This week, the Warrior Word sat down with Mr. Moran, a new English teacher at the school. Get to know him as he tells us about himself, including his fascinating hobbies, goals as a teacher, and how the Coronavirus has impacted his life.
Kayla Herssein: Where were you born and raised?
Mr. Moran: I was born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida. That’s where my mom’s family is from.
KH: What were you like as a high school student?
MM: I was a pretty involved high school student. I was the student body president, and so I had to do the morning announcements over a live TV which was a lot of stress and pressure. I had to make sure to show up to school on time every day, or 2,000 people would notice that I was late. I think I was a pretty good student. I did the work.
KH: What inspired you to become a teacher?
MM: I really enjoy teaching. My passion is really for writing, and there’s something really special about seeing students appreciate a work of literature and finding their own voices as well.
KH: What has been your teaching experience so far?
MM: I have taught at the college level mainly while a graduate student. I was studying anthropology; I got my doctorate in anthropology so I taught those sources and the social sciences. More recently, I was at Brown and was teaching fiction workshops.
KH: How has your past teaching experience prepared you for Hebrew Academy?
MM: I think it’s given me a lot of texts that I am comfortable teaching and enjoy teaching, so I have a bit of my own curriculum of things that I think will inspire students. There are a lot of fun new differences for me. Here I think it’s really interesting that some of my students are siblings with each other, and I’ve never had that experience before. It’s sort of fun to meet the larger community.
KH: Is Hebrew Academy different than you expected? In what ways?
MM: Since I’ve never attended a Jewish day school myself, I didn’t know what to expect—especially since I have never lived in Miami before. I think there is more of an urban youth culture than I expected. I think it’s pretty cool that students are in touch with a lot of trends in the culture.
KH: As an English teacher, why do you think literature is such an important part of our lives?
MM: I think that even today with all of the different ways that we communicate, whether it’s through TikTok or a Youtube video or messaging, something like a short story or a novel is still the best way for one human being to understand the internal emotional life experience of another human being. It’s a great tool for empathy and it’s really efficient. There is no quicker way to get to know someone else than to read something that they’ve carefully written. It’s a better form of communication, I think, than even a conversation in that sense. You can speak with someone across the centuries.
KH: What have you enjoyed about Hebrew Academy so far?
MM: I really enjoy the podcasting elective that I’m teaching because it’s really small. The students are funny and they have a lot of energy, and I think they’re going to make an amazing podcast this semester. I’ve enjoyed the teaching. I haven’t done too many things outside of a classroom since I just arrived this week after the first week on Zoom.
KH: How has Corona influenced your life, specifically your teaching career?
MM: I was teaching a course in the spring when we had to go remote on Zoom. Like anyone, I think it changes the quality of instruction, and so it’s a little disruptive. I do think teaching hybrid is a challenge on a technological level. But at the same time, one of the things that I am passionate about is writing. I am working on writing a novel right now and revising it, so having the time of quarantine, I could be at home and work on my fiction. It’s good—in a way—for a writer to have the type of society that we’ve had the last year now.
KH: What do you wish to accomplish with your students by the end of the year?
MM: Probably three things. One is to make sure they have a good education. There are shared texts and shared authors that ideally everyone being educated in an English language school should know, and I want to make sure that they have that awareness so that they are prepared for college. Second is I want them to have this sort of personal experience of being moved by an important work of literature, which is something that a teacher can’t really make happen. But if you assign good quality texts, you can only hope that a student will be inspired and changed. Third, I want to help them find their own voices as writers because there’s nothing that really beats having something important to say and finding the right words to say it.
KH: What are some of your hobbies or interests outside of school?
MM: I like to jog. I’ve run a few marathons, although I’ve recently injured my back, so I’m moving towards cycling. I like painting, and I like reading and writing. I like trading stocks. I do that every day, and this has been a really interesting year for the financial markets. I collect antique postcards; I have thousands of Florida postcards. It’s a terrible hobby. You should never collect things that there's no end to. Over the last century, billions of postcards were sent, so I threw a lot of money away at that. I also like to net fish; I throw a cast net along the gulf coast. I catch seafood like mullet. I like to kayak. I have a kayak in my parents house up in north Florida. And I like to travel.
KH: Where have you traveled?
MM: I lived a few months in China studying Chinese, and I lived a few months in Denmark as a visiting student. I’ve traveled through Latin America, Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, and Europe.
KH: Lastly, what is something not many people know about you?
MM: I just gave it away, which is that I studied Chinese for a long time. I actually spent a summer studying Quechua too, although I don’t think I remember too much of it.
KH: Thanks so much for your time!
Compiled By: Kayla Herssein (10th grade)