The American School in SwitzerlandThe American School in Switzerland
Faculty Feature: Mr. Peter Locke

Shu Ye '18 interviewed High School English Teacher and Associate Dean Mr. Peter Locke, who began teaching at TASIS in 2010 and now also coordinates the School's Senior Humanities and Advanced Placement programs.

Peter Locke, English TeacherWhen did you start at TASIS, what subject do you teach, and what else are you involved with at the School?
I started at TASIS in 2010. I teach IB English, am the Associate Dean for the High School, and coordinate the Senior Humanities Program and the Advanced Placement program. I also work with the High School Academic Team and the new faculty, and I am a Duty Administrator and the Varsity Tennis coach.

Can you please describe your educational background and your career in education prior to TASIS?
I went to a boarding school called The Hotchkiss School in Connecticut when I was younger, and that is part of the reason why I am here at TASIS now, in the sense that I was inspired to work in a boarding school as a result of that experience. I earned a degree in English from Washington and Lee University, and I also have a graduate degree from Teachers College Columbia University in Private School Leadership.

I worked at Hotchkiss for a year as an intern, and that was actually my first job. I was really new to teaching. I then spent two years at Culver Academy, which is a military school in Indiana. After two years in Indiana, I came to TASIS, and I've been here ever since.

How would you describe your teaching philosophy?
I was really inspired by a professor of mine in graduate school named Kevin Mattingly. He advocated to "Find out what your students know, find out what they care about, and plan your teaching from there." That approach allows me to get to know individual students; it implies some investigation on the part of the teacher, which I really like; and it allows me to create, not necessarily a customized, but a personalized plan for how I am going to approach a class or a group of students. Also, I believe that teachers have to enjoy being with students, and if you do not like that, you are in the wrong business.

What do you like most about working at TASIS?
I like being around teenagers; they are funny to me. This is probably the most PR answer you should put up on the website, but I like the international environment at TASIS; I like the atmosphere that results from having students come from all over the world.

"Another thing that I really enjoy about TASIS is the spirit that we are doing something new here."

Another thing that I really enjoy about TASIS is the spirit that we are doing something new here. I like the idea that Mrs. Fleming used to build this school: "From the ground up, on the fly, without necessarily 25 years strategic plan in mind." She took students on Ski Week because there was no heat in De Nobili. There are a lot of things like that that live on in this school. We are trying to make it work while it's going on, and that makes for a really challenging atmosphere. I like it because it is filled with energy and filled with opportunities for newness and for change. It is a really dynamic place.

Can you please recommend two books and explain why you like them?
As an English teacher, this is a really challenging question because whatever two books I select will show who I am as a person and as a teacher, so lots of my identity and ego is at risk. I will recommend two favorite books that have personal connection to me. One is the book called A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. The main character, Ignatius Reilly, is absurd. I like how Toole uses the city of New Orleans as a character. The meaningful part about it to me is that it is my uncle's favorite book, and my uncle has given me books, only, for every Christmas since I was a baby. He made me become interested in reading and probably had a part in why I teach literature. This book is his favorite book, and I really enjoy that. The book was also published posthumously, so it is one of the books that would have been lost to the world if it hadn't been published by the author's mother. I think about family when I think about that book. It's also incredibly funny.

Another book that I would recommend is called The Boat Who Wouldn't Float, which is written by Farley Mowat. I like humorous writing, and his adventure with this boat is hilarious He keeps sinking, and things keep going wrong. This is a funny story of how people deal with adverse situations. The personal connection is that my father, in his infinite wisdom, read it to my mother while she was giving birth to me to keep her laughing through the pain. Technically, it is the first book I ever heard, so it is very special to me. The book is pretty short, but it is unbelievably funny.

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