I have received degrees from three American institutions of higher education, two of them quite renowned: Grinnell College in Iowa, one of the finest liberal arts colleges in the country, where I studied history (and I spent my junior year abroad studying history and politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science), and the University of Illinois, where I received a master's degree in labor and industrial relations. My third degree, in museum studies, is from San Francisco State University, not as prestigious an institution as Grinnell or Illinois, but one with a highly-regarded program in museum studies which attracts students from around the nation and world. I have a teaching certificate for ESL/ELL.
History, labor and industrial relations, and museum studies may seem like very unrelated disciplines, but the common thread for me was my love for history. I focused on labor history at the University of Illinois, and, in fact, I co-authored a book on Illinois labor history, "Labor in Illinois, The Affluent Years, 1945-1980" while in graduate school there. Likewise, I concentrated on preparing for work in a history museum while studying at San Francisco State and did in fact work at the Pardee Home Museum in Oakland from 1992 until 2009, about twelve of those years as director.
Most of my work at the museum was educational in nature. I honed my excellent oral English skills while giving thousands of guided tours of the historic house, including many tours for local school children. I also utilized my first-rate writing skills to explain the history and significance of the house and the Pardee family in the pages of the museum newsletter, which can be read at www.pardeehome.org.
I became both a classroom teacher and a tutor after I arrived in China in 2009. I taught in a classroom setting at a public high school for three years and at a college for four years. For around six years, I was a tutor, with either one or two students per session, at a weekend English school in Tongxiang. So most of my students were of high school or college age, and, at the weekend school, also of middle-school age.
Except for an unusual private high school in Shenyang, where I taught during my second year in China, and where I taught courses such as U.S. history, world history, and world politics, most of my teaching and tutoring centered on reading and speaking English. At both the high school and the college, I was responsible for preparing my own lessons, rather than following a set curriculum or using a textbook, so I was able to introduce the students to topics such as western politics and history and culture.
I believe that most of my students in China who had any ambition to improve their English or learn more about life in the U.S. or other western countries felt very respectful and affectionate toward me as their teacher. l think they found me very engaged in my teaching, and quite lively and friendly, with a ready smile and laughter. I could be quite strict about one issue in particular, which was an absolute ban on playing on smart phones in my classes, but otherwise I could be quite relaxed and ready to enjoy the students and the class topic. I used to tell my students that I wanted to have an American-style classroom, with free discussion of any topic and students eager to participate and disagree with me, but it was really hard to budge Chinese students away from their norm of authoritative teachers and passive students. When I departed China in January, I received many presents and was honored at a number of dinners and parties, and I can only think that the students' high regard for me was quite sincere.
I have had a passionate interest in popular music since my time in elementary school, when the Beatles and Bob Dylan and others came along and changed our lives. More recently I have been listening to a lot of Americana music and keeping a playlist of all my favorite tunes from over the past fifty years plus.
My equally keen interest in historic architecture came later, during my freshman year of college, but I was able later to actually work in this field, as director of the Pardee Home and trustee of the Oakland Heritage Alliance. After a nine-year stay in China, I hope to get back to working in historic preservation as a volunteer in Cleveland. l enjoy doing little projects around the 1929 bungalow I own here and its yard.
I am also a big animal lover, and I have just begun volunteering, as a cat adoption specialist, at the Cleveland Animal Protective League. I also love to write as a hobby, and I am now finishing up my 300-page China Journal about my nine years there, and I am ready to commence my Cleveland Journal.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Grinnell College - Bachelor in Arts, History
Graduate Degree: University of Illinoia - Master of Science, Labor and Industrial Relations
historic architecture and historic preservation; popular music, particularly Americana; reading novels, biographies, and history books; gardening, traveling, cooking.