Born to Teach

Tufts experience showed Graeme Calloway, PhD in English '21, that his 'real passion is being in the classroom'
Graeme Calloway

In the summer before his senior year at Dartmouth College, Graeme Calloway (PhD in English '21) shadowed and worked with two English teachers at a private secondary school. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in English, he moved on to his first full-time job: English instructor at another private secondary school. So it comes as no surprise that he's now an English teacher at Belmont Hill School, a private school in Massachusetts for boys in grades 7­–12.

Back in 2014, Calloway was hoping to attend graduate school in or near Boston, where he could continue to pursue his love of rowing. While several prestigious English programs both in and outside the area were in the running, Tufts made his decision an easy one.

"Tufts offered incredible support, financially and otherwise, that the other schools couldn't match," he says. "It's a rare thing in the humanities to go somewhere in which you are supported to read books and do your research. Tufts outshone the other programs I was looking at, and it was an incredible opportunity."

Teaching was a critical part of Calloway's education at Tufts. As a teaching assistant in "American Literature to 1855," he worked with Prof. Nathan Wolff in developing the curriculum and assignments and even led two class lectures. From 2017 to 2020, he taught English 1 and English 2, designing the curricula in collaboration with Tufts' First-Year Writing Program.

Calloway calls teaching one of the most rewarding aspects of Tufts' PhD program. English 2, a required seminar for first-year students, made a particularly strong impression.

"We had such rich, interesting conversations," he says. "I really enjoyed learning about what kind of students Tufts had and getting to know them. And it helped me realize that my real passion is being in the classroom."

Calloway's dissertation, "Invading Modernism: The Destructive Plasticity of Invasion Novels," focused on early 20th century speculative and science fiction and invasion novels along with their role in the British Empire. He credits Prof. John Lurz with advising him throughout development of the dissertation, which he successfully defended in May 2021.

As he neared completion of his dissertation, Calloway entertained the possibility of going into academia. However, such opportunities are few and far between—and tend to be research-rather than teaching-intensive. Recognizing the classroom was where he belonged, he was thrilled when Belmont Hill expressed interest and eventually offered him a position.

At Belmont Hill, Calloway teaches standard-curriculum high school classes as well as special-topic courses like Advanced Medieval English Literature, which he proposed and developed at the request of the English department. He also serves as an advisor to six students each year and coaches cross-country skiing and rowing. 

"Belmont Hill felt like the right choice for me, and it absolutely has been. They've been nothing but supportive and really valuing of their faculty," Calloway said. "It all goes back to my experience teaching at Tufts. I had a blast, and it's one of the things that led me to take the job I did."