Teacher Interview: Dr. Orbison

Dr. Orbison is an IB English teacher who served as the maternity leave substitute for Ms. Kappel during term one. As part of our new series, Teacher Interviews, Maggie Coughlin ’20 and Avery Shields ’20 caught up with Dr. Orbison. Here are their combined interviews.

What were you like in high school?


I was a jock, I went to a boys’ private school, and I was an average student. I played basketball, baseball, and football, but baseball was my specialty.


If you were given $10 million right now, what is the first thing you would do with it?


Oh jeez. I would go on a European holiday trip. I would go to England and Paris, Scandinavia, Greece, Spain.


What is your favorite book to teach and why?


I don’t have just one favorite book to teach–I have several.  Of course, there is “The Great Gatsby” because the time period of the Roaring 20s is such a great and exciting period in US history.  The characters reflect so well the lifestyle, including the lavishness, carelessness, and immorality (and sometimes romanticism), of people Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald encountered.  “Hamlet” is another work I love to teach because it examines the psychological distress of a melancholic human being.  Themes of betrayal, indecision, murder, and subterfuge are issues that are relevant today.  Finally, “The House of the Spirits” by Isabelle Allende is another work I love to teach because it deals with five generations of a Hispanic family and concerns politics, mythology, the strength of the human spirit, and magic realism.


If you could eat lunch with any character from any book, who would you pick, why, and what would you order to eat? 


I think I would like to lunch with either Albus Dumbledore or Gandalf because I am really intrigued by magic realism, mythology and the world of wizards.  Odysseus is another character I would pick because he is such a great super-hero, but with human flaws.  Although wizards can conjure up anything they want to eat, I would order a pitcher of Bordeaux, baguette, and a salade perigourdine au foie gras because I am human and I love French cuisine.


Favorite TV show/movie?


My favorite tv show is something I’m watching right now which is called Bodyguard. It is a British thriller and it is OUTSTANDING.


A song that always gets you in a good mood?


I have so many songs, I don’t know! Here Comes the Sun!


Where does your love of Literature/English come from?


I’m not sure where my love of literature came from.  As I went through college and grad school, I became more and more involved in the English Literature classes I took and more and more interested in the global, human condition literature portrays. That has always been fascinating to me.


If you could get rid of one state in the US, which would it be and why?


I was gonna say Utah, but Utah makes good potatoes so that’s not good. Oklahoma. Because it’s irritating. It has that little panhandle.


Which IB English class was your favorite?


My favorite classes were English B, E, and H.


What was your favorite part about teaching at NDA?


My favorite part about teaching is I always learn from students, especially the NDA girls. I love the spirit of community present at NDA.  I also appreciate the positive, energetic attitude to learning the student body, at least in my classes, seems to incorporate. It makes teaching so much easier and a lot of fun.


If you were to write a book, what genre would it be?


I would write a novel because it would be, perhaps, easier to incorporate realistic dialogue, symbols, themes, conflict, and characterization.