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I like to keep busy and to feel that I am on a constant path of self-improvement.

James Emmi
Art Appreciation, Office Manager

VDA Teacher since 2017

Tell me a little about your personal and educational background.
I grew up in northern Delaware and attended a Catholic school from kindergarten through 8th grade. From there, I went to the Charter School of Wilmington and graduated from Temple University in 2013.  Over the course of my college years, I double-majored in English and FMA (Film and Media Arts), and also took a number of courses in Philosophy. My interest in these subjects and the arts in general have remained consistent through my childhood and adult life.

What brought you to VanDamme Academy?
I’d been following Miss VanDamme’s work and her views on education for a while, before learning that we had a mutual friend in California. So, when I took a vacation out west, I was fortunate enough to meet her and to take a tour of VDA. I immediately came to love the school and its general atmosphere, so that when I learned of the job opening several months later, I hastened to apply. Miss VanDamme would later boast of her “psychic" abilities, having known all along that my path and the school’s would eventually cross again.

What makes you an asset to VanDamme Academy?
I have a diverse professional background, most of which has involved administration and working with kids. But just as important as having the experience necessary to help run the day-to-day operations at VDA, is that I truly enjoy being in the company of young people. It’s no accident that during family holidays, I can invariably be found at the “kids' table.” Also, I am proud of the compliments I receive often for having a warm and friendly demeanor. My goal is for people who interact with me to always believe I am having a good day.

What do you do in your free time?
I am also a writer, so I spend much of my time reading and writing fiction. Acting is also a hobby of mine, and I’ve recently taken up violin lessons as an additional interest. I like to keep busy and to feel that I am on a constant path of self-improvement. Next on the list is to become bilingual!

Will you share one of your favorite teaching experiences?
In my literature class, I love delving into the action, analyzing the characters and exploring the theme within a work. It's a wonderful moment when you can see the students fully comprehending what they've read – not just analytically, but emotionally – and personally connecting to the writing. But nothing pleases me more than seeing students apply their years of grammar training to their study of Latin. It's so exciting to see that light bulb turn on as they start making connections with another language and understanding how a different people communicated.