An independent K-12 school on a beautiful wooded campus, 3 miles from Washington, DC

Upper School Faculty

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Barb Anastos

Barb Anastos

Titles: Upper School Mathematics Teacher and Director of Ramsey House
Biography:

"I enjoy the challenge of shaping a student’s mindset toward math."

Potomac’s practice of building solid relationships with students enables me to reach students, whether they’re in my advanced calculus classes or express fear or anxiety regarding math. I enjoy the challenge of shaping a student’s mindset toward math. Often times, when I ask students why they like math, their response is, “Because there is a right answer.” To me, the creativity and problem-solving skills that go into learning the processes to ultimately reach the right answer are more important than the answer itself. Helping students recognize that they can understand more concepts at a deeper level than they believed before entering my class is just part of that reward. While I continue to grow professionally through conferences and workshops, my university experiences include earning a bachelor’s degree in an interdisciplinary math and economics program at the University of New Hampshire and a Master of Arts in educational leadership for private schools at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Suzanne Bailey

Suzanne Bailey

Titles: Upper School English Teacher and Advisor
Biography:

“The intellectual energy, inclusivity and culture of kindness at Potomac have challenged and nurtured me as both a teacher and a learner over the past several years.”

The Potomac students I met when I interviewed in the spring of 2009 for an English position convinced me there was no other place I wanted to teach. While most independent schools have a mission similar to ours, these students were testament to the authenticity of Potomac’s philosophy. Indeed, the intellectual energy, inclusivity and culture of kindness at Potomac have challenged and nurtured me as both a teacher and a learner over the past several years. While I’m entering my ninth year at Potomac, my roots in the DC area and independent schools run even deeper.

After graduating from Holton-Arms in 1987, I headed to Brown University, where I played soccer and lacrosse with the same passion that I studied literature. I earned my bachelor’s in American civilization, with a focus on studying history through literature. In soccer, my teammates and I captured four Ivy League titles. New England became my second home, and I remained there for nearly 20 years, 17 of which I spent at Providence Country Day School teaching English, advising, coaching soccer and lacrosse, and finally serving as PCD's director of admission. Through coursework over several summers I earned my master’s degree from Georgetown University. With the encouragement of an inspiring professor, I wrote my thesis on athletics, learning and spirituality.

Surgical records confirm the adage that as an athlete I “left everything on the field;"thus, my physical pursuits today are low impact. I enjoy spinning, practicing Bikram yoga, and spending as much time as possible on my paddleboard or in my kayak. In fact, kayaking has helped me find Savasana—“stillness between the postures”—which can be the most elusive pose for me both on and off the yoga mat. Being on the water slows life down and provides the opportunity for reflection. I’m also energized by spending time with friends and family (four-legged members included!) and traveling whenever possible.

Precious Barnes

Titles: Assistant Athletic Trainer
Russ Bartlett

Russ Bartlett

Titles: Upper School History Teacher
Biography:

"When I am not in the classroom, I enjoy hiking and backpacking, skills I honed and put to good use while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia a few years ago."

 

After a teaching career that has taken me to western Massachusetts, southwestern Virginia, and central New Jersey, I am thrilled to be joining The Potomac School faculty and working just outside my hometown of Washington, DC. I have not lived or worked here for many years, but it’s wonderful to be back.

My resume says I have studied and taught English, history, and religion, but my work with teenaged students over the years has made me realize that what we are really studying together is imagination--our uniquely human capacity to wonder, to explore, to dream of things that do not exist and then to create them. Imagination is the foundation of empathy, cooperation, and innovation; Albert Einstein said it was more important than knowledge. It makes us human in the deepest sense of the word, and directly or indirectly I have tried to make it a major theme of my classes in the humanities.

When I am not in the classroom, I enjoy hiking and backpacking, skills I honed and put to good use while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia a few years ago, as well as some shorter treks on the John Muir Trail in the Sierras and the Long Trail in the Green Mountains. During some future summer vacation, I can “imagine” myself walking the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) in northern Spain, but first I look forward to this newest phase in my teaching career at Potomac, and to re-exploring the metro area while helping my wife and two sons (as well as our dog) settle into our new hometown.

Giovanna Bello

Giovanna Bello

Titles: Upper School Spanish Teacher
Biography:

"A teacher can help students develop their potential, working with them not only in the subject matter but also in their character formation."

I am originally from Lima, Peru, but lived in Virginia for more than 20 years. In 2009 our family moved to Buenos Aries. We were all very excited and I remember thinking it would be so easy to communicate with people in this new city since they also speak Spanish. Well, it was quite a surprise to find out that even though it is the same language, there was so much to discover in terms of the culture. It is exactly this constant learning and discovering about other ways of thinking that fascinated me when learning a new language, and it is this enthusiasm and motivation that I want to always bring to my language classes.

When I think of teaching, I immediately associate it with guidance and caring. I feel there is so much a teacher can give to students. A teacher can help students develop their potential, working with them not only in the subject matter but also in their character formation. For me, it is the best job one can have!

I received my bachelor's degree in translation and interpretation in Lima, Peru. In the US, I first worked on a master's degree in French; and in November 2011 I received a Ph.D. in Spanish from the Catholic University of America. In addition to teaching language and literature, I like to help students get involved with social work and community service.

Claire Berg

Claire Berg

Titles: Upper School Teacher and Associate Director of Financial Aid Services
Biography:

"My favorite thing about Potomac is the relationships that I get to build with students, both in the classroom and through athletics."

A native of northern Virginia, I attended the Holton-Arms School, where I thrived as a three-sport athlete in soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. I went on to play lacrosse at the University of Virginia, where my team captured three ACC championships and appeared in two NCAA Tournament championship games. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in government, I stayed in Charlottesville for a fifth year and earned an Master of Science in commerce through UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce. In college, I developed a passion for traveling while studying abroad in Australia and China.

I began my professional career at a commercial real estate development firm in Arlington, where I worked for three years as a financial analyst. I stayed active by coaching club lacrosse in my free time. When the opportunity to come to Potomac presented itself, it was too good to pass up. Working in a variety of different capacities as a teacher, coach, and admission officer has been extremely rewarding. My favorite thing about Potomac is the relationships that I get to build with students, both in the classroom and through athletics.

Michael Bergman

Michael Bergman

Titles: Upper School Theatre Teacher
Biography:

“Our house was always full of music. Dinner conversations revolved around what was on Broadway or the newest museum exhibition.”

I grew up in a family of teachers and artists. Our house was always full of music. Dinner conversations revolved around what was on Broadway or the newest museum exhibition. On weekends, we regularly made the trek from Brooklyn over the bridge to Manhattan to go to a show, hear a concert or see the sights. I was lucky enough to have inspirational mentors in my own family. Their enthusiasm and discipline are still a big part of who I am in a classroom.

I have been teaching theater since 1981, and at Potomac for the last 23 years. I graduated from Hunter College, City University of New York. While my degree is in psychology, I dabbled in an assortment of programs, including studio art, theater, philosophy, sociology and English literature. I have an Master of Fine Arts in Theater Production from Rutgers University. The program of study included acting, directing, design, tech, history, theory and criticism.

Working with high school kids, I can always count on learning something myself each time I step into the classroom. It is a continual, invigorating challenge to help guide my students through the process of self-discovery that is at the heart of educational theater. While there is a set curriculum, the value of the program lies in the student’s exploration. I try to create an atmosphere of safety and experimentation in which students identify their strengths and build a personal approach to acting, directing or design work. Because no two students understand or access performance theory in the same way, I will use a variety of methods to explore different avenues to the same concept or skill. This allows students with a wide variety of learning styles to understand the same concept and to synthesize an approach into their own method. Every choice, from deciding which exercise to do in a class to selecting a show for performance, is governed by the needs of my students and the school community at large.

Cas Blanchard

Titles: Director of Girls Athletics
Rob Bloom

Rob Bloom

Titles: Upper School Mathematics Teacher
Biography:

“I am regularly humbled by the capacity, dedication, and generosity of spirit displayed by colleagues, students, and families.”

My college studies in psychology and education inspired me to work in the classroom. In the summer of 2000, I began my career at Potomac as a sixth grade teacher. My students taught me the importance of tapping into each individual’s innate curiosity and their genuine desire to grow and make sense of the world. The more freedom students have to explore, and the more room they are given to take risks and fail, the more they grow to be independent and confident in their ability to wrestle with new ideas and rise to challenge.

After earning a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration, I had the good fortune to return to Potomac to teach math – first in the Middle and Intermediate Schools, and most recently in the Upper School. I have also served as chair of the math department. With each new age group and course of study, I have found that the lessons my sixth graders taught me are fundamental to all learners. Potomac is a wonderful place to be, and I am regularly humbled by the capacity, dedication, and generosity of spirit displayed by colleagues, students, and families.

Jeanette Bolton

Jeanette Bolton

Titles: School Assistant
Gay Brock

Gay Brock

Titles: K - 8 Health Coordinator
Biography:

“It is my belief that people make healthier decisions when they have accurate, developmentally appropriate information and have been encouraged to think about what they believe and desire for themselves and their lives.”

My interest in health education began one evening after dinner when I was a young girl growing up in the 60s in Decatur, GA. (I was a girl who loved fried bologna and Velveeta cheese.) On that evening, I rode my bicycle alongside my mother and Mrs. Greathouse as they walked through the neighborhood. As I listened, I grew curious about Mrs. Greathouse, who canoed, rode a bike and taught slimnastics.

The Kenworthys were another family that intrigued me; they had moved to Decatur from San Francisco and had introduced the neighborhood to California cuisine. I vividly remember the night that we had dinner at their house. Mrs. Kenworthy served London broil, thinly sliced on the diagonal, accompanied by brown rice and steamed green beans. My father marveled that the green beans were “delicious, and they’re hardly cooked at all.” I was only 10, yet these two neighbors inspired me to be active and to consider healthy alternatives to traditional southern cooking.

Mrs. Condry, my sixth grade teacher, also made a huge impression on me, which later led me to pursue a career as a health educator. When it was time to teach us about puberty, she did much more than show “the movie”; rather, she created a safe environment within the classroom where we could ask questions. Moreover, she facilitated information-rich discussions and helped us understand that growing up and our changing bodies were perfectly normal. As the health teacher at Potomac, one of my goals is to provide a similarly safe learning environment for my students, who are growing physically and emotionally in an ever more complex world.

After teaching middle school science in Athens, Georgia, and Los Angeles, California, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in health education at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. My thesis focused on why some parents talk with their adolescents about sexuality, while others steer clear of these topics. This experience led me to see a real need for compassionate and accurate teaching about sexuality, relationships and risky behavior. Whether I am teaching kindergarten students how to wash their hands or older students how to avoid drugs and alcohol, it is my belief that people make healthier decisions when they have accurate, developmentally appropriate information and have been encouraged to think about what they believe and desire for themselves and their lives.

Whitney Bryant

Whitney Bryant

Titles: Upper School English Teacher
Biography:

“Outside the classroom, I enjoy traveling, hiking, and spending time with my dog.”

While working on my master’s degree in medieval studies at the Catholic University of America, I took a summer job teaching reading enrichment classes. Three months later, I was a different person: more exhausted and more inspired than I’d ever felt before. Teaching provides the combination of intellectual challenge and personal engagement that I believe make for a meaningful life.

My master’s thesis examined the influence of the Black Death on depictions of death in late medieval art and poetry. This training may seem wildly irrelevant to my subsequent career moves, which included teaching English in a high-poverty public school in eastern Kentucky, earning master’s degrees in teaching and in writing, and editing an online literary magazine. However, I wouldn’t be a decent English teacher if I couldn’t see a common motif in these endeavors: my belief in the power of writing to develop self-knowledge, clarify vague thinking, and facilitate the pursuit of truth. Outside the classroom, I enjoy traveling and hiking. I also devote much of my free time to writing fiction. My work has been published in The Georgia Review and One Story, and I’m currently working on a novel.

Steven Budd

Titles: Upper School Mathematics Teacher
Biography:

"I received my BSE in Biochemical Engineering from Duke University and have extensive experience with technology, and I especially enjoy working closely with colleagues to incorporate the use of technology in the classroom."

I received my bachelor's degree in biochemical engineering from Duke University and have extensive experience with technology, and I especially enjoy working closely with colleagues to incorporate the use of technology in the classroom. In addition to my IT interests, I also enjoy a broad spectrum of activities, from drama to debate. I recently relocated from Houston, where I taught a wide range of IB and AP math courses at Lamar High School since 1997.

Helen Butler

Titles: Administrative Assistant to the Head of the Upper School
Amanda Cannell-Boone

Amanda Cannell-Boone

Titles: Upper School Art Teacher
Biography:

"My teaching is inspired by nature, current events, artists whom I admire, found materials, my family, my students, and my colleagues."

I love being a teacher. I love inspiring students through art. I love painting and drawing in the summers, when I have more time. I love spending time with my family. I love nature, working in the garden, taking long walks, and bird-watching. My teaching is inspired by nature, current events, artists whom I admire, found materials, my family, my students, and my colleagues.

Potomac is a school that I have loved for a long time, as my three children, Tom, Oliver, and Louisa Cannell, are all graduates. I have taught art at Norwood School for the last 19 years, and throughout that time, many of my most interesting students came to Potomac for high school. I am thrilled to be joining the Potomac faculty and excited about this new challenge in my life.

Meaghan Caruso

Meaghan Caruso

Titles: Upper School ScienceTeacher, Advisor and Volleyball Coach
Biography:

"I have loved experiencing the school spirit of the community and forming relationships with the passionate young people whom I get to teach and coach."

I feel extremely lucky to be returning to Potomac, where I teach accelerated biology, as well as anatomy and physiology, and coach the varsity volleyball team. At Potomac, I have loved experiencing the school spirit of the community and forming relationships with the passionate young people whom I get to teach and coach. As a science teacher, I also love exploring and making use of our outdoor classrooms and beautiful campus.

Before coming to Potomac, I taught science and math at an independent school in Santa Barbara, CA, and coached varsity volleyball there. I've also acted as a field guide in the Bahamas, taught at nature camps, and run an intramural sports program. I went to Vanderbilt University in Nashville for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, studying biology, anthropology, and secondary education.

Outside of school, I can be found cycling, hiking, and rock climbing with my husband, reading science books, and teaching the scientific method to my baby son, Ian.

Suzi Cervino

Suzi Cervino

Titles: Upper School Science Teacher
Biography:

“I learned to appreciate the changing seasons of New England and wonder why and how the living things around me had formed.”

My love of science began in elementary school when we spent 10 minutes each day observing the weather and recording the temperature, cloud cover, and barometric pressure outside our classroom. I learned to appreciate the changing seasons of New England and wonder why and how the living things around me had formed. I continued exploring science throughout high school and completed my bachelor’s degree in botany at Connecticut College. I also began coaching youth sailing, an experience that helped me recognize that teaching was my passion.

When I am not teaching biology, chemistry, and environmental science at Potomac, I love going on adventures with my husband and our dogs Frank and Charlie.

Doug Cobb

Doug Cobb

Titles: K-12 Chair of the Science Department and Upper School Science Teacher
Biography:

"The greatest present I ever received was a chemistry set from my sister for my ninth birthday, and I have been actively engaged in science since that day."

The greatest present I ever received was a chemistry set from my sister for my ninth birthday, and I have been actively engaged in science since that day. While I loved scientific research, I quickly found that sharing this passion and knowledge with others through teaching was the life I wanted. I have been at Potomac for 21 years, teaching physics, chemistry, astronomy and serving as the science department chair. Prior to Potomac, I taught in several exotic locales such as Europe, Africa, and Bethesda, MD. I am thrilled that my two sons are on campus with me every day as students. Potomac is an extraordinary school, and I could not ask for better students and colleagues.

Isabelle Cohen

Isabelle Cohen

Titles: Upper School Science Teacher

Sean Conroy

Titles: Sustainability Project Manager and Coach
Carolina Covarrubias

Carolina Covarrubias

Titles: Upper School Spanish Teacher
Biography:

"My family is from Chile and has lived abroad in various countries, so speaking Spanish at home and traveling yearly to Latin America and Europe has been a defining aspect of my life."

I completed my master's degree in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University in 2005 and have been teaching Spanish in the Washington, DC, area for over 13 years. My family is from Chile and has lived abroad in various countries, so speaking Spanish at home and traveling yearly to Latin America and Europe has been a defining dimension of my personal and professional life. One of my favorite aspects about teaching and studying Spanish is that we can explore different cultural perspectives and can immerse ourselves in the arts, history, and geography of multiple countries both within and beyond the classroom. Understanding the context and communities of where Spanish is spoken is just as important as learning the mechanics of Spanish verb conjugations!

Tricia Crowley

Tricia Crowley

Titles: Grade 9 Dean and Upper School Spanish Teacher
Biography:

“Potomac is where I first learned the benefits of teaching the whole child.”

Potomac is where I first learned the value of working at an independent school and the benefits of teaching the whole child. I taught Spanish in the Upper School from 1989 through 1993, just after it opened. I felt privileged to work among the best in the profession and I've found the Potomac of 2013 to be just as dynamic and vibrant as it was then. (And, yes, there are several familiar faces!)

Before returning to Potomac, I most recently worked for 12 years at Miss Porter's School in Farmington, CT, and wore many hats – teaching Spanish and serving as chair of the language department and associate director of admission.

In the classroom I am energized by helping students discover their potential in Spanish. More important, I’m excited to help each student become his or her best self. Maya Angelou once described the joys and rewards I have discovered in teaching: "I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver."

I am enjoying getting reacquainted with Washington, DC, and Virginia, and am looking forward to being a part of all that Potomac has to offer.

Heather Deardorff

Heather Deardorff

Titles: Director of College Counseling
Biography:

"I’ve worked on both sides of the proverbial desk - college admission and college counseling."

As college counselors, we have a unique opportunity to help students on their journey of self-discovery. Being able to help demystify the college admission process and to form close relationships with students and parents is what keeps me doing this after 25 years. I’ve worked on both sides of the proverbial desk - college admission and college counseling. Most recently, I’ve completed the college admission hat trick, having successfully navigated the college process as a parent. (This role may have been the toughest!)

For the past nine years, I worked at St. Paul’s School, an independent boarding school in Concord, NH, where I served as associate director of college advising, head varsity softball coach, and head of a 30-girl dormitory. Over my time there, I also served as a club advisor and led several student service trips to destinations in the U.S. and abroad. Prior to that, I spent 10 years in college admission, working for both Dickinson and Gettysburg Colleges.

I graduated from Franklin & Marshall College with a Bachelor of Arts in American studies and earned a Master of Science in counseling from the University of Vermont.

 

Mike DiCuirci

Mike DiCuirci

Titles: Middle, Intermediate and Upper School Band Teacher and Advisor
Biography:

"Potomac enables me to continue exploring my own interests in innovative programming and pedagogy with the concert band and jazz band and to awaken in students a life-long commitment to music appreciation."

My passion for music began when I was young, and my career as a tuba player began somewhat by accident. My junior high band program needed a tuba player and I volunteered on a whim, not knowing that it would begin a lifelong journey in music. With a band director and musician as a father, I grew up always going to concerts and appreciating music with my family. In high school, my father even allowed me to sit in with his collegiate band at Cedarville University, where I later decided to pursue my Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance.

As an undergraduate, I was active in a series of diverse ensembles from the Brass Choir to the Jazz Ensemble to an alternative rock cover band; I was completely immersed in all things music, both as a bassist and a tuba player. From there I went on to The Ohio State University for my master’s degree in tuba and low brass pedagogy, under the mentorship of James Akins, principal tubist of the Columbus Symphony. As a lifelong Michigan football fan, the transition to OSU was certainly a challenge, but I used my time as a master's student to hone my performance and conducting skills, paving the way for a series of collegiate teaching positions.

For more than five years, I was fortunate to work as a college professor of low brass and music education at Otterbein College, Kenyon College, and Heidelberg University, all in Ohio. In addition to teaching I maintained a busy performance schedule with groups like the award-winning Brass Band of Columbus and several jazz combos.

When my wife's job brought us to the DC area in 2011, I was fortunate to find a position tailor-made to my interests and training at The Potomac School. As the beneficiary of an excellent music education myself, I know how important it is to foster a love of music in students at a young age, and I am thrilled to be a part of this process at Potomac. The environment at Potomac enables me to continue exploring my own interests in innovative programming and pedagogy with the concert band and jazz band and to awaken in students a lifelong commitment to music appreciation.

Karen Djorup

Karen Djorup

Titles: College Counseling and Testing Coordinator
Biography:

"In addition to working with Upper School students, I also coach Intermediate School Field Hockey."

I have a bachelor's degree in economics from Randolph-Macon Woman's College and a master's in applied behavioral science from The Johns Hopkins University. Prior to Potomac, I worked in the human resources/organizational development field for a Fortune 500 company managing their leadership and development training programs.

Isabelle Drake

Isabelle Drake

Titles: Intermediate School and Upper School French Teacher
Biography:

“I enthusiastically return to The Potomac School after having begun my teaching career here in Summer Programs over 20 years ago.”

I enthusiastically return to The Potomac School after having begun my teaching career here in Summer Programs over 20 years ago. I never imagined then that I would become a parent to two Potomac “lifers,” or that I would have the opportunity to join the world language department teaching French in both the IS and US!

Beyond the language classroom, I have a passion for helping students develop effective strategies for conquering learning, organizational, executive function, and content challenges in all academic areas. Having grown up transatlantically, I have balanced my DC-native status as an alumna of the Washington International School with studies at Oxford University and the University of Toronto. I am fortunate to spend summers in our family home in Brittany, France and look forward to bringing authentic source materials to Potomac learners.

Jenn Durham

Jenn Durham

Titles: Director of Learning Support (Grades 7-12)
Biography:

“Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I will remember. Involve me and I will understand. Step back and I will act.” –Chinese Proverb

My journey into education began 25 years ago, quite serendipitously, as I made the move from Dallas, Texas, to Washington, DC. As a liberal arts graduate, I knew I wanted to work with children in some capacity, but had no idea that my journey would lead me to American University’s master’s program in learning disabilities, headed by the legendary special education pioneer Sally L. Smith. After spending 18 months taking classes in the evenings and filling my days with an internship at the Lab School of Washington, I was hooked! I learned what theory looks like in practice, I learned to make learning visible, I learned to appreciate teaching from a strengths-based approach, and most importantly, I learned to understand that all children have the ability to learn – and that it is our job as educators to find those openings for them, to discover the things that catch their interest and engage them in the learning process.

After spending a number of years at Fairfax County Public Schools, I left the classroom to raise a family and began an Arlington business tutoring, assessing, and advocating for families of students with learning differences. Once I completed my Ph.D. in education at George Mason University with a focus on special education and arts integration, I began teaching at American University’s Masters of Arts program in learning disabilities, as well as working full-time as the curriculum and technology coordinator at The Lab School of Washington and then as academic dean in the high school. Through the intersection of these roles, I have had the opportunity to supervise and train dozens of educators at all levels of experience. I’ve also had the privilege of engaging in multiple research projects and authoring a textbook, Creative Materials for the Early Childhood Classroom.

I am thrilled to be joining the Potomac School community. My favorite part of my work is the opportunity to engage with students, parents, and colleagues.

Jason Dwyer

Jason Dwyer

Titles: Upper School Latin Teacher
Biography:

"The classical ideal of sound body and sound mind has always appealed to me, and it is one I seek to instill in my students and athletes here at Potomac."

The classical ideal of sound body and sound mind has always appealed to me, and it is one I seek to instill in my students and athletes here at Potomac. Teaching Latin and coaching cross-country and track have given me a unique opportunity to work with students over the span of several years.  Remembering the challenges of balancing academics and athletics in both high school and college enables me to identify with the typical Potomac student experience. Furthermore, teaching and coaching is a wonderful way to honor the tremendous support and dedication that my own teachers and coaches provided me. Having grown up in the area and attended a Jesuit high school and Quaker college, I feel at home here at Potomac both in terms of locality and ideology.

 

Kristin Enck

Kristin Enck

Titles: Upper School Art Teacher
Biography:

"I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Education from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and my Master of Fine Arts in drawing and painting from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill."

Prior to coming to Potomac, I taught beginning and advanced painting, as well as digital art, at the Albert Einstein High School in Montgomery County. I also served as their yearbook adviser. I earned my bachelor's degree in Spanish and education from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and my Master of Fine Arts in drawing and painting from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In addition, I have had my work exhibited in half a dozen shows.

Ellen Fitzpatrick

Titles: Admission Services Coordinator
Levi Franklin

Levi Franklin

Titles: Upper School Mathematics Teacher
Biography:

"Commitment behind desire breeds success. This is the foundation of my teaching and my coaching."

I'm a local guy who grew up in Prince George’s County, MD, where I attended Central High School in Seat Pleasant. After graduating, I enrolled at Bentley College in Waltham, MA, where I played NCAA Division II basketball and majored in computer science. After my freshman year, I decided to transfer closer to home and attend the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. At UMBC, I redshirted my sophomore year before joining the university’s Division I basketball program for three years. During that time, I changed my major to sociology but continued to take computer science and information-systems classes. Upon graduation, I worked as a developer and database administrator at AT&T in Herndon and as head JV boys basketball coach and assistant varsity coach at Oxon Hill High School. The next year, I was hired as the varsity boys basketball coach at Crossland High School in Temple Hills, MD. This was a time when I found my true passion for working with young adults. After six years in the computer world, I changed careers and became a full-time teacher, which was a perfect match with my coaching aspirations. It's one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Currently, I reside in Clinton, Maryland with my wife Paulette. We have four grown children - one daughter Leah, and three sons Levi Myles, Darryl and Steven, plus three grandchildren - DJ, Aniyah and Mackenzie.

Bridget Gagne

Bridget Gagne

Titles: Upper School History Teacher and GPAC Leadership
Biography:

“I look forward to sharing my passion for intellectual inquiry, global perspectives, analytical writing, and athletics with the Potomac community.”

Education was a surprising and exciting new journey that I discovered after college. I graduated from Brown University with a double major in political science and history and promptly moved to New York City for what I thought would be a quick two-year teaching experience with the Teach for America program. Yet, I quickly realized that when I spoke with my fellow Teach for America teachers about my plans after the program, I was not planning to follow a new career. Rather, I was planning my next steps in education.

While I was in Teach for America I earned my master’s in teaching and following the program, I earned a master’s degree in history at Boston College. After receiving my master’s in history, I joined the history department at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, CT, where I had the opportunity to teach, coach, advise, and serve as department chair. As a graduate of a small independent school in Maine, I was excited to become part of a community where teachers were involved with the student experience beyond the classroom. As a student, I loved having teachers who also supported my extracurricular interests and understood my high school experience beyond the classroom. As a teacher in independent schools, I find serving as a teacher, coach, advisor, and club mentor a critical element in building student confidence and willingness to take risks inside and outside of the classroom.

As I relocate to Virginia with my new husband, Michael, and our yellow labrador retriever, Rowdy, I am very excited to continue to work with students in the classroom and on the athletic fields at Potomac. I look forward to sharing my passion for intellectual inquiry, global perspectives, analytical writing, and athletics with the Potomac community.

Sarah Gardner

Sarah Gardner

Titles: Grades K-5 Technology and Innovation Coach
Biography:

“Do or do not – there is no try.” –Yoda

After moving around as an army brat for most of my life, I attended George Mason University for my undergrad, in part because of my love for the DC area. After a little bit of travel and photography work, I decided to go back to school and get my master’s degree in education and technology at Full Sail University. I wasn’t sure who I was going to teach with my degree until I began working as a substitute at Potomac. I truly enjoy the community’s genuine hard work and drive to educate the whole child.

When I am not teaching or coaching JV volleyball at Potomac, I like to travel, experience music festivals, and learn more about the connections between music, technology and entertainment.

James Gillespie

James Gillespie

Titles: Upper School Computer Science/Robotics Teacher
Biography:

"My students introduced me to robotics 12 years ago, and it has been my passion since."

I have had a love for computer science since I was a junior in high school and have taught it now for 15 years. My students introduced me to robotics 12 years ago, and it has been my passion since. I have led robotics and computer science programs that have traversed land, water, and space. When I am not working with students, I enjoy spending time with my wife and children, playing video games and board games, and painting miniatures.

John Golden

John Golden

Titles: Upper School English Teacher
Biography:

"I love being in the classroom—the place where meanings only half apprehended in solitary reading step out into the light of a shared understanding”

I came to be an English teacher after some twists and turns. I studied computer science as an undergraduate at Harvard, and after graduation I worked on research in speech and language processing. But after a few years I decided that my interest in language and communication really centered on literary expression, and I went back to Harvard to earn a Ph.D. in English. My dissertation concerned the imagery of motion in nineteenth-century British poetry, and I have a particular interest in teaching poetry. I’ve been both a college professor and a high school teacher, and I’m very happy to have the chance now to teach at Potomac. 
 
I love being in the classroom—the place where meanings only half apprehended in solitary reading step out into the light of a shared understanding. In that meaning-making, I hope my students both hear literary texts speaking to them in terms to which they can relate and stretch their capacities for listening to hear ideas or perspectives that they had not expected to find.

Stephanie Hampton

Stephanie Hampton

Titles: Upper School Librarian and Service Learning Club Advisor
Biography:

"'I can’t live without books' is something Thomas Jefferson said, and I agree with him. I love books, and what better place to be than in a library."

I have worked in public, university, and K-12 libraries for 13 years. Being able to help people find the answer to their questions and curiosities gives me a great deal of satisfaction.

I received my bachelor’s degree in justice and policy studies from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, and worked for several years in the legal field, but my love for books steered me in another direction. I later received my master’s degree in library science from Catholic University in Washington, DC, which enabled me to pursue my passion more fully. Working in an educational environment where young minds are nurtured and cultivated creates the perfect marriage between my love for books and helping young people to become good consumers of information.

I have returned to Potomac after previously having served as the librarian in the Upper School for nine years. During my leisure time, I enjoy reading, traveling, watching my beloved Tar Heels, and spending time with my husband, family, and friends.

Katherine Hanckel

Katherine Hanckel

Titles: Middle, Intermediate and Upper School Band Teacher
Biography:

“There is music wherever there is rhythm, as there is life wherever there beats a pulse."– Igor Stravinsky

When I am asked why I chose this profession I almost always answer that teaching is the best way for me to give back to the world that has given me so much. Why music? Because it is something I could never live without. Music has made me a stronger, better, more joyful person, and I am forever its apostle. I am glad to return to my Northern Virginia roots after having worked in North Carolina and the District of Columbia teaching various aspects of music in public and charter schools. Outside of the school day, I have been privately teaching students ages eight through 80 and performing in local community ensembles. I am a graduate of the University of North Carolina, where I received a Bachelor of Music and minored in classical Greek. I am forever a Tar Heel and enjoy yoga, espresso, and frolicking both at home and abroad.

Barbara Hancock

Barbara Hancock

Titles: Associate Director of College Counseling
Biography:

"I'm a native of the Washington, DC, area."

From 2011 through 2014, I served as director of college counseling at Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy, where I was also the yearbook faculty advisor and a member of the Upper School administrative/guidance team. I'm a native of the Washington, DC, area, where I graduated cum laude from National Cathedral School and then earned a bachelor's degree with distinction from the University of Virginia. I later earned my master's degree in English and American literature from Georgetown University.

I began my career in education by teaching high school English at The Madeira School from 2006 through 2008 and also coached the JV tennis team. In 2008, I transitioned from teaching to college counseling and joined Marks Education, an independent counseling firm. In addition to advising high school students and their families, I ran the firm’s transfer admission counseling practice and provided pro bono college counseling to the affiliated non-profit organization, Collegiate Directions, Inc.

I'm also active in various community and professional associations and have been a two-time chair of the Potomac & Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling’s (PCACAC’s) Summer Institute. I've presented at the past three Summer Institutes, as well as at the 2013 PCACAC Conference.

Nick Hanson

Nick Hanson

Titles: Handbells Teacher and Intermediate School Advisor
Biography:

"Handbells have been a part of Potomac for over 40 years, and I am truly privileged to be a part of this history, sharing and teaching this unique musical experience to others."

After picking up my first handbell at the age of 9, I knew it was the beginning of something truly unique. The next 20 years did not prove me wrong as I performed and taught this amazing instrument in over half the United States as well as ten other countries across Europe and Asia. Strong friendships have been created throughout the world from these travels, just from the shared appreciation and commitment to the growth of this art. Handbells have been a part of Potomac for over 40 years, and I am truly privileged to be a part of this history, sharing and teaching this unique musical experience to others.

Sandra Heard

Sandra Heard

Titles: Grade 10 Dean, Grades 7-12 Chair of History Dept. and Upper School History Teacher
Biography:

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with Potomac’s juniors and seniors to create academically rigorous and nurturing learning environments.”

I worked as an architect and community organizer in Pittsburgh, PA, before I started my career as an educator in the DC area. I also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, where I learned to value cultural diversity and began to seriously examine the histories of peoples in the U.S. and abroad.

As a doctoral student and lecturer at The George Washington University, I taught classes on race, gender, and identity formations as well as social and political movements in urban America. As the program coordinator of the GWU Center for the Study of Public History, I helped to plan research trips and lectures for teachers and students at D.C.’s School Without Walls. Enriched by my experiences at this high school, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with Potomac’s juniors and seniors to create academically rigorous and nurturing learning environments.

Since my years as an architecture student at Mississippi State University, I have been fascinated with the objects, symbols, buildings, spaces, and people in cities. I studied the significance of the shotgun house and ironwork in New Orleans while working on a master of theology at Xavier University. I investigated African-American consumer culture while completing a Ph.D. in American studies. I currently live in Washington, DC, with my partner and daughter, and we enjoy exploring all that the nation’s capital has to offer.

Blake Henry

Blake Henry

Titles: Assistant Director of Facilities/Head Varsity Football Coach
Biography:

"I’m very excited, and it’s an honor to be joining such a great school. I can’t wait to get started.”

I grew up in Ellicott City, MD, where I attended Loyola Blakefield in Towson for high school. I graduated from Wake Forest University in 2002, where I was a First Team All-ACC offensive lineman. In 2003, I signed a free agent contract with the Atlanta Falcons and was on the team for a few months during the preseason.

Following my football career, I went back to my alma mater and was a teacher and coach at Loyola Blakefield until 2010, when I accepted the head football coaching position at Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore. During my time at MSJ, I taught religion, physical education, health, and was the assistant dean of students. This summer, I moved to Ashburn upon accepting the head football coaching position at Potomac. I'm married to my wife, Makenna; we have two daughters, Marilyn and Veronica and a son, Bake, Jr.

Mike Hutton

Mike Hutton

Titles: Lower and Middle School Physical Education Teacher and Coach
Biography:

"A good day is helping a kindergartner have success jumping rope for the first time or watching the girls varsity basketball team execute the offense with precision against Episcopal.

My favorite title is being called “Dad” by my daughters, Emily and Molly. Running a close second is teacher/coach to the students at Potomac. A good day is helping a kindergartner have success jumping rope for the first time or watching the girls varsity basketball team execute the offense with precision against Episcopal. In my spare time I torment myself by being a loyal Philadelphia Phillies, Eagles and 76ers fan.

Michael Hyde

Michael Hyde

Titles: Upper School History Teacher
Biography:

"A Mid-Atlantic native, I graduated from Williams College with a bachelor's degree in history. Afterward, I earned a master's degree from Georgetown University. I have taught history for over 20 years in both Delaware and New Jersey. I have enjoyed coaching high school athletics at various levels and hope to be involved in the Potomac athletic program."

A Mid-Atlantic native, I graduated from Williams College with a bachelor's degree in history. Afterward, I earned a master's degree from Georgetown University. I have taught history for over 20 years in both Delaware and New Jersey. I have enjoyed coaching high school athletics at various levels and hope to be involved in the Potomac athletic program.

Married to a South African, I have enjoyed coordinating and chaperoning numerous high school community service trips to South Africa. I love to travel and have been lucky to visit all 50 states. I enjoy the outdoors, especially fishing in Ontario every summer.

I am excited to be working at such a remarkable school like Potomac. It is an honor to be part of the Potomac community.

Tim Jaeger

Titles: Assistant Head of School
Tracy Jaeger

Tracy Jaeger

Titles: Upper School Spanish Teacher
Biography:

“I have been fortunate to serve in a variety of capacities in my twenty years with the school.”

After graduating from Trinity College with degrees in Spanish and psychology, I accepted a one-year position at the Middlesex School in Massachusetts to teach Spanish, coach field hockey, ice hockey, and lacrosse, and to work in admissions.

I had not planned on a career in education, but my short-term goal turned into a life-changing experience. Working, playing, and living with highly motivated and inspirational students and colleagues, while still immersed in all things Spanish and athletic was magical. (And to get paid a small stipend to do what I loved was remarkable!) Eight years in a New England boarding school and at Middlebury College, where I earned my master’s degree in Spanish, readied me to move to a new school and region of the country.

In 1991, I was warmly welcomed into the Potomac School community and into a new Upper School, where the team and its leaders created curriculum, programs, expectations, and traditions for its first high school graduates, while still preserving the unique culture and values so important to the Potomac community. I have been fortunate to serve in a variety of capacities in my 20 years with the school. Whether exploring new historical periods and cultures in Spanish class or honing athletic skills and strategy in preparation for the next intense athletic contest, each group of students creates a special identity and leaves an enduring mark for future generations to build upon.

Mary Jarratt

Mary Jarratt

Titles: Upper School Robotics Instructor
Biography:

“I enjoy teaching students to work creatively and collaboratively, to follow the engineering design process, and to evaluate designs and analyze alternatives.”

I have always had a passion for design, technology, and innovation. For 25 years, I have taught students from pre-K through twelfth grade in a wide variety of subject areas. For the past 11 years, I have specialized in and encouraged kinetic learning through building and programming robots. I enjoy teaching students to work creatively and collaboratively, to follow the engineering design process, and to evaluate designs and analyze alternatives.

Prior to entering the education field, I was an applications programmer and systems engineer at Texas Instruments and the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

When I'm not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my husband, Ben, and my four children. I also like cooking, baking, doing needlework, crocheting, and creating prototypes. As a lifelong learner, not only am I learning through my students every day in the classroom, but I am also earning my Ph.D. in curriculum design at Virginia Tech.

Kelly Laraia

Titles: Systems Analyst
Ingrid Larsen

Ingrid Larsen

Titles: Upper School Chinese Teacher
Biography:

"The more Chinese language speakers and those familiar with Chinese culture we educate and train, the better the outcome will be for the United States."

I find that one good thing leads to another. As an undergraduate student, I entered a linguistics program with a non-European language requirement. I wanted to study Arabic, but it didn’t fit in my schedule––Chinese did. In my first Chinese class at George Washington University, the professor took us to the Freer Gallery Art to view the Chinese collection. I was immediately captivated by the art. After graduation, I wrote to the director of the Freer Gallery and asked for advice about how to pursue a graduate degree in Chinese art history. He emphasized the importance of language and recommended that I go study Chinese in Taiwan and also try to get a job at the National Palace Museum. While studying Chinese and working part-time at the Palace Museum in Taipei, I met several graduate students from the University of Michigan who persuaded me of the strengths of that program. After two years of graduate training at Michigan, I was awarded a scholarship to study art history at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Later I received a Fulbright to conduct field work in China. Throughout this training, fluency in Chinese was an essential tool.

Speaking of good things leading to others, I met my husband, David Shambaugh, in that Chinese language class at GW. He also attended graduate school at the University of Michigan and studied at Peking University the years I was in Beijing. From China, we moved to England where David taught for nearly a decade at the University of London’s School of Oriental & African Studies, while I raised our two sons. We finally returned to Washington in 1996 when David accepted a faculty position at GW. Soon after I began to work in the Chinese painting department at the Freer Gallery of Art. Subsequently, I have published articles about the history of the Chinese painting collection in the Freer, as well as on modern Chinese painting and calligraphy. Since 2010, I have led multiple Smithsonian tours to China and Tibet as an independent scholar.

We have traveled to China countless times and lived in Beijing a total of five years––most recently with our son, Alex, during my husband’s sabbatical in 2009-2010. Over the decades there have been many profound changes in China. In the early 1980s, the people all wore navy blue Mao suits, there were no privately owned cars, everyone rode bicycles, and a refrigerator was a luxury item. Now there are more luxury cars and designer boutiques in Beijing than any other capital in the world. With increased wealth and prosperity, China has experienced many problems of developing societies: overpopulation, pollution, economic downturns, corruption, income disparity, and political turmoil. As America’s most important global partner and competitor, China’s destiny is tied to our’s. The more Chinese language speakers and those familiar with Chinese culture we educate and train, the better the outcome will be for the United States.

When our first son, Christopher, entered The Potomac School in the fourth grade, there was no Chinese language program. We were among the parents who urged Potomac to add Chinese to the curriculum. By the time our son, Alex, entered the ninth grade, he was able to continue his Chinese language training at Potomac. I am extremely excited to have this opportunity to join Potomac’s language department. I hope to demonstrate that learning Chinese is at once practical, attainable, and fun.

Rob Lee

Titles: Director of Boys Athletics
Matt Lijoi

Matt Lijoi

Titles: Upper School Mathematics Teacher
Biography:

“I am always more impressed by what knowledge students can discover through collaboration and their own reasoning than by what can be imparted directly."

Having come to teaching through several academic pursuits and even a brief legal career, I can say with certainty that no endeavour incites my passion to the degree that engaging others in the learning process does. Helping students to think critically, to think accurately, to think imaginatively, and to build worlds out of a few basic ideas is the most challenging and fulfilling work I’ve ever done. My hope is to provide the tools and to facilitate the confidence necessary for students to construct their own understanding. I’m always inspired by the engagement that Potomac students bring to the classroom, and I’m so looking forward to another year of uncovering math concepts together with them.

When I’m not teaching, I’m usually either on the soccer pitch or bleeding red for Manchester United.

I hold a bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics from Xavier University, a master's degree in physics from the University of Rochester, and a J.D. from Georgetown University.

Richard Lillis

Richard Lillis

Titles: Upper School Latin Teacher
Biography:

"For 37 years I’ve taught Latin across all grade levels--from the fifth grade through twelfth."

For 37 years I’ve taught Latin across all grade levels--from the fifth grade through twelfth, and a few semesters of college--and sometimes also ancient Greek, and ancient and medieval European and Mediterranean history. The years have gone by quickly, and I’ve enjoyed myself immensely in the classroom.

I try to swim six miles per week, early in the morning. I took up the mandolin last year and enjoy playing mostly baroque music; but now that my wife Julie, who just retired from her position as a college counselor from Hackley School, and I have moved to Maryland from New York, I may find a bluegrass teacher. Our daughters, the youngest of whom finished college in May, are in the DC area and come over for dinner several times a week.

Jonathan Lindsay

Jonathan Lindsay

Titles: Upper School Science Teacher
Biography:

"My passion for teaching grew out of a passion for learning."

My passion for teaching grew out of a passion for learning. The son of a physics professor, I grew up in a physics and astronomy department. As a young child, I found the corridors of academia every bit as fascinating as the wooded trails around my house in the Appalachian mountains. If I wasn't making lean-to stick forts in my backyard, I was hanging out at the university experimenting with liquid nitrogen and tinkering with telescopes in the halls outside my father's office. If one of his graduate students was game, I would ride down the hall with them on fire-extinguisher-propelled rocket carts. Occasionally, I would find a dusty apparatus from one of the prep rooms and hide under my father’s desk as he taught, trying to puzzle out the design of the mysterious piece of equipment. The chemistry professors on the floor above taught me how to make a colored liquid from two clear ones and, if I was brave enough that day to wander to the top floor of the science building, I could eat my snack while gazing at cabinets filled with fossils of creatures that had vanished from the earth millions of years ago.

Years later, having earned an undergraduate degree in physics and a master's degree in mechanical engineering and applied physics, I found myself at a crossroads. Weeks away from entering a Ph.D. program, I decided instead to explore a "two-year hiatus" and accept a teaching position at an independent school just outside of DC. That school was, you guessed it, The Potomac School. I’m currently two decades into that two-year plan.

To this day, I have a very difficult time separating play from education. I still get to play and learn each day, but here at Potomac I have the chance to invite others to join me in the adventure. I am honored and blessed to help guide young minds in their own journey of constructive play and to encourage them to gaze in wonder at the world in which they live. I can often be found on the first floor of the Upper School building teaching our AP Physics, General Physics, Engineering Design, and Astronomy courses, or meeting one-on-one with students. Occasionally you will find us taking something apart, and even less frequently, putting something back together. My other full-time job and passion is as a parent and husband.

Emily Liu

Emily Liu

Titles: Intermediate and Upper School Chinese Teacher
Biography:

“I strive to be the type of educator I want my son to have as he grows up.”

I first joined The Potomac School in 2016, when I taught Chinese at the Intermediate and Upper Schools. I grew up in Xi’an, China, and received my B.S. from the University of Maryland, College Park. I am currently pursuing my M.Ed. from George Mason University. I have a variety of teaching experience – since 2014, I have taught students ranging in age from elementary school to high school. I have also interned at the Library of Congress, where I studied Chinese character reform and aided international researchers. This past summer, I joined a STARTALK Chinese program in DC and taught high school students Chinese for five weeks.

After my son was born in 2017, I began to further appreciate the effect that positive role models have on students. I strive to be the type of educator I want my son to have as he grows up. I love working with children and cultivating their interest in Chinese culture and language through challenging them in a fun, creative, and engaging environment.

Besides teaching, I love trying new things with my family and friends. I love food, traveling, working out, and spending time with family. I am very excited about sharing my passion for Chinese language and culture with the Potomac School family.

Nick MacDonald

Nick MacDonald

Titles: Upper School History Teacher
Biography:

"Apart from history, I am an avid fly fisherman in search of the next “tug” from a rainbow or brown trout or, if lucky, an Atlantic salmon."

I have always had an interest in history. And, although I enjoy all areas of history, I am mostly committed to fulfilling my passion to study the history and historiography of Ancient Rome and Greece. I find that history teaches students skills--writing and analysis, among others--that will commute to other classes and undoubtedly aid the student in their futures endeavors.

Apart from history, I am an avid fly fisherman in search of the next “tug” from a rainbow or brown trout or, if lucky, an Atlantic salmon. I find fly fishing to be relaxing and meditative. It provides a retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and affords me the opportunity to interact with our natural environment.

I was drawn to Potomac immediately after meeting a few Upper School administers and feeling the enthusiasm and zeal they emitted while explaining the school. Then, after my initial visit to McLean to see the campus and meet the faculty and students, I was completely sold on Potomac because everyone seemed happy. I cannot wait to meet the students and be a part of the Potomac School this fall.

Becca Mahoney

Becca Mahoney

Titles: Upper School History Teacher and Service Learning Coordinator
Biography:

"I love the challenge of planning lessons that engage my students and teach them life-long skills, and I find working with teenagers extremely energizing."

After majoring in history at the University of Pennsylvania--and surfing the Internet “dot com” wave with a company called Trilogy in Austin, Texas--I found myself in New York City working in school development at Edison Schools. One my favorite courses in college led me to explore the history of charter schools in America, and work at Edison allowed me to explore current public school reform efforts. Soon enough I found myself wanting to be in a school, not a corporate office, so I returned to Penn to pursue a masters in teaching. That is when I found my home in the classroom. I loved the challenge of planning lessons that engaged my students and taught them life-long skills, and I find working with teenagers extremely energizing.

Before landing at Potomac in 2007, I taught at two other independent schools; Hopkins School in New Haven, CT, and Westridge School in Pasadena, CA. Born and raised in Washington, DC, I’m happy to be settled here once again with my husband and two children.

Barb Mays

Barb Mays

Titles: Lower and Middle School Physical Education Teacher and Coach

Emma McCaleb

Titles: Assistant Speech and Debate Coach
Oren McClain

Oren McClain

Titles: Upper School Mathematics Teacher and Assistant Robotics Coach
Biography:

“For me, teaching mathematics is about so much more than just numbers, equations, and solutions.”

I began my career as an engineer, but while pursuing my master’s degree in mechanical engineering, I transitioned to education as a National Science Foundation Engineering Teaching Fellow. I subsequently taught middle school mathematics and worked as a secondary mathematics instructional specialist before heading to the University of Virginia to earn my PhD in mathematics education. After completing my PhD, I worked as an assistant dean in the Office of African American Affairs at UVA, where I lead retention and academic success initiatives for students in mathematics-intensive majors. Most recently, I served as Director of STEM Outreach at DC College Access Program.
 
Though I didn’t set out to become an educator, I’ve been teaching and working in education now for over 15 years. I love the challenge of helping students develop the competencies and persistence necessary for success in mathematics. For me, teaching mathematics is about so much more than just numbers, equations, and solutions. It’s about developing relationships with students; understanding their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and prior knowledge; and using all of that information to help them learn.
 
I am excited about teaching at Potomac, where the students are clearly engaged and eager to learn, and teachers and administrators think broadly about teaching, learning, and education in general. When I’m not working through or teaching mathematics concepts, I’m probably either obsessing over architecture, design, and minimalism at a local specialty coffee shop, or figuring out how to get back to London and Copenhagen.
 

Oscar McCullough

Titles: Assistant Robotics Coach
Ross McEwen

Ross McEwen

Titles: Grade 3 Teacher
Doug McLane

Doug McLane

Titles: Head of Upper School
Lisa McLane

Lisa McLane

Titles: Teacher
Biography:

“I wake up each day keenly aware that there is always something new to unearth and seek to understand.”

Ever since I can remember, I've been fascinated by the natural world. As a kid, I loved exploring the woods, catching fireflies, watching the clouds, and learning to identify all kinds of living things. As an adult, I wake up each day keenly aware that there is always something new to unearth and seek to understand, and I feel incredibly lucky to spend my days with students who are eager to do the same. I found my love of ornithology during a college semester abroad in Panama, and I discovered my passion for teaching in Okayama, Japan, where I taught English (and stared wistfully into the science labs during my free periods!). In graduate school, I studied the behavior patterns of the notorious brown-headed cowbird in the high plains of New Mexico and was a teaching assistant for several courses in ecology.  

Before coming to Potomac, I was a lifer at Tower Hill School in Delaware, taught science at Princeton Day School in New Jersey, was a stay-at-home mom for several years, and worked for a nonprofit that provides scholarships and mentoring to lower-income students who plan to attend college. The Potomac community has welcomed my family so warmly, and I can't wait to get more involved with all aspects of life here.

Outside of school, I enjoy outdoor activities with my family, reveling in my kids' boundless curiosity, knitting, birdwatching, travel, spicy food, and learning about Japanese and Japanese-American culture and history.

Mark McLaughlin

Titles: Theater Manager & Technical Director
Jeremy Metz

Jeremy Metz

Titles: Upper School English Teacher & Assistant Speech and Debate Coach
Biography:

"I am privileged to share my passion for literature and writing with my students."

Sometimes it takes a while to figure out what you want to do—and where you want to do it. Not with mountain biking and skiing—I discovered my love of the mountains early while growing up in Seattle. But it took many years and several detours to find my way to Potomac, where I am privileged to share my passion for literature and writing with my students. About the detours: After Harvard and a fellowship year at the École Normale Supérieure, followed by another degree, I built the American operation of a French (then Swedish, then English) tech company. Along the way, I ran our group’s manufacturing operations and opened and managed our office in Singapore—in short, lots of time up in the air. When finally, we were acquired by an American company, I could pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. I had embarked on a master’s degree in English at the University of Maryland when an influential professor convinced me to pursue a doctorate in comparative literature instead; and I spent six happy years teaching first- and second-year undergrads and engaging in research. I wrote my dissertation on Caribbean trauma literature, for which I interviewed prominent authors in Haiti on their experience writing the 2010 earthquake. My subjects included Yanick Lahens, Haiti’s leading woman writer, whose entry I wrote in the The Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography, published in 2016 by The Oxford University Press. I feel truly fortunate to take my place in the remarkable learning community at The Potomac School, and look forward greatly not only to my classes, but also to my role as the assistant coach of our debate team.

Stephanie Miller

Stephanie Miller

Titles: Upper School Drama Teacher
Douglas Mogle

Douglas Mogle

Titles: Grade 4 Teacher
Biography:

“I am passionate about educating the whole child!”

A native of the Chicago suburbs, I have a bachelor's degree in special education from Ball State University and a Master of Education in elementary education from the University of Notre Dame.

As I enter my 14th year of teaching, I’ve had the great fortune to teach at schools across the United States, big and small. I am passionate about educating the whole child and I am honored to be a part of the Potomac School faculty and coaching staff.

Paolo Morales

Paolo Morales

Titles: Upper School Photography Teacher
Biography:

“Photography is a unique medium for its capacity to describe a version of reality through visual facts packed into a frame.”

Photography is a unique medium for its capacity to describe a version of reality through visual facts packed into a frame. I am delighted to join the Potomac community and to help students shape their individual way of seeing the world through pictures.
 
Previously, I worked as an educator at PhotoUno Photography School, Lesley University, Brown University, and Rhode Island School of Design, where I also received a Master of Fine Arts in photography.

Sean Moran

Titles: Director of Technology and Innovation
Cort Morgan

Cort Morgan

Titles: K-12 Chair of the Art Dept. & IS and US Art Teacher
Biography:

"When I am not teaching, and sometimes when I am, I climb trees, crawl into caves, trek through mountains, learn languages, carve, draw, design, read, and write as I see fit."

I spent one half of my childhood in Philadelphia and the other half in my imagination. I was the product of benign neglect by my parents, who trustingly let me explore, climb trees, crawl into caves, carve, draw, design, read, write, and just fool around as I saw fit.

In addition to two tolerant parents, I had a number of remarkable teachers who understood me better than I did myself. All were fascinating examples of curiosity in action, each following intense personal interests, while masterfully guiding students. The great teachers never ordered students around; instead they made subtle suggestions and allowed us to grow at our own pace.

Miss Crawford gave us an art studio to experiment in and explained Jungian archetypes. Mr. Walker took us leaf collecting in the autumn and inspired us to memorize poetry. Mr. Boyhan served us strong tea, taught us portraiture, and talked about medieval frescoes. Professor Hay led us through the quiet storm of Chinese ink painting. Professor Sekler made us at home in the palace of Knossos. While I cannot claim to equal the insight and sensitivity of my teachers, they continue to whisper advice to my inner ear.

I attended Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia for 10 years, St, Mark's School in Southborough, MA, for three years, and Harvard University for four years. My studies were varied, but they always included studio arts and art history. Uncles, aunts, two siblings, and a variety of friends serve as examples and mentors. I began teaching at Potomac in 1984.

I now live half in Arlington and half in my imagination. Over the last 30 years, I have traveled on five continents to see for myself what beautiful things we have inherited from our ancestors. When I am not teaching, and sometimes when I am, I climb trees, crawl into caves, trek through mountains, learn languages, carve, draw, design, read, and write as I see fit.

Anne Nightingale

Anne Nightingale

Titles: Grades 7-12 Chair of the English Dept. and Upper School English Teacher
Biography:

"I feel extremely grateful to have been working as a teacher at Potomac for the past four years because the students are eager to grow and explore, and they thoughtfully embrace their obligations as citizens of the world."

Many believe teaching implies a transfer of a skill or knowledge from one individual to another, but to me, that is a fallacious definition. Teaching is the art of enabling others to discover the seeds of skills in themselves and to assist in nurturing those talents as they grow. Knowledge comes from our shared examination of texts that contemplate the essence of what it means to be a human in this world and discussing what responsibilities that gift entails. My students are the most important teachers I have studied with.

On my journey to Potomac, I earned a bachelor's degree at Harvard, an master's degree at Yale in English literature, and an English teaching certificate at Washington University in St. Louis. And I still love to discover and study—learning is almost as essential as breathing. I have lived in many states and countries and taught many students before, but I feel extremely grateful to have been working as a teacher at Potomac for the past four years because the students are eager to grow and explore, and they thoughtfully embrace their obligations as citizens of the world.

Torrye Parker

Torrye Parker

Titles: Upper School English Teacher, Advisor & Admission Associate
Biography:

“I decided to become a teacher not only to share my love for literature and writing but also so that I could change the world."

I grew up as a military child, and although I've lived in seven states and Japan, I consider Northern Virginia "home." I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with distinction, and I later earned a master's degree from the University of Connecticut. I decided to become a teacher not only to share my love for literature and writing but also so that I could change the world. Before my senior year in college, I thought I would do this through the “power of the pen” as a journalist. However, after studying abroad in South Africa and working as a teaching intern at a school for underprivileged children, I discovered that education is where I could have the greatest impact (and the most fun!) My experience in education ranges from teaching at both the secondary and college level to helping students achieve their career goals while working as a college counselor. I am excited to be a part of the Potomac community!

Kate Pattison

Kate Pattison

Titles: Upper School Teaching Fellow
Biography:

“I’ve always been fascinated by the subject of history, as so much of our world today can be tied back to our past.”

I am very excited to begin my teaching career at The Potomac School. I love learning, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to continue learning through teaching.

I grew up in Hanover, New Hampshire, and am the second of four kids. I attended Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where I majored in history. I worked as a teaching intern at the Salisbury Summer School in Salisbury, Connecticut during the summer before my senior year. It was through this internship that my interest in and excitement about teaching developed and grew. I’ve always been fascinated by the subject of history, as so much of our world today can be tied back to our past. I’m excited for the opportunity to get students passionate about learning and exploring topics and themes of history.

At Williams, I also played field hockey and lacrosse and was a captain of the lacrosse team my senior year. Sports have always been a huge part of my life, so I’m excited to be able to continue my involvement with athletics through coaching field hockey and lacrosse at Potomac.
 

Bill Peery

Bill Peery

Titles: Upper School Science Teacher
Biography:

"I love to introduce students to the physical world around them, but most importantly, I serve as a mentor and guide as students learn to lead lives of principle and character in the world beyond Potomac."

Through a chance meeting – a “right place, right time” kind of thing – I was offered a teaching position by my high school headmaster when I first graduated from college, where I majored in geology. In this first teaching job, I coached and taught science to seventh grade boys. I had a wonderful experience introducing my students to the science I loved and guiding them along the path that would grow them into young men of principle.  After two years in this role, I returned to graduate school, specializing in hydrogeology, and then spent a 10-year period working throughout the Rocky Mountains and North Carolina. There, I conducted groundwater resource investigations and studies that documented soil and groundwater contamination by mining and petroleum wastes. In 1997, standing in a Utah parking lot after a long day at the office, I decided to change paths and return to teaching. My family and I moved east to be closer to my roots, and my daughter and I came to Potomac.<

My daughter, who graduated as a lifer from Potomac, benefitted in immeasurable ways from the nurture and support she received from her teachers and coaches. My family has been blessed throughout this experience. I have spent the years since my arrival teaching physical science in the Intermediate School and presently teach sophomore chemistry in the Upper School. I love to introduce students to the physical world around them, but most importantly, I love serving as a mentor and guide as students learn to lead lives of principle and character in the world beyond Potomac.

In my free time, I like reading, traveling, and fly-fishing.

Laura Petro

Laura Petro

Titles: Upper School Science Teacher
Biography:

"We are constantly looking for the best fuel--the best fuel for our cars, our homes, our bodies and our minds. Having lived in the coal regions of Northeastern Pennsylvania most of my life, and teaching for seven years at an independent school founded by the president of a coal mining business, has always been a part of my life to some extent.

In a historical and scientific sense, coal is what fueled homes, businesses and the economy, as well as my interest in chemistry and renewable energy. We see fossil fuels depleting and advancements in sustainable energy on the rise, such as our very own biodiesel bus system. What began as leisurely reading an article about solar cells has fueled my passion of researching advancements in renewable energy. This hobby requires that I apply what I learned in all my years of school and to teach myself new concepts in order to understand the developing technologies that are poised to replace coal and other depleting hydrocarbons as viable energy sources.

The ability to apply knowledge converts facts and figures into fuel for our minds, enabling us to create solutions to the problems we encounter, no matter how simple or complicated the task. It is this way of thinking that I try to instill in my students. The discrete study of the sciences alone will not aid us as we move forward in our lives; we must learn to apply, sometimes in a cross-curricular manner, the knowledge we have acquired along the way in a most creative way. My interest in the sciences actually began toward the end of my high school career, after participating in a classroom assignment to teach another student about DNA transcription. I was amazed by the intricacies of the process and captivated by my anatomy and physiology teacher. After high school I pursued my bachelor's and master's degrees in biochemistry with a minor in theology from the University of Scranton, conducting research on Alzheimer’s disease. The interest I developed in the hands-on world of research led me to pursue further studies in environmental carcinogens at Penn State University Medical Center. From then on, my love of chemistry would combine forces with my love of teaching, taking me to places I never thought possible, including teaching organic chemistry for 5 years at my alma mater. All these experiences have presented me with challenges, both as a teacher and as a person, shaping the way I approach education and fueling my desire to become better.

If not in the chemistry lab, I feel most comfortable in the kitchen, “experimenting” with new flavors and foods. I am looking forward to exploring the restaurants and culinary adventures of the DC area.

Antonietta Pilkerton

Titles: Upper School French Teacher and Upper School Registrar
Biography:

"I'm excited to be joining Potomac's world languages department."

In addition to teaching three sections of French (levels III, IV and V), I will serve as registrar, in charge of scheduling classes, students, and faculty, maintaining schedules during the year (e.g., drop/add and level changes), and overseeing student transcripts.

I received my bachelor's degree in French from St. John’s University and my master's degree in French literature from the University of Michigan. I have taught all levels of French during my more than two-decade career at the Ashley Hall School in Charleston, SC and locally at the Connelly School of the Holy Child.

Dave Pinkus

Dave Pinkus

Titles: Upper School Science Teacher
Biography:

"I tried my hand at teaching in 2001 and have never looked back."

Growing up with both of my parents working as educators, I was destined to become one myself. After working as a political activist, environmental scientist, and congressional staffer, I tried my hand at teaching in 2001 and have never looked back. Prior to teaching at Potomac, I spent 13 years teaching at two different schools in Monmouth County, NJ.

I have a bachelor's degree in geosciences from Penn State and a master's degree in physics education from UVA. My love of geology persists as an amateur paleontologist. While most of my work collecting lies in the Cretaceous and Eocene deposits of central New Jersey, I have my eyes on a few sites in Prince George’s County. I enjoy running and am also a huge soccer fan - Go Barca!!

My wife and I met at a Department of Energy Fusion Research Laboratory which is also where we had our wedding ceremony. We live in Montgomery County with our son Jack who is a second grader. I am excited to get to know my new crop of physics students this year.

CJ Remmo

Titles: Manager of Special Projects and Coach
Jessica Reynolds

Jessica Reynolds

Titles: Intermediate and Upper School Mathematics Teacher
Biography:

Outside of school and coaching, you will find that I am traveling the world, trying out new recipes in the kitchen, heading out for a long run, or finding time to play around with ceramics, knitting, or weaving.

I grew up outside of Philadelphia with my two sisters (one of whom is my twin!). I graduated from Skidmore College, where I majored in mathematics and minored in studio art. Immediately after college, I traveled around Europe with two friends for two months before ending up in California as a nanny. The following year, I was accepted into a five-year fellowship in Washington, DC, with Math for America. Through the program, I earned my master's in teaching from American University and met my husband, who also teaches mathematics. For the next four years, I taught middle school math, algebra, and geometry in DC public schools and enjoyed attending the monthly professional development programs through Math for America.

After completing the fellowship, my husband and I decided it was time for a change in location so we spent the last two years teaching in the Cayman Islands. In the Caymans, I had fun finding ways to adapt the curriculum to my students' interests, building on their prior knowledge. While the beaches are breathtaking and I found scuba diving, snorkeling, and paddle boarding enthralling, being away from the DC area made us realize what a wonderful place it is to live and work. I am excited to join the amazing faculty and staff at Potomac and look forward to working with the students.

Outside of school and coaching, you will find that I am traveling the world, trying out new recipes in the kitchen, heading out for a long run, or finding time to play around with ceramics, knitting, or weaving.

Matthew Rheinstein

Matthew Rheinstein

Titles: Assistant Robotics Coach
Biography:

"Growing up in the DC area gave me many opportunities to explore robotics, both military and consumer-grade."

Growing up in the DC area gave me many opportunities to explore robotics, both military and consumer-grade. I was brought into the competitive scene at an early age and have loved it ever since. For nearly a decade, the teams I’ve lead have won several international awards. I am excited to bring my experience and expertise to The Potomac School’s teams.

When not in the work room, I enjoy hiking in Great Falls, kayaking on the Potomac River and the Shenandoah River, and traveling around DC and Richmond enjoying the culture.

Jerry Rich

Jerry Rich

Titles: K-12 Chair of Music Dept. & IS/US Music Teacher, Graduation Coordinator & Music Director for the US Musical
Biography:

"My hobbies include everything I do for a living; I love music in all its forms."

After teaching for over 30 years at The Potomac School, I am just as impressed with the students today as I was that first year in 1987. The kids here are so broadly talented that the same student can impress in the science lab, sing in the musical, and thrill on the soccer team. Potomac is a real Renaissance community. Many Potomac alumni have gone on to become professional (even award-winning) musicians, including: Chris Ayer (internationally-known SONY singer-guitarist and laureate of the John Lennon Songwriting Competition), Rostam Batmanglij (co-founder of the celebrated indie rock group Vampire Weekend; recent solo concerts in Barcelona, Brussels, Cologne, Dublin, London, and Paris), Grace Browning (Principal Harpist with Dallas and Santa Fe Operas; Principal Harpist, Rochester Philharmonic), Alyson Cambridge (operatic soprano and recording artist who has sung leading roles with Dallas Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, Metropolitan Opera, San Diego Opera, Spoleto Festival, and Washington National Opera), Peter Lerman (an award-winning composer whose most musical Brooklynite enjoyed a successful off-Broadway run and was a New York Times Critics’ Pick), Johannes Löhner (adjunct professor at Nuremberg’s Hochschule für Musik), Alex Ross (prize winning author, MacArthur Fellowship recipient and music critic for The New Yorker), and Theodore Shapiro (composer for over 70 films; winner of 12 BMI Film Music Awards and 2 IFMCA Awards).

Although I am currently leading Potomac’s Intermediate and Upper School choruses and teaching AP music theory, music history, and jazz arranging, over the years I’ve taught composition, counterpoint, handbells, history of jazz, orchestration, and vocal performance. My musical background includes studies at Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Conservatory of Music and Catholic University’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music. I have been music director for 70 musicals, conducted at the White House and the Kennedy Center, and directed 24 chamber choir tours in Atlanta, Austria, Barcelona, Bermuda, Boston, Charleston (twice), Chicago, England (twice), Florida, Germany, Italy, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans (twice), New Jersey, New York (five times), Philadelphia, and Provence. I am also director of music at McLean’s Trinity United Methodist Church, where I direct several choirs and get to play an 1850 pipe organ. Each summer I work with our summer programs’ discovery and theatre camps, and then I take time off for master classes with noted choral conductors such as Ralph Allwood, Timothy Brown, Robin Gritton, Robert Hollingworth, James MacMillan, Christopher Robinson, Harold Rosenbaum, John Rutter, and Jeffrey Skidmore.

Franz Ritt

Franz Ritt

Titles: Upper School English Teacher and Yearbook Advisor
Biography:

“One of the ideas I stress every year to my students is that English is an enormous subject that they should explore widely until they find areas that excite them.” 

I grew up in a Navy family and have lived all over the Eastern Seaboard and Europe. I majored in English at Bates College, where I studied poetry and co-captained the sailing team. I try to bring my own interests in literature to the classroom every day. Sometimes that means designing new senior seminars on dystopian novels and ethics, and other times it means showing teenagers that 19th-century writers actually lay out some truths that apply to our modern world. One of the ideas I stress every year to my students is that English is an enormous subject that they should explore widely until they find areas that excite them. 

Potomac is a special place because students have such a desire to work hard and trust that their teachers are leading them in the right direction. As a teacher, that is a lot of responsibility to manage, but it is inspiring to teach here. 

This summer I went on a four-week road trip, when I visited national parks, hiked in the Canadian Rockies, and avoided bears.  

Cristina Salamone

Cristina Salamone

Titles: Upper School Spanish Teacher
Biography:

I wanted to be "that" educator who could motivate, encourage, and inspire others as my teacher had done for me years before.

Being passionate about foreign language learning started at an early age. My mother is from France, and my father speaks five languages. As a result, I have always been keenly aware of the innumerable advantages that knowing more than one language has.

My love affair with the Spanish language began in the sixth grade. In addition to my family, my middle school Spanish teacher served as an inspiration and guiding force for me to take my foreign language studies to the next level. Despite working for a large accounting firm in New York City after college, the field of education beckoned; becoming a teacher was a natural and easy choice for me. I wanted to be "that" educator who could motivate, encourage, and inspire others as my teacher had done for me years before.

Having lived immersed in the Spanish language and culture first as an undergraduate student in Seville, Spain, then as a graduate student Madrid, and now spending my summers in the province of Valladolid with my children and my husband's family, has made me even more sure of my career choice: to share my interest and love of the Spanish language and culture with others. Becoming a National Board Certified Teacher in 2010 afforded me the opportunity to reflect upon my teaching practices, and it was an excellent exercise in being mindful of how I impart my knowledge and expertise with students and advisees.

After teaching at both public and private institutions in southern Connecticut and northern Virginia, I have found the most wonderful of schools in which to hone my craft. Potomac is a special place to learn as well as to instruct, and I admire how much the faculty truly cares about the students’ social and emotional well-being; I am proud of the efforts we put into helping them grow to be successful and happy young individuals. Their enthusiasm and curiosity for learning is insatiable, and it is so gratifying to hear them give a resounding “gracias” after each class! I strive to make language-learning fun and meaningful for my students, as well as to show them a glimpse of how indispensable knowing a second language is in today’s global world. Through my interests in reading, music, cooking, and traveling, I endeavor to instill in them the ability to appreciate not only other world cultures, but also their own.

Liza Schalch

Liza Schalch

Titles: Upper School English Teacher and Coach
Biography:

“English classes demand that we notice and question everything instead of sliding towards a far less exhausting mode of being: passive absorption, quiet acceptance.”

I feel tremendously lucky to be an English teacher because English classrooms have the potential to be sites of deep transformation. My years as a student and teacher of English have convinced me that stories can not only entertain, but can also humanize, liberate, and galvanize; that composition gives shape, depth, and clout to our thoughts; that discussion throws light on the complexity of characters and people alike. And, vitally, I have found that the study of literature allows us to gain critical distance (i.e., the act of stepping back so that we can see and analyze what we’re steeped in). English classes demand that we notice and question everything instead of sliding towards a far less exhausting mode of being: passive absorption, quiet acceptance.

I grew up in Maryland and then studied English and history at Amherst College, where I met my husband. I ran cross-country and track for Amherst and especially loved racing through the woods as New England’s fall came alive, turning green into gold and red. After college, I taught English and coached soccer at a small co-ed school on Cape Cod called Falmouth Academy.

For graduate school, I returned home and attended Georgetown University. While pursuing a master’s degree in English, I focused on Charles Dickens, Toni Morrison, and, unexpectedly, the American prison system. Instead of producing a formal thesis, I wandered far from the walls of academia and worked with community partners to found two adult education programs: Book Club Bridge and Returning Writers. Both programs aim to help returning citizens (people released from prison) reintegrate into society by forming community through narrative. This experience profoundly shaped my pedagogy and my sense of educational stakes.

After graduate school and two wonderful years teaching AP English and American literature at Laurel School in Cleveland, Ohio, I am again returning home. I am honored to be joining Potomac’s community as both a teacher and a cross-country coach.

When I am not teaching, I am drawn to lakes and mountains. I grew up devoted to drums, but now mostly play guitar and sing.

Brigitte Searchinger

Titles: Upper School French Teacher
Giorgio Secondi

Giorgio Secondi

Titles: Upper School Economics Teacher, Leadership for Investment Club and Upper School Financial Literacy
Biography:

“I started teaching at Michigan and fell in love right away – there is nothing quite as exciting as nudging students toward questions and discovery.”

I was born and raised in Milan, Italy. I discovered economics in college and wrote a senior thesis on China’s economy, which had just started the reforms that would later turn it into an economic powerhouse. After studying abroad in Upstate New York, I decided to return to the US for graduate school, where I earned a Master’s and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan. I started teaching at Michigan and fell in love right away – there is nothing quite as exciting as nudging students toward questions and discovery.

After brief stints teaching at American University and Wellesley College, I moved to Los Angeles and taught at Occidental College for ten years. There, I was granted tenure and served as Chair of the Department of Economics. Looking for new challenges, I moved to New Hampshire and spent ten years at Phillips Exeter Academy, where I explored new pedagogies, developed new classes, and coached teams of students in economics competitions. 

I’m excited to have returned to the DC area, where my career began, and to have joined the Potomac community. I'm looking forward to more adventures in learning!

Daniel Shannon

Daniel Shannon

Titles: Upper School Spanish Teacher
Biography:

“At Potomac you are constantly challenged to improve as a professional, and constantly rewarded with cooperative students who make every effort worthwhile … and fun!”

There is something truly amazing about teaching: you can do it for more than three decades and still keep learning wonderful new things about your students, your teaching and yourself. But best of all, almost every day makes you feel vital, relevant and excited to challenge yourself.

Growing up in Argentina, I assumed I’d be a writer, musician, artist or something related. Art and music were my great passions. Though my parents and a long list of aunts and uncles were educators, I never really considered teaching. Once I was in the classroom, though, it didn’t take long to realize that this was IT for me. In my first decade of teaching I was driven to learn all I could about alternative teaching goals, methods and philosophies. I met fascinating educators who worked in very different settings, all of whom shared a deep commitment to the fundamental importance of this work.

When I became principal of the Columbia High School in Buenos Aires, though, I began to realize I wanted to develop my knowledge and skills in a systematic way. After graduating from the University of Buenos Aires, my wife and I moved with our two children to the United States, where I became chair of the language department at the Maret School, and also enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland (go Terps!). This second decade of professional growth was devoted to developing a stronger repertoire of tried and true practices. This was also when I discovered the power of direct experiences. I led a number of student trips to Argentina and Spain and witnessed the incredible growth and learning impact of such immersion experiences.

I discovered Potomac in 1999. I had traveled with Alex Thomas, then chair of the language department, on an immersion trip to Spain with students from schools around the United States, including five from Potomac. I was totally wowed by the Potomac students, so when I was asked if I’d be interested in joining the faculty here, I jumped at the chance. The decade-plus at the School has been a wonderful succession of growth challenges and rewarding teaching experiences. At Potomac you are constantly challenged to improve as a professional, and constantly rewarded with cooperative students who make every effort worthwhile … and fun!

Nancy Smalley

Titles: Administrative Assistant for Athletics
Tina Starling

Tina Starling

Titles: Grades 7-12 Math Dept. Chair and Upper School Mathematics Teacher
Biography:

"I have a Ph.D. in mathematics education and more than 15 years of classroom teaching experience."

I am honored and excited to return to Potomac for my fourth year of working with amazing students and faculty. I am originally from North Carolina. There, I worked at NC State University as a teacher and educator for prospective middle grade and high school teachers. I have a Ph.D. in mathematics education and more than 15 years of classroom teaching experience. Both my teaching and my research interests include the use of discourse and technology in mathematics education.

Outside of work, I enjoy being outdoors and spending time with friends and family.

Harry Strong

Harry Strong

Titles: Upper School Teacher, Director of Forensics, K-12 Public Speaking Coordinator
Biography:

“There is no greater reward than being present when a student’s light bulb glows because they suddenly figured something out which they had previously struggled to understand.”

My coaching career is all about helping students understand they can accomplish so much more than they ever realized. The concept of competing in speech and debate is scary for most students. But like any sport, coaching is about teaching the skillsets and the knowledge needed to be successful. I don’t believe in a lot of rules for students with one big exception: Having fun!

As a coach, I’ve been fortunate. I’ve coached state and national champions, All-Americans, and students who went on to successfully compete in college. But not everyone is going to be a champion. But they can be on a team that always aspires to be the best!

My approach to teaching is my approach to coaching. Thus, Speech That Matters and the entrepreneurial classes are all about changing the way we think to accomplish things we never thought possible.

Cindy Swope

Titles: Upper School French Teacher and Current Adviser
Biography:

"The culture of our school seeks to inspire each student to do his or her best work each day.”

Bachelor of Arts cum laude, Davidson College
Diplome CREDIF, Universite de Montpellier in France
Master of Arts in French, University of Virginia

I have been teaching since 1981 and have been at Potomac since 1992. The culture of our school seeks to inspire each student to do his or her best work each day, but this is true also for Potomac's faculty. Staying on top of research on learning, honing one's craft, learning new technologies, sharing best practices, infusing creativity and sparkle into each day's lesson and always striving to deepen one's understanding of the material are part and parcel of what my colleagues do here, and very much a part of why this is a terrific place to teach.

Alekhya Tallapaka

Titles: Speech and Debate Coach
Myles Teasley

Myles Teasley

Titles: Upper School History Teacher
Biography:

"For me, studying politics and history is like watching a great movie epic."

Born and raised in south Los Angeles, both my high school and college (Harvard-Westlake School and Davidson College) emphasized the idea of ‘disproportionate impact.’ Armed with over a year of experience abroad and a B.A. in political science & Arabic, I graduated hoping to make that impact in Washington, DC, by working in positions related to Middle East policy. After several months working in government relations, I planned a yearlong deferral to prepare for the intensity of a master’s degree in international relations. Instead, I discovered a passion for teaching, coaching, mentorship, and college advising, first at St. Mark’s School of Texas, and then at Pacific Ridge School in San Diego.

For me, studying politics and history is like watching a great movie epic. The dramatic suspense of Hannibal crossing the Alps or the evacuation at Dunkirk provide for plots better than any Hollywood script. The study of history and the social sciences facilitates civil discourse, the unpacking of complexity, the examination of ethics and morality, and allows students and me to make personal connections between our lives and the complicated world we live in. In doing so, I witness the ‘disproportionate impact’ that teachers have in helping develop young adults capable of and willing to engage responsibly in their diverse communities, democratic society, and an increasingly globalized world.

When away from the classroom, you can find me playing volleyball, spending too much money going to the movies, refreshing POLITICO, hoping the Laker slump doesn’t last forever, and bleeding black and red for Davidson Wildcat basketball.

Alex Thomas

Alex Thomas

Titles: Upper School Spanish Teacher and Advancement Associate for Alumni Relations
Nicholas Tkach

Nicholas Tkach

Titles: Upper School Mathematics Teacher
Biography:

“I believe that the salient features of math – its aura of abstract purity, its requirement of discipline, its worlds of thought to explore, and its offer of opportunities to find truth – make it not only good for the mind, but ennobling.” 

I have a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Middlebury College and have taught most high school levels, from beginner’s algebra to multivariable calculus and linear algebra. I believe that the salient features of math – its aura of abstract purity, its requirement of discipline, its worlds of thought to explore, and its offer of opportunities to find truth – make it not only good for the mind, but ennobling.

Outside of math, I completed a graduate degree in music composition and have played the piano for more than 20 years. I am pleased to be teaching a few piano students at Potomac.

Michael Via

Michael Via

Titles: Upper School Teacher, Admission Associate and Head Varsity Boys Lacrosse Coach
Biography:

The best part about working in independent schools like Potomac is the opportunity we have to shape and teach "the whole student."

Growing up in an independent school environment and attending a small liberal arts college, I was fortunate to develop many meaningful relationships with my teachers, coaches, and mentors. These relationships and experiences were extremely important in helping me develop as a student, athlete, and as a person, while also inspiring me pursue a career in education.

The best part about working in independent schools like Potomac is the opportunity we have to shape and teach "the whole student." I firmly believe in the value of the teacher-coach model, and given my own experience as as student and as a teacher in independent schools, I feel uniquely suited to help our students grow and develop both inside and outside the classroom.

After spending some working on Capitol Hill and coaching lacrosse at St. Albans in Washington, DC, I began teaching history and coaching full time at St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School in Alexandria, VA. Prior to arriving at Potomac, I taught 5th grade and coached football, basketball, and lacrosse at Norfolk Academy, in Norfolk, VA.

I am a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, where I majored in history and served as the captain of the varsity lacrosse team. I recently completed my M.Ed. in independent school leadership at Vanderbilt's Peabody College in Nashville, TN.

Education runs in the family, as my wife, Sarah, teaches English and serves as the 9th grade chair at the Bullis School in Potomac, MD. When I am not teaching history, coaching lacrosse, or giving a tour with Potomac's Admission Office, I enjoy surfing, learning how to play golf, and traveling with my wife.

Jen Vignolini

Jen Vignolini

Titles: Upper School Science Teacher
Biography:

"I look forward to the new adventures each day brings."

I have always been fascinated with science. I earned my bachelor's degree in microbiology at Penn State and my master's at the University of Michigan. I had planned to spend my career in the lab, until given the opportunity to student teach. The feeling of fulfillment I experienced when helping others to learn and become excited about science instilled in me a passion for teaching. Shortly after, I begin teaching at Charlotte Country Day School where I found great purpose in being a part of students' academic and personal growth.

I am excited to be joining Potomac this fall to teach biology and topics in genetics, and look forward to the new adventures each day brings.

Tory Virchow

Tory Virchow

Titles: Upper School Director of Curriculum and Academics and Upper School English Teacher
Biography:

"In my classroom each day, I seek to create an environment that simultaneously engages my students and also encourages them to take risks."

Ever since my 10th grade English teacher brought Macbeth to life in the classroom, I've had a passion for learning about literature in an interactive, engaging environment. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Davidson College, I studied and taught both English and theater before pursuing an Master of Arts in English from New York University. Since then, I've been teaching English in the classroom while continuing to pursue my love of theater in my free time. In my classroom each day, I seek to create an environment that simultaneously engages my students and also encourages them to take risks; when they feel passionate about the material, they are able to absorb so much more. As a result, in my role as Upper School director of curriculum and academics, it's my privilege to support our talented faculty and diverse student body as they make new discoveries about themselves and the material daily.

Robert von Glahn

Robert von Glahn

Titles: Grades 12 Dean and Upper School History Teacher
Biography:

“I still remember my jazz band instructor explaining how improvisation is ‘just like swimming underwater."

Teaching and learning can happen anywhere. This may sound sappy and clichéd, but for me, it continues to be a guiding mantra. As a student at Holland Hall in Tulsa, OK, Carleton College in Northfield, MN, and Teachers College in New York City, I was lucky to have dedicated and engaging teachers and professors. They brought the material to life and challenged me to think critically and creatively.

However, some of my most formative learning experiences came from outside the classroom. I still remember my jazz band instructor explaining how improvisation is “just like swimming underwater,” and my football coach reliving the moment when his coach screamed, “block or get out of the way!” at him. These lessons were about the problem at hand, but came to mean something more – something that I still carry with me some 20 years later.


It is the appreciation of these lessons that has brought me to teaching, coaching, and my duties as a dean. Whether I’m finding new ways to stretch my students’ understanding and appreciation for history, challenging student leaders to think about an adaptive problem differently, or working with the ice hockey team to learn how to read a play and support each other as a unit, I find deep satisfaction in working and collaborating with students to solve problems and squeeze lessons out of our experiences. I am fortunate to be working at Potomac, a place that encourages these rewarding opportunities.
 

Virginia Weidenfeld

Virginia Weidenfeld

Titles: Upper School English Teacher and Director of Writing Center
Biography:

"I received my master's degree in English from NC State University and my undergraduate degree in English education from UNC Chapel Hill."

I received my master's degree in English from NC State University and my undergraduate degree in English education from UNC Chapel Hill. I am joining Potomac from the Connelly School of the Holy Child where I have taught all levels of upper school English over the course of my 12‐year tenure and also served as the department chair and as a college counselor.

Jake Westermann

Jake Westermann

Titles: Upper School Director of Student Life and Upper School Humanities Teacher
Biography:

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Potomac community as the Director of Student Life.”

My teaching career began at a small urban charter school in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and it was there that I found my passion for working with young people. In the years since, I have taught a variety of subjects and grade levels – namely history and English – to high school seniors. Before coming to Potomac, I lived and worked at St. George’s, a boarding school in Newport, RI. My primary responsibilities included directing our Teaching Fellows Program and leading an annual international trip with students in my Global Studies Senior Seminar. I also coached varsity basketball and lacrosse. 

As an undergraduate at Brown University, I studied modern American history and education and played on the lacrosse team. More importantly, I met my wife, Susie Keller, and together we developed a shared love for the city of Providence. Throughout the early part of my teaching career, I attended Dartmouth College and earned a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies.  

In my free time, I enjoy playing with my son, Otto, cooking for my family, reading, and collecting records. I live in Washington, DC, with Susie, Otto, and our two black labs, Boston and Bea. I’m thrilled to be joining the Potomac community as the Director of Student Life.