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Know Your Pelicans

Meet Dana Lotito

Upper School English Teacher

Know Your Pelicans

What are your impressions of Packer so far? Our students? Your colleagues? 

My colleagues are all brilliant. They care so much about the students, about intellectual curiosity, about learning, and about their own growth. It's been an inspiring group to dive into! The students are all such interesting people and powerful thinkers. I love spending time with my advisees in particular, just getting to hear about their interests, their talents, and their dreams.

What do you teach? What is one of your favorite parts of the curriculum? 

I teach 9, 10, and 11/12 grade electives, so I see it all! One of my favorite parts is getting to teach my new elective, Beauty and the Beast: Complicating Notions of Beauty and Ugliness in Literature. It's been a course I've been dreaming about for a long time and my first group I've gotten to teach this semester has blown me away. They have such excellent insights and questions that has kept me so excited about the course. It's been a real treat.

Why do you teach? What do you like about being a teacher? 

I love getting to watch students grow into powerful thinkers, strong writers, and thoughtful citizens who care about the world. I love that each day is different, even if some days go at a crazy pace. I teach because I want to share my love of literature and how literature can help you understand yourself and others in a new way. Ultimately, I hope that students will walk away from class feeling cared for and inspired to keep learning more about themselves, English skills, and the world. Even if one kid feels like they were a better writer or thinker because of my class, or found an author they like, or grew a love of reading and thinking, that feels worth it to me.

Tell us about a specific time you found your job especially rewarding. 

One of my favorite things is when I come into a class and students are already discussing the book, or have strong feelings about it and are excited to get going. But above all, I love to read when students reflect on their writing and can see their growth, see their hard work, and feel proud of themselves. I've had a bunch of those moments over the years. One of them was at my old school. One of my favorite students, who grew up in West Baltimore and now goes to Penn, gave a speech at the end of the year, and he gave me a shoutout. He said that at first, he'd wondered why I was such a hard grader and so hard on them but then he realized after that how much he'd grown and how I did it because I cared and wanted them to be good writers. That felt amazing! (He was also so brilliant to begin with, but I got to teach him for two years and to see him grow was amazing.)

What's one thing most people at Packer wouldn't know about you? 

I actually chose to be in the musical in 6th grade instead of play basketball. That changed quickly, probably because I have stage fright and no real acting talent, but in another life, I'm a TV sitcom actor.

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