Jennifer McGaha is joining CDS as an Upper School English teacher. She has been part of the Carolina Day community as a parent for many years as all three of her children are Carolina Day School graduates. Jennifer has a Master of Arts in English from Western Carolina University and will complete her Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction at Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2017. Her memoirs, essays, and humor pieces have appeared in many magazines and literary journals, and she regularly leads writing workshops through the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNC-Asheville.
Fun fact: “In my free time, I enjoy mountain biking, hiking, and walking with my dogs. My husband and I also raise dairy goats, and I enjoy making soap, cheese, yogurt, kefir, etc.”
In your opinion, how does the CDS community inspire students to be courageous and curious, wonder about things that they don’t understand, try new things, and develop individual passions?
“CDS recognizes the uniqueness of each student and strives to support and encourage students as they explore new interests and deepen their passions.”
What books and authors inspire you?
“Some of my favorite books are Jo Ann Beard’s Boys of My Youth, Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian, and Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. All of these books use evocative language, interesting syntax, and experimental techniques to speak real and sometimes difficult truths. I also love George Eliot’s Mill on The Floss, Tennyson’s Idylls of The King, Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, Ann Patchett’s The Story of A Happy Marriage, Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge and all types of adventure/outdoor narratives such as Jon Krauker’s Into Thin Air, Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.”
What is your favorite quote about education?
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” - William Butler Yeats
How would you describe yourself and/or your approach to your job in 10 words or less?
“A fusion of the critical and creative, traditional and experimental.”
Which classroom projects/events are you known for?
“My favorite classroom assignments engage students in the process of discovering the magic behind effective rhetoric through the exploration of diction, syntax, voice, tone, plot, character development, theme, narrative arc, rhetorical distance, etc. Generative writing exercises and current topic debates are always highlights in my classroom.”
What personal passion brings balance to your life?
“In my free time, I enjoy mountain biking, hiking, and walking with my dogs. My husband and I also raise dairy goats, and I enjoy making soap, cheese, yogurt, kefir, etc.”
Is there anything else we should know about you and your work?
“I have published many stories, essays, and humor pieces in literary journals, magazines, and blogs. I also regularly teach memoir writing through the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNC-Asheville, and I have recently completed a book-length memoir.”
How is CDS different from what you experienced as a child in school?
“CDS is a place where students are continually inspired to discover their passions, to question their own assumptions, and to think more deeply about the world around them.”