Сила Варнке
Учитель английского языка и мировой литературы

Cila Warncke: I teach them navigate the sea of knowledge

What is your teaching background, and what drew you to Le Sallay’s blended learning model?

I’ve taught at private schools, language schools, higher education institutions, Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth; online, offline, blended; ages six to adult. Le Sallay seemed like the rare institution where my full range of experience would be useful. Its hybrid model addresses the chief weakness of remote schooling -- lack of connection and rapport -- and the drawback of brick-and-mortar schools, limited catchment area. I am excited to teach a diverse group of international students and to get to know them in person. 

What is your teaching philosophy? 

Knowing how to learn is more valuable than just knowing. Human knowledge is constantly expanding and shifting, no student will ever catch up to it by brute assimilation of facts. But if a student knows how to learn, they can navigate the sea, figure out what they need, how to use information and what to disregard. My role as a teacher is to be a facilitator, example and co-creator with them of the fundamentals they need to explore and thrive. 

We’ve all had incredible teachers that ended up making an impact on our lives. Can you tell us a time when you felt like you made a difference in a student’s life? 

One of my middle-school CTY students asked me to write her a recommendation for private school because she was looking for the quality of teaching she’d received on the writing course I’d taught. Happy ending: she was accepted and offered a well-deserved scholarship.

What is your favorite thing about teaching? 

When a student writes something weird or beautiful that is totally beyond anything they’ve been taught. Or when they challenge me to think about something in a new way.

What were you like in middle school?

I was home-schooled till age 12, so my first experience of a classroom was in seventh grade. Let’s just say I wasn’t the smoothest, socially. Being the kid who read the encyclopedia for fun was an interesting place to come from. 

What do you think are the biggest challenges with middle school today? 

In addition to the slings and arrows of adolescence, they’re faced with a pandemic, accelerating climate change, market-fuelled fantasies pumped into their pocket and ever-increasing pressure to be extraordinary. They don’t seem to have much space for mistakes, exploration and vulnerability.

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