Instructors

We will be adding more instructors to the Polis community in the months ahead. Click here if you are interested in applying to be a Polis instructor.

Meet our current seminar leaders:

Dr. Anton Krukowsi

Inga David and Anton Krukowski

Anton Krukowski and Inga Davis are both teachers who live in San Francisco with their three children and two cats. Inga is a native Californian who teaches seventh and eighth graders math and language arts at the San Carlos Charter Learning Center, a K-8 Charter school in San Carlos. She has been teaching for 13 years and in education for 19 years. She has a masters in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and earned her Bachelors of Arts from University of California, Berkeley.

Anton is a science teacher at Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco.  He is also currently the co-chair of the Ethics Initiative at Lick-Wilmerding, working on the teaching of ethics at the school.  Before becoming a teacher, Anton was a research neuroscientist.  His PhD is in biophysics from UCSF. He has co-authored articles in a number of journals including Nature Neuroscience, Neuron, Journal of Neuroscience Journal of Vision and most recently Independent School magazine.  Anton also plays piano, and sings both classical music and jazz standards, and is currently a member of the chamber chorus Sacred and Profane.

Dr. Julie Draskoczy

Dr. Julie Draskoczy

Julie Draskoczy has taught Russian history and culture at the University of Pittsburgh, Stanford University, and Patten University in San Quentin prison. Julie received her PhD in Russian literature and culture from the University of Pittsburgh in 2010. She was named an Andrew W. Mellon Scholar of the Humanities at Stanford University and has studied in Russia as a Fulbright-Hays recipient. Her book and film reviews have appeared in The Slavic and East European Journal, The Modern Language Review, and Kinokultura.  She has published articles in The Russian Review and Studies in Slavic Cultures and has edited numerous projects including The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe and Holy Week: A Novel of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Her book, Belomor: Criminality and Creativity in Stalin’s Gulag, is currently under contract with Academic Studies Press. She lives with her fiance, two dogs, and a tortoise in San Francisco, where she teaches Soviet history and English literature at an independent high school. When not in the classroom, she can typically be found on a yoga mat.

Mary Finn, Polis InstructorMary Finn

Mary Finn is Polis’ founding Director. Mary’s own academic background and life experiences have led her to realize that a life filled with learning and community is a life well lived. Mary holds Master’s degrees from St. John’s College in Santa Fe and Brown University. At St. John’s, she studied Western philosophy and the foundational texts of the modern liberal arts and sciences. Mary has twice been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. With the support of the NEH, Mary studied American Fictional Utopias at St. Mary’s College (Moraga, CA) and conducted an in-depth study of the writings of philosopher Hannah Arendt at Bard College (NY). Mary is planning to lead courses on a variety of ancient Greek texts, the writings of Hannah Arendt, and she plans to design courses that are responses to the interests of Polis members. Mary loves The Smiths and she knows it is no longer 1988.

LoriLori Cohen

Lori is in her 15th year teaching. She earned her B.A., Teaching Credential, and M.A. from UC Davis, She first taught at Crocker Middle School from 1999-2000. From 2000 to 2005, Lori taught English at C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento. For the past nine years, Lori has been teaching Humanities, Literature, and Religion/philosophy courses at The Bay School of San Francisco. In addition to teaching, Lori also works with new teachers in helping them develop in their careers as educators; has been a presenter at a range of conferences related to literature and writing instruction; and spends her free time wrangling her rescue dog, Buster, painting/drawing, and running. Lori also enjoys both teaching writing and exploring the intersection between philosophy and literature, particularly how seemingly esoteric ideas in philosophy translate to the daily lives of characters in literature.

Carrie Maslow, Polis Instrutor

Carrie Maslow

Carrie Maslow is one of the Polis’ instructors who will focus on the “science” in liberal arts and sciences for Polis students. Don’t worry if you haven’t studied science topics in years- Carrie is experienced at dealing with science and math anxiety! Carrie has taught Biology, Anatomy and Physiology and Psychology for over a decade. She began her teaching career in an outdoor school and always strives to make learning as experiential and student-focused as possible. Carrie earned her undergraduate degree from Brown University and her MA from UC Berkeley. She has co-directed Aim High, a program to give Bay Area public middle school aged students a step-up in preparation for high school. Carrie’s work with Aim High has helped shape her philosophies on social justice and equity in the classroom. She is originally from Washington DC and spends time outside of work enjoying all of outdoor fun she’s discovered in California- especially kayaking and rock-climbing.

Dr. Daniel Herman, Polis InstructorDr. Daniel Herman

My teaching philosophy is based on literature’s unique ability to encourage students to consider the most fundamental questions in our lives: How do we communicate skillfully with others? How do we deal with people who are different than us: of different races, different faiths, different genders or sexual orientations, different income brackets? What does it mean to be successful, and how does success dovetail with or derogate from happiness? How do we deal with inevitable struggle and loss? 
Thus, I try to outlaw orthodoxy in my classes. Instead, I promote active, innovative, supple, and critical engagement with all texts, at all times. If students are interested in learning more canonical and mainstream interpretations of literature, of course, I am delighted to discuss these things as well. But vastly more important is to have a direct experience with these texts, and respond to them in some meaningful way. This is why great literature deserves a place in everyone’s life, irrespective of age, title, or tax bracket. By looking closely at our responses to a text, we can effect positive change within ourselves and in the world around us.
My intention as a teacher is to offer a holistic, nourishing way to connect with literature—one that engages us not only intellectually, but emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually as well. I come to Polis with a deep commitment to helping people enrich and improve their lives through the study and appreciation of literature.

Robin Workman, Polis InstructorRobin Workman

Robin Workman is one of the founding faculty at the Bay School of San Francisco, which is now celebrating its tenth anniversary. During her tenure at Bay, Robin co-created the sophomore Humanities curriculum, established the Mandarin program, and developed a variety of social science electives, including Global Issues, U.S. Foreign Policy, Comparative Government, Comparative Philosophy and Existentialism. This year Robin is piloting an Ethics elective and collaborating with a biology colleague on the development and implementation of an interdisciplinary elective in Climate Change. Before becoming an educator, Robin lived and worked in the Greater China region for five years. Robin was one of four initial Turner Broadcasting (now part of Time Warner) employees who established Turner’s Asia headquarters in Hong Kong. Robin graduated from Haverford College with a B.A. in History and a concentration in East Asian Studies. Robin also has an advanced degree in East Asian Studies from Princeton University. Robin is deeply passionate about infusing ethics across the curriculum and teaching her students to use philosophy as a tool to help them find meaning and purpose in their lives. Her expectation is that her students will actively apply the ideas in her philosophy classes to their own questions and struggles.