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Welcome Lynn Magovern and Javon’e Williams

(Courtesy of Lynn Magovern and courtesy of Javon’e Williams)

Freelancing, Awareness, and Expression: Lynn Magovern

Lynn Magovern has taught English at the Emma Willard School in New York and Belchertown High and then Williston Northampton, both in  Massachusetts. She will sub for Ms. Carmichael, who is on maternity leave.

What were your experiences prior to arriving at Academy?

I taught English for nearly 20 years. All different levels–from 9th grade through AP 11 and 12 Language and Literature. I was more recently a college counselor. So I was a college counselor, English teacher, and Department Chair all at once, and that was very busy. Then I streamlined into just college counseling and finally now into freelance editing. I work for an independent college counseling company as a writing specialist, so I help students who are working on their college essays. That experience has been so neat, not just because I could have my own schedule and live the benefits of being a freelancer, but I’ve also learned so much about the writing process. It was really pleasantly surprising. Having taught for so long, you’d think I know all I know about writing and how to teach it, but I’ve learned even more. So that’s been really cool.

Why do you find writing compelling?

I’m drawn to the art of writing. It’s a way that people can express themselves. When given a platform, people really want to share their stories with others. How do we most effectively share our hopes, thoughts, and impressions of things? How do we question? All of those things that people are dying to get out there, as we can see with social media. People want to say things, communicate, and connect with others. And writing is a great way to do that–to express oneself. And how do you do that in a way that’s interesting and clear? Those are the goals that I’m looking for. I want to help students develop clear and interesting writing, whether it’s in analysis, personal essays, or creative pieces. 

What inspires you about teaching?

Learning something new every day. I’m teaching The Great Gatsby right now, and there are new things happening every day. I’ve read the book so many times, and things happen every day to which I’ll say, “I haven’t had anyone say that before,” or “I haven’t thought of that.” What a great thing to be constantly learning. Teachers are very lucky in that they get to learn from their students. 

Do you have any hobbies?

I used to be very active with biking and skiing when I was younger, but now it’s mostly walking. I just love going on walks. I love reading; I read the news constantly. While working for myself for the past 4-5 years, there’s been a lot of news in that time, so I’m kind of steeped in that. I love to listen to audiobooks: mysteries and things that are really compelling. If I’m on a long walk or drive, I just get taken away by those stories.

How would you characterize your experiences at Academy so far?

I’ve been so impressed. There’s a very special quality to the students. They’re incredibly polite; everyone says, “Thank you,” even on Zoom. I’ve taught at so many places, but I’ve noticed that there’s a different quality here. Is it that it’s the midwest? Is it that it’s a K-12 school and a greater community? But there’s a special quality of kindness, gratitude, and hard work. I give a worksheet, and everyone wants to fill it out completely and turn it in when I just want them to look at something. So there’s so much eagerness to do well that I appreciate this, and I have to kind of wave my hands and say, “It’s ok, you don’t have to do that part.” But again, there’s an eagerness to work, kindness to each other, and a politeness is that I haven’t quite experienced at this level before. It’s quite special.

What do you hope to bring to this community?

Well, certainly the writing skills that we talked about earlier, especially thinking about social media and the way that there is so much communication. It is really important that we choose our words carefully, and those writing skills are things that you can take to any class in college or any profession. And they’re just going to put you in a better position. Also, skills in analysis. So, I’m very skills-based. I want my students to be better writers and readers. When you’re able to form an analysis and communicate, it’s just going to make you a more informed citizen and improve relationships you might have with friends or community members. It’s going to help you to examine your own life in a richer, deeper way. As Mary Oliver says, “to pay attention.”

On Being “Creators”: Mr. Javon’e Williams

Javon’e Williams is taking over the art classes of Ms. Tursich, who is on maternity leave.

What were your experiences prior to arriving at Academy?

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and attended the University of Toledo, so I’m a Rocket. I did my undergrad there and started studying political science because I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but art has always been something. I’ve been drawing since I was 5 years old, so I’ve always been an artist. Even when my mom took my toys away once upon a time, I would draw little characters and cut them out to create my own toys. After undergrad, I did my graduate studies in Grenoble, France. I received my master’s degree in fashion design and learned a lot about culture and design, copyright, and trademarks. 

Why do you find art compelling?

Wow. I think art is something that can serve as therapy for all of us. I believe art helps us work through our insecurities and our fears. I get intimidated by just staring at a blank piece of paper and having to create something that people like, or I even like. I think art helps us battle with ourselves and communicate with other people. 

When it comes from your hand, it’s yours. It gives us all an identity. We both can draw a circle, and your circle won’t be my circle. It gives us a chance to be creators.

What inspires you about teaching?

It’s the students. I had a time when I was in France, and this was when I first realized that I wanted to teach. I stumbled upon a park. I was still learning French, and a group of kids were playing soccer. I obviously looked like I wasn’t from there. But these kids said something to me, and I told them I was from New York and trying to work on my French. Then they started counting together from 1 to 20 in English and in French. So these random kids from the park came and inspired me to learn more and discover that I wanted to work with kids. 

I have two children of my own, so I’m a loving father. I have a daughter who’s 3 and a son who’s 10. So I love kids. You guys brighten up my day and keep me going. Plus they’re the future, so I think we’ve got to look to the youth to see what’s coming next.

Do you have any hobbies?

I love football. I also draw and sketch a lot. I do work with startup brands and help them with logos and different designs for tee-shirts, so I love working with people.  So, I’m just finding different ways to help people and deliver a message.

Before the pandemic, I loved seeing movies accompanied by a live orchestra. It’s the most amazing experience ever. I’ve seen Psycho and  Vertigo–very classic films that have mostly instruments. I would rather listen to music than watch TV.

How would you characterize your experiences at Academy so far?

The staff has been very nice to me. Definitely professionalism at its finest. There are some really great teachers and people who are willing to help. Crystal Tursich–the lady I’m replacing while she’s on maternity leave–showed me everything. She was just so steadfast when answering any questions that I had. 

I feel very blessed to be here. The staff is extremely helpful, and the students are curious. I notice that the students like to dig in and find more information about things. If they find something interesting, they want to learn more, and that inspires me as a teacher to deliver content that students like and want to learn more about.

What do you hope to bring to our community?

I hope to bring my culture with me. I’m an African American, and I come from East Cleveland, Ohio.  I believe that working together, in all aspects, is what it’s all about. So I want to bring a collaborative environment and really help students see themselves as people who can be successful in art and I’m here to inspire them. 

I had some great teachers in my day inspire me, so I came to spark that same light.



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