Annmarie Granstrand ‘09, Instructional Coach

Working at the PEN American Center in New York, surrounded by authors and political activists, I loved witnessing history and the perspectives of those who wrote it all down. During my time at PEN, the nonprofit’s president, Kwame Anthony Appiah, nominated Liu Xiaobo for the Nobel Peace Prize. Xiaobo would win the prize in 2010. I had read about government attempts to suppress free speech in the Phillips Memorial Library, but here I was listening to a Nobel Prize-winning Chinese author’s wife remark on his prison sentence. This was living history.
As a student who was pushed to examine a historian’s interpretation of events, I read the newspaper carefully. I question memoirs. I consider how cultural norms impact people’s opinions and contributions to a national conversation. This balance between acceptance of people’s varied backgrounds and critical thinking about their motivations all started in the lower Feinstein classroom, where Dr. Breen had us read diaries of Civil War soldiers. Were these really gentlemen of the South? Did they mean for this letter to be seen? History is far from decided.
As a freelance writer in New York, an elementary teacher in Chicago, and now an instructional coach in Boston, I know my history degree has inspired me to continue asking careful, well-constructed questions. Whether I am helping a teacher reach a connection between his instructional methods and the class’ assessment data or asking students why we should take a day off for Christopher Columbus, I try to posit questions that promote productive discussion and hone transferable skills the way my Providence professors did. My favorite answer has always been: “actually, I majored in history.”