The Lastinger Summer Scholars Fund provides for special professional experiences for selected ESJ faculty. This summer, the fund gave ESJ English instructor Katherine Snyder the opportunity to attend a retreat in Sussex, England which was centered around Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse. The retreat was called “a walking pilgrimage,” as the group walked the South Downs National Park every day.
“The paths we walked mirrored the same paths that Virginia Woolf walked as she lived in the area that we were staying in called Firle,” said Ms. Snyder. “We stayed in John Maynard Keynes home called the Tilton House, and we visited Woolf’s home, her artist sister Vanessa Bell’s home, and we also walked to Beachy Head Lighthouse. Before and after our 7-8 mile walks the group would come together to discuss different parts of the novel. We engaged in sacred reading practices like Lectio Divina, Pardes, and Havruta that are rooted in biblical teachings to read the text in a way that forces the reader to see seemingly mundane sentences in a new light.”
The group was co-led by Vanessa Zoltan — research assistant at Harvard Divinity School and co-founder and host of a podcast centered on sacred reading — and by Stephanie Paulsell, a professor at Harvard Divinity School. Prof. Paulsell is finishing a book on Virginia Woolf.
“I hope to use the knowledge that I gained during this retreat to enrich my classes. I plan on discussing the connections between body and mind, the utility of sacred reading practices, and the importance of infusing our lives with daily purposeful rituals. I am forever grateful for being able to attend such a unique and fulfilling retreat in the beautiful English countryside,” shared Ms. Snyder.
Established in 2000 through a gift from Delores and Allen Lastinger, the Lastinger Summer Scholars Fund will provide for professional development opportunities over and above those required, and will benefit not only the faculty members’ educational needs but also the expanded community of Episcopal School of Jacksonville. Some of the most rewarding professional development programs are those extended summer programs offered by numerous universities, agencies, and foundations.