Monthly Archives: June 2022

Kate Benton on Theater, Improv, and Middle School – TSC045

Kate Benton just completed her 27th year at Harvard-Westlake, where she has served as a performing arts faculty member and most recently as Head of the Middle School Deans. In this episode, Kate explains how middle schoolers have adjusted back to “in-person” school academically, mentally, and socially, and how Kate and her colleagues start their advisory work with “listening.” Kate also describes her upbringing in New York City as the child of a theater producer and classically trained violinist, which spurred in her a passion for the arts. This carried through to her schooling at Chapin, Dana Hall, and Northwestern, before Kate ventured west to Los Angeles and joining the famed Groundlings improvisation and sketch comedy group where she later served as President. Following an acting career that included appearing on two episodes of Seinfeld (both are discussed), Kate discovered Harvard-Westlake and in 1995 accepted Tom Hudnut’s invitation to begin her career in education. In conclusion, Kate tells one of the most moving stories of the series, relating to the Broadway musical Mame, a fire, her father, and a time when Kate says, “Harvard-Westlake was listening.” Kate references her parents, Jeanne Armin of Dana Hall School, Nina Burtchaell of Harvard-Westlake, and actor Phil Hartman as profound life influences.

Erik Swoope ’10 on a Very Unexpected NFL Career – TSC044

In the spring of 2014, Erik Swoope ’10 laced up his cleats for the first day of rookie camp with the Indianapolis Colts. While the NFL is a rare destination for any aspiring professional athlete, this was especially unusual for Erik. Erik Swoope never played college football, nor high school football, nor youth football–nor had he watched the Super Bowl in more than a decade. Yet somehow, Erik made the practice squad–and then the real squad, spending the next several years catching touchdown passes from Andrew Luck as an NFL tight end. In this episode, Erik tells his story, from growing up in Lake Elsinore and playing AAU basketball, to finding Harvard-Westlake and University of Miami, to then converting his ACC basketball skills to the route-running and pass-catching of the NFL. Through it all, however, Erik has found success by conveying both the inner confidence to pursue new challenges and the humility to seek wisdom and guidance from others. Among the many figures Erik cites as profound mentors are Jon Wimbish and Greg Hilliard of Harvard-Westlake, Jim Larrañaga of University of Miami, and Rob Chudzinski, Jimmy Graham, Jack Doyle, Reggie Wayne, and Andrew Luck of the National Football League.