by Lynn Riechmann
Susanna Payne-Passmore, a May 2012 graduate of New College of Florida, has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship to teach English in the country of Georgia in eastern Europe, formerly a part of the Soviet Union. (Ed. Note: Its most dubious claim to fame — or infamy — is that it’s where Joseph Stalin was born.)
Payne-Passmore, a Chestnut Hill resident, attended Springside School. She is one of New College’s four Fulbright winners for 2012-13. With a bachelor’s degree from New College in music composition, Payne-Passmore plans to introduce American culture to her students through music, skits, one-act plays, the American presidential campaign and even a few comics to help contextualize the words.
“I have loved teaching from a very young age, when I would come home from school and try to teach my little sister what I had learned that day,” Payne-Passmore said last week. “For developing vocabulary, I can write songs on any given topic and ask the students to listen and figure out what they mean or help students write a song of their own.”
Payne-Passmore first became aware of the country of Georgia during a concert in Philadelphia of the Anchiskhati Ensemble, a polyphonic choral group from the capital city of Tbilisi. A former member of the Pennsylvania Girlchoir, she said she hopes to delve deeper into Georgian traditional vocal music and study part-time at the V. Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire.
At New College, Payne-Passmore collaborated with the Sarasota Orchestra’s String Quartet for rehearsals and performances of her original composition during the annual New College Composers Concert. She also created the NEW Ensemble, a chamber group dedicated to performing student works as well as contemporary classical work, and was a teaching assistant in several music courses.
“It was at New College that I fully realized my interest in contemporary classical music, as a composer and as a listener,” she said.
Payne-Passmore is the daughter of Martha Payne and Lawrence Passmore. After her Fulbright year, she plans to attend graduate school in music composition.
New College of Florida in Sarasota is the state’s official honors college. As one of the nation’s higher education leaders in per capita production of Fulbright scholars, New College has produced 69 Fulbright winners since its founding in 1960, with more than 30 Fulbright scholars in the last five years. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government.