Grace McMillan is a CESJDS jack of all trades! She teaches English, Jewish Texts, Jewish History, and the senior Psychology elective. Grace is in her second year of her second stint at our Upper School. She started at CESJDS in 2004, where she was on the faculty for 9 years before departing to obtain a degree in social work. She felt that mental health was getting in the way of how her students were performing, and she wanted to have a better understanding of what her students were thinking and feeling.
While she enjoyed the learning aspect pursuing her degree and working in the field, she missed teaching. "My favorite therapy was group therapy because it was like a good class discussion," she says. She loves the group dynamic of working with students and helping them communicate with each other. "I see myself as a facilitator, and I can help frame conversations among students to help deepen their learning," Grace added.
Grace came back to CESJDS to fill in as a maternity leave long-term sub and hasn't looked back since. She enjoys being flexible for the School and teaching different topics.
Her original academic training was in Comparative Religion, both with a Bachelor's Degree from Oberlin College and a Masters from Harvard Divinity School. She also started a PhD at Stanford, but she left after two years to move to Israel and learn at Nishmat, a women's yeshiva in Jerusalem. She had just converted to Judaism, and she wanted to be in that environment to feed her soul as much as her mind. While in Israel, Grace worked as a journalist for the Jerusalem Post for two years. She returned to the US and worked as an editor at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, a think tank in DC, for two years before pursuing teaching.
Grace brings both her content expertise and depth in mental health to the classroom. She does focused and intentional breathing for the first minute of every class. "Breathing helps a lot of kids transition from other classes, or lunch, to being present in the room with a group of people," she says.
She is driven by getting to know the students and building relationships with them, and she has great admiration for her colleagues. "Everyone I work with is so passionately dedicated to students and their subject matter. Everyone is all-in, spending countless hours in and out of school to give their best to their students. "
Grace and her husband love to travel and are planning a summer trip to Europe, including Romania, Italy, and Greece. She also loves to edit, and even helped edit a colleague's doctoral dissertation just for fun. She also loves SCUBA diving and listening to NPR.