Inda Schaenen ’83 P’15, MEd, MFA, PhD, is a writer, journalist, professor, and certified English language arts teacher in St. Louis, Missouri. She’s the author of Speaking of Fourth Grade: What Listening to Kids Tells Us About School in America, four young adult novels, and The 7 O’Clock Bedtime, a parenting guide.
Raised in New York City and a St. Louis resident since 1991, Inda has taught in public, private, urban, and suburban schools, from second grade to graduate school. In 2013, Inda began serving in Normandy, the unaccredited school district that graduated Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer on August 9, 2014. In response to the educational chaos and incoherence that preceded and followed that moment, Inda founded Project Lab St. Louis, an education nonprofit based in her middle school classroom in Normandy.
Over the last five years, Project Lab St. Louis has engaged hundreds of students from different St. Louis communities in projects in the humanities, including Normandy Crosscurrents, a program of cross-community dialogue, Living Questions, a year-long curriculum of philosophical inquiry, and From Deer to Venison, an exploration of meat-eating and culinary arts. Project Lab St. Louis was recently recognized for inclusion and equity by FOCUS St. Louis in their 2019 “What’s Right with the Region” awards, and that same year, Inda received the Courageous Educator Award from St. Louis’ Educators for Social Justice.
An avid swimmer and pickleball player, Inda is married to Michael Dee (Amherst ’80), a classroom teacher since 1981. They have three children and recently welcomed their first grandchild.
Inda Schaenen ’83 P’15
Q. How do you use your liberal arts education in the work you do today?
A. Caring, wondering, questioning, imagining, and drawing connections is what writing is all about. Teaching, too. I bring my whole self to the work that I do, and my whole self was (and continues to be) shaped by the liberal arts experience.