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Rachel Engelke

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Head of History, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Social Sciences Department
Advisor to the Foreign Policy Association, The Loomis Chaffee World Bulletin, and Model UN
Faculty member since 2000
B.A. Kenyon College

What makes Loomis Chaffee special to you?

There’s really something for everyone. Some of my students went on to music conservatories or art schools; others competed in college athletics. Loomis Chaffee embraces all of those students and helps them each find their own paths. In addition, I’m fortunate to live and work amongst a caring and dedicated faculty who each bring his/her own set of talents and experiences to the Island. In order to support a student body with such diverse interests and talents, it’s obviously important to have a faculty that is varied as well.

What advice would you offer an incoming new student?

I would advise them to not feel overwhelmed, to trust that they were accepted here for a reason, and we believe they can handle the work. I also would advise them to get involved: join a club, play a team sport, try out for the play, and to learn to use the teachers and the many resources available here.

What's your favorite class to teach?

My favorite subject matter is 20th century American and European history (WWI, WWII, the Cold War, etc.). I’m particularly interested in the Cold War because I was in high school from 1989-93. The Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet Union fell apart, communism collapsed — all in a matter of just a few short years! The confluence of events were such that I was coming of age at a time when the world was changing so dramatically. Instead of taking French or Spanish or German as my foreign language, I chose Russian. My family hosted two Russian exchange students in our home, and I was an exchange student myself during my junior year (in the spring of 1992, just after the fall of the USSR). This was a time of such great change. I felt a part of that and it all seemed so exciting to me. I think that our current students are also lucky to be witnessing a time of such importance in the world; they may not realize it yet, but there are certainly some dramatic parallels between the sea changes today and those in the late 1980s/early 1990s.