Polis 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 Polis 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 leads courses on a variety of ancient Greek texts, the writings of Hannah Arendt, and she designs courses that respond to the interests of Polis members. Mary loves The Smiths and she knows it is no longer 1988.

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.

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