Faculty Expands Horizons Through Summer Sabbaticals

Last summer, several faculty members traveled across the country and around the world to enhance their knowledge and teaching.

Upper School History Teacher Marshall McCurties visited Olympic National Park and interviewed various Native American communities as part of his summer sabbatical. His objective was to learn more about the role of storytelling, language and culture within the tribes. McCurties listened and learned of the communities’ struggles with land preservation and rights to access water for fishing and logging and  land for hunting and road service. He was also able to join in a celebration of Native American rituals and food—including a salmon smoke. Overall, Mr. McCurties’ sabbatical experience helped him reflect on the way he understands language, culture and narrative. He returned to MICDS eager to share his learning with his students.

Upper School History Teacher Tanya Roth visited Cambridge University for a one-week seminar, Why History Matters, through Oxbridge Academic Programs. As one of 20 faculty members present, she ventured all over England to learn about the British history system, ancient magic rituals and so much more. “The opportunity to meet faculty from Cambridge and teachers from schools around the world was incredible. Hearing their perspectives on how they teach history helped me come away with new ideas and understanding about my favorite subject,” she said.

While there, Dr. Roth embraced all that England had to offer. From enjoying a spot of tea and stopping by Benjamin Franklin’s house to exploring Trinity College Library and the Cambridge American Cemetery, she made the most of her time abroad.

Upper School English Teacher Celeste Prince also had the chance to travel this summer for professional development. To prepare for a new course called Literature of the Black Diaspora, Prince visited Ghana to learn more about both her own ancestry and the subject matter. While in Accra, for example, she visited the slave dungeons and the oceanside where people were first shipped off as part of the transatlantic slave trade. Prince reflected, “I never really knew where I was from until I saw where it all started.”

“Ghana has such a long history, yet it’s only been independent since the ’60s. It’s a prime example of a country whose people were colonized and then set free, reinforcing the historical narrative that people of color were not believed to be in charge of themselves,” she said. “My goal for the class is to flip that narrative—to remind students that we people of color have always belonged to ourselves.”

In the course, students read and discuss literature, listen to music and study art that focuses on representation, presentation and performance of blackness.