by Kelsey Rowlson
“When I was 5 years old I decided I wanted to become a teacher,” says Lori Martindale, English teacher at Whatcom Community College.
Growing up partially in the San Juan Islands and partially in Bellingham, Martindale says she started reading poetry at a young age because she was inspired by her grandfather who recited poetry to her through memory.
Martindale decided at age 14 that she wanted to become an English major. And that’s exactly what she did. “I took every English class I had an opportunity to take while I was a student,” she said. Her high school English teacher was also an inspiration to her because, as Martindale explained in an e-mail, he would, “jump onto our desks during Shakespearean soliloquies.”
Now a teacher at Whatcom for eight years, Martindale, who stands out with her fiery red hair and dark outfits, is up to some amazing things. Besides teaching British Literature, Honors English, and other various writing classes, Martindale designed a new, English 161 online class for Whatcom called Introduction to American Literature Online. The class began running this fall.
Martindale is also working on her next project, “designing a new, incredible World Lit class,” she said by e-mail. Martindale also has a new English 180, World Literature online class in the works that will talk about everything written in English, from ancient times, to contemporary, and from all over the world, she said.
The students in the class will “read everything from ancient stories, to Dante’s 14th century epic Divine Comedy, to works of magical realism, to the postcolonial novel.”
This past summer Martindale was accepted to a small school in the Alps to “live and study with some astounding thinkers and artists.” She studied with people from all over the world including Germany, Greece, Italy, England, Ireland, Australia, Iran, Egypt, Israel, and Colombia.
“It was an incredible learning opportunity,” Martindale said in an e-mail, “I studied with philosophers, artists, filmmakers, writers, students and teachers. All of these students and teachers bring global perspectives to the table, in discussions of world issues, philosophy, and works of art.”
Martindale enjoys serious topics as well as humor. During class one day when they were discussing Frankenstein and the power of nature and the “sublime mountains,” she said, there was a thunderstorm outside. And right when we paused talking about the power of nature, the electricity went out,” she said. “That was neat. Everyone just screamed.”
And what do students in her British Literature class think of Martindale?
“She is a very intriguing teacher,” said Tyler Reedus, 22, “she has a very colorful method of teaching…the content is boring, but she livens it up.”
On the same note, Paul Moore, 20, said Martindale “does a good job with keeping the course work interesting,” including showing video clips to mix things up in class.
Martindale continues to learn, teach, and live based on her two favorite quotes:
“Each person must live their life as a model for others.”—Rosa Parks
“Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.”—Salvador Dali