Spotlight on New Upper School Faculty

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Spotlight on New Upper School Faculty

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         This year, Westminster welcomed 22 new faculty members to the upper school community. Coming from all across the country and from diverse backgrounds, they are all excited to find themselves in Atlanta, taking on a new challenge: teaching at Westminster.

          After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, Barrington Edwards earned a master’s degree in African American studies from Cornell as well as a master’s and a PhD in history of science from Harvard. This education inspired Edwards to teach history.

         “My background is in history of science, which looks at the intellectual foundation of society,” said Edwards. “Science is a huge backbone of western culture and I have always been intrigued by those ideas that have shaped the foundation of the modern world.”

          Edwards has been teaching for two decades and most recently taught at The Pingry School in New Jersey. Having moved to Atlanta over the summer, he was drawn to Westminster’s rich tradition and community, which gave him the opportunity to meet new people.

         Fun fact: He loves German cars so much that he has vowed to never drive anything else ever again.

         Jesse Breite received his undergraduate degree in secondary education and English at Concordia University. He then went to earn an English master’s degree at Middlebury College. Before coming to Westminster, Breite taught English at Concordia Prep in Baltimore and Whitefield Academy in Atlanta.

         Breite was attracted to Westminster’s unique opportunities and classroom potential, best exemplified by JanTerm.

         “I’m fascinated in interdisciplinary projects,” said Breite, “especially those that reach out of the traditional classroom.”

          So far during his time at Westminster, Breite has enjoyed the weight room, the food, and his curious and interested students.

          Fun fact: He’s from Arkansas.

          Before recently earning his PhD from Emory University in educational studies concentration in math, math teacher Curtis Goings received a bachelor’s degree in physics from Morehouse College and a master’s degree in education from Mercer University.  

          Goings spent many years in the DeKalb County School System as well as in Georgia Perimeter College and Mercer University. The summer before his arrival on campus, Goings was teaching at Georgia Tech, which put him on Westminster’s campus.

         “I was able to visit a number of classrooms in the middle and upper school,” said Goings. “I was intrigued and fascinated with the interaction and inquiry and drawn by the level of student ability that I saw.”

         The students and the faculty of Westminster have stood out the most to Goings.

         “I’ve enjoyed the motivated students who possesses considerable aptitude, have a willingness to learn, and a commitment to excel,” said Goings. “I’ve also enjoyed the camaraderie of my colleagues being able to grow with them professionally.”

         Fun fact: He plays the alto saxophone.

         English teacher Carla Klepper has been teaching in Atlanta for the past 19 years, working at Holy Innocents, Lovett, and Wesleyan before coming to Westminster. Above all, Klepper was drawn to Westminster for its reputation and for its student body.

         “I’ve enjoyed working with the students the most [at Westminster],” said Klepper. “They are terrific!”

          Klepper majored in journalism and English at the University of Florida. After receiving her undergraduate degree from Florida, she earned a master’s degree in humanities from the Central Michigan University and did postgraduate work at Harvard in politics and media.

         Fun fact: She is related to Swiss royalty.

 

         After receiving her bachelor’s degree in math from North Carolina State University, Sara Pangle received her master’s degree in applied math from Western Carolina University. Previously, Pangle taught at Western Carolina University, Hillsborough Community College, and Community College of Denver, but soon gained interest in teaching at the high school level.

         “I wanted to work with younger people,” said Pangle, “because I see that a lot of people have anxiety about math and it usually begins at a young age.”

         Fun fact: She doesn’t like the word “wrong” and is obsessed with math jokes.

          Mason Copeland went to Indiana University, where he earned a master’s degree in organ performance and choral conducting. Before coming to Westminster, Copeland taught general music for a year at Paideia. The highlight of Copeland’s tenure thus far stems mostly from his students, whom he has enjoyed getting to know through Chorus, Ensemble, and AP Music Theory. In his free time, Copeland likes to fish and to spend time with his wife and dogs.

         “I’m an outdoorsy person,” said Copeland. “People are surprised when they find out I’m a musician and can still have diversity in my life.”

         Fun fact: He likes to scuba dive.

          Henrik Malmberg received a master’s degree in civil engineering from Lunds University in Sweden. However, Malmberg began his instructing career in the wilderness before he ever set foot in the classroom.

          “I was working as an outdoors guide and a ski instructor,” said Malmberg. “My friend told me that Westminster was looking for a substitute and I thought that I could be a substitute with my background in civil engineering and in teaching kids.”

         After his first year of being a substitute, Malmberg was asked to become a full time substitute. He then worked at the Darlington School for three years , but has now returned, teaching physics and helping lead Discovery.

          “There’s a lot going here,” said Malmberg, “and there’s a real opportunity to be well-rounded.”

         In his spare time, Malmberg loves to be outdoors. He runs, swims, bikes, kayaks, and skis.

         Fun fact: He’s done survival training for 72 hours.

          Steve Frappier earned an undergraduate degree in Russian, art history, and archaeology as well as a master’s degree in liberal arts with a focus on American culture studies from Washington University in St. Louis. From there, he spent six years in the admissions office at Washington University and then spent nine years as the director of college counseling at Ransom Everglades School.

         “I’m really passionate about helping students with the college process,” said Frappier, “and have known my whole career about how great Westminster is.”

         So far, Frappier has admired the atmosphere of the school.

         “I’ve enjoyed being around how happy everyone is. [Westminster has] a beautiful campus and I have really friendly colleagues,” said Frappier. “And there are no bells that ring ten times a day, which makes such a difference.”

         While he’s not helping students with the college process, Frappier enjoys traveling, cooking, yoga, and board games.

         Fun fact: He lost badly on Jeopardy in 2008.

          After receiving her master’s from the University of Georgia, Leonor Taylor stayed put and began her Spanish teaching career. In addition, she also taught a number of summer immersion programs at Morehouse College and has taught at the University of South Carolina, Beaufort before joining the faculty here.  

         “I heard a lot of good things about Westminster. I wanted to see for myself, and now I can confirm that it’s a great school,” said Taylor. “My group of students is awesome. They really want to learn and I feel like they are motivated to learn Spanish as a second language.”

        In her free time, she loves spending time with her girls and family.

         Fun fact: She is from Peru and her husband is from the United States, and she often compares her husband to Jay from Modern Family.  

         Greg Hendrix attended the University of Georgia where he studied science education with a focus on chemistry. He then earned his master’s from Georgia State University. Before coming to Westminster, Hendrix taught in the DeKalb County Public School System and in Beaufort, South Carolina. Hendrix first set foot on campus as a substitute teacher, and is now committed full-time.

        “I was contacted out of a need to fill in for teachers on maternity leave,” said Hendrix. “However, I loved the long term assignment as well as the students. They work really hard.”

        Outside of chemistry, Hendrix likes anything outdoors, especially hiking and golf, and working out in the gym.  

        Fun fact: He is an avid Georgia Bulldogs fan.

         Michael Rondeau earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Cornell. After realizing he didn’t like working in a lab, Rondeau decided to venture into the classroom, earning his master’s degree in education from Notre Dame. Before coming to Westminster, he taught at St. Pius in Jacksonville, Florida and Holy Spirit Prep in Atlanta.

        “I was really drawn to [Westminster’s] leading mentality, in terms of putting educational research into practice, especially in the math classroom,” said Rondeau. “I really like the faculty and am having a really good experience on campus.”

         So far, Rondeau has enjoyed the level of engagement from his students and the welcoming and supportive community.

         Fun fact: He’s getting married in Atlanta this November.

         Steven Stodghill studied mathematics at Georgia State University and earned a bachelor’s of science. From there, he went straight into teaching. He started in DeKalb County and then moved to Philadelphia, where he served as the only math teacher at a cyber charter school, often giving virtual lessons online. Wanting to move back to the South, Stodghill was recruited by Westminster through an occupational firm.

         “I enjoy my students being so productive. Homework is turned in on time, which gives me the opportunity to teach new material,” said Stodghill. “I enjoy the lunch, and I like the overall community and the feel that everyone here is a part of the same family.”

         When he’s not teaching math, Stodghill officiates usually Division Two and Division Three college basketball. He also plays baseball, golf, and video games.

         Fun fact: He has a miniature poodle named Grady.

         John Terry majored in history and classics at the University of Arkansas, going on to earn a PhD in history from the University of Virginia. During graduate school, Terry uncovered a love for teaching and came aboard immediately after he graduated.

         “Being in the classroom, there’s an electric energy amongst the students. I love being a part of their growth and improvement,” said Terry. “There’s just a hugely talented student body.”

         Even though he’s still adapting to a new curriculum, Terry spends his scarce free time watching baseball, hiking, and exploring Atlanta.

         Fun fact: His claim to fame is that he once made Tina Fey laugh.  

         After earning his undergraduate degree in English and French from The University of The South, John Lambert earned his master’s degree in English from Middlebury College. After teaching English to only boys at McCallie for 29 years straight, Lambert was intrigued by the thought of teaching co-ed classes.

           “I really enjoy the co-ed classes. It’s really different from teaching all boys,” said Lambert. “One of my students asked me whether I enjoyed teaching one over the other. They are just different and teaching co-ed classes is fascinating.”

         In his free time, Lambert enjoys cooking, exploring restaurants, gardening, reading, watching movies, and traveling. In addition, if given a second chance, he would have become an art curator.

         Fun fact: He taught English as a Second Language in Taiwan as a college student.

           Art teacher Pamela Martinez received her undergraduate degree from Northern Arizona University and her master’s degree from Arizona State University.

          “[College was a] formative experience, but my greatest education was working in the fashion industry and working in the art world,” said Martinez. “I was a shoe designer for 10 years, and it changed both my eyes and my hands, completely changing the way that I saw really minute details.”

         Before coming to Westminster, Martinez taught part-time at a private Jewish school in California. So far during her time in Atlanta, Martinez has especially enjoyed Willy’s, the size and lighting of her classroom, the rain, and the students.

         Fun fact: The wildest client she’s ever had is Sylvester Stallone.

         After studying English and classical studies at Boston University, English teacher Amy Patel earned her master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in a dual program for English and English secondary education. Coincidentally, when Patel was still in college, she interned under Jim Justice.

         “Fifteen years later, I wanted to move to Atlanta and randomly sent him an email during the summer,” said Patel. “At the last minute, there was an opening and so I was contacted by Westminster [to teach].”

         Patel has especially enjoyed Westminster’s small class sizes and the kindness of the students and faculty.

         Fun fact: MTV once filmed her for a reality TV show in 2003.

         Manuela Kelly earned her bachelor’s in French and Spanish at the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in French and Spanish at the University of Hawaii. She taught at Mercer University and Gordon College, while also starting a program in South Side for kids to speak Spanish. Additionally, she has spent the last two years teaching the little ones in the Lower School.

         “I like being here in the Upper School because it’s a much faster pace,” said Kelly. “But it was a hard decision to make [the transition].”

         Kelly has really enjoyed the feeling of camaraderie among people in the foreign language department, especially between teachers of different languages because she teaches both Spanish and French.

         Fun fact: This past summer she worked on a farm called Les Jardins de la Montagne Verte in Strasbourg, France for a week and was visited by the French Exchange Program.

         After graduating from Westminster in 2003, Morgan DiOrio earned her bachelor’s degree in human and organizational development and art history and her master’s degree in education and human development counseling at Vanderbilt. DiOrio taught at public and private schools in Nashville as well as at Marist before coming to Westminster. In addition to her part-time counseling job at Westminster, she also works part-time at a private practice in Atlanta.

         “I love working with students,” said DiOrio. “I love talking to people and I really just want to be a good resource as someone who can help.”

         So far, DiOrio has enjoyed being a part of GERLS, advising 9th grade small groups, starting individual conversations, and reconnecting with old teachers.

         Fun fact: One of her first jobs out of college was to work for some former CIA spies.

         Ben Merrill earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Georgia. He then earned a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. Before joining the Westminster faculty, Merrill worked in an adolescent psychiatric hospital, psychiatric clinic, and a private practice. A Westminster alumnus, Merrill believes his time as a student gives him a unique perspective as a counselor.

         “I feel like I have experience to bring to the table as to what it’s like to be a student here,” said Merrill. “I really understand what the students are going through.”

          In his free time, Merrill can be found do anything active or competitive. He also spends a lot of time playing with his kids, watching sports, and is trying to learn how to play guitar.

         Fun fact: He is the youngest of six kids, all of whom went to Westminster.

         Zach Darling attended Berry College, where he studied history and played basketball. Before coming to Westminster, Darling taught and coached at Pope High School, Dunwoody High School, and Lawton High School. He was the permanent sub at Westminster for three years before transitioning into a full-time P.E. teacher. Darling has most enjoyed the other teachers at Westminster.

         “I have developed great friendships with other teachers,” said Darling. “There a lot of teachers and coaches here at Westminster that have had an abundance of success in the classroom and on the court or fields and that is a great resource and example for new teachers and coaches to have.”

         When he’s not coaching, Darling enjoys spending time with his family, especially his three kids, Aidan, Brooks, and Carson.

         Fun fact: He is one of four brothers, and they all teach and coach high school basketball in Georgia.

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