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This interview was conducted on April 5, 2021 with Margaret Funkhouser via Zoom from her home in Natick, Massachusetts. Margaret is the Director of Writing, Film & Media Arts at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick. In this interview, Margaret spoke about her school and the changes it’s gone through in the past year, from HyFlex teaching (mixed classroom where some students are in person and some are on zoom) when the campus opened in November, to the collaborative films students made in the third quarter. Margaret spoke of the steps the school has taken to ensure safety (contact tracing, closed campus, weekly testing, teachers vaccinated), as well as the complexity of being a teacher in an enrollment-driven school. She shares that it’s not just teaching but promoting the school and “feeding the machine” that attracts students. Margaret spoke about what COVID-19 has brought to light for her in her role at Walnut Hill. Margaret reflected that “the social-emotional support (of students) falls more on the women faculty.” This led her to speak about how the year has asked teachers to cross boundaries that weren’t typically crossed in teacher/student relationships in the past. Margaret reflected on how she saw this extra effort to reach out to students and parents from her youngest son’s elementary school as well. In closing, she spoke about her sons' returning to in-person learning. Her eldest will be entering Walnut Hill next year and her youngest just went back to full-time in-person classes at his elementary school. The interview was the night after her youngest son’s first full day of in-person school and she replayed the scene of seeing him after and how it was the happiest she’d seen him in the past year. Margaret said she hasn’t felt what she called “normalized pure joy” she saw in her son, but she’s hopeful she will soon. Her final taper: she said she loves her school and hopes it will learn from the mistakes it’s made.
Alex Vara was born in San Francisco but raised just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Mill Valley, California. She is a graduate of Hampshire College and a dual MFA Creative Writing (Fiction/Nonfiction) student at The New School in New York City. She’s a public speaking teacher and host of TNS After Hours, a reading series dedicated to The New School Writing Community. She writes about family and her place within it.
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This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.