A Teacher Who Counsels — A Counselor Who Teaches

amanda-chapin-MA20141031-0434Amanda Chapin’s role at Milton is unique: a faculty member of the history and social sciences department, and also a member of the health center’s counseling team. Amanda, who started at Milton in the fall of 2012, teaches both Psychology Seminar and Topics in Psychology. She also is collaboratively teaching a popular new course with science faculty member Dr. Sarah Richards—“Neuropsychology: Influences of the Brain on Behavior.”

“We integrate the neuroscience and the psychology through studying cases,” says Amanda. “The course’s summer reading was The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, which is a collection of case studies. We do both experiments and projects, and we began the year by dissecting sheep brains. I’m learning a lot, teaching collaboratively with Dr. Richards. We often disagree, because philosophically, neuroscience and psychology have different approaches. So it’s great to have these collegial conversations in the classroom and see where the students come down on that spectrum. It’s often a nature/nurture conversation in that class.”

Amanda’s career began in a completely different discipline—dance—which she studied as an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. After graduating, she was an artistic director at a dance company before beginning a dance company of her own. She became a visiting professor of dance at Trinity College before taking a dance faculty position at Northfield Mount Hermon, a boarding school in western Massachusetts.

“I lived in a dorm and I loved it,” says Amanda. “I also worked closely with the counseling staff to help support students in the dorm. I was part of a core team, which is the same as Milton’s faculty outreach team, and I really enjoyed that work. I’ve loved psychology ever since I took AP psychology in high school. Working with the counselors at NMH made me realize that I would like to work with students in that way, as well.”

Amanda pursued her master’s in counseling and psychology at Lesley University full-time and continued to dance. After graduate school, she worked as a counselor at McLean Hospital on a unit for adolescent girls. After two years there, she came to Milton. As a counselor she works one-on-one with students in a traditional counseling role and is the counselor for the student peer leader groups.

“I love being able to teach psychology while also practicing as a counselor, and I am so excited to be working at a boarding school again. The students here are so engaged and open to learning. A day doesn’t go by without my being asked a question that surprises me. I’m always challenged, which is a great thing.”