As part of a new series, we will be highlighting members of the Miss Porter’s School faculty! This week, we are sit down with a member of the English department, Kate Doemland.
Year you came to Porter’s: 1996
Favorite Porter’s Tradition: I love the Welcome Tradition, where the Old Girls create a circle of sisterhood around their New Girls, embracing them as part of the fabric of the community, demonstrating the warmth, connection, and ties that bind us to one another and the generations that have come before us. I love the light of the candles illuminating the early September evening, and the festivity — and solemnity — of coming together to gather-in, shelter, and celebrate the newest members of our Miss Porter’s School community.
What types of students do you encounter at Porter’s? What makes a Porter’s girl distinct, in your opinion? Porter’s students are intellectually curious, eager, committed, engaged, bold and resourceful! These are students who look for direction and guidance, but have interests and passions that come from their own interests, talents, and experiences. They have the capacity to explore a variety of interests and examine, deeply, a specific passion. Porter’s students are equally committed to social activism, justice and equity, scholarly pursuits, the arts, and athletics. The wide representation of agency, authority, and why gender matters in one’s life and education is the hallmark of a Porter’s education. The student-centered approach to learning means that each student has the opportunity to find her voice, develop her identity, and create a legacy that will live well beyond the next 175 years.
What excites you most about teaching at Porter’s? The level of student engagement in each aspect of the Porter’s experience. I’ve just returned from working wth the juniors at Camp Starfish, in Rindge, New Hampshire, where we worked to develop InterMission (IM) travel goals, group norms, a group Mission Statement, and find time for great camp activities and plenty of singing and s’mores. It was hot, the students were tired from a busy week of preseason, moving-in, finding buddies, and preparing for a rigorous junior year. They arrived — cell-phone free! — for two days of pre-trip planning and prep. They could not have been more receptive, and the fact is: they had a blast. Heat aside — no technology — and plenty of card games, camp songs, ice-breaker activities, competitive tetherball, and absolute focus on making successful IM trips: they did it. These students rise to the occasion time and time again. It’s who they are. They care, and they understand that they have an impact on one another and the world around them.
How do you prepare your students for school and for life? Every moment is preparation for life! Who are we and how do we want to be in the world? How do we want to “show up” for others? What is our relationship to our school community, our local community, and the many communities beyond those? How are we our brothers and sisters keepers, and what does that look like? How do we demonstrate that? What action makes that possible? Teaching literature allows our students — for a brief moment in time — to walk in the shoes of another. Literature is a vehicle for teaching the truth or the vagaries of human experience and the human condition. Studying literature is the lifelong, compelling, and continuous exploration about who we are as human beings.
How would you describe the Porter’s community? Aspirational; a work in process, strong, and endlessly committed to being the best we can be to each and every constituent.
Where does you passion for teaching come from? I’m a person who loves ideas! I like to know how people think; I want to know and understand other’s thoughts and ideas, their background and history, their story and their beliefs. I believe we’re hard-wired for story-telling. Essayist Joan Didion says: “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” Do stories order the chaos of our lives? Are stories vehicles of experience; representations of truth, or expressions of the complex, complicated business of being human?
What’s your favorite food in the dining hall? Action station on SALAD DAY!
Where can you typically be found when you’re not in class? Outside — running, walking with friends, or on a weekend hike. These days I might be at the Farmers’ Market in search of great heirloom tomatoes.
Ms. Doemland holds a master’s degree in English from Winthrop University, with a specialization in feminist literary criticism. She has earned the Pauline Foster Reed ’10 Teaching Chair and the Sarah Porter Excellence in Teaching Award. Ms. Doemland now lives off campus with her family, after living in the dorms for a number of years. She has also served as an advisor, house director, admission associate, and coach of many sports.