Dr. Jacquie Erwin

Background: Jacquie Erwin joined The Academies faculty in August 1994 as an English instructor. From those early years of teaching British literature to juniors, Shakespeare to seniors, and English 1 to international students , now a master instructor, she has participated in the change from separate English and History Departments to the Humanities Department. She has taught in the freshman humanities department for a decade, and teaches senior electives from linguistics to Myth and Lit to Imaginative Writing. As the two departments came together, she served as program chair. The 2002 Kaser Scholar, she is the current holder of the W. A. Moncrief Chair of Humanities, and is a Class of 1963 Exemplar.

Erwin received a BA in French and Italian from Wellesley College, an MA in English from Simmons College, and a Ph.D. in English from Northwestern University. She wrote on Jane Austen and the idea and ideal of motherhood in her novels.

Erwin has become notorious for her vocabulary list and approach to teaching vocabulary development. Students have to master the myriad words and not just learn them for a quiz. They must find them in use outside class, and soon they realize the words are ubiquitous-- a word on the list, of course!

Erwin also serves as an assistant speech team coach.

Leisure time activities/hobbies: Reading, especially mysteries. Gardening. Creating magical places and spaces for grandchildren, children, and others with imaginations. Watching the sky, birds, and butterflies. Visiting family.

Most people don't know that I was a painfully shy young woman.

Favorite author or book: After Jane Austen—Tolkein, Rowling, and .....why would I limit myself to one or just a couple?

Favorite words: poignant and vicissitudes since they succinctly summarize human experience.

Favorite food: Good dark chocolate with hot tea. And authentic tamales and enchiladas.

My most significant experience has been losing my husband, Lewis Erwin CMA 1969, to death far too early in life.

The person who most influenced my career: Mrs. Alderman, my ninth grade English teacher, and Mr. Derrickson, my twelfth grade English teacher.

The person I'd most like to meet: My grandmothers since now I have so much to share with them as a teacher, mother, and doll dress maker.

My heroes are my children who have survived loss and sorrow to choose careers that serve.

If I weren't at Culver I'd return to a university or college to study and write fairy tales.

What attracted me to Culver: Good Karma—in the family connection but especially in the caring, bright people—students and adults—who make Culver come alive. In return, Culver is a place of transformation, certainly of students, but also of anyone open to learning and growth.

What I try to accomplish in the classroom: To have my students experience and practice the magic of language, of narrative, and of ideas.

Why I've stayed at Culver: I believe in my colleagues, my students, and my work with them. When I hear from former students or when the light in the eyes of current students shines forth, I know the roots here sink deeper yet.

My idea of a good day off is to construct a fanciful doll dress for a granddaughter, read a good novel in the garden in summer or by the fire in winter, and work in the garden as the fountain plashes amid the flowers. Then having dinner with friends or family.

Plans for retirement: Take at least one adventure trip abroad, finish the house and open a B&B, take classes, and write. And still eat lots of good dark chocolate.

The secret to life is gratitude.

Best advice I could give a Culver student: travel. Then travel some more. And travel more. With eyes, ears, heart and mind open to the wonders all around, even here at Culver.

The last word: Once Upon A Time....let the journey continue!

Dr. Jacquie Erwin

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