Teaching from Home–Covid-19 Empties Simpkins Hall

English’s home in Simpkins Hall is the envy of faculty and students across the Western campus. A magnificent Works Progress Administration building from the 1938, its beautiful stone facade, high ceilings, oak woodwork, spacious offices, and enormous windows make it a wonderful place to study and teach. Covid-19 has forced faculty and students out of Simpkins this semester. The Mirror & the Lamp asked faculty to share pictures of their improvised shelter-in-place offices and a few words about their experiences moving to all online classes.

Bill Knox writes, “The neighborhood view from my home desk normally includes strolling neighbors, small wild mammals, and the greening of spring. In short, pleasant, but my eyes are increasingly drawn away from my screen as the season warms.”

Dr. Bill Knox’s Desk

English Advisor Ellen Poulter writes, “I wish I could say it’s as neat and tidy as my office on campus, but alas, my dining room is lost to the cause! The best part, though, is my office mate, who I think secretly hopes I never have to leave the house again! I miss you all terribly.  I miss campus.  It’s so stupid the way we take things for granted.  Maybe that lesson will be one of the silver linings when this is over.”

Advisor Ellen Poulter’s New Office


Ellen’s Office Mate

Bill Thompson is not ceding any space to the screen on his codex-only desk.

Dr. Bill Thompson’s Desk

Alisha White writes, “This is our home office on the second floor. I have a nice big desk, and hanging above it is the waterfall painting I did in 8th grade. You can’t see, but behind me are two nice big shelves with our research books: (My) English Ed and qualitative research books on one side, and (Stewart’s) physics and quantum mechanics on the other side. The other picture is of my piles, one for each class I’m teaching. I spread out across the floor as I get into each project.”

Dr. Alisha White’s Home Office


Dr. White’s Books for the Semester

Roberta Di Carmine writes, “glimpses of my past travels (New Zealand, Australia, Costa Rica..) to remind me of future travel . . . .”

Dr. Di Carmine’s Desk

David Banash writes, “I was traveling for spring break when the shelter-in-place orders started, so I have remained in Mississippi with my partner, Andrea Spain, our nine dogs plus three current rescues (looking for forever homes if you need a friend!). The kitchen table is not as comfortable as my office in Simpkins, and I really miss seeing my students everyday, but I’m making it work. You can see that Lucky is happy to have the company all day everyday”

Dr. Banash’s kitchen-table office with office mate Lucky