Teacher Spotlight on Carla Chwat

Birthplace: Virginia

Title/Responsibilities: High School English Department Chair

Georgia State University - PhD (ABD), English
Longwood University - MA, English
Longwood University - BA, English/BA, History

How long have you been teaching at Pinecrest? 12 years

What do you love most about teaching high school English at Pinecrest?
Discussions with my students, helping them to see that literature helps everyone to become more empathetic with the human condition.

What is your favorite work of literature, and why?
It’s difficult to nail down a favorite, but Dickens’
A Tale of Two Cities is certainly in the top five for me. The powerful message that draws the novel to its close is worth reading over and over again. I re-read this book every summer as I prepare to teach it in my AP Literature course.

Do you have a special story to share about a particular student? If so, please share it with us.
I have many stories, but two that come to mind focus on the Class of 2010 and the Class of 2018. The Class of 2010 painted my podium as their present to me when they prepared to leave.  This year, the Class of 2018 painted a stool to match it. I was so touched by both gifts. I am truly blessed to get to work with such wonderful students every day.

Do you use different approaches when teaching boys vs. girls? Please explain.
I do. The differences in a discussion-based class tend to focus more on the questions that I ask my students. Boys and girls see literary works very differently. They engage with a text differently. There are many different ways to see any work of literature, so there are no “right” answers -- just different ways of interpreting a text. I want my students to appreciate the work -- not necessarily love it, although that’s great, too -- but appreciate the craftsmanship.

What creative methods do you use to engage students who might not be interested in the subject you are teaching?  
I like to relate literature to contemporary film, music, even television. I want my students to see that these messages are real and true and can apply as much today as they did when the author published the work.

How do you unwind after a day of teaching?
Ok, I know this is what people expect me to say, but it really is true. I enjoy reading history.  I watch a great many documentaries. I also teach at the University of North Georgia, so there is a great deal of grading and reading and preparing that goes on, too. Any free time is spent with the love of my life, my husband Andrew.
Pinecrest Academy is a private PreK3-12 Catholic school located in Cumming, South Forsyth, just minutes from Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton and Suwanee. We serve families of all faiths seeking a Christian education for their children. To learn more about our unique educational philosophy, visit our Welcome page.

The mission of Pinecrest Academy is reflected in the word Integer, which is Latin for “whole,” or “entire,” and reflects our goal of forming the whole child as an authentic “Person in Christ.” The school motto Semper Altius, means “Always Higher,” and challenges our students, parents, staff and faculty to strive for excellence in all areas of Integral Formation® - intellectual, spiritual, human and apostolic.