Dr. Amanda Licato is currently teaching American Literature at STA.
How did you know that teaching was a career path that you wanted to pursue? What exactly about the community on the Close inspired you to apply to become a teacher here?
Dr. Licato: I've always loved to share ideas and transmit knowledge through the processes of teaching. The best part of being an English teacher is not just the fact that I'm involved with knowledge production but that I get to talk to other people — my students — about the things that I feel matter most for our lives and the world. I often think of myself as a guide; as someone who can model a way of thinking that is both compassionate and skeptical. I want my students to know it's okay to be curious, and even resistant! STA and NCS, more so than any school I've ever taught at (and I've taught at both the high school and university levels), have amazing students who are so eager to join me in those conversations.
Out of every teacher or mentor that you have encountered in your life, who would you argue had the most meaningful impact on you?
Dr. Licato: I'm going to be really honest here and say that my biggest mentor was not a teacher in the conventional sense but my mother. Part of the reason I was so inspired to become a teacher, actually, was that I often felt that the teachers I had lacked a strong sense of passion for their subjects, and I wanted to model for my students the kind of passion for literature that I thought was missing from the classroom. My mother was the person I used to have — and continue to have — the most exciting and passionate conversations with about literature, philosophy, history, justice, and just life in general. She grew up in a tiny Kurdish village in Iraq and escaped the Iran-Iraq war as a refugee, and has seen a huge amount of both chaos and beauty in her life. She has a way of seeing the world that always gives me new eyes.
What kind of student were you in high school? How do you think you would have fit in with students on the close today?
Dr. Licato: I was quite studious and artsy in high school. I loved to read and became a bit obsessed with Emily Dickinson and Albert Camus, soaking up a lot of literature that was depressing and moody, since I felt this connection to texts that lingered on the meaning of life and death. I was fascinated with questions about the meaning of life at the time, and also wanted to imagine myself in other places and identities that I couldn't experience in a suburban place at such a huge public high school. I'm not sure how I would have fit in with the students at the Close but I think I would have soaked up the opportunity to have smaller classes with more discussion, and with that, the possibility to actually get to know other students on a more personal level. I probably would have loved the intellectual rigor and sense of community.
When you’re not teaching how do you like to spend your free time? Any uncommon talents or hobbies?
Dr. Licato: I'm absolutely crazy about food and am always looking to try new spots to eat at in my spare time! My favorite cuisines are probably Indian, Middle Eastern (Persian, Afghani, etc.), Italian, Thai, Korean, and Japanese. I've even traveled to specific countries like Morocco and Colombia because I wanted to eat particular dishes or local produce that you can't find here. I brag too much about my cooking skills if you meet me, and try to make everything from scratch when I can. I've recently perfected making my own tortellini, almond milk, coconut yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi, so if you want a recipe, let me know!