Alumni Notes Adam and mom

When Grazyna Jasienska saw her son Adam presented with a Certificate of Distinction in Teaching from the Derek Bok Center in April, she could have been forgiven for being slightly less impressed than the average mother. After all, she earned the very same award when she was a PhD student at Harvard — and so did her husband, Adam’s father Michal Jasienski.

So when Adam, a third-year PhD student in the history of art and architecture, began teaching sections of HAA 10: The Western Tradition this fall, he carried on the legacy of a Harvard teaching dynasty. “If I got nervous before class, I’d just Skype my parents,” Adam says. “They taught me a lot about maintaining a good, friendly, yet professional environment in the classroom. They also taught me to ask a lot of questions, and not to be afraid of silence — you have to let the students do most of the talking.”

Adam, a 2008 graduate of the College, was raised in Winthrop House, where his parents served as resident tutors while working toward degrees in biological anthropology. (Michal earned his PhD in 1992, Grazyna in 1996.) The elder Jasienskis have since returned to their native Poland, but Grazyna was able to attend the ceremony because she was in Cambridge to finalize details of her forthcoming book, The Fragile Genius, which will be published in January by Harvard University Press.

Story Credit: Nicholas Nardini

A Family Teaching Dynasty