English Teacher Spends Free Time in the Spotlight

by Emma Shuster ’18

Through her passions for both teaching and music, Elizabeth Kominski truly lives the best of both worlds. This is Kominski’s first year at Sherwood and she teaches English 9 and 11. Prior to coming to the Sherwood, Kominski taught at Northwest for 10 years as an English, theatre, and public speaking teacher and debate coach.

Music plays a prominent role in the Kominski’s life, who grew up listening to her brother’s Led Zeppelin CDs. She taught herself to play guitar when she was a senior at Magruder, and took part in Michael D’Anna’s renowned theatre program. D’Anna is now a part of the signature arts and humanities program at Blake and a mentor to Kominski. Her profound love for music led her to play at coffee shops during college.

While studying at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, she crossed paths with the members of the band, Lloyd Dobler Effect (LDE), who stayed with Kominski and her roommates. The LDE members assisted Kominski in producing a demo, and she soon began singing with LDE in 2001. Through her work with LDE, Kominski fell in love with her husband Phil, the lead singer of the band. Phil now is a full-time musician as well as music agent.

“You have to find a way to make having a career in the arts work. For us, that was having a bunch of different groups and different genres of music. You definitely can make it work but it usually does not look like how you envisioned it. Find ways to make it work and be flexible,” said Kominski.

In 2005, Kominski, her husband, and her friend Chris, formed Elizabeth, Phil, and Chris, which performs acoustic shows. After several side gigs here and there, the three did a performance in Vienna, Virginia. The show grew and eventually became an annual Christmas event. The trio eventually began selling out the Black Rock Theatre in Germantown in addition to another theatre in Rockville.

Now, Kominski and her husband play with more professional musicians in the Washington DC area, forming the Guys and Doll last year, which performs at fancy corporate events and private parties. Kominski is part of another band, The Bubbas, consisting of her and her husband, playing acoustic music as well as children’s tunes.

Frequently compared by listeners to American singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant, Kominski still performs during the school year, and a few weeks ago, Kominski and her husband performed at DAR Constitution Hall. Aside from performing with her bands, Kominski is also is involved in storytelling on a regular basis. She is part of a group called Story District, in which participants have ten minutes to tell their personal story through the theme of the show.

“Theatre is my first love. I decided I didn’t want to pursue being an actress. It was my original plan, but it really is a difficult life. It can often feel kind of hollow. My ultimate goal was most definitely not recognition or fame. What’s the point of that? I felt like when I found teaching and hoping to inspire other people, all of a sudden I was using performance and it had a greater meaning beyond my own career, which is really important to me,” said Kominski.