Editor Holly Holbert, frustrated with negative headlines about the American school system, compiled this inspirational book titled, Signed, Your Student: “Celebrities Praise the Teachers Who Made Them Who They Are Today,” dedicated to teachers who inspired their students. The book presents a range of true stories from celebrities and artists who inspired her, opening up about the positive educational experiences that shaped their lives. People interviewed for the book include Hellen Gurley Brown, Diane Warwick, Bill Moyers,  John Glenn and Indira Cesarine.


“Education is something that in retrospect you realize shapes your life in ways unforeseen.  As a student, one rarely is aware of the influence certain teachers may have upon you, or how later in life you are shaped by the support of certain teachers you may have had.

I consider myself to be rather fortunate in my educational choices. At the age of 13, I made a rather unusual decision for a girl who grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. It was the 80’s, and with the influence of popular books like “The Preppy Handbook”  raging throughout America, I decided that I wanted to go to an East Coast Boarding school.  In Des Moines the only students “sent away” to boarding school were being punished for bad behavior, rather than being awarded for academic excellence. I saw the opportunity as a way to find my own personal expression and explore my own identity in an environment that would nurture my individuality rather than suppress it. With top PSAT scores in hand, and straight A’s throughout my classes, I applied to several boarding schools. My older sister accompanied me to my interviews, and the school that stood out the most was Choate Rosemary Hall.  The impressive school campus, strong support of the arts and ethnic diversity of students inspired me.

Choate Rosemary Hall is a school famous for it’s legendary alumni, including John F. Kennedy, Paul Mellon, Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, more recently well known alumnus such as Ivanka Trump, as well as the sons and daughters of some of the world’s top international leaders.  I expected to be intimidated by the school and students, but actually found the experience to be extremely rewarding.  Going to class everyday in buildings built by architects such as the celebrated I.M. Pei (renowned for the Pyramids at the Louvre) further inspired creative thought and made going to classes something to look forward to.

During the summer of my sophomore year I attended Parson’s School of Design “Summer Program for High School Students” in Manhattan for photography and discovered what would become for me a life long passion. I was immediately absorbed by the magic of photography.  I found the process of developing film and printing photos allowed me to express myself in a way that I never could before.  The spontaneous moments captured by still photography opened up a whole new world of expression.

To this day I can remember one teacher that I will always recognize as being truly supportive of my creativity, and that was John Faulkner, the head of the photography department at Choate Rosemary Hall. After seeing the work I created at Parson’s as well as in one of his classes, he created an independent study program for me, with access to a private darkroom on campus as well as a photographic studio space at the Paul Mellon Art Center. John Faulkner encouraged my independence, recognizing that I worked better on my own than rather than in a class environment as I was so passionate about my work.  In the program he created for me I worked in my own time and reported to him once a week to show him my photos. He encouraged advance darkroom and lighting techniques as well as medium format work.  Each term I presented an exhibit of my work with the subjects varying from portraiture and nudes to documentary style images of New York nightlife.

By the time I graduated Choate, age 18, I had exhibited 4 one-woman shows at Choate’s esteemed Paul Mellon Art Center of my photography as well as mixed media of photography and painting. I graduated Cum Laude and was awarded the Choate Rosemary Hall award in Excellence in Photographic Art.

The summer after graduation, I presented my work to Elite Model Management in New York, and started my career as a professional photographer.  While completing a BA with a triple concentration in Art History, French and Women’s Studies at Columbia College, Columbia University, I worked with many of the top NY and French modeling agencies.  The same year I graduated, I had my first major published series, 10 pages in the London based magazine “Don’t Tell It”, as well as an exhibit of the work at the ultra trendy New York  “Casa La Femme” restaurant.  The past 16 years have flown by marked by one assignment to the other while working internationally between New York, Paris, London, Australia, Italy and many exotic locations for some of the world’s most prestigious magazines and advertising clients. Upcoming work includes “The Goddess Manifesto” an international photographic installation and documentary focusing on my early work, as well as the launch of my own magazine, XXXX Magazine, supporting multimedia art and collaborations between artists. Also as of 2009, I have launched the Non-Profit , “Inspiration Organization” promoting affordable education through the sales and syndication of photographic images of Inspirational Individuals

Looking back at my experience working with John Faulkner made me appreciate the independence he afforded me by encouraging my independent study, and allowing my access to facilities to hone my craft.  I was lucky enough to be a student at Choate Rosemary Hall, and even more fortunate to have the encouragement of a teacher that recognized my need for expression and independence.”

Signed, Your Student  was released on May 4th, and is now available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.