Peggy O'Brien - Director of Education
I’m the Folger Shakespeare Library’s director of education, and therefore have the privilege of (a) working with this mighty band of smart, dedicated, versatile and hilarious people that is Folger Ed, (b) working with folks all across this Library who are full of respect and devotion for schoolteachers, and . . . (c!) the privilege of working with schoolteachers from all over. I’m the luckiest person on earth. I’m a DC public high school English teacher who, about 35 years ago, took on what I thought would be a short-term job at the Folger. I turned out to be the right teacher in the right place at the right time: I began the Folger’s education work and ran it for 13 years, thought I was out of ideas here, and took a deep dive into the ed tech universe-- at a dot.com, the cable industry’s education foundation, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Left CPB to serve as DC Public Schools’ Chief of Family and Public Engagement under Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson. Got jazzed about returning to the Folger after meeting the then-new Library director, Michael Witmore, a man with a big brain, a big heart, such a fine vision for this institution, and a deep belief in the importance of K-12 education. So I’m the right teacher in the right place at the right time again. Woo hoo! We’re inventing and reinventing Folger Ed at a pretty decent pace so that we can keep up with what teachers (and students) need . . . and this online community is only one example. Other info: my undergraduate Shakespeare prof never really knew my name because I cut class so much, I love Hamilton for about a million reasons, and my two grown-up kids still seem to like me. PS. Hope you are not correcting for grammar today.
Corinne Viglietta, Assistant Director of Education
As a classroom teacher, I saw firsthand how the Folger approach transforms teaching and learning. (Side note: it was my students who made me fall in love with this Shakespeare guy.) After years of using it with all kinds of students in all kinds of settings—ELLs, reluctant readers, AP students, and students with exceptionalities, here in DC and abroad—I wanted to share it with everyone. Plus, since I’ve joined the Folger, I’ve learned a ton of new and exciting things, not just about Shakespeare and teaching but also about rare books and special collections, theatre, art, history, museums, community engagement, and the digital humanities. I currently manage teacher workshops, the Lily McKee High School Fellows, and a big chunk of our growing partnerships with DC Public Schools and Newark Public Schools. It is a privilege to work alongside teachers on instruction that grows students’ knowledge and confidence as readers, writers, speakers, and listeners—and makes us all fall in love with language over and over again.
Other essential info: Matisse’s cut-outs, The Great Gatsby, lemons, 80s new wave, How to Steal a Million, travel adventures with my husband, and my mom’s carbonara all give me life. My dad was my high school principal. Always seeking fellow West Virginians, Francophiles, and writing center people.
Danielle Drakes, Manager of Schools and Community Partnerships
I oversee most of our local schools programs: We send teams of teaching artists and docents into 10 DC public elementary schools. We invite about 60 local schools annually to perform on our stage as part of student Shakespeare Festivals. We welcome hundreds of students to matinees during the theatre season, and send actors into some of their classes as well. And I lead CrossTalk, the Folger’s community engagement initiative. Last year, the Library linked up with six community partners and led a series of community conversations; people from across the city participated in conversations about identity and difference, sparked by scenes from The Merchant of Venice (written in 1596) and District Merchants, written in 2016. It was a big success, and we’re planning the next iteration right now.
I’m also an actor, director and theatre producer, focused on plays by and about women of color. I originated the role of Elizabeth Keckley in Ford's Theatre's History on Foot and in a new play, Papa Day, both written by Jennifer Nelson.
I reside in NE DC with my husband and two punks children, Noah and Olivia.
Kate Haase, Manager of Visitor Education Programs
I develop programming for families and students, manage visitor tours, and support the fabulous Folger Docent Corps. Originally from New York, I moved to the DC area to get my Masters in Library Science, ended up working in Exhibitions at the Folger, and soon found myself drawn in by the siren song of the Education Department. I’m a Victorianist at heart and collect 19th decorative arts and books. I spend most of my off hours developing new configurations to fit said books in my living room.
Greg Armstrong, Administrative Assistant for Education Programs
I serve as the first point of contact for Folger Education, answer questions about our programs, handle logistics for tours and school visits and provide support for the Education team. My job has evolved over the past two years to include more in depth work with our day to day operations, docents, budgets and playing a role in each of the programs Folger Education runs. When I'm not at the Folger, I'm DJ'ing fitness classes and a variety of private events or catching up on some weekly manga and comic releases, all of those fun things.
Katherine Dvorak, Project Manager
I’m the stage manager running this online community from backstage and I’m thrilled to see if up and running after managing its creation. You won’t see me but I’m back there, making things go. In addition to overseeing the online community I’m responsible for all Folger Education digital properties, managing our database, building our budgets, and organizing the logistics across the department, including our yearly adventure to NCTE (come visit our booth!).
I’m also a Folger docent, a recovering political operative, a runner who runs a lot and a kickboxer who kicks a lot. Elizabeth I is my spirit animal and I ask myself at least once a day What would Tammy Taylor Do?
Michael LoMonico, Senior Consultant on National Education
I have been involved with the Folger in various ways since 1986. My goal is to change the way that Shakespeare is taught in this country, and so far I have taught Shakespeare courses and workshops for teachers and students in 38 states as well as in Canada and England. I am the author of a YA novel, That Shakespeare Kid and the reference book, The Shakespeare Book of Lists. In my previous life, I taught high school English on Long Island and English Methods at Stony Brook University. I am also on the Executive Board of the Shakespeare Theater Association. When I’m not working with the Folger I’m tooling around in my red Mini Cooper convertible with the license plate “SHXPEARE.”
To find out more, please visit us at www.folger.edu/teach-learn