Nicole Sallak Anderson by Tara Walker, Development/Alumni Coordinator
People ages 14 through 21 are Nicole’s “favorite age group of humans,” so being a dance teacher at PCS is a perfect fit. She teaches the Dance Studies survey course, an art elective open to 8th-12th graders, where her students learn about many kinds of dance—including ballroom, modern, jazz and hip hop plus genres from across the world. There are rarely any lectures; it’s all about movement.
Nicole is happiest when she is moving, and likes teaching dance for that reason. Dancing balances the rest of her life, and she likes sharing that with the kids, so that they will hopefully continue movement throughout their lives—and that they will remember if they’re ever feeling stressed, or depressed, they should “move in their favorite way.”
Nicole has three main loves: dancing, computers and storytelling. She was a computer science major at Purdue University after growing up in Chicago. She first worked as a software engineer, but left the tech industry to focus more on family. She taught PE and dance to grades 1-8 at Waldorf School from 2005-2011.
She gets to play storyteller through two roles in her life, both quite successfully: as a novelist, and as a blogger and public speaker. A publisher has optioned her novel, a historical fiction trilogy about Ancient Egypt. The first book should be released in 2019. Nicole’s blog (find her on Medium @nsallakanderson) and her public speaking both include topics under the umbrella of “the social implications of technology,” such as technology and parenting. One Fall 2018 speaking engagement in England covered “the modern family and technology” including how technology has made parenting harder, and what policies might be created to help promote the wellbeing of the extended family and community. Nicole also regularly speaks at Bay Area transhumanist conferences.
Although Nicole didn’t become a PCS faculty member until 2017, she joined our community many years earlier due to her sons, who both started at PCS as 7th graders. As of the 2018-19 school year, her oldest son is a sophomore at Reed College and his younger brother is a PCS senior. “I’ve always been a dancer, so when my first son entered PCS, I started volunteering with the dance club Fusion.” Now, she has the official role of both Dance Studies teacher and Fusion faculty advisor. Although Fusion is student-led (including the choreography and rehearsals, with over 100 students participating annually), Nicole serves as artistic director and advisor. Performances are always the first weekend in February.
She and her family enjoy backpacking and exploring many different wilderness areas, especially in the Western US (such as Utah) and in California. They are excited to continue discovering new parts of our beautiful state.