As Gillian Zieger turns over a new leaf in her career, so too does she hope to assist teachers in their continued development at the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English. She will be taking an administrative role, working with admission assistance and recruiting to not only bring the best teachers to BLSE, but to make BLSE accessible to the best teachers.
The program itself can take place over 4 to 5 summers, with a strong focus on creating a learning community among teachers. This community is carefully nurtured; dramatic arts are interwoven with text, teachers often stay in touch between summers, and passion for English is on full display. Underlying it all is a rich history as Robert Frost’s seasonal home and a landscape that would call you back yearly too.
Since this is the Connecticut Writing Project, Zieger was gracious enough to draw parallels between the BLSE and the CWP Summer Institute, which she attended in 2013, so I may put a small advertisement for our own program while reporting on hers. However, to make her job of admissions and recruitment easier, I won’t belabor the point; suffice it to say the experience of community here is something she will take with her (as have others– there is not insignificant overlap between those involved with BLSE and those with CWP’s Summer Institute).
On the topic of Zieger’s personal history, even the shortest glimpse at her resume would reveal her aptitude for her new career. While teaching at Woodstock Academy, she participated in the 2011 Summer Institute, prompting her to assist in the creation of writing centers and their upkeep, eventually bringing her to her last position as Library Media Specialist at Ellington High School. The spirit of personal development and continued education– continued growth even– is very much alive in her work, something that will certainly prove an asset to the Bread Loaf School of English.
However, considering one’s life as a mere history of events lends itself to a rather shallow result. In conversation with Zieger, one quickly realizes that her work so far– as well as her continued aspirations– are just one effect of her ethos of personal growth. Her work, and the BLSE as a whole, are built on a foundation of self-improvement. She described the importance of teachers’ continued reinvention of self to me; that students can tell when a teacher has lost passion, and it quickly leads to students losing interest too. Thus, her work so far has been focused on continuing to learn to inspire and lead students, and she now has the perfect position to help other teachers do the same.
Zieger describes the Bread Loaf School of English as “More than just a graduate degree; it’s immersive, experiential, communal;” as history, drama, and english collide with teaching and learning, it is only right that such a program would plunge oneself– alongside their peers– to the lucid depths of scholarship. For those interested in not just continuing their education, but refreshing their passion for learning, Zieger highlights the rolling admissions and invites applicants to reach out regarding goals and to craft plans together.
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