The Wilcox Fellows program is an important part of Concord Academy and has become an impactful faculty initiative. The program allows CA to work with “promising young people from populations underrepresented in independent schools.” This year we are fortunate to have Zora Vermilya in our English department as a Wilcox Fellow. Born in Louisiana and raised in Plainfield, Vermont, Vermilya spent a lot of time on Cape Cod growing up. A self-proclaimed “New England girl,” she loves the fall and is used to the cold, although her most recent job was at a private school in California. In her free time, Vermilya loves to sing, draw, and watch TV as well as spending time with friends and family. So far, she has found reading on the chapel lawn one of her favorite past times here on campus.
Vermilya is a house parent in Hobson this year. Virtual life as a house parent, to her, feels weird, especially as she worked in residential life at her previous job. “I think it’s odd because I feel like the very nature of being a dorm parent is the one-on-one experience you have with the students and persons. In California, I was essentially their parent; I took them to school, I took them to the doctor’s, took them to the movies… I think it’s hard for both the kids and the dorm parents because they should be here but they can’t so we can’t really replicate our job virtually, it’s very difficult.”
Vermilya is also a passionate writer; her work mostly goes into fantasy and Afrofuturism, a movement in literature, art, music, films, etc, that integrates black history and culture into fantasy and science fiction themes. “Oppression is the main form that people of color are brought into stories and I want to flip the narrative,” Vermilya shres. “Why can’t there be black fairies, black elves, and black astronauts battling monsters? Why does it have to be about separating? Let’s have more people of color doing fantastical things.”
Vermilya has always been interested in teaching English and loves working with teens. “English is my bread and butter, it’s my favorite subject when I was in school, it’s what I majored in in college, I’m a writer it’s all I want to do. I was wondering, ‘how do I combine working with teenage kids and talking about English all the time?’ Teaching just seemed natural.”
Vermilya has enjoyed her experience at CA so far, although the majority has been virtual. “I’m grateful because CA is just such a welcoming community and people are very, very patient. The English department is so incredible so I feel like people are patient with each other and running new technology and being so welcoming.” Vermilya is looking forward to teaching and finding out more about who she is as a teacher, especially if we have the opportunity to go back to campus later this year.
She is excited about her upcoming time at CA. “I just feel so ready, I keep using the word hungry, I’m just so ready to be a teacher and just learn everything that I can learn, and my mentors always saying ‘you can take a break, you don’t have to come to class today’ but I’m like, ‘no because there are so many things that I like to see. I’m just really happy to be here. I’m having a lot of fun.’”