News - Faculty
Dylan Esson teaches History in the Middle and Upper Schools. He is in his third year at Waterford, having joined us after earning his Ph.D. at Berkeley. We are certain you’ll enjoy this chance to get to know him a bit better.
What were you like when you were in high school?
I was an absolute workaholic; I worked constantly. I took AP classes, I did swimming…
Where were you? Where did you grow up?
I was right here in Sandy, at Hillcrest.
And how are the kids today different from what they were like when you were in high school?
They are actually remarkably alike; the student body here is like the student body at Hillcrest sixteen years ago. Sandy hasn’t changed a lot, and the kids still talk about the same things that we did. You would think that all the social media — texting, Facebook, that sort of thing — would make my high school experience seem further away, but it hasn’t. Kids are still the same.
Give me an example.
Well, with the older kids, there’s that anxiety level about college, and the way that it obscures what you do day to day; and that focus on getting out, instead of taking advantage of what you have here. I didn’t know what to expect at an independent school; I expected it to be jarring, but it wasn’t.
The Waterford Educator Prize was created in 1995 to honor members of the Faculty for the quality of their teaching and for their professional contributions to their colleagues and the School. Faculty and Staff submit nominations in the Fall, and the winners are announced in December. Each receives a monetary gift toward the pursuit of an interest or a dream that is important to that individual. The winners are asked to speak at the April All Schools Faculty Meeting, reflecting on their teaching — how they came to it, how they keep it vital, and insights they have acquired along the way.
Congratulations to the 2012 winners, named below. We have included for each a snippet from the tribute by Head of School Nancy Heuston.
Jan Perkins, LS Science: “Her students believe that she lives in a place that resembles Noah’s Ark and that she has powers that belie the merely human. We do not know that they are wrong.”
Ken Wade, MS/US History: “The students’ high regard is based on their discovery, under his tutelage, that they have become genuine students of history.”
Sheri Kovacs, Class II Homeroom: “…when one considers the intellectual excitement that accompanies their teacher wherever she goes, [her students’] stretching to meet elevated challenge is no surprise at all.”
Nathan Wright is in his second year at Waterford and leads our vocal music program in the Upper School. He grew up in Nephi, and pursued undergraduate degrees at Snow College and USU, and an M.M. from BYU. He sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for thirteen years. With preparations happening in earnest for the Friday’s Holiday Vespers concert, we thought we would take this chance to learn a bit more about him and his approach to teaching music.
What did you do before you came to Waterford?
I taught for two years at Central Davis Jr. High in Layton, ten years at Northridge High School in Layton, and five years at BYU before coming to Waterford.
What surprised you in your first year — how was it different than you expected?
I was surprised at how small the student body is. There were more students in my choirs at Northridge High School than there are in the Waterford US student body.
Susan Johnsen is a long-time, beloved Class IV teacher at Waterford. We are certain you’ll enjoy this chance to get to know her a bit better.
You come from a family of educators. When did you get the first inkling that you, too, might be headed for education?
I used to teach my little sister, Annette, when I was a little girl. I would come home from school, and I’d make worksheets, visual aids— I wrote all over this little chalkboard/easel I had. She was really smart; she was way ahead of me!
Describe the teachers in your family.
My mom was a business teacher at Box Elder High, and was the first person there to start teaching computers. At first she taught shorthand and typing, but that changed when the new technology came. She was the hardest teacher I ever had: there was homework every night. I was appalled; what, homework every night? I obviously wasn’t a Waterford student [laughs].
My grandma taught, too; she was a second grade teacher. But she taught all the time, not just when she was in school; she was a natural teacher. She’d say, “I like to do it this way…” and you’d know a lesson was coming. I like to butter a muffin this way; I like to fry bacon this way; I like to plant flowers this way. My dad, although he never taught in the schools, is the same way — he’s taught my kids how to build a fence; how to start and service four-wheelers; how to tie up the boat.
But then you became a dancer, right?
Yes. I took all the classes you needed to major in it, except for the last quarter, up at Utah State. It could have gone either way. I took all the performance classes — ballet, modern, jazz.
What was your favorite type of dance?
Modern. It is the most expressive; you can express yourself most easily in that form. Ballet had too many rules — you can probably tell something about me from that [laughs].
We are so proud to have a faculty made up of active and engaged scholars, artists, athletes, citizens. The passion with which they pursue their interests is an integral part of the atmosphere at our School. We wanted to share some of their recent accomplishments.
Harmony Button had a poem published in the Colorado Review. She also graduated from a year-long workshop with the Salt Lake Film Society as a fellow in their screenwriting program.
Jan Van Arsdell traveled to Louisville in June to be an AP US History Reader.
Kate Linsley founded a local non-profit called Inbody Outreach, which provides free yoga therapy services to at-risk populations. They currently have over 65 running programs and over 100 volunteers, and have successfully placed yoga in recovery facilities, detox centers, rape recovery facilities, and homeless outreach shelters.
Scott Harris performed with the national touring production of Wicked for much of the summer of 2012, playing B-flat clarinet, E-flat clarinet, bass clarinet, and soprano saxophone.