March 11, 2021 — Zoom can be a source of frustration for students and teachers, but it does offer one giant pro: it allows NMH faculty to bring guests into their classrooms from across the country and around the world with much more ease than ever before.
It always enriches students’ experience to bring in speakers, writers, leaders, scientists, artists, and athletes to share their work and passions; offer a look into a craft or profession; teach classes; and talk directly with students. While the pandemic made on-campus visits impossible this year, “teachers maximized technology to bring the world to our classrooms,” said Bea Garcia, assistant head of school for academic programs and dean of faculty. “They’ve tapped into their networks and resources to offer students access to a variety of visitors from different backgrounds and places.”
“This has always been something faculty appreciate doing, but location or time can make it a challenge,” added Sarah Warren, academic dean and director of studies. “Now we’re so experienced and comfortable with Zoom, and we have more flexibility to connect students with speakers and open up conversations with people in fields of study.”
Last weekend, students heard from Schuyler Bailar, the first openly trans athlete to compete on an NCAA Division 1 men’s team — at Harvard — and the only openly trans athlete to have competed throughout all four years of college. Today, he advocates for inclusion, body positivity, and mental health awareness. NMH also heard from Michael Tubbs — the first African American mayor of Stockton, California, and the nation’s youngest mayor, elected at age 26 in 2017 — at the end of Black History Month.
Another highlight was a reading and class visit by award-winning author A.M. Homes P’21, who teaches creative writing at Princeton and who’s writing an opera for The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. “I’m a very American writer — I’m interested in family, and family relationships,” she said as she shared short-story excerpts during her reading, which was open to alumni and parents as well as students and employees. In April, NMH will welcome the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Chabon P’22.
English teacher John Corrigan brought in a series of authors to his classes, including crime writers Brendan DuBois, who’s also a ghost writer for James Patterson, and Michael Wiley, as well as mystery writers Frankie Bailey and S.J. Rozen.
Sarah Langs, a reporter and statistician for MLB.com, talked baseball with two statistics classes. “Numbers help me tell stories,” she said. “There are so many things that I do mathematically — when I look into stats or calculate numbers or draw comparisons — that I learned in classes just like yours.” Her visit came just a few days after she joined the annual NMH Dick Peller Hot Stove Night panel with ESPN’s Buster Olney ’82.
AP Environmental Science students heard from scientist Emily Estes ’06 aboard the research vessel R/V JOIDES Resolution just before it launched a two-month expedition to the underwater Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the longest mountain range in the world. She talked about the expedition’s work of drilling holes in the Earth’s crust to study how it has aged. “It’s a way of going back through time,” Estes told students and their teacher, Becca Malloy, who was her teacher more than a decade ago.
Dr. Jay Garfield ’71, a Smith College philosophy professor, visited NMH twice this year to answer students’ questions about how philosophy is structurally racist. And NMH dancers took master classes with numerous professional dancers and choreographers who Zoomed in from neighboring communities as well as from New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Israel.