Teacher, Strath Haven High SchoolCurrently in her fortieth year of teaching, Emily Farrell is one of the most experienced Language Arts teachers at Strath Haven High School in the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District. She teaches eleventh grade English – with the addition of elective classes such as Creative Writing and her long-standing sponsorship of the school’s literary magazine. Her honors include selections as 2002’s Teacher of the Year for both Delaware County Wal Mart and Borders in Concordville, but she is particularly proud of the professional publications of her students’ writing. Her students’ work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, House and Garden Magazine, Parade Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal. “I think a highlight of my career was when my students were published in The Wall Street Journal. That goes all over the world. For the assignment, they were to write love poems, but they could only use words they found in that newspaper. I then sent the poems to an editor at the Journal with a letter, saying, ‘You might get a kick out of this.’” Emily can trace her interdisciplinary approach back to 1987. “I was on my honeymoon, and my husband and I spent two semesters in Europe. That was the first time I ever took art classes – isn’t that sad? I had been in museums before but knew nothing about art. Once I came back, I began going to VAST [The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s summer workshop for teachers: Visual Arts as Sources for Teaching].” “I never felt as though I had any art education, and when I finally did, it really opened up a whole new world for me. I have since been exposed to color, shape, form, all the techniques that I learned at VAST. Now I make jewelry. Art has made me into a different person. I am absolutely devoted.” That devotion takes the form of an interdisciplinary approach to her English classes, enhancing lessons and assignments with the visual arts. Although her classroom approach may seem formal (students stand when they read something), her students are eager to join the discussion and display the results of their efforts. It is an approach that has clearly been working well for some time, both for teacher and for student.
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