Lynette Tompkins Engel ’80

January 2018
The path that one chooses in life depends on many things: early experiences, seemingly insignificant experiences, and clearly important ones.  As I reflect on my years at Brearley, a few moments stand out to me that I can categorize as turning points.  In seventh grade, we read 
Great Expectations.  I had always been a reader, but exploring this book opened my eyes to a new way of reading.  I remember thinking this was different: a text that was “grown up” but that also appealed to my page-turning desire; a text where I wanted to talk about the plot as well as the themes—and I felt a profound shift in how and why I read.  I am currently a seventh grade English teacher, and I strive to replicate this particular experience for my students.  Later in Upper School, I took an interschool course entitled “Looking at the Dance,” taught by our beloved librarian, Kitty Cunningham.  I had always been a lover of dance, but for me, dance meant ballet and nothing else. Mrs. Cunningham opened my eyes to all kinds dance, and I saw movement in a different way.  I was a professional dancer for 15 years. 
It is difficult to know why we end up where we do, but I do like to think that I circled the world (dancing both in the United States and overseas) and ended up across the street teaching English at the Chapin School.