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Emily Kopley: Accomplished Author, Educator and ScholarWhen Emily Kopley enrolled in SCASD, her education was critical in developing her passion for literature, art and music. Now, an author, educator and scholar, Emily reflects on how SCASD influenced her journey. “I loved English class, especially taught by Kaylene Brummett Swenson. I also enjoyed History with Jennifer Cornwell and Dr. Michael Lechner,” she recalls. “In French class, there was a mild embarrassment in speaking another language that fostered camaraderie,” Emily laughs. “Living in France, and now Montreal, I am grateful for the language preparation I got from State High, especially Mme Martha (Zauzig) Young.”

Outside the classroom, Emily also sought opportunities to connect with her fellow students. “I played viola in the State High orchestra. There was an atmosphere of wide curiosity and acceptance. There was so much talent and energy - everyone really prized this range of interests,” she says.

“SCASD gave me a solid education in every subject. Certain assignments and practices were especially useful for college prep,” Emily states. Taking those skills to the next level, Emily enrolled in Yale University, majoring in English. “I had always wanted to write and make literary discoveries, encouraged by the book The Scholar Adventures and by the example of my dad, Richard Kopley, who is a scholar of nineteenth-century American literature.”

After Yale, Emily spent a year teaching English in rural France before receiving her PhD in English from Stanford University. “When I became a teacher, I would draw encouragement from phrases or mannerisms of my SCASD teachers. Ms. Brummett would often tell us ‘say more,’ and now I tell my students that all the time. Or Ms. Cornwell’s large laugh – she seemed so at ease, and that put us at ease too.”

Since moving to Montreal with her husband, Emily was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the English department at McGill. She is now Researcher-in-Residence at the Concordia University Library and is working on her first book, Virginal Woolf and Poetry. “At McGill, I published academic articles related to my dissertation, and I taught classes on Woolf, Romantic Poetry, and twentieth-century Jewish literature. Now, I’m beginning my second book, Anon is Not Dead, on anonymous literature in the twentieth-century.”

Since graduating from SCASD, Emily has certainly seen success in the literary world. “I’m proud of my publications, especially my articles on Woolf and poetry, and my article on anonymous authorship,” states Emily. “I’m also proud of my teaching. In a single term, my students became distinctly better writers, which was something I should have known from my own experience at State High: writing can be taught, it’s not just a ‘gift’.”

Emily is now focused on becoming an English professor while continuing to write. Her current project as Researcher-In-Residence is expected to take five years, and by then, Emily hopes to have ideas for her third book. “I tend to be interested in individual authors, the idea of authorship, poetry, biography, and humility. I’d also love to write more about the contemporary art world, and about my late maternal grandmother, an artist, Berta Golahny.”

As Emily continues to grow and thrive, she often remembers her days back in State College with fondness and gratitude. “SCASD gave me a general feeling of comfort with a variety of people, which has been a big help wherever I’ve been.”