This oral history interview is an intimate conversation between two people, both of whom have generously agreed to share this recording with Oral History Summer School, and with you. Please listen in the spirit with which this was shared.
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Suzanne Snider (Founder/Director, Oral History Summer School and Education Narratives Project) is a research-based artist and educator whose work is deeply influenced by oral history theory and practice. Her most recent projects include sound installation, essays and archive design. In 2012, Snider founded Oral History Summer School in Hudson, New York to explore nontraditional applications for (and experimental outcomes of) life history and collaborative narrative practices. Snider has been invited to run trainings for Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, the National Public Housing Museum and the National Library of Kosovo, among others. She served as an advisor for the Judd Foundation’s Oral History program and trained curators at MoMA as part of the museum’s international program on Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives. She is lead interviewer for Moral Histories: Voices and Stories from the Founding Figures of Bioethics, a joint project of Johns Hopkins University and Pushkin Industries. Her nonfiction has been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Believer, BOMB and several artist catalogues, supported by repeat fellowships at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. In 2018, she co-founded the Trauma and Journalism work group with journalist Allison Lichter, funded by the Mellon Foundation and the New School. Prior to her work with adult learners, she taught movement and art in the New York City public school system (pre-K through 6th), and developed arts curriculum for visually impaired students at the New York Institute for Special Education. Currently, she teaches in Bard's Center for Curatorial Studies Program and in the New School's School of Media Studies. She lives in Hudson, New York with her daughter.
Jennie Morrison (ENP Co-Director) has a background in oral history, non-profit communications, social work, and K-16 education. She has worked in a variety of settings, including K-12 public schools, non-profit organizations, and university campuses. She received her introduction to the art of oral history through OHSS, and then continued her training through the Columbia University Oral History Master of Arts program. She is particularly interested in using oral history to foster conversation about the dynamics of teaching, learning, and care, which she began exploring during her time with the OHSS Education Narratives Project.
Ciera Dudley (ENP Co-Director) is an educator, cartographer, and illustrator based in Santa Cruz, California. She has a background in urban planning and education, which inform her oral history interests in multi-generational housing justice movements and mutual aid networks. She currently co-directs and coordinates the Education Narratives Project at OHSS and facilitates storytelling workshops with The Moth. Ciera is also a member of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, a collective of organizers, critical cartographers, and oral historians documenting dispossession and resistance upon gentrifying landscapes.
Emma Rose Brown (ENP Archives Coordinator) (b. 1991) is a Queens-based performer, multidisciplinary artist, and oral historian working in the field of dance. She assists in the preservation and production of the Dance Oral History Project at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and is the Archives Coordinator for the Community Library of Voice and Sound in Hudson, NY. She is a three time SU CASA artist-in-residence through Queens Council on the Arts where she has taught experimental documentary arts to older adults. Her work takes her between the urban and the rural. Emma has facilitated participatory community scores at the Rochester Folk Arts Guild and at the Abode Farm in New Lebanon, NY and presented work at GIBNEY, Movement Research, New York Live Arts, The School for Contemporary Dance and Thought and The School of Making Thinking. Emma is an MFA candidate in Integrated Media Art at Hunter College.
Annie Reynolds (OHSS Program Coordinator) is a multidisciplinary storyteller based in Hudson, NY and originally from San Francisco. Her background in collaborative ethnography and trauma informed education led her to oral history’s capacity to expand language, form, and authorship. Before moving to Hudson, she was a member of Liberation Literacy, a prison-based writing and reading group in Portland, OR; a facilitator with Between the Lines, where she recorded parents reading books to their children from prison; and a program manager for a trauma healing arts non-profit. Annie holds a B.A. in anthropology from Lewis & Clark College. She is also a freelance journalist and recent student in calligraphy.
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.
Anna Levy is a researcher, strategic analyst, educator and oral historian. Most of her work is at the intersection of accountability politics, structural inequality, historical and collective memory, and the role of civilian movements in economic and political transitions. She uses mixed research methods to map out the pressures and incentives guiding complex systems--including the political economy of organizations or cities in crisis, militarized border bureaucracies, or the shifting legal and digital frontlines of collective civic action, among others. Anna uses oral history to bring out the multiple, intersecting experiences that make up the day-to-day of those systems in order to help inform advocacy, policy and power shifts. She teaches on emergency and disaster politics at Fordham University and is an avid capoeirista. Her website is | Jafsadi.works.
Annelise Finney is a European American cis-woman, born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She currently works as a radio journalist covering reparations in California and breaking news in the Bay Area. Previously she worked as defense investigator for public defenders offices in New York City and San Francisco. She is an alum of the 2016 Oral History Summer School. She is also an avid sewist, hiker and cook.
Daniel Horowitz was born and raised in New York City, making extended forays to Boston and New Orleans, only to return to teach and work in his hometown. He holds a degree in Media Arts from Northeastern University, a Master's in Creative Writing from the New School and is currently enrolled at the CUNY Graduate Center in the Biography and Memoir program. In New Orleans and coastal Mississippi he has been conducting a long-term oral history project on the lived experiences of climate change. For the last four years he has taught and learned alongside children at forest schools, first in Prospect Park and then at NOLA Nature School in the Couturie Forest in the City of Dreams, egrets, alligators and all. He currently teaches Science and Gardening in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Diana Lempel is a mother of two young boys and a descendant of 20th century Italian immigrants, Mayflower passengers, and at least one professional medium. Her world-making combines women’s and family history with fiction and performance, and a strong attention to place, community, magic, and labor. Diana has served as the Mass Humanities Scholar in Residence for the New Bedford Working Waterfront Festival, the Doing History Curator at the Cambridge Historical Society, and the Researcher in Residence at the deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park’s exhibition “Visionary New England.” She received a MUP in Urban Planning + Design and an MA in Landscape Studies from Harvard University.
Emily Mitamura is a queer Japanese American poet and grad student living in Minnesota. Her academic work interrogates the American empire and the construction of history. She is currently teaching a class on girlhood and empire in Gender Women Sexualities Studies while working on her PhD in political theory.
Liam McBain is an associate producer for NPR's It's Been a Minute. He's also on a mission to read 100 books this year.
Maddy Russell-Shapiro is a podcast producer based in the Bay Area and New York City. Previously, she worked with several California nonprofits focused on expanding access to higher education, including Mission Graduates in San Francisco and Mount Tamalpais College at San Quentin State Prison. She attended Oral History Winter School in 2017 and hosts a narrative nonfiction podcast about tenacity titled Relentless.
Nicolette Lodico is an archivist and knowledge manager who specializes in helping people and organizations—particularly those whose work supports the public good—establish sustainable practices for managing both what they create and what they know so they can make informed decisions, be transparent, and minimize risk. She helps organizations tell the story about their work, to reflect on and learn from past work and share that knowledge with those who will benefit, and to provide opportunities for future researchers and historians to examine and evaluate this work. Currently, she is the director of global information and knowledge management at the Ford Foundation where she is overseeing a comprehensive, multiyear oral history project to gather the reflections of key former staff. She also is the former president and emeritus board member of the Technology Association of Grantmakers, a non-profit organization that cultivates the strategic and equitable use of technology to advance philanthropy. She earned her M.L.S. from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Noah Schoen is a community organizer and oral historian based in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the co-founder of Meanings of October 27th, an oral history project that has interviewed 105 Pittsburghers about their life histories and reflections on the October 27th, 2018 synagogue shooting at the Tree of Life building. He is also the Community Outreach Associate at the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, where he works to strengthen the Center's approach to dismantling antisemitism and the injustices of today. A 2017-2018 JOIN for Justice Organizing Fellow and two-time "Don't Kvetch, Organize" course instructor, Noah has been listening and organizing in Jewish communities and the labor movement for over ten years.
Rachel Meirs is an artist and musician currently living in Brooklyn, New York on the unceded land of the Lenape people. In her woodcuts, paintings, and sound-based work, she uses food as a jumping off point for exploring family, care, and bodies. She received her Masters in Public Health from Columbia University in 2019, where she began her still ongoing research on creative gig workers and health care access.
Shantel Rodriguez is a self-employed mitigation specialist based in Lansing, Michigan. She is currently working on resentencing hearings for adults who were sentenced to life without parole as juveniles. She is also homeschooling her soon to be 11 year old son and learning way too much about Dungeons and Dragons. She received her Juris Doctor from the City University of New York and her BA in Anthropology from the University of Michigan. She believes that storytelling is a transformative practice and is thrilled to be a part of this project.
Steven Zetlan is a tenured faculty member of Laney College, a community college in Oakland, California, where he teaches English language skills to immigrants. He has had fun teaching his students to interview each other using the studio of the college radio station. In addition, Steve has a personal interest in documenting and celebrating LGBT history, and preserving the memories of holocaust survivors. Originally from New York, he has lived in the Bay Area since 1987. Steven received a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from San Francisco State University in 2002, after a career in marketing, and has an undergraduate degree in communications with a specialization in broadcasting.
Valerie Kipnis: Valeriya Kipnis is an immigrant writer, reporter, and documentary producer. Currently, she is on her 2022 Fulbright to Ukraine in Warsaw, Poland. She is working on an oral history project about linguistics and memory. Usually, she works for VICE News, an Emmy-award winning nightly news show, where she reports on: climate change, reproductive rights, and the former Soviet Union. Occasionally, she hosts live shows about space or talks to pigs in Vegas. Formerly, she worked at or contributed to: Coda Story, The Moscow Times, and NBC. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia and raised in south Brooklyn, she attended New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Studies, where she studied the intersection of Post-Soviet History, Comparative Literature, and Political Philosophy. After graduating, she received the Dean's Award and traveled to Russia to "find herself." She did not, of course, do that. In 2021, she received her MFA in Non-Fiction Writing from The New School. Upon graduating, she was awarded the 2021 Bette Howland Nonfiction Prize by judge Emily Bernard. She likes to write essays and narrative non-fiction about immigrants, Russia, Brooklyn, and language. Her literary work debuted in A Public Space in July of 2021.
Adam Lubinsky is an urban planner who, among other things, works with school districts. This work tackles issues tied to integration, facility planning and projecting school enrollments. His projects, such the Brooklyn District 15 Diversity Plan which focused on middle school integration, involve both community engagement and data analysis. Adam is a principal at WXY Studio and a professor of practice at the Columbia University Graduate School for Architecture, Planning and Preservation.
Alanna Navitski: I have been working with young children, families, and pre-service teachers since 1999, in varied settings including public schools, therapeutic programs for children with developmental variations, private preschools, home-based Early Intervention work, and the graduate school at Bank Street College. In 2015, I began working as founding teacher and director at Catskill Wheelhouse. In this role, and throughout my work with children, families, and educators, I am moved by educational approaches that center a deep process of self-actualization, a recognition of the importance of approaching this goal through an anti-oppressive lens, a holistic approach to development, an authentic appreciation for each person in their flawed humanity, and a focus on developing strong systems of community care.
Anita Rivera: I am an OHSS alum who has worked as an educator in New York City and Westchester for 26 years. I have an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an Advanced Certificate in TESOL from SUNY Purchase/LIU. I teach English at Fox Lane High School in Bedford, NY. As an AVID teacher at Fox Lane, I have also mentored students from underserved communities, so they can access higher education.
Anna Padgett: Currently a Kindergarten teacher, I am an NYC early childhood educator who has worked for the past twenty years in a wide variety of school settings. I received my BA from Wesleyan University in Art History; my MsEd is from Hunter College. I am also a songwriter and performer; this aspect of my life is very much a part of my work in the classroom.
Anna Siegal: Anna is an educator who has worked in Washington DC, Mexico City, Sierra Leone, and Brooklyn, NY. She received her B.A. from Williams College and her Master's Degree from the SUNY Buffalo program for international educators.
Anna Treidler is an educator working with special education students in Oakland, CA.
Brad Kohl taught math for over 30 years in both Minneapolis, Minnesota and Casper, Wyoming, working in alternative and college-prep settings. Brad considers himself a nontraditional teacher/mentor who empowers young people to use mathematics to give credibility and professionalism to whatever passions they pursue. Over the years, he has created several innovative mathematics courses and programs serving diverse learners, including a well-regarded community-centered social justice research program. Believing student work should get into the hands of those who can use it, Brad has presented at mathematics and social justice conferences around the country with his students. Special recognition includes the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching as well as a Bachelor of Science in Math Education from the University of Wisconsin and a Master of Science in Teaching Mathematics from the University of Wyoming. Always the teacher, Brad has taken to creating YouTube content ranging from reflections on teaching, cognitive diversity, and experiencing cancer to social justice themed nondenominational sermons. In his “retirement,” he’s looking forward to moving past having to sell his time and having the privilege of giving it to worthwhile causes.
Carol Garboden Murray has been an early childhood educator for 30 years. She is currently the executive director of the Wimpfheimer Laboratory Nursery School at Vassar College, serving children ages 0-5. She has written many professional articles for teachers and is the author of Illuminating Care: The Pedagogy and Practice of Care in Early Childhood Communities (Exchange Press, 2021) and Simple SIgning with Young Children (2007 Gryphon House)
Elizabeth Shaw is an NYC Jewish educator and library teacher who works with kids between the ages of 6 and 12. She works with kids on media literacy, digital citizenship, love of learning, and creating more just communities in a time of deep inequality.
Jake Boeri is a special education teacher at School of the Future in Manhattan. He was born and raised in Coxsackie, NY in the Hudson Valley. Jake graduated from Columbia University with a degree in political science and is currently part of the Teaching Fellows program, completing his master's coursework at Long Island University.
James Decker: I attempt to teach!
Jennifer Wai-Lan Strodl: Born in Toronto, Canada, Jennifer Wai-Lan Strodl is a writer and educator who has traveled the world to teach children in China, Mexico, Canada, and the United States. Jennifer received her B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from Princeton University. She holds an M.A.T. in Elementary Education from Smith College, where she was the Helen Donker Rives Fellow. She created and launched STORY, an innovative fiction writing workshop for teens, which is offered locally in diverse venues. She continues to teach with a specific passion for liberating children’s creativity through education. She and her husband, the visual artist Oscar Strodl, co-founded The Liberi School in September 2015.
Jonathan Schuler: I am a third grade teacher at Benito Juarez Elementary. I have been teaching elementary school for 12 years. I began my teaching career in Saigon where I met my wife. We now have a three year old daughter. My wife and I left Saigon and went on to teach in Slovakia, Kenya and Thailand. We settled in California and have been teaching around here for the last 6 years.
Krystal Dillard grew up attending public school in Los Angeles, where her family chose to lie about their home address to give her access to a better school. Since earning her Masters degree in Education from Marymount University and Bachelor's in English from Howard University, Krystal has taught in a variety of different school settings—public and private, regional and international—all of which placed special emphasis on literacy, inquiry based education, and democratic approach. She was deeply influenced by her time at Children’s Community School in Van Nuys, CA where she developed her understanding of progressive education, equity, inclusion, and what we call descriptive practices. She is a sitting member of the board of The Institute on Descriptive Inquiry.At NCC, Krystal divides her time between facilitation with the young people in our program and immersion in a wide range of administrative duties.
Lauren Davenport is a NYC teacher devoted to equity and social justice and writing and still giggling sometimes.
Lisa Arrastia, PhD: Originally from West Harlem in New York City, I have served as a high school teacher, school leader, equity and public purpose director, and school founder in New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Chicago. With a PhD in American studies, MEd in administration and supervision, MA in education, and BS in sociology and Black studies, my professional expertise is broad while remaining dedicated to disrupting notions of difference. My teaching and projects focus on generating empathic communities where young people and educators have the freedom to think, question, and innovate as they wrestle with the tangled complexities of self, other, and difference. I am committed to national and global efforts for social change. My current project is The Study Portfolio, an online transmedia “undercommons” through which the public can experience critical, creative possibilities that emerge from educators, youth, and the global working class when provided opportunities to build understanding using new ways of reading notions of difference. As the Founding Director of The Ed Factory, I use new genre public aesthetics to disrupt notions of difference and transform the educational process. I also serve as the Board President of Kite's Nest, a liberatory education center in Hudson, NY; the Co-Chair of the Oral History Association’s Committee on Committees; a steering committee member for Inspiring Girls Expeditions, a global organization empowering young women to lead in science, art, and wilderness exploration; an executive advisory board member of NYU’s Project for the Advancement of our Common Humanity, and a member of the CARE Syllabus Advisory Collective at MASS MoCA. I am the curator and donor of the Young People’s Archive at East Side Freedom Library and winner of an American Association of University Women’s award and year-long educational leadership fellowships with New Leaders and Big Picture Learning. I co-edited Starting Up: Critical Lessons from Ten New Schools (Teachers College Press) with Marv Hoffman and contributed the essay “Love Pedagogy: Teaching to Disrupt” to Niobe Way, Carol Gilligan, Alisha Ali, and Pedro Noguera’s The Crisis of Connection (NYU Press). My articles, multimedia work, and reviews, among other outlets, are included in MASS MoCA’s CARE Syllabus, Journal for Critical Education Policy, HuffPost, Common Dreams, and Antipode. My fields of concentration are audioethnography (digital oral history remix), an aesthetics-based education methodology I designed to examine difference at the intersection of race, social class, and place. My scholarship investigates discourses of racial capitalism and pedagogies of culture that frame notions of individualism, whiteness, and masculinity.
Maija Reed: An artist and educator, I bring creative thinking to the work I do with infants and on, into and through their toddler years. Explorations of the world through their eyes and bodies, inform them and me. Relationship Development is the primary point from which my work emanates. It is the anchor, the hub and place of trust that supports us in our explorations and opportunities for learning.
Margaret Funkhouser is an artist and educator who teaches poetry, fiction, nonfiction, songwriting, and book arts. She directs the Writing, Film & Media Arts program at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, an independent arts boarding school in Natick, MA. She also likes to ice skate and swim in the ocean year-round.
Orla Reidy: I am a teacher of English and Irish language and literature.
Radha Ashok Radkar (she/they) has been teaching and working in the field of education for over a decade. Her professional experience includes designing, project managing and teaching in prison education reform, adult literacy, and now at an all-girls high school. Her work aspires specifically to uproot lifetimes of systemic pedagogical violence, in service of liberation for all living beings. Radha is also a dedicated practitioner at Brooklyn Zen Center, in the Shunryu Suzuki Lineage. She has served as temple librarian, board secretary, and now as Shika (Guest Relations) of the Boundless Mind Temple in Cobble Hill. Offline, you can find Radha at the closest dine-in cinema or listening to classic Bollywood songs.
Victoria Campanario: For so many years I said I would never be a teacher and after 29 years of fighting it, I found myself teaching as a Mod/Severe Special Education Para. I loved what I was doing before I even started. Once I got into my school I saw my potential to be able to help even more students. I found myself working with TK and Kinder students on letter names and sounds. I was teaching sight words to my second graders and literacy interventions in third grade. Now I work with fourth graders and teach G3 STEM for the first time and it's amazing. I am also a single mom to two beautiful children, one of which is a special education student himself. I have fought and overcome and fought cancer again and I am currently going back to school to finish my degree in hopes to have a classroom myself one day. I am extremely passionate about social justice and equality.
Vivian Ponte-Fritz is an educator based in Los Angeles. She has taught and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Western Coastal Mexico in elementary and middle school settings and in restaurants. She has taught as a multiple subject teacher in lower elementary school classes and as a bilingual Spanish class teacher in middle school. She holds a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and a California Elementary Education Multiple Subject Credential from the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute in Oakland, CA.