I KNEW I WANTED TO BE A TEACHER WHEN
I learned to appreciate Woodlawn when my daughter attended from eighth grade until her senior graduation. Woodlawn is a very special place, and I never take it for granted. However, I never understood, as a Woodlawn parent, the incredible work that teachers did behind the scenes. I did not understand it, that is, until I became a teacher. I was very lucky to have been introduced to Woodlawn’s educational culture by experienced teachers like Kim Lysne, Beth Robinson, Laine Amortegui, and many others. It took me a solid year to fully appreciate the scope and synergy of the curriculum, and only then, in my second year, was I ready to bring my own creative contributions to the curriculum. I don’t remember a particular moment when I knew I wanted to be a teacher at Woodlawn, but I do know that Woodlawn’s educational culture is why I choose, every year, to continue to be a teacher at Woodlawn.
FAVORITE SPOT ON CAMPUS
I love the feeling of the whole campus tucked in the woods. School is a safe place (to try, to fail, to improve, to keep trying), and Woodlawn’s natural campus reinforces that feeling: you are safe, here, to become yourself.
FAVORITE PERK AT WOODLAWN
I have the power to develop a challenging English curriculum and update it, refine it, and improve it every class, every trimester, and every year. That is not so much a perk as the essence of what makes my experience at Woodlawn an engaging and transformative one.
SOMETHING NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE PROBABLY KNOW ABOUT ME
I love cooking, so I have a lot of cookbooks (Thomas Keller, Madhur Jaffrey, Oh She Glows) and cooking magazines (Fine Cooking and Cook’s Illustrated). For years, I loved cooking bistro food (French, Italian, American) for the family, but I was cooking too many rich dishes and not enough healthy dishes. So I ditched my Escoffier cookbook and became a vegan . . . for seven, very strict years. Today, I eat fish and eggs, so I’m more a pescatarian (or pesca-vega-chocolatarian). I eat this way for heart-healthy reasons, but students are always fascinated by my diet restrictions. I’m used to my diet now. Restrictions pushed me to expand my cooking repertoire.
THE PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT I AM MOST PROUD OF
Other parents know what a major accomplishment it is to shepherd your children through college, and my wife and I are ecstatic (proud, relieved, etc.) that we’re at the finish line for this phase of our lives. And I’m proud that I have been able to be a teacher, mentor, yearbook advisor, and all-around presence at Woodlawn for the last six years. I’m proud to be able to give my energy, imagination, eclectic experience, and hard work to support the educations of the students here.
THE FOOD/BOOK/MOVIE I COULD NOT LIVE WITHOUT
I was an English major in college, and I took many creative-writing courses, even one during law school. I loved writing fiction. However, we always talked about theme and voice and character, and I never understood story structure. I had no idea how stories actually worked, even though I was writing fiction. Then, in 2011, I met an actor who introduced me to the Save The Cat book series on screenwriting. That, in turn, led me to Joseph Campbell (and the hero cycle), Syd Field, John Truby, Richard Walter, and a dozen other books that explored in depth how stories, myths, and other storytelling forms have worked for thousands of years. I am always reading about storytelling and writing (I read over 60 books a year; I just finished Edward O. Wilson’s The Origins of Creativity), so I can’t live without the next book I want to read!
BEST TEACHING MOMENT
I love it when the yearbook comes out before graduation. The yearbook editors and staff have so much fun poring over the culmination of all their hard work and taking pride in their creativity. I also love Mission X, which I host every spring trimester for my English classes. Mission X is a PBL-inspired project during which the students pursue independent activities. The students follow their creative impulses, set goals, change their minds, develop and refine their activities, and produce an amazing variety of work. The depth of their commitment is stunning, and the pride they take in their work is inspiring. The students showcase their work during X-Fest, a half-day expo, and that’s when parents and anyone in the Woodlawn community can visit and see their final products.
WHEN I WAS 10, I WANTED TO BE
When I was young, I could pronounce and spell difficult vocabulary words, like opthamologist. Adults loved it when I said that word. So for far too long, I thought I wanted TO BE an opthalmologist. However, at ten, I loved writing stories and building worlds in the basement using cardboard boxes and Star Wars figures. I just didn’t know you could do those things as jobs.
WHEN NOT IN THE CLASSROOM, YOU'LL PROBABLY FIND ME HERE
I teach English in the middle and upper schools, so I cross the campus during the day, which is definitely good for me. I try to design projects that invite the students, now and then, to get out of the classroom and into the woods to film a scene or onto the patio to have a discussion. I run the yearbook program as a faculty advisor, but that means I’m all over campus taking photos throughout the year. I attend sporting events and other special events in order to photograph students for the yearbook. I live in Davidson, and I can be found, every day after school, at home with my family. I write, play drums, read, walk the dog, cook dinner with my wife, watch movies, and draw.
FAVORITE PLACE ON THE PLANET
I love spending the summer at the beach where I can write. I try to write a novel every summer, and when I build those imaginative worlds in my head, I appreciate being able to break away from the computer, visit the beach, look out at the ocean, and free my mind.
WHAT MY STUDENTS CALL ME
Mr. B. or Mr. Barringer
WHAT A TRAILBLAZER MEANS TO ME
To me, a trailblazer is someone who is always questioning their own growth. Am I going in the right direction? Is this path taking me where I really want to go? Am I becoming the person I want to be? We have a lot of power in life to make choices, but we too often abandon our passions out of a fear that we are not doing what others expect us to do. A trailblazer constantly works to balance outside considerations with their own desires and a sense of the good. A trailblazer creates their own unique personality, and that demands, at every stage of life, vigilance and imagination and courage.