Variety of new faculty talent joins school


Photo credit Ashley Rey

Front Row (L to R): Jordana Sternberg, Scott Stewart, Miranda Wilson, Jackie Slaton. Second Row: Billy Jackson, Neema Salimi, Kasia Kaufman, John Monahan, Michael Dauterman, Julie Elb.Third Row: Sarbeth Fleming, Mark Labouchere. Not Pictured: Steve Fassino.

After the departure of nine faculty members last spring, Westminster welcomed 13 new members to kick off the new school year. These new instructors are extremely excited to teach and have already gotten off to a great start. Though they come from various backgrounds and specialize in many different fields, each one of them is sure to make a lasting impact on the school.

Mark Labouchere

Before earning an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University, Mark Labouchere studied at Clemson University and received a B.A. in History. After teaching at Arizona School for the Arts, where he became an Apple Distinguished Educator, and at KIPP Atlanta Collegiate, he originally elected to work as a technology consultant at Westminster. With expertise in technology integration into a classroom environment, Labouchere helped smooth over the transition to laptops and the merge between the new technology and teaching. Although he joined Westminster as a staff member, he has been officially inducted into the faculty as of this year and teaches an Economics elective. He really loves being able to teach again because it allows him to come full circle from helping the teachers with new technology to actually being able to implement it himself.

“The transition from staff to faculty was a relief because it was nice way to get back into teaching, which is definitely where my passion is,” he said. “The best thing this year is interacting with the students again and being able to apply all the technology integration back into the classroom.” Outside of the classroom, Labouchere also coaches seventh and eighth grade boys lacrosse.

Fun Fact: He was born in Brussels, Belgium!

Scott Stewart 

A dedicated musician himself, Scott Stewart earned both a Bachelor of Music Education and Doctor of Music in Conducting from Indiana University as well as an Master of Music Education from the University of Texas at Austin. After holding a variety of positions in teaching and conducting music, ranging from in his home state of Indiana to all the way in Australia, Stewart most recently was the conductor and director of the Emory Wind Ensemble for 13 years.

“I really loved how positive the teaching environment was and how much it centers around the students,” Stewart said about Westminster. He is now one of the conductors for the Symphonic Band, the Wind Ensemble, the Upper School orchestra, and the pit orchestra for the musicals. Stewart’s love for music and conducting even takes him outside of the school where he is the head conductor of the Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony.

Fun Fact: As the director of the Atlanta Wind Symphony, he once conducted in Carnegie Hall!

Neema Salimi

 After receiving a B.S. in a double major of Chemistry and Molecular Biology from Vanderbilt University, Neema Salimi went on to receive a Ph.D in Biophysics from the University of California, San Francisco. Subsequent to working at Savannah Country Day School for three years, he decided upon Westminster not only because of its students but also because of its athletic programs.

“I wanted to be in a place with all qualities: well-rounded students and well-rounded sports,” Salimi said. On campus, he capitalizes on a cultivated balance between both academic and athletics. While he teaches Pre-calculus/Trigonometry and AP AB Calculus in the classroom, he acts as an assistant coach for ninth grade football and varsity boys basketball on the court.

Fun Fact: His grandmother started the national holiday of Grandparents Day!

Julie Elb

Julie Elb acquired a B.A. in a double major of Theology and Philosophy from Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California. In her lengthy 20-year teaching career, she has taught at a number of schools, most notably the University of Memphis where she also got her Ph.D in History. During her classes here at Westminster, Elb remains deeply impressed by her new students.

“I was pretty blown away by how polite the students were,” she said. “They’re very receptive and always want to be doing things no matter what I’m teaching.” As she settles into her History of the Ancient World and History of the Modern World classes, she hopes to get involved in extracurricular activities on campus as soon as she can.

Fun Fact: Back in college she used to be a synchronized swimmer!

Jackie Slaton 

During her studies, Jackie Slaton earned a B.A. in International Relations/French from Wesleyan University and an M.A. in Public Administration from Georgia State University. With a main focus on French, she taught French for seven years in Atlanta public elementary schools. Once she departed from the public school system, Slaton chose Westminster because of the appeal to transition into an Upper School setting with a smaller class size that develops language in a much deeper manner.

“I loved the opportunity to teach older students because it’s really beneficial in exploring different aspects of foreign language education and it allows me to do much more,” she said. After making the move from middle school to high school, Slaton now teaches French I, II, III, and V. With involvement in both the French club and the Global Initiative Organization, a group that organizes study abroad programs and works with the international community, she maintains a strong connection to the global sphere within the very walls of the school.

Fun Fact: She once interned with the State Department and worked in relation to the agencies in the Intelligence Community, like the CIA.

Miranda Wilson

As evidenced by her B.S. in Aquatic Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Ph.D in biology from Georgia Tech, Miranda Wilson has a prevailing passion for Biology. She channeled this passion through a variety teaching positions, including a teacher at Georgia Tech, a director at the Jacksonville Arboretum, and even a long-term substitute at Lovett. After spending a semester at our rivals, Wilson eventually made the decision to switch over to Westminster.

“The opportunities here for students and faculty are really good in terms of development and the resources are just fantastic,” she said. Although she can most likely be found in the lab teaching Biology or Environmental Science, she can also be spotted on the fields coaching both girls varsity cross country and girls JV soccer.

Fun Fact: When she was little, she spent most of her time sailing around the coast of California and actually lived a whole year on a sailboat!

Jordana Sternberg

A steadfast debater at heart, Jordana Sternberg attended Wake Forest on a debate scholarship and received a B.A. in Politics there. Afterwards, she obtained a J.D. in Law from the University of Texas at Austin and worked as a lawyer for 10 years. Upon shifting her focus back towards debate, she became an assistant debate coach and teacher at Pace before becoming of head debate coach at Westminster. Sternberg was drawn here by the top-class debate program, which she had even debated against when she was in high school. She also bestows all other praise upon the amazing students who are a part of it.

“I think that the best part about the program is that the kids are fabulous,” she said. “They work really hard and always are engaged and motivated.” Although she does not teach any classes this year, running debate is a full time operation. Just last weekend she led a group of 15 debate students on a weekend trip to Georgetown University for a debate tournament. Even after that, her schedule is still tightly packed with three more upcoming tournaments in Dallas, Ann Arbor, and Chicago throughout the next couple of months.

Fun Fact: When she was a lawyer she worked on a case defending the State of Georgia that managed to end up all the way at the U.S. Supreme Court!

Billy Jackson 

With an intent focus on math, Billy Jackson acquired a B.S. from Georgia Southern University, an M.S. from the University of Georgia, and a Ph.D from Baylor University all in Mathematics. Most recently, he taught math at the University of West Georgia before deciding to come here. As a big supporter of math education, he was bereft of the experience of teaching in a high school setting and opted to try it out. After the first couple of weeks, Jackson noticed a real difference between high school and college students.

“My favorite part of the job is definitely the students,” he said. “Their motivation and energy level is always great.” As one of the three new members of the math department, Jackson teaches Geometry, Honors Pre-calculus, and Multivariable Calculus. Even though he has not joined any clubs or sports yet, he plans on getting involved soon.

Fun Fact: He is crazy about poker and hopes to make it all the way to Vegas to play in the World Series of Poker one day!

John Monahan 

From the University of Virginia, John Monahan obtained both a B.A. in Government/Foreign Affairs and a B.A. in History. He later went on to get an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from Teachers College and utilized his learning by teaching U.S. history for eight years in Cleveland, Ohio. After teaching the same curriculum for so long, Monahan craved a new challenge.

“As a very goal driven person, I was hoping to challenge myself and stretch myself outside of my comfort zone,” he said. “I got the impression that Westminster was a place where teachers were encouraged to do so and to pursue their own intellectual growth; and it has absolutely lived up to that reputation.” To strive towards his goals, Monahan now teaches both regular and AP U.S. History. When he is not teaching, he also is an assistant coach for ninth grade football and will be the head coach for boys JV baseball this coming spring.

Fun Fact: His first word besides the obvious “mom” or “dad” was “pizza”! Also, his students affectionately refer to him as “Mona-Strizz”

Michael Dauterman

While attending the University of Cincinnati, Mr. Michael Dauterman received a B.M. in Music Education. He later moved to Boston and received an M.S.M. in Sacred Music from Boston University. Dauterman was really drawn to Westminster by its great community and progressive teaching style.

“I would describe Westminster as a teacher’s dream,” he said. “Westminster gives teachers the opportunity to reach students through ways that are so rare in today’s climate of ‘teaching to the test.’” In the classroom, Dauterman conducts the ninth and tenth grade chorale as well as the eleventh and twelfth grade chorale, along with teaching an AP Music Theory class. With a keen interest in all things singing-related, Dauterman also helps with the Ensemble, is a faculty supervisor for the men’s and women’s a capella groups, and assists the Stage Cats as one of the musical directors for Legally Blonde.

Fun Fact: If you venture far enough into the back of McCain and stumble upon his office, you can find Goliath: a tiny black puppy that he recently rescued from Columbia, South Carolina!

Steve Fassino

With a true passion in math, Steve Fassino obtained a B.S. in Mathematics and an M.S. in Mathematics from the University of Tennessee. He joined Westminster straight out of college and now works as an Algebra II and Calculus Concepts teacher. As far as athletics goes, Fassino hit the ground running as an assistant coach for the boys varsity cross country team this fall and plans on being the head coach for the boys JV soccer team in the spring. Fassino really strove for teaching for Westminster because of the challenge it presents in all areas of campus life.

“I wanted to go to the place where I would be challenged to teach and coach at the highest level,” he said.

Fun Fact: As a runner at UT he ran a 4:20 mile PR, which is an average of 1:05 a lap!

Kasia Kaufman

As an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University, Kasia Kaufman obtained a B.A. in a double major of Molecular and Cellular Biology and German. Pursuing her learning in the sciences, she is working towards a Ph.D in Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis from Emory University, where she also recently taught biology to undergraduate students. After hearing about Westminster from her husband Alex, who graduated from here in 2002, she resolved to teach here because of the potential to truly impact the students.

“I felt that I could make a bigger difference in the students’ lives in high school rather than in college because you get to interact with them much more and you get to see them outside of class, like in sports,” she said. Other than teaching all sections of the Honors Biology classes, Kaufman also will be the head girls varsity crew coach when spring rolls around.

Fun Fact: She was born in Poland and can speak three different languages: Polish, German, and English!

Sarbeth Fleming

With degrees from many different wavelengths on the educational spectrum, Sarbeth Fleming attained a B.A. in Political Science from Winston Salem State University and both an J.D. in Law and a M.A. in African American Studies from Ohio State University. In her previous work experience, Fleming has held many positions mainly in the college admissions field, the most recent of which was the associate dean of admission and financial aid at Davidson College. After spending most of her time assisting college students, Fleming wanted to venture to “the other side of the desk”, the high school aspect of college counseling.

“Coming to the high school side really allows me to work with a wide variety of students from different backgrounds,” she said. “It actually challenges me and allows for a constant self-growth while still helping all kinds of students.” Through her numerous experiences of travelling across the country and visiting different universities, she has gained great insight into the college process and has brought all of that knowledge here to Westminster. Although college counseling is a time-consuming task, Fleming also teaches two history electives, Civil Rights and Politics, and wants to incorporate herself more into campus life through clubs and extracurricular activities.

Fun Fact: She often challenges her six-year-old daughter to dance-offs at random locations, like in the middle of grocery stores!