University of California, Berkeley, PhD University of California, Berkeley, MA Stanford University, BA email: brandon.spars [at] sonomaacademy.org phone: (707) 545-1770 x3403
Brandon is our resident storyteller, and many of his stories first took shape in our classrooms as he taught about the places where he has lived and loved, especially his family’s home state of Missouri and his wife Irma’s country of origin, Indonesia. His deep love for sharing stories has informed our Humanities curriculum since he joined Sonoma Academy in 2002.
Bridging a great California academic rivalry, Brandon attended Stanford for his undergrad education and UC Berkeley for his MA in South & Southeast Asian Studies, as well as his PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies. He spent seven years teaching at UC Berkeley and a handful of international universities before joining our staffulty in the early years of the school.
While he is beloved on campus for his dynamic presence in the classroom and his singular sense of humor, Brandon is best known as the teller of tales. He has contributed to countless workshops and conferences on the intersection between storytelling, ancient history, and pedagogy. Brandon is regular Bay Area storyteller as well as a TEDx speaker and five-time champion of the Moth StorySLAM (including two Moth GrandSLAMS at Castro Theatre) and two GrandSlam titles at the West Side Stories (Mystic Theatre) in Petaluma. He hosts many local storytelling events, including Coyote Tales, an annual fundraiser for our school. Brandon has published four books: Live to Tell: Six Award Winning Tales (2017) and Live to Tell Again: Tales of Self-Discovery and Healing (2019), Setting a Plot: The Impact of Geography on Culture, Myth, and Storytelling (2019), as well as Rangda: The Legendary Goddess of Bali (2020). His most recent book is illustrated by his daughter, Clara Spars.
Although he characterizes his teaching style as "loud," Brandon’s other passion is a rather silent one: he loves to fly fish, and he has helped students raise and release steelhead into local rivers. He has two children, both Sonoma Academy graduates, and his wife, Irma, works on campus as well, so Sonoma Academy is a family affair for the Spars clan. As both a parent and a teacher, he has been impressed by the bonds formed between staffulty and students at SA. “The closeness that students and teachers share here is what really sets us apart,” he says.
The closeness that students and teachers share here is what really sets us apart.
...the only private, independent, college preparatory high school in Sonoma County. On our beautiful campus nestled at the base of Taylor Mountain in Southeastern Santa Rosa, our students are able to explore their interests and passions in a rigorous and inspiring environment that develops a lifelong love of learning and prepares them for college and beyond.
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