Performing Arts Department and Upper School Speech Coach
Member of the Faculty, 2004–2017
My friendship with Susan began 13 years ago, in the fall of our first year at Milton. I received an email from Susan, asking if I could help with the speech team. Susan noted her assertion that academic excellence should be matched with knowledge of the practical. In keeping with Susan’s philosophy on educating the whole student, I unexpectedly found myself in the dance studio standing in front of the mirrored wall with all of the young men on the speech team. I was educating them on the art of tying a tie. If I recall correctly, this required multiple sessions for some of our most accomplished students.
Deemed a capable instructor on how to tie a Windsor knot, I soon received another invitation from Susan—a promotion, really, from sartorial consultant to economic and historical consultant. Over the years, I have spent many an afternoon posing current events questions to Susan’s students, and critiquing their responses. I have come to enjoy these afternoons with the speech team—a window into the world of speech, but also a window into the world of Susan as a teacher. What I have observed is that Susan is not only passionate about her craft, but she also cares deeply for her students and knows each one as an individual person.
When students enter Susan’s classroom, they are there to give 110 percent—in part because they want to do well at speech competitions, but more significantly because their relationship with Susan motivates them to give their all to the craft of speech. When Susan’s students speak about the speech team, it is always in the context of what an amazing teacher Susan is and how she has helped them to better understand and to reach their potential as students and as people.
Susan is not only a passionate teacher, but also an avid student of history and economics. A couple of years ago, Susan asked if she could sit in on my classes, and do the reading but not write the papers. She promised not to participate in the discussion, as she felt that would distract from the students’ learning.
True to her word, once I started class, Susan focused on taking notes and tried her best
not to join the class discussion. Though, the highlights of the semester for both me and my class of eight students were the moments when Susan could not contain herself and would dive into the discussion. Despite her best intentions, Susan became a valuable member of our class.
Susan, your practical, holistic, empathetic and humored approach to both teaching and learning are characteristics that have not only endeared you to your students, but that will also serve you well as you move into the next chapter of your life. We wish you all the best in the next part of your journey, but we will miss you here at Milton.
History Department and Wolcott House Head