After teaching her Sixth Form English seminar “Matters of life and death: literature of migration” during last year’s second semester, Dr. Callie Ward returns to the community as a full-time faculty member for the 2022-2023 school year. In addition to her English seminar classes, Dr. Ward will also teach English II and English IV*.
Growing up surrounded by books and literature, Dr. Ward’s enthusiasm for English sprouted at an early age.
“It should have been so obvious to me that of course I’d end up as a teacher,” Dr. Ward said. “I have always really loved reading and stories. My parents signed me up for storytime at the public library when I was quite young, and I was just enamored.”
Dr. Ward’s passion for literature developed throughout her childhood in northern Nevada. In college, she continued her English studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
“I’ve always studied literature; I’ve been very passionate about that,” Dr. Ward said. “I double majored in English and Hispanic Studies, with a minor in Creative Writing. I just couldn’t make up my mind.”
After graduating, Dr. Ward spent a year living in Spain while traveling across Europe to teach English across all grade levels. She later returned to the United States for her Ph.D. in Latin American Literatures and Cultures at Stanford University, where she continued teaching.
“All throughout Stanford during my years there, I was teaching Stanford undergrads—a mixture of language courses, literature courses, and a film course,” Dr. Ward said.
Throughout this period, she also worked in the Bay Area teaching in jails as a part of a program at Stanford.
“A bunch of my friends from the law school and other Ph.D. programs were involved, which is how I found out about [the program],” Dr. Ward said. “It involves all graduate students, where everyone comes together to teach something from their own area of expertise to incarcerated people. It’s very interdisciplinary.”
Joining this program was not only a valuable life experience, but it also provided insight into her own teaching methods. Ultimately, Dr. Ward learned many lessons about how to connect with students on a greater level.
“I think I learned the most about what teachers like to refer to as ‘relational teaching’: connecting with students, respecting them as human beings, meeting students where they are at, respecting that everyone comes from different backgrounds, and establishing as a team different classroom norms or expectations of treating one another.”
Additionally, the experience reaffirmed Dr. Ward’s value of incorporating different perspectives and ideas throughout a curriculum.
“It was a helpful reminder about the ways I should strive to incorporate things from across disciplines in my own work and my own teaching, and just getting students excited about making those kinds of connections,” Dr. Ward said.
Through her vast range of teaching experiences and educational pursuits, Dr. Ward emphasizes the significance of student discussions and critical writing.
“I strongly believe in discussions and that I should never be the main voice in the room; it’s about students sharing their thoughts with one another,” Dr. Ward said. “And, of course, critical analysis is so important, and that’s a skill that’s to be developed throughout your upper school years. I’m also, after having taught at the college level, always thinking ahead to what’s waiting for you on the other side and how I can best prepare you for that.”
Alongside the analytical aspects of writing, Dr. Ward stresses the importance of creative writing.
“Of course, I think it would be doing a disservice to focus too much on analysis to the exclusion or detriment of creative opportunities,” Dr. Ward said. “Everyone needs a creative outlet, and I think that’s another writing muscle that’s really important to be able to flex or exercise.”
Outside of the classroom, Dr. Ward looks forward to learning more about the community.
“I’m really happy this year to also have opportunities in advisory and in ASB just to get to know students beyond the classroom opportunities I had last year—to hear about what they’re reading and learning in their other classes—and they’ve all been really generous in terms of sharing that with me and introducing even things they’ve learned in other classes in the class that I’m teaching, which is always delightful,” Dr. Ward said.