Meet Dane: Jewish Teacher of the Week!

dane

Allie: Tell me how you found yourself in DC?

Dane: Well I have GatherDC to thank for that, more specifically Julie Thompson. She is my roommate, and my girlfriend; we share a one bedroom apartment in Columbia Heights. She sleeps in the bedroom, and I sleep on the couch. She’s the one who got me to move down here. I used to live in Baltimore and used to hate DC, but I finally came down and turns out DC is a pretty great city.

Allie: Where are you from originally?

Dane: I’m from Laurel, Maryland. It’s roughly between DC and Baltimore. Then, I went to undergrad at College Park. Living in DC is actually my first time living outside maybe a 30-mile radius. 

Allie: What inspired you to become a teacher? 

Dane: Is masochist the one where you like to hurt yourself? I just wanted to set myself up for a bad time. Kidding! 

Really, I’ve never been a big fan of school. Growing up, I had a couple of teachers that pushed me to go above the bare minimum, and it really helped me want to strive for excellence in the work I did. They paid attention, and made me feel really proud of working hard. It had a major impact on my life, and I wanted to do the same for others. So, I became a teacher.

Allie: What grade and subject do you teach?

Dane: I teach 7th grade English and 6th grade reading. I originally wanted to teach high school in New York, because I wanted to move away from this area and be on my own somewhere new. In grad school, I was placed in a middle school in the last county I wanted to be in – Howard County. They told me I would be there for one quarter and then would move to a high school. By the time that quarter was up, there were claw marks in the walls because I didn’t want to leave, and I beat down the door of that middle school when I was looking for a job. It’s such a great place to be. 

Allie: What are your favorite things about teaching?

Dane: The kids, they’re great. They are full of life, full of energy and enthusiasm – which is a blessing and a curse. High school is very grade driven, where students are constantly thinking about how to get A’s and how things will benefit them later. 

Middle school students really make me think about the purpose of what I do here: what is the meaning behind it? Why should they care? When you hit that groove it’s such a fulfilling feeling. You have a lot of freedom to make an impact and help others learn how to make an impact.

Allie: What’s the most challenging part? 

Dane: It’s a very big time commitment and it’s a very big emotional commitment. I’ve moved around to different curriculums every year I’ve been teaching, which is exhausting. You have to anticipate how things will go for the first time. Grading is ridiculous as an English teacher, and then emotionally you have kids going through the biggest changes of their lives. You have to anticipate that and work with that to help them get through it, which is worthwhile but tiring. 

Allie: Why did you choose to teach English?

Dane: My dad told me I should be an English major because I like to read and am a good writer. If I could go back I would think about science. I am not a natural scientist by any means, but I taught a sustainability course last year and it’s a really cool thing to teach. 

Allie: What is your perfect day in DC, assuming you don’t have school and have unlimited money to spend. 

Dane: I’ll wake up, feed former Jewish Cat of the Month Chloe, and then make coffee. Ideally the weather outside is low 70s – a nice, sunny day. I’ll go for a walk, and then Julie and I would go to RedRocks and sit on the patio. I’d get myself RedRocks’ hash because it’s the best breakfast food that’s ever been created. After that, I would go downtown and spend some time at the museums. I’d grab lunch at a burger joint with outdoor seating. Then, I’d find a good rooftop bar and meet up with some friends. After that, I’d go to Meridian Hill Park and watch a beautiful sunset. Then, I’d go to dinner with some friends, and be sure to crawl into bed by 9:30. 

dane

 

Allie: How do you relax after a long work day?

Dane: I like my couch. I’ll sit on the couch, close the door, and light a candle. I like to put my things away so I’m sitting in a nice clean space, and take a little bit of time to have some quiet and watch the sunset.

Allie: Do you have any resolutions for the year ahead?

Dane: Oh yeah, whether or not they’re going to be fulfilled is another thing. This last decade was one of major shifts. I started college in 2010, finished in 2015 with grad school. A lot of it was very youthful – figuring out who I am. It came with a lot of anxiety around not knowing what was going to happen next. This year, I just want to think less and do more. My first instinct is usually good but I don’t always follow it, and I need to trust myself more. 

Allie: Are there any places you want to travel to?

Dane: I haven’t really been outside the country, so my next big thing is international travel. Julie loves to travel and I’ve been along for the ride with her, which has been awesome. I’d love to go to a place that’s a little outside my comfort zone, somewhere where I’m not as familiar with the language and can get immersed in a culture that’s very unlike mine. I’d also love to continue to visit national parks, especially out west. The parks there are more beautiful than anything you can see in a picture. 

dane Allie: Do you have a favorite Jewish holiday?

Dane: I would say Passover, I really enjoy having people over for Passover, and all the food that we make. I come from a family of great cooks, where there was always plenty of good food to go around. My mom makes an unbelievable brisket for Passover and my dad also makes a great matzah ball soup. I’m also fascinated by Purim, but haven’t really celebrated it before. 

Allie: What’s something someone might be surprised to know about you?

Dane: I’m very introverted. I do not get my energy from being around people. I try very hard to be friendly, and I think people expect me to be more extroverted than I am. Julie and I have figured out that she is definitely more extroverted, whereas I am usually quite worn out after talking. 

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Dane: Hopefully it’s on M Street! 

dane

Meet Arianna: Jewish Traveler of the Week!

Have a suggestion for a Jewish Person of the Week? Email allisonf@gatherdc.org to nominate your friend, colleague, partner, or even yourself!

Arianna

Allie: How did you wind up living in the DC area?

Arianna: I was in college during the 2016 election and was pre-med. I was not politically active at the time, I was doing immunology research! I was able to go to the Hill to advocate for the NIH and was really moved by that experience: it seemed like staffers cared about what I had to say. After that experience, I moved to Los Angeles to intern for Senator Harris after I graduated. That brought me to my first-ever campaign, and I got bitten by the bug. After my fourth campaign in New York, I was exhausted; I wanted to be somewhere where I could be involved in politics, but not have to move around so much. So I ended up getting an internship on the Hill in DC. 

Allie: After going from pre-med to politics, do you still have an interest in the medical field?

Arianna: Yeah! I’m actually getting my Masters in Public Health and Health Policy from GW part-time while I work full-time. I’m still on a medical track and still very interested in medicine. Right now, it’s a time to keep being involved politically and that’s where my focus is. But I’ve always wanted to find a way to help people in a tangible way, and medicine makes it feasible to do this. I wanted to be a pediatric surgeon, to travel abroad and work with children.

Allie: Outside of work, are you a big traveler?

Arianna: I didn’t used to be. I did not study abroad in college. I went on one medical mission to Jamaica and then I went to Israel on Birthright. I’m so grateful I got to go on Birthright, it blew my mind. Once I started working, I didn’t really take anytime for vacations until this past year, when I went to Italy with my Nana. It was beautiful, and made me realize I wanted to start seeing places I’d always wanted to go to. So my friend Daria and I planned a trip to Bali. That was amazing. And after that, I was like “okay – where can I go next?!” 

Allie: So, where are you going next?

Arianna: I already have plans to go to Spain and Australia later this year. Australia has always been the number one place I wanted to go. I’ve always loved Outback Steakhouse. Right now I’m going alone, but I’m confident I can make friends along the way.

Allie: What else is on your travel bucket list?

Arianna: Ireland and Greece. I also really want to go to England, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine.

Allie: What excites you the most about traveling?

Arianna: The people you meet along the way. I never knew there was such a vast community of people out there who are kind of transient. It’s people our age who are taking time off, and paying their way by working at hostels or have saved up to travel for a few months. I met people who were traveling for 6 months and some up to 2 years!

arianna

Allie: Walk me through your dream DC day?

Arianna: I’d wake up, and then go for a long walk from Arlington to DC along the Mount Vernon Trail. I’d stop for a coffee somewhere. Then I’d go to the American History Museum because I love politics and history. Then, I’d walk past the old Newseum and pretend it’s not closed. I’d look at all the newspapers of the day. Then, I’d sit outside of the Capitol and read for a bit. Later on, I’ll head to dinner with some friends. I’d finish the day on the Pod Hotel’s rooftop.

Allie: Did you set any resolutions for 2020? 

Arianna: Well, one of my friends guilted me into signing up for the Chicago Marathon lottery – and I got picked! Once you get picked in the lottery, you are in. They charge you and it’s non-transferable. So, what I decided to do to prepare for the marathon is to run one race a month. I ran my January one on January 1st in DC. I have almost every month set up. I’m doing the Nashville half marathon for St. Jude’s in April. I’m not a huge runner by any means, but I do Orange Theory regularly and like running. I just started using the Nike run app to help with my training.

Allie: How do you stay so motivated?!

Arianna: 2018 was a really hard year for me and 2019 was a recovery year. In June 2018, we lost the election I was working on – so my job ended. My relationship ended, and I was supposed to move in with him. My lease was up. I kind of felt like everything was crumbling. I ended up moving to Arizona and was not happy there, so I moved home to New York. I started questioning everything and wondering if I should have stuck with the medical path. I finally moved to DC, but was living here for months without a job. My first six months in DC I hated it here. So, this past year has been a big rebuilding year for me. I forced myself to come to social events so I could make friends and build a community. I went to Gather events and JWI’s Young Women’s Leadership Conference. I really want to get back to living the best version of myself.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Arianna: You learn a lot about yourself through others.

arianna

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Meet Corey: Jewish Nats Fan of the Week!

corey

Allie: What brought you to the area?

Corey: I grew up in Bethesda, Maryland and have several friends from high school who moved back to the area after college. We’ve maintained a core group of guys who have been close for 20+ years, and that combined with DC having job opportunities in my field brought me back here. I’ve also always liked DC, it has worldly people and is a nice balance size-wise.

Allie: Tell me about where your interest in working in politics came from.

Corey: My dad is a First Amendment lawyer, and growing up – he would always cut out clips from The Washington Post and put them on my breakfast table in the morning. I always had more to read than I could possibly take on. Little did I know, I’d have my name in The Washington Post one day as a spokesperson for a politically-active organization. But originally, I wanted to be a journalist. 

When I was an undergrad at Syracuse, I began to find my way when I interned for Chuck Schumer. I was a communications and constituent services intern, and really enjoyed seeing how government responds to people’s needs and how the media can drive attention to problems in the community. That set me in the direction of working in political communications. So when I graduated from Syracuse, I got a job with a campaign. Ultimately, I worked at a political media firm and today work in media relations for a legal services  organization that specializes in election law, the Campaign Legal Center

Allie: What is it like working for Campaign Legal Center?

Corey: I’ve been there since September 2016 – it’s been a time of great change. When I started there we were a staff of 16 full timers, and today we have a total of 53 staff. Being part of the maturation and growth of an organization has been the experience of a lifetime. The 2016 election was definitely awakening in many regards. As a result, more people see the need to fund democracy work because they are increasingly aware that our election system needs the proper infrastructure in order to protect people’s voting rights. That’s what is at stake when I go to work every day. 

Allie: Walk me through your perfect day in DC from start to finish.

Corey: If I could pick a perfect day, it would be to re-live the day the Nationals won the World Series. But that may only happen once in a lifetime. I love seeing Nats games and also like to watch basketball, hockey, and football. A good breakfast and early start is important. I’d have bacon, eggs, yogurt, a little coffee. A good workout helps me feel more alert and present. I’d enjoy a walk through the American History Museum or the National Portrait Gallery, since people in other cities don’t get to take advantage of what we have here in DC. Dinner would be sushi or steak. After, I’d have a big party with my friends. It would be a fancy, catered party maybe at The Monaco or The Willard.

corey

Allie: Are you a big Nationals fan?

Corey: Oh, yes. I was a day 1 fan of the Nationals when they came to DC in 2005. I take immense personal credit for their victory. Baseball was the first sport that I ever loved, I played through high school. Today, I play on a softball team through Beth El, which is the synagogue I grew up going to.

Allie: Do you have any resolutions for 2020?

Corey: One of the lessons my mom used to teach me was to not wish time away, and to appreciate the regular days more thoroughly. So, I want to appreciate Mondays more. Also, I’d really like to find something in the Jewish community to get involved with that fits my personality.

Allie: Who is your Jewish role model?

Corey: My grandma. Her optimism lights up a room. She’s always upbeat and is friends with everybody. She really appreciates people and takes time to get to know their name even if they are somebody she will likely never see again. She’s also a really good cook.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to relax at the end of a long work day?

Corey: I’m in a book club where we read fiction novels. Right now, we’re reading Midnight’s Children, which is really long! I also like watching and playing sports. 

Allie: When Jews of DC gather…

Corey: We respond with, “I know it’s a big school” when the person we are talking to at the event does not recognize the family friend’s name. Nevertheless, we proceed to list every name we know that went to the same college. When the person doesn’t know any of them, we proceed to find things in common about our shared knowledge of east coast suburbs.

corey

 

Have a suggestion for a Jewish Person of the Week? Email allisonf@gatherdc.org to nominate your friend. colleague, partner, or even yourself!

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The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.