Fenwick Welcomes New English Teacher, Dr. Gau

Former college professor shares passion for British literature with senior class


Tate Daniels

Photo by Tate Daniels

The Fenwick community has recently welcomed Dr. Tracey Gau as a new English teacher, who took over Mr. O’Rourke’s senior English classes after Mr. O’Rourke became the new director of Student Services. Before teaching at Fenwick, Dr. Gau earned her PhD from Texas Christian University (TCU) and taught at the University of North Texas for more than twelve years. She taught composition, British literature, Shakespeare and large-enrollment lecture courses in world literature. Using her knowledge from these experiences, she helped redesign the curriculum on large-enrollment lecture courses to make them partially online and partially face to face. 

Dr. Gau’s experiences teaching undergraduates will help Fenwick’s senior English students prepare to transition into their new college-level courses next year. To help prepare Fenwick seniors for these courses, Dr. Gau’s approach as a teacher has been to treat her classes like college courses. Her expectations for daily in-class work and participation are very high, and she wants her students to be productive in class. Dr. Gau uses technology to foster a higher level of preparedness in students (such as online quizzes), to facilitate more active and consistent student participation in discussion and problem-solving, and to promote independent thinking by making students accountable for important aspects of their learning. Dr. Gau’s philosophy comes from her experience in curriculum redesign at the University of Northern Texas, where the objective was to achieve higher-level learning during class. Her senior students will definitely be prepared and exposed to what a college-level course looks like and what is expected.

Students in Dr. Gau’s classes can look forward to studying 17th- and 18th-century poetry, Paradise Lost, which is one of her favorites, a short novel entitled Oroonoko, written by a black female author in the eighteenth century, Wuthering Heights and Hamlet to conclude the year. Senior Sebastian Torres, a student in Dr. Gau’s second period class, said that he most looks forward to studying Wuthering Heights with Dr. Gau. While working through these pieces of literature with her students, Dr. Gau’s mission is to give the seniors confidence going into college with some experience of the expectations. She also hopes to build on what the students have learned and know so that they can connect what they learn to everyday life, see connections and draw conclusions. Dr. Gau’s ultimate goal is to have her students integrate their learning experiences by recognizing connections among new topics, ideas and concepts.

There is more to Dr. Gau than just her expertise in teaching and literature. Dr. Gau loves to play tennis and travel. She admits that she hasn’t taught in a while because of how much she loves to travel. Dr. Gau does love reading literature too, of course, and her favorite author is William Shakespeare. She would say her favorite tragedy is Othello, and her favorite novel is Jane Eyre, which she thinks every girl should read. 

Dr. Gau loves her new position at Fenwick because of how much she loves the Fenwick community and its students. After all, her youngest daughter just graduated from Fenwick in 2018! Dr. Gau also appreciates how Fenwick gives its students the tools to tackle academic, social, relationship and spiritual challenges they face in their everyday lives. She is consistently impressed by the well-roundedness and diversity of Fenwick students. 

Senior Sebastian Torres also commented, “I really like that she respects us as second semester seniors and doesn’t overload us with busy work. Also, her emphasis on collaboration with other students in group work is fun.” It looks like her students enjoy Dr. Gau just as much as she enjoys them!

Before her students leave for college, Dr. Gau hopes to leave her students with a few tips for college: don’t focus too narrowly too soon, allow yourself time to explore disciplines that you might not otherwise, don’t be afraid to talk to your professors, enjoy the college experience, and keep yourself well-rounded and well-grounded. Dr. Gau has been such a marvelous addition to the Fenwick community, and it is clear that she will change the lives of all of her students for the better.