How does the APH teaching philosophy look in your classroom?
I do my best to emphasize student voice, confidence, and autonomy, and to keep the topics of ethical leadership and social-emotional health front and center. Although I possess certain experience and credentials, I try to present myself as a source of support and encouragement, rather than as a paternalistic figure. I am a huge believer in group activities, and in working variety, humor, and creativity into the classroom on a daily basis.
What excites you about The Academy at Penguin Hall?
I am very inspired by the way so many faculty and administrators take the mission of the school to heart, and in their optimism and idealism. I believe it’s our responsibility to maintain this positive vision for students, even and especially in light of the many challenges facing them as teenagers during the 2020s. I am also a big fan of our more joyful side!
Share something interesting about yourself.
As much as I am fascinated by the question of what makes “good” storytelling, I think of myself as more of a polymath than a “literature person.” To me, an English class is an intellectual playground: an opportunity to seek connections among all of the fields of study we humans have cooked up. (This is more or less Melville’s project in Moby-Dick.) That said, my first love is music, and my favorite story is the original Star Wars; I’m about thirteen songs in to a Star Wars musical I’ve been writing and performing for students over the past few years. I’ve also been a dedicated a cappella singer, arranger, and director pretty much continuously since 1986.
Dr. Michael Schwartz holds a B.A. in English from Brown University and earned his Ph.D. in English from Brandeis University. Before coming to APH, he taught English for eight years at Kent Place School, an independent girls’ school in New Jersey. Before that, he taught writing and literature at the college level for more than twenty years. He is especially interested in the topics of creativity, allegorical (non-realistic) fiction, and gender studies. Dr. Schwartz has recently written, presented, and published articles on gothic writers Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, and Shirley Jackson.