Each summer as our new cohorts take their first steps of the year into student teaching at Summer Prep (Elementary) or Brown Summer High School (Secondary), MAT students are equipped with the support of our enthusiastic mentor teachers. Brown MAT mentor teachers are a diverse group of educators from public and private schools, some of whom received their Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University in years past! They all share one thing in common: a dedication to shaping the newest members of their profession into the most effective teachers possible.
This year, our Secondary English mentors were kind enough to share a bit about themselves with the MAT blog. Read their bios below!
Peter Boland has been teaching English for nearly fifteen years in a career spanning public, private Catholic, continuing ed, college, the Upward Bound program, and charter schools. He has spent the past eight years at Beacon Charter High School for the Arts which he counts as a career highlight and an extremely rewarding experience. Over the course of the past eight years he has received a Golden Apple award, been nominated by Beacon as a State Teacher of the Year Candidate, and has served on the Educators in Action committee, an advisory board for Rhode Island’s outgoing Education Commissioner Deborah Gist. This is his second year as a Brown Summer High School M.A.T. Mentor and he is looking forward to working with his new team with great enthusiasm.
Daniel G. DeCelles earned an MAT in Secondary English from Brown University in 2000, and an MA in ESL Education and Cross-Cultural Studies in 2014. He has taught grades 6-12 for 15 years in Central Falls, Rhode Island’s smallest, poorest, and most diverse community, with a focus on arts-integrated literacy. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Education at Johnson & Wales, a member of the Board of Directors for the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, and a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Instruction at Boston College. He has been a Mentor with the Brown Teacher Education program for nearly ten years.
Christina Lawrence teaches English at North Kingstown High School, a large suburban high school about half an hour south of Providence. Before moving to Providence, she attended Vassar College and majored in American Culture, with a focus on American Literature and Art History. Christina moved to Providence to attend the MAT program at Brown and graduated in 2008. Since then, she has worked in a variety of educational contexts in and around Providence, at both public and private schools and in non-profit organizations. Though she no longer works in Providence, she tries to maintain ties to after-school arts programming in Providence and volunteers at New Urban Arts. When not at school, Christina enjoys taking her dog, Rosie, on long walks around the city.
Kate Lorch grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts and Little Compton, Rhode Island. One of her most influential high school English teachers was Margaret Metzger, a Brown Mentor and Visiting Professor. Kate attended University of California, Berkeley and studied abroad in Ghana, West Africa and Granada, Spain. She received her degree in Comparative Literature in English and Spanish.
Before returning to Rhode Island for the Brown MAT Program, Kate worked as a vocational trainer in San Francisco, coaching homeless youth and adults with psychiatric disabilities in job readiness and workplace skills. Attending Brown and returning as a mentor in the summer program was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Kate. For the past ten years she has taught high school in Providence Public Schools and Marin County, California. She earned National Board Certification in 2008. For the past three years of her work at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, CA she has served as the mentor to new teachers at Tam, coaching new teachers one-on-one, serving as a California Beginning Teacher Support Provider, and co-teaching Instructional Design workshops to new teachers in all disciplines district-wide. This year Kate is on sabbatical from teaching while she explores her interest in adult learning styles and organizational development models and starts her own family.
Vanessa O’Driscoll is the Middle School Dean of Students and an English teacher at The Wheeler School in Providence. After living in the same ancient farmhouse in Massachusetts for the first eighteen years of her life, Vanessa moved to Swarthmore College and then to New York City. There, she lived in a total of eight different apartments over eight years, while working in arts administration and arts education. Managing a course called Shakespeare Teaches at BAM helped her realize that she didn’t feel like returning to her office from the classroom. Vanessa earned her M.A. in education from Columbia University Teachers College and taught at Brooklyn Heights Montessori School before moving to Rhode Island. She has been a mentor teacher with the Brown University Education department for five years. She no longer moves every year, and has settled in Providence with her husband and two children and a cantankerous cat.
Tamar Paull was a UTEP at Brown in 1996, and had the good fortune to be placed at Community Prep, a small independent school on the Southside of Providence. Little did she know, she would fall in love with the school and end up spending the first fifteen years of her career teaching language arts and social studies in the seventh and eighth grades there. After she and her wife adopted their twin sons, she took a year off from teaching to take care of them before starting work at Gordon School, an independent nursery through eighth grade in East Providence. She currently teach humanities and academic support to seventh and eighth graders at Gordon. She has mentored in the Brown Teacher Education program on and off since 2004 and has also worked as a teacher coach at Sophia Academy, a middle school for girls in Providence. Somewhere in there, she spent five glorious summers in Vermont completing a Master’s degree in English at Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. When she’s not teaching, preparing to teach, or talking about teaching, she can be found doing such glamorous things as laundry, dishes, or training for her first 5K (though by the time you read this, she may have given up).
Erik Skogsberg is currently an Assistant Secondary Coordinator and PhD Candidate in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. He is passionate about teaching and learning innovation that responds to the needs of schools, communities, and organizations. He brings a wealth of teaching, mentoring, curriculum design, and professional development experiences in both secondary and higher education across the US and in rural, urban, and suburban classroom and community spaces.
As a PhD Candidate in Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education (CITE) at Michigan State University (MSU), his current research focuses on pre-service teacher (PST) development towards the inclusion of youth literacies, digital literacies, and culturally sustaining, dialogic pedagogies in the secondary English classroom. He teaches courses focused on disciplinary and youth literacies, digital literacies and educational technology, teacher identity, and secondary English methods for PST’s. Additionally, as the Assistant Secondary Coordinator in the Department of Teacher Education at MSU, he works closely with university, district, and community administrators and teachers to place junior-year students in classrooms and community sites that support optimal PST learning and fit with university, district, classroom, and organizational goals. Further, he supports graduate teaching assistant (TA) professional development across MSU through his work with Inside Teaching MSU and the MSU Graduate School.
Prior to his time at MSU, he taught high school English in Washington State and Rhode Island, as well as worked in Residence Life and College Admissions at Western Washington University (WWU). He holds degrees in English Literature (BA) from WWU and Secondary English Education (MAT) from Brown University.