Key for new faculty: Finding balance

Sep 6, 2012

The life of a college professor can be a hectic one. Class schedules, personal research, mentoring, grading and attending campus events. Professors need to stay organized with their hands in so many pots. Dr. Michele Castleman and Dr. Margarita Denenburg, who are new members of Heidelberg’s faculty this year, both also have to find balance among their professional passions.

Dr. Michele CastlemanFor Castleman, that’s English and education. She began her academic career focused on English and literature, but while teaching classes for her MFA in children’s literature, found that she loved being in front of a class. “My favorite part of teaching is hearing the student’s opinions. Hearing them explain why they think what they think,” she said.

This year she is teaching for both the English and Education Departments including English Composition, Teaching Writing and Multi-Cultural Literature. “I have my feet in two different schools all the time so I must balance these two worlds,” she said.

She describes herself as an “outdoorsy” person who loves nature walks and hiking. Of course writing and reading dominate her life; she enjoys book clubs and is currently working on her own children’s story.

Dr. Margarita DenenburgDenenburg, a native of Belarus, must also balance two passions: teaching piano and piano performance. “There is not a moment in my life where the two didn’t intersect,” she said. Both started very early in her life. She started playing piano at four years old and gave her first lesson at 11 years old.

“In order to teach piano performance, I need to keep performing myself,” she explained.

She recently graduated with distinction in piano performance from the University of Southern California and is excited for her first year at Heidelberg. “I like how Heidelberg treats its student. I can become involved in their lives,” she said. Denenburg will be giving lessons to performance majors and non-music majors. “Music majors aren’t the only ones who should appreciate piano performance,” she said.

Her passion for teaching and performing are what drives her to help students. “Teaching students to express themselves through the music can be challenging. I want them to feel the same kind of love that I do for piano,” she said.

Denenburg has two upcoming concerts on the West Coast, and also looks forward to performing for the Heidelberg community.