to increase awareness of the genocide in Darfur and raise money to assist those in Africa suffering from drought, famine, and violence. I am the mother of one grown son and 2 old pugs and the grandmother of Ellie, who will turn one in August and lives in Montana where I will also spend time this summer. I look forward with great enthusiasm to the Steinbeck Summer Institute 2009.