It was with great pleasure that Assistant Head of School John Ball named Sabra Sanwal and Debra Spiro-Allen, Ph.D. the newest endowed instructors at Emma Willard on August 31 at Opening Convocation. Among the highest honors a faculty member can receive, endowed instructorships embody the highest ideals of teaching, mentorship, and commitment to the school. Sanwal and Spiro-Allen join colleagues Judy Bridges, Françoise Chadabe, Linda Maier, Meg McClellan, Robert Naeher, Maureen Harrison, Sue Lauther, and Meredith Legg in this distinction.
Sabra Sanwal, instructor in language, was named the Nettie Sweeney and Hugh Thomas Miller Instructor in Language. Ball remarked on Sanwal’s ability to inspire and be inspired by her students. “Language is how we connect,” he said. “Those who teach it well–as this fine teacher does–bring all of us all a little closer to each other and to our own hearts.”
Sanwal joined Emma in 1993. In addition to her teaching she has coached forensics, advised The Clock, coordinated trips to the Metropolitan Opera, organized and led trips to France, served as a class advisor, an advisor to the Empower group focused on women’s rights in the U.S. and around the world and the student book club, and served as a Hindi tutor at Emma and Skidmore College. She is on the board of the YWCA of the Greater Capital Region in Troy and is an instructor at the Beginning Teacher Institute of the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) for the third time this year. She earned a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of education from the University of Western Ontario and a master of arts in French language and literature from the University of Toronto. Prior to joining Emma she taught at both Havergal College, a university-prep boarding and day school in Toronto, and Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Debra Spiro-Allen, director of vocal music and chair of the Arts Department, was named the Julia Howard Bush Instructor in the Arts. At convocation, Ball called Spiro-Allen “Emma’s master chef of music” and noted her ability to help everyone in the Emma community share and connect to the arts.
Spiro-Allen presides over the choir, inner choir, and semiquavers and engages students in the study and appreciation of opera. Currently, she is a member of the first cohort of the NYSAIS Emerging Leaders Institute, and serves as faculty-staff trustee on Emma’s board of trustees. Prior to joining the Emma Willard faculty in 2002, she taught madrigal singers, women’s choir, university music theory, voice seminar and concert choir at the Sayles School for the Arts in Schenectady, N.Y. Debra has also been an adjunct instructor in music education at Boston Conservatory of Music and the University of South Florida. Additionally, she was on the music faculty at The Winsor School, an independent day school for girls in Boston, Mass., and Walnut Hill School for the Arts, a boarding/day school specializing in the arts in Natick, Mass. Spiro-Allen received her undergraduate degree from Boston University and a master’s from the New England Conservatory of Music, both in piano performance, and her doctor of musical arts degree from Boston University.