10 Questions News

10 Questions with Megan Paulson

Megan Paulson is an Instructor in History and Social Science, and has worked at Andover for the past 18 years. She is a house counselor in Adams House and a Barbie enthusiast. 

  1. What is your favorite thing about being an Andover teacher?

There’s so many things. Definitely my students. They’re what make it worthwhile to be here. I’ve had the privilege to teach kindergarten through college. I’ve taught day schools, boarding schools, public and private, single-sex education, and co-ed education. This has been my longest experience, but it’s also been the best in terms of all the students that I encounter and I get to meet such amazing people. That’s my favorite part. 

  1. What made you pursue history specifically?

I initially thought I would be looking at English, but then I thought I’d really like to know the story behind the stories being written. So I started to get into history that way. I also read a lot of historical romance novels, and I loved them. Many of them were historically accurate, many of them were not, but they gave me a window into looking at how people lived in the past. What really excited me about history was when I realized it was a story to be told, and that I could have a hand in telling that story, because it’s all about who records what and when. I realized that it’s not something that’s set in stone, but each historical event and time period can be looked at through myriad lenses and perspectives.

  1. What’s it like being a house counselor in Adams?

Fantastic. It’s where I get to interact on a much more personal and personable level with students at this school. They’re like my kids. I love knowing the kids in my dorm, and making them a part of my extended family. It’s a lot of work, but it’s good work.

  1. What are your interests outside of teaching?

Rottweilers, motorcycles, and Barbies.

  1. What is your most notable at Andover?

I’ve been here for 18 years, so I don’t have one notable experience. Recently was Fall Term EBI when I [created] the 11th grade EBI [curriculum]. It was a really humbling experience, because I thought, ‘I have this idea, and it’s going to work and it’s going to be fantastic,’ [but] there’s many things I didn’t take into account. So I really enjoyed sitting the class down, and it was a gigantic class, and saying ‘what’s going wrong,’ ‘what is not working here?’ Just letting them tell me what I was screwing up [on,] really helped make the other terms better. I feel bad because they were kind of the guinea pigs, but they also had a huge impact on how I then taught classes. I think that’s really important to the way that I teach. It’s ok to tell me when this isn’t working for you, and what can we do to make it better. I feel like education is a journey that we’re on, so I’m not the captain of the ship, but we’re kind of in it together.

  1. How do your past experiences impact how you teach, and the course you teach?

Pretty much all of who I am goes into my teaching. I find it difficult to compartmentalize, so I’m the same in my classroom as I am in the dorm, as I am talking to friends and family. I find it very painful trying to be different things to different people. Who I am and how I grew up very much informs everything about my intellectual pursuits as well as my personal pursuits. I’m the daughter of academics, I grew up in southeastern rural Ohio, while both my parents are both from Brooklyn, New York. I went to boarding school, then college on the West Coast, and graduate school on the East Coast. Through all of that, I learned about myself as a heterosexual Black female in the United States [of America], and what that means. So my various lenses really inform how I interact with the world, and how I would like to be interacted with. I spent so much of my life learning how to be comfortable with myself, and comfortable in my own skin, and that’s what I want to share with my students and everyone I come in contact with. I want them to be comfortable with who they are in their own skin, because it makes navigating the ups and downs of the world a lot easier.

  1. What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself about your time as an Andover teacher?

I have a lot more patience than I thought I did. I am very critical of myself, and it’s important that I do right by my students. I want them to have a good experience, and when I feel like I can’t give them my all intellectually, it’s upsetting.

  1. What’s something most students do not know about you?

I don’t really know because my filter is nonexistent. I named my daughter after the 1980s song, “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister.

  1. If you could meet any historical figure, who would you meet?

For the most part, I don’t like those questions because I don’t know how they would react to me. Once a teacher asked me [if I would] like to have dinner with George Washington, and I was like, ‘No,’ because he would probably think I was one of his enslaved people. In general, maybe W. E. B. Du Bois. Another person would be Jane, who was my fourth or fifth great-grandmother who was enslaved in Jamaica.

  1. What has been your favorite term at Andover?

Whatever term I’m teaching Critical Race Theory, and I’ve taught it in the winter and the spring. I think [Fall Term] goes with what I’m teaching, so I’ve loved the second half of Fall Term, whether it be when we had it extended—because Fall Term used to end in December—or now. I used to love teaching that time period in American History, which is right before the American Civil War. I also like teaching Reconstruction, and that’s right after… Every term has its ups and downs. I guess my least favorite term is winter because it’s awkward and cold, so my favorite would have to be fall or spring.