Read more about Maile Black.
Faculty Member since: 2000
Additional roles at Brookwood:
mentor teacher to teaching apprentices; overseer of Book Club and Hot Topics Club
Favorite children’s book:
Ooh, that’s a tough one. Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. But if you’d asked me three days ago, I might have said The Giver, by Lois Lowry, or The Changeling, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, or A Stone in My Hand by Cathryn Clinton. Who can forget The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, by Eugene Trivizas, or Graeme Base’s The Worst Band in the Universe? Just read. A lot.
Favorite lesson to teach:
I always love writing with the kids, getting them to think up new characters and worlds, and guide them in ways to commit those thoughts to the page. It’s also really fun when they share their writing with each other. But I also love having debates. Spelling bees are fun too. I don’t know—I just like it when they like it, and when they seem to enjoy the learning.
I love the Parents Association! Thanks to them, I’ve traveled to France, Peru, Guatemala, Newfoundland, Manchesters up and down the eastern United States, and a writing retreat in Florida. Thanks to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), I went to South Africa for a summer. Thanks to a program at the College of the Siskiyous in Mt. Shasta, I studied Spanish for a summer in Cusco. Traveling is the best way to learn. I love it.
Do it, but only if you have some understanding of the potential consequences. Be smart. If it’s a smart risk, you will be rewarded with exciting experiences that grow you. You don’t want to have a boring life, right? And: People all around the world are excellent. They almost always want to help, to befriend, to entertain. Trust in that. This doesn’t mean you should ever throw caution entirely to the wind, but don’t be surprised by how good people are.
What at Brookwood makes you a better teacher?
Lots and lots of things. It’s extraordinary to be so trusted and supported by everyone around me. It’s amazing to have access to every resource. There is definitely more of a “yes” vibe around here than a “no way, it can’t happen” thing.