Eagle Hill Faculty Spotlight
Meet English Teacher Molly Gray!
Joining the Eagle Hill English department after three years at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Molly Gray has brought tremendous energy and enthusiasm into her new classroom in Hardwick. Having previously taught composition and creative writing to undergraduates while pursuing her MFA in Poetry at UMass, Gray has had stops across the United States, including Purdue University, the University of Montana, and Bard Microcollege Holyoke.
While a student at Purdue University, Gray also rowed as a Boilermaker and often sat as bow pair or stroke. Her favorite rowing moment was winning gold at the 2013 ACRA National Championships, where her boat beat Vanderbilt by 0.2 seconds! Gray is excited to serve as an assistant coach for the Eagle Hill rowing program.
We asked Gray to reflect on her journey to Eagle Hill and some of her passions, hobbies, and favorite things!
What brought you to Eagle Hill to be an English teacher?
While teaching at the undergraduate level, I was missing a sense of community. I got to know students for a semester at most, and after they completed my courses, they weren’t around to demonstrate any growth. Eagle Hill was attractive to me because I could get to know students in multiple settings and for a longer period of time. Eagle Hill was also strong in emphasizing faculty autonomy in the classroom, and I loved the idea of being able to teach how I teach best.
Why did you decide to go into teaching, and what is your favorite part of working with students?
Writing and reading have given me a very rich emotional life, but for a long time, I didn’t give myself permission to believe that that was important. I chose to teach because I hope to give students this access to their inner selves, their own language, their infinite possibilities of expression. Everything is in the language we use, and my favorite part of working with students is when they come to understand the power of the words they read and write, and think.
Though it has only been a few months, what are your impressions of EHS and the community?
I feel like I can be my true self here–and I think the students are being their true selves with me. The faculty has made sure over and over again to check in on my academic needs and personal well-being because this job hits the ground running for new faculty. I have a hard time believing I’ve been here for a few months already! EHS is a special place–I know I’m valued, that my thoughts are important and that the work I do matters.
Is there a specific project or topic area that you really enjoy covering with your students?
Definitely the writer’s autonomy. I love affirming students’ choices since writing is a series of choices that they must make on their own terms for successful writing. I hope to teach students not what to write, but how to teach themselves to write. This is central to all my teaching.
Fast Facts about Molly Gray
Favorite hobbies outside of school?
I am a big baker and cook–I spend a lot of time reading through recipes and food articles. I also do yoga and cycle (in college, a good bike was the first big purchase I made with money I saved from my coffee shop job), and I hike in the summers. In 2022 I’ll start training to race at the Head of the Fish alongside my crew athletes. I manage a nonprofit poetry press, and while I’ve taken some time off writing, I’m feeling it’s time to return to it. I’m a Hoosier at heart and often visit my family in the Midwest.
Favorite food? Hard question! Cheese boards with sourdough. Shakshuka. Brisket. Dark chocolate truffles.
Favorite book? Arabian Nights was the first “big book” I remember reading. My copy is over twenty years old and in terrible condition, but its stories are still some of my favorites.
Favorite musician/band? I have been in love with the White Stripes since I was seventeen. Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton are also close to my heart. Herbie Hancock, Marty Robbins, Elvis, Frank Ocean, Townes Van Zandt.
Favorite place you’ve traveled to? Before the east coast, I lived in western Montana for a year or so. Its mountains, people, green space, and yeehaw nature have made permanent impressions on what I value and who I am. They call it “the last best place” for a reason.
Favorite movie/TV show? What We Do in the Shadows is my current favorite show!
If you could be any animal, what would you be and why? I would like to be a whale. They are curious, emotionally intelligent, and they sing better than I do.
Favorite holiday tradition growing up? Can a favorite family tradition count instead? My dad has never had a birthday without German chocolate cake. I know I will eat it at least once a year and have fond memories of stirring up the frosting. When I taste anything with a coconutty pecan flavor, I am happily reminded of my dad.