In this Q&A, we speak with Amy Grillo, associate professor of the practice in education studies. This spring, she is teaching Schools in Society and Practicum in Education Studies.
Q: You joined Wesleyan’s faculty during the fall 2018 semester. Welcome to Wesleyan! What are your overall thoughts so far on the University?
A: I keep pinching myself, which is to say that I am incredibly happy to have landed here. I’ve found the students to be lively and engaged, both with their academic work and with the world beyond Wesleyan. The staff and faculty seem similarly energetic and positive. I was most impressed getting to know this year’s batch of new faculty during orientation in August because they seemed to hit the ground with a natural interest in collaborating and supporting each other in both teaching and research, and very open to thinking creatively about pedagogy. Few things could make me happier than working with people who care about teaching as much as I do.
Q: What led you to Wesleyan? Where were you working/teaching prior to Wesleyan?
A: Immediately prior to coming to Wesleyan, I spent six years at Mount Holyoke College, where I taught in the Psychology & Education Department and also in the graduate Master of Arts in Teaching Program. That was supposed to be a one-year visiting faculty gig, but it kept expanding. Prior to that, I was a core faculty member at Vermont College, an unorthodox, low-residency BA program for working adult students. This was an amazing little college, where students met all the requirements of a liberal arts degree by designing and conducting a series of 16-credit interdisciplinary independent studies with the guidance of a faculty mentor and a group of peers. We did teacher education through this model as well, which was a wonderful way to prepare teachers who know how to break out of the boxes that the current system of public education so often puts them in. I’ve also taught at places ranging from Harvard to Hampshire College, I’ve served as senior class dean at Mount Holyoke, and I was a dean of students at the tiny, democratically run, progressive Marlboro College, in Vermont. In all of these settings, my work has always been about looking closely at how we think about and conduct various processes of teaching and learning. So, when I saw that Wesleyan was looking for someone to work with the Center for Pedagogical Innovation and develop and teach courses in education studies, it seemed too good to be true.