This week’s Feature-a-Teacher is Annie Tully ’92, one of our English teachers.
How long have you been teaching at Regina Dominican?
This is my second year teaching here. I took 24 years off from Regina after graduating from here in 1992, but I’m back now!
What did you find most rewarding during your first year teaching here?
The small class size here makes it possible to work with the students one-on-one in a way that is simply not possible at larger schools. This is particularly helpful when teaching writing. I work with students a lot on a variety of writing projects, from researched arguments to college essays, and each student has very individual needs. It’s so great to shape instruction to their needs and see their writing grow stronger as a result.
Describe what it means to you to be working at your alma mater.
I just had my 25th reunion! I had such a great class of awesome, funny, smart women, and being here as a teacher reminds me of how they all turned out this way. We grew and thrived because of the comfortable environment — an environment is still prevalent today. Just as it built our confidence and focus, it’s doing the same for my students.
How does the all-girls aspect of Regina Dominican influence your teaching?
I do not think it influences my teaching as much as it influences the outcomes for the students themselves. Regardless of who’s in front of me, my job is to teach written or verbal communication skills. The all-girls environment allows the students more freedom and confidence to practice those skills, and as any English teacher will tell you the best way to become a better writer and communicator is through practice.
Your film class students are making their own silent films for a semester-long project. Can you explain a little more about this? What have you been most impressed with?
I did not attempt this in my first year teaching the course since I personally don’t have a lot of experience with editing software. However, the students all know how to edit videos, so my own skills aren’t necessary. My class is about analyzing the storytelling tools of film: angles, camera movement, editing, lighting, etc. The students are now able to put those tools to practice in creating their own stories, and they have been making some really thoughtful and intelligent decisions on what works best for their different films.
Why did you decide to make this a semester-long project?
Because it is a rather long process — we start with outlines, then scripts, then storyboards, then filming, and finally editing — logistically it’s easier to have them return to the project between other units in the class. That keeps it interesting and not too arduous. It also allows them to learn about techniques and style (through watching films like Rear Window, Citizen Kane and more) that they can use as inspiration.
Do you have a favorite book that you most enjoy teaching? And Why?
I teach In Cold Blood by Truman Capote to my AP Language and Composition class and I love it. It’s a murder mystery, on one hand, so the students can’t put it down. But it’s also a statement about small-town life, family, crime, punishment, and social norms. Finally, Truman Capote combines narrative storytelling with reporting in a way that no one else can — he’s the best writing teacher there is.