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Senior Class 2024

Demonstrated Outcomes

Upper School students are challenged to think critically and creatively; express themselves clearly and articulately; make relevant connections between disciplines; and begin to explore the many ways that knowledge and skills can be applied to address real-world issues.

Upper School Academics

We are committed to fostering an inclusive community rooted in our core values. To that end, our educational program includes academic lessons that encourage critical and ethical thinking, service learning and student-life experiences that expose students to new perspectives, character-based advisory programming, and assemblies on a wide range of topics with diverse speakers from within and outside of the school community.

Enriching Curriculum

Upper School’s rigorous and enriching curriculum inspires a love of learning and provides a strong foundation for continued intellectual growth. Required and elective courses in a wide range of academic disciplines develop breadth of understanding and offer opportunities for deeper exploration in areas of interest. With diverse opportunities for participation, leadership, and service, Upper School supports both intellectual development and character formation, preparing Potomac graduates to succeed in college and beyond.

Upper School Science
Upper School May Day
Upper School Food and Travel

Exciting Moments

At Potomac we encourage our students to think and talk about what they are learning; this ties in with John Dewey’s famous observation, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”

Certainly, our students learn by doing, but they also learn by thinking about the subject, what its significance is, and how they can apply and share their knowledge with others.

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Engaged Learning

On any given day our Upper Schoolers might be participating in an outdoor raku firing for their ceramics class, or collaborating on a GeoGebra lab in Extended Geometry, or engaging in animated discussions in history and English classes, or perhaps French students might be traveling to the Phillips Collection in DC to get an up-close look at works by Renoir.

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Upper School Robotics
Upper School Art
Upper School Class Collaboration
Upper School Collaboration

LEARNING FROM ONE ANOTHER

Learning is the essential goal at the heart of our mission as a school and learning from one another is integral to growth. For example, leaders from our Financial Literacy Club have prepared and led assemblies on financial topics, helping their fellow students develop a key life skill.

Students from our Advanced Comparative Government class organized a lunchtime conversation about Ukraine, sparking thoughtful dialogue about a significant world event.

Leaders of various alliance groups have shared information about their lives, cultures, and family experiences, helping us become the inclusive community we aspire to be.

Our SERC students have delivered informative talks about their science research, demonstrating the power of inquiry and effort to advance understanding. 

ACADEMIC DEPARTMENTS

When I give my students choice in an assignment, I am amazed by what they teach me because of their own curiosity. They ask questions of one another as they take over class for a day and lead discussion on a topic of their choosing. So often, I sit back and recognize that I am just a facilitator; if I didn't take into account where their curiosity takes them, our class wouldn't be nearly as enriching.Tory Virchow, Upper School Director of Curriculum & Academics

Senior Projects Showcases Range of Knowledge and Capabilities

This week, the Class of 2024 completed and presented their senior projects. The students worked on these during the month of May, sharing their progress in small groups once a week. At the conclusion of their projects, all of our graduates shared their work with their peers and faculty, effectively communicating what they learned, the challenges they overcame, and their hopes for future endeavors in presentations earlier this week. Lola Monroe, Laith Weimer, Nat Estes, Rachel Robbins, Mackenzie Fulgham, and Cole Griswold were selected to present at this year's Senior Project Showcase. Their projects included teaching in the Lower School, internships on Capitol Hill, research for a synagogue, and music production.

The Class of 2024 is an accomplished, creative, and hard-working group. Their diversity of skills and interests was reflected in their projects and included interning at a real estate development firm, creating unique works of art, supporting repairs and improvements to our campus, filming a documentary on the spring musical – Hairspray, coaching various teams on and off campus, training as a guide at Manassas Battlefield, shadowing health care providers, contributing to the work of a number of community partners, and running and writing about an experiment documenting the switch from a smart to a flip phone. Great job, class of 2024! You have so much to offer. 

SERC 10 students recently presented their research proposals. Students spent the past few months reading peer-reviewed journal articles, learning about their topics, and developing a research question to address a scientific issue that has yet to be answered. Proposals covered topics such as dietary changes to prevent colorectal cancer; the creation of apps and devices to enrich the lives of people with such ailments as lung disease, heart arrhythmia or apraxia of speech; the use of AI to study topics such as autoimmune diseases, upper limb prosthetics and antibiotic resistance; and designing enzymes, hydrogels or nanoparticles that can treat such issues as diabetes, degradation of plastics and the prevention of skin cancer. 

Grade 9 Water Testing and Research

Grade 9 biology classes have been busy with chemical and biological stream monitoring activities in Pimmit Run this week. This lesson is just one part of Potomac’s stream monitoring protocol that supports research published by the Virginia Save Our Streams program. The research began in the fall with students measuring chemical indicators of water quality, such as pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrate, and phosphate levels. In the winter, they measured salt levels before and after winter storms. Now, students are focusing on catching and counting the macroinvertebrates. For their final project, students will analyze and explain the data they've collected to propose an "action plan" for the Potomac community based on the results. Throughout, they will add their data to the Clean Water Hub - a collection of citizen science data on stream health. Our student objectives are to evaluate the many qualities of the section of Pimmit Run that passes through Potomac’s campus and better understand ecosystem principles in a real-life situation; to become a citizen scientist and contribute to a larger set of data; and to inform our community and consider being a change agent. Experience the lesson here.

Peter Chang Visits Potomac

Renowned chef Peter Chang recently visited Potomac, bringing his wealth of culinary experience and success. Students from various classes, including Chinese language courses, the Adventure, Food, and Travel English elective, and juniors and seniors in the EFEB program were given the unique opportunity to hear about Chef Chang's inspiring journey and how he built his culinary empire. He emphasized that there are no shortcuts to success; the key lies in diligence and perseverance. Chang, who now owns 16 successful restaurants, captivated students as he prepared a traditional Chinese dish – which they were delighted to sample!

Students Tackle Harvard’s Economic Challenge

On Saturday, April 13, four seniors traveled to Cambridge, MA, to participate in the Harvard Pre-collegiate Economics Challenge, a competition that, this year, attracted teams from twenty-four schools across the United States. Graeme Evans, Sofya Donets, Ben Runde, and Natalia Vilela trained for several weeks and faced teams from Utah, New Jersey, and New Hampshire. While final results are still pending, Potomac won two of the three quiz bowl games they participated in and competed in an individual written test. The day included a talk by renowned Harvard economist Jason Furman and a supportive visit by alum Tea Picconatto ‘23, who is now a student at MIT. 

Students Present on Climate Change

This week, students in Science, Technology, and Society class presented their research on a problem related to Climate Change. The students focused primarily on renewable energy, investigating solar power (Paige Ramsey ‘24), geothermal energy (Kiki Bell ‘24), Wind Power (Jack Graham ‘24), and hydrogen cells (David Boehm ‘24). Jack Judd ‘24 analyzed the alteration of ice sheets that results in the formation of a water layer under the ice that accelerates the sliding of the ice into the ocean. All students offered insights on the problems investigated and presented experimental data to support potential solutions. The poster walkthrough was attended by their peers and members of the Upper School Admin Team. 

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Ms. Suzanne Bailey

“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.

Mrs. Josie Woods

Health & Wellness

“After 11 years, Potomac feels like home, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”

I came to Potomac in 2008 with a wide range of counseling experience including in-home behavioral counseling, foster/adoption casework and school-based counseling.  Over the last 11 years in our caring and kind community, and I have developed relationships that have helped me grow as a counselor and person. It is incredibly rewarding to work with such talented students and an engaged group of colleagues.

Adolescence is a time of rapid growth and change fraught with unique and diverse challenges, both developmentally and personally. In my role as Upper School Counselor, I seek to provide guidance that will allow each student to reach their full potential. It is also my hope that students will come to understand that asking for help and support are signs of strength.

I reside in Alexandria with my husband, Ryan, and two daughters, Cecilia and Sophia.  I am looking forward to the entire family joining the Potomac community as Ryan will be the Intermediate School Head and our two daughters will become Panthers this fall.

Mr. Glenn Adamec

"The connection between healthy body and healthy mind has never been as important as it is today. The world is an ever-changing and stressful place, and what better way to counter that than through exercise, sport and play."

I have a true calling for kids and sports. The combination of teaching K-6 physical education and coaching grades 7-12 allows me to begin at the most fundamental stage of instruction and continue through a student’s US athletic career.

My undergraduate degree is from James Madison University, and I have completed graduate-level coursework at both George Mason University and the University of Virginia. Professional memberships include the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD) and the Virginia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (VAHPERD).

The connection between healthy body and healthy mind has never been as important as it is today. The world is an ever-changing and stressful place, and what better way to counter that than through exercise, sport and play. The importance of teaching “life lessons” such as focus, perseverance, sportsmanship and teamwork through physical activity cannot be underestimated, as those skills can be applied in all aspects of life.

Ms. Barb Anastos

"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.

Ms. Jane Baker

"My favorite moments at Potomac involve either a) appreciating students’ performances, or b) working one-on-one with students to help put their ideas onto the page."

I am delighted to be returning to Potomac following a four-year absence as a full-time parent. 

Between 2012 and 2017, I was a History teacher, English teacher, student advisor, and faculty advisor to the Student Government Association and the Model UN club. 

My favorite moments at Potomac involve either a) appreciating students’ performances, or b) working one-on-one with students to help put their ideas onto the page.

In my time away from Potomac, I had a second son and joined activism related to climate, human rights, and anti-supremacism. 

I graduated from Dartmouth College and have a Masters in Education from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. 

Dr. Precious Barnes

Athletics/Physical Ed, Health & Wellness

“Learning how to become your own health advocate is one of the most powerful life skills a young athlete can learn.”

Managing health and wellness through sports and activities is an important aspect of a young person’s life. It takes time to understand your own health needs, and I love being able to assist students in that process. My goal is to not only diagnose and treat injuries but help students understand the importance of prevention and maintenance through diet, strength training, and conditioning. I too was a competitive athlete in volleyball, basketball, and track & field. I have also competed in fitness competitions. I spend most of my time strength training for fun now. 

I am currently pursuing my Doctorate of Athletic Training degree from Indiana State University. I completed my Master of Applied Nutrition at Northeastern University, and my Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from George Mason University. I hold the ITAT (ImPACT Trained Athletic Trainer) certification, and the Performance Enhancement Specialist certification.

Mr. Russ Bartlett

"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.

Ms. Gretchen Bauer

"One of my greatest joys is helping young people understand themselves and the natural world around them. Teaching biology allows me to experience this joy every day and to nurture students’ growth in the process. My goal is for them to connect our study of biology to what they hear on the news, read in a book or discuss with a doctor. "

After receiving my B.S. in Biology, I taught for a few years, spent a few years in Germany for my husband’s job and then was fortunate to join Potomac where the campus can be our classroom and exploration is engrained in the culture. I went on to earn a Masters degree in Sustainability and have also tried to help students participate in Potomac’s sustainability efforts. When I’m not teaching you might find me cooking, crafting, paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkeling or traveling around the world with my two children and husband.

Ms. Claire Berg

Admission

"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.

Mr. Rob Bloom

“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.

Mrs. Lauren Bramlette

Admission

“While the majority of my time at Potomac is spent with prospective families, I have always loved working with current students and make it a priority to do so.”

Working with kids has always been a passion and I spent my high school and college years teaching swim lessons, working at summer camps, and volunteering in tutoring programs. After earning my BA in Psychology at Haverford College, I spent three years in client service at a Fortune 500 company. That stint was enough to make me realize I wanted to feel more personally invested in my career. I took a teaching job at The Langley School and I have been working in education ever since. I left Langley to pursue my Masters in Education at Stanford and spent time at Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, DC. I began working at Potomac in the fall of 2010, and am grateful to be part of this community.

I live in Chevy Chase with my husband, John, and my two children, James and Tessa. In addition to admissions and advising, I recently became a Potomac parent, and am excited to share Potomac with my son and entire family.

Ms. Becca Brooks

"My journey to Potomac traversed mountains and rivers, literally, as I studied geography and love to be in nature."

While I’ve spent almost 20 years in the DC area, it hasn’t all been in schools.  My journey to Potomac traversed mountains and rivers, literally, as I studied geography and love to be in nature. I love Thoreau’s notion from Walden: “we can never have too much nature.” Eventually I realized my calling as an educator and my joy in helping others research their passions.  I love looking for answers and cannot wait to help our students find what they need in the Engelhard Family Library.

Mr. Steven Budd

"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.

Mrs. Helen Butler

"I thrive on getting to spend time with all of the students and faculty and love every minute spent on campus!"

I was born and raised in Charleston, SC.  After receiving my BA in Architectural History and Anthropology from UVA, I completed an MS in International Relations from Georgia Tech and an Education Specialist Degree from UGA.  I taught Social Studies to many different grade levels in Charlotte, NC until our move to Arlington, VA in 2012.  After a few years away from teaching, I missed it so much that I started substitute teaching at Potomac while running my stained glass business, Handwrought. Through my adventures in subbing, I have found my ideal position in the Upper School as the Administrative Assistant to the Head of the Upper School.  I thrive on getting to spend time with all of the students and faculty and love every minute spent on campus!

Ms. Julie Casola

"The only way to learn mathematics is to do mathematics."  - Paul Halmos

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to teach, but I haven’t always wanted to teach math.  In my first two years of college, I pursued a degree in elementary education with the hopes of one day working in a kindergarten or first-grade classroom.  Then, during the spring of my sophomore year, I spent a week interning in a seventh-grade math classroom, and my dreams changed.  The engagement, energy, and excitement these students brought to class with them each day, coupled with my inherent love for mathematics, led me to change my major as soon as the internship was over.  Now I get to spend my days supporting secondary students as they solve complex problems and make connections across the various strands of mathematics content. 

I am a Northern Virginia native who graduated summa cum laude from Virginia Tech with a BS in mathematics.  I also hold a Master’s Degree from Tech’s School of Education, where I was the Mathematics Education Student of the Year.  Before coming to Potomac, I taught pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, algebra 2, and precalculus in various middle and high schools in Virginia, Illinois, and New Jersey. When not at work, I enjoy hiking, baking, and spending time with my family and friends.    

Mr. Doug Cobb

"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.

Mrs. Anamaria Cole

"My goal as a Spanish teacher is for my students to love the language and culture as much as I do.  By exposing them to other cultures, students achieve a better understanding of the wider world and learn to recognize and accept others’ beliefs."

I was born in Chile and my family moved to the U.S. when I was a teenager. Although both my parents encouraged me to follow their footsteps and become an educator, I followed my own path.  I received my Bachelor’s Degree from Colgate University in Political Science and my Masters in Public Administration from George Mason University. I worked in this field for several years, but when I became a mother, I decided to get my teacher certification and I’ve loved working with adolescents.

Teenagers are full of energy and are a wealth of information. They keep me up to date with the latest news, pop culture, and school happenings. But what I appreciate the most about them is that if you give them the opportunity, they love connecting with their teachers. Thus, I provide a safe and nurturing environment to make them feel like they can be themselves and share their opinions freely. My goal as a Spanish teacher is for my students to love the language and culture as much as I do.  By exposing them to other cultures, students achieve a better understanding of the wider world and learn to recognize and accept others’ beliefs.

In my free time, I enjoy reading, hiking, exploring, traveling, and spending time with my kids when they visit. I am very excited to start the school year and to get to know the community at Potomac.

Mr. Austin Davis

I am a lover of stories and narratives; I enjoy the forward propulsion of a tale well-told, the twists and turns of a plot, the deep ways you can come to understand a nuanced character. And in some sense, schools are just full of stories: the stories of individual students' challenges and successes, the story of the arc of a year, the story of the growth an institution can experience over time, and more. I think that's why I love being an educator: doing this work is satisfying in the same way finishing a beautiful book is.

After graduating Williams College as an English and math double-major, I jumped right into teaching. Over my career I've taught all levels of high school English, I've coached swimming and water polo teams, and I've served as a faculty facilitator for school newspapers, Student Government groups, queer student affinity groups, a satire magazine, and a podcasting club. I've also been a grade dean, a service learning director, and a dean of students. I hold a master's in English from Middlebury College and a master's in independent school leadership from Teachers College, and I've taught at boarding schools, day schools, a Jewish school, and an Episcopal school. I'm excited to bring all that experience to Potomac!<

Outside of school, my husband and I live in Arlington, where we enjoy going on long walks, spoiling our feisty corgi, keeping up with all the latest TV shows, and trying new ice cream spots.

Mr. Mike DiCuirci

Music

"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.

Mrs. Karen Djorup

"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.

Ms. Morgan Downing

"On the last day of highschool, my Humanities teacher, Mr. Dart, explained to my class that learning doesn’t stop once we graduate from high school or college, we are “lifelong learners.’” At the time, the saying felt too cheesy, too simple, but little did I know how correct it would be and how correct it is in my life today."

After high school, I attended American University (AU) in Washington D.C., where I majored in Strategic Communications and minored in Education Studies. I loved studying the impact that media - whether print or digital - has on our daily lives. With a focus on education, I interned at local education nonprofits and companies, building their messaging to the audience they intended to serve - students and teachers. Post-graduation from AU, I spent two years working in the communications department of  Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE), a D.C.-based education non-profit whose mission focused on empowering parents (a majority Black and Brown) to advocate for policy changes they wanted to see in the District’s education system. 

As much as I grew from my roles at PAVE, I knew my time in the classroom - as a student - was not yet complete. I was yearning to learn more about the design and structure tools I used in my day-to-day work, but even moreso, how kids could use these tools to advocate for and make change. In 2022, I was accepted to Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in the Learning Design, Innovation, and Technology (LDIT) program. Over 11 months, I built my knowledge about the technological programs, tools, and lessons I could put into practice in both formal and informal learning spaces. 

I look forward to taking all the knowledge and ideas I gained from Harvard and implementing these in the classroom. However, I don’t intend to only teach the materials but I look forward to my students teaching me - and their support in strengthening my identity as a lifelong learner.

Ms. Isabelle Drake

“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.

Dr. Jenn Durham

“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.

Mr. Jason Dwyer

"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.

 

Ms. Kristin Enck

The Arts

"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.

Mrs. Catherine Fields

"It is refreshing every day to come to work with a group of students who want to learn."

Learning about the past has always intrigued me, and I think sharing that curiosity with my students is the most rewarding part of my job. With the help of Potomac, I have had many opportunities to travel and hone my craft. Most recently, last summer I spent a week in England exploring the mystery surrounding the death of King Richard III. He was one of the most hated kings in English history, and he had a dramatic death, but the discovery of his body 450 years gave his story new life. This trip, like many others, gave me a newfound focus and passion that I was able to share with my students.

Over the past 13 years, Potomac has certainly helped foster my love of teaching and learning. I have loved every moment. From the children, to the parents, to my fellow teachers, I have found a real home. It is refreshing every day to come to work with a group of students who want to learn.

My education background has always been English language arts/history. After receiving my bachelor's degree in English/creative writing from San Diego State University, I decided to pursue my graduate degree in British literature/history. Upon graduating from SDSU, I immediately found a love for teaching 6th graders, and this is the age group I have been working with ever since. Sixth graders are fun, energetic, and always keep me on my toes. There is never a dull moment in my classroom, and not one day has ever felt like the one before. I consider myself lucky to have such a profession and love of learning.

Mrs. Mia Fisher-Phillips

The Arts

“To find your passion in life is to know you would do that one thing for free, every day, for the rest of your life. To make your passion your job every day is the ultimate dream.”

Since I was 9 years old, I’ve known that Theatre Arts was my passion. Every day, I am blessed to have my passion as my actual job…what better way to live this life we’ve been given?

Creating tangible art from the pages of a script, building life on stage from a blank space and watching students breathe life into characters, are my great joys as an educator. There is no better moment than seeing a student’s confidence grow before your eyes…to watch their “light” turn on..to see them recognize their true power within. 

Drawing upon my professional experiences from performing on Broadway, off Broadway, national tours and regional theatre, I love imparting this knowledge to my students as they embark upon their own professional careers and theatrical journeys!

As a faculty member at Potomac, I am incredibly honored to work with such distinguished educators as we all work towards the same goals…fostering a rooted foundation while giving wings for our students to fly!

Mrs. Ellen Fitzpatrick

“I want students to love learning, to take pride in their accomplishments, to persevere when met with challenges, and to know I will always support them.”

Potomac is a special community. Every day I appreciate the students and the excitement they bring to the classroom. My colleagues feed my professional energy with their creative ideas and support of one another. And, of course, we’re surrounded by beauty on campus.

Growing up in Ohio and attending a small all-girls middle and high school, the teachers I loved and remember to this day were the ones who connected with me and pushed me beyond my comfort zone to do my personal best. More than that, however, they shared their passion and inspired me. I hope to do the same for my students.

At the University of Mary Washington, I majored in both in English and American studies, which led me to The College of William and Mary for my master’s in education. Since then, I’ve enjoyed 25+ years working in all aspects of education. My teaching career afforded me the opportunity to work with students of all ages - from preschool and high school and all grades in between, the common thread is the awe of wonder found in all my students. I want students to love learning, to take pride in their accomplishments, to persevere when met with challenges, and to know I will always support them.

In my free time, I love reading, walking our dog, and traveling with my family. From Kenya and Machu Picchu to America’s National Parks and North Carolina’s Outer Banks, being outdoors fuels my spirit.   

Mr. Levi Franklin

"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.

Ms. Bridget Gagne

“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.

Mr. Reese Gayle

Admission

"Because of my passion for social justice, I knew I wanted a career that focused on creating and shaping leaders who genuinely care for others regardless of their background."

Coming home to the DC area is such an exciting experience for me! After attending Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and studying communication and economics, I have the opportunity to work alongside some of the most talented and professional educators at the Potomac School. This fall I will be a Teaching, Admissions and Communications fellow.

Although my studies at LMU did not directly correlate to a career in education, I learned that our schools and how we educate our youth are one of the main influences on a child’s contribution to society down the line. Because of my passion for social justice, I knew I wanted a career that focused on creating and shaping leaders who genuinely care for others regardless of their background, and Potomac’s philosophy to “foster a diverse, inclusive learning community where all voices and viewpoints are valued” makes for the perfect environment to start this personal mission. I am ecstatic to learn how to shape a well rounded class in admissions, and how independent schools prepare for the future in advancement and communications. 

On a less serious note, if you ask me a simple question about the game of basketball: high school, college, or professional, you might regret the detailed soliloquy coming your way! 

Mr. James Gillespie

Technology

"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.

Dr. John Golden

"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.

Mr. David Grant

Administrative, Admission, Diversity & Inclusion

Mr. Nick Hanson

Music

"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.

Mr. Henry Heidtmann

Music

“I developed a passion for music early on, and I realized I wanted to teach when I reached high school. My parents are lifelong musicians and teachers, and always supported me throughout my musical career wherever it led, encouraging me to share the music I loved with others."

A native of North Carolina, I attended Appalachian State University in Boone, NC where I studied trumpet with James Stokes, piano with Bair Shagdaron (Moscow Conservatory), and conducting with John Ross (Interlochen). I was active in the Marching Mountaineers as both performer and arranger, and played trumpet and piano in the Appalachian Wind Ensemble, Symphony Band, and Trumpet Choir. I received my Bachelors of Music in Instrumental Music Education in 2017.

After graduating, I moved to Northern Virginia and began working as a substitute teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools. I spent 2 years working with many band programs in the Fairfax and Loudoun areas, including the Northern Virginia Youth Winds, before joining the Potomac family.

At Potomac, I am privileged and thrilled to work with students of all ages through our strong instrumental music program. In addition to working with the Intermediate School Symphonic Band, I assist with the Upper School Wind Ensemble and the 6th Grade Concert Band. I also teach 5th Grade beginning woodwinds and private lessons on trumpet and piano. Being part of the Potomac School community is a truly incredible experience, and I strive to cultivate a welcoming, challenging learning environment for my students. Every child learns differently, and I love helping to create the 'aha!' moments that show genuine learning is taking place. Most days, the students teach me just as much as I teach them!

Outside of my teaching duties at Potomac, I arrange music for band programs around the country, and work with the Langley High School Marching Band down the road. When I’m not teaching or arranging band music, I perform regularly with the Main Street Community Band and the City of Fairfax Swing Band. I live in Fairfax with my wife Erin and our bunny (Bun-Bun), and we enjoy hiking and adventuring in nature.”

Mrs. Jen Hellman

"Both the faculty and the students welcomed me from the moment I first came to interview, and I have continued to experience the school's openness and generosity of spirit ever since."

As I was growing up, my family moved to a new town every four or five years, preventing me from putting down deep roots in any one location. However, I began teaching history and English in the Potomac Intermediate School in 2003, and now I feel like I have found a permanent home. Both the faculty and the students welcomed me from the moment I first came to interview, and I have continued to experience the school's openness and generosity of spirit ever since.

Before arriving at Potomac, I studied history and medieval studies at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Then I earned a Master of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School and a master’s degree in education at Harvard Graduate School of Education. After several years teaching in the Boston area, I moved to DC with my husband, and we have since expanded our family to include our son and daughter, both DC natives who will be able to create their own roots here.

Mr. James Hightower III

Administrative, Diversity & Inclusion

I joined the Potomac community in July of 2022 marking my 21st year in Independent Schools.  Previous to entering independent school life, I attended the University of Virginia and Penn State University and graduated with a B.A. degree in African and African-American History. My professional career in education began in undergraduate admissions primarily at Johns Hopkins University.  Prior to coming to Potomac, my independent school experience had been immersed in college counseling. From the Associate Director of College Counseling at Phillips Academy Andover and the Lovett School in Atlanta, GA, to Dean of College Counseling and Student Life at Greensboro Day School, to most recently the Director of College Counseling at Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia, PA.

When you think about the fact that my entire career has been grounded in relationship building across all facets of higher and secondary learning - students, parents, faculty and staff, admissions, advancement, alumni, trustees, DEI, and student life, my transferable experience and skills are the perfect fit in serving as Potomac’s inaugural Director of Community Engagement.  

I maintain a holistic approach and focus on community well-being.  In my new role, I will lead our efforts to strengthen connections at Potomac. I will work to increase inclusion, promote engagement, and foster a deeper sense of belonging for all members of our community. In addition to supporting student and parent groups, I will collaborate with offices across campus to strengthen existing community initiatives and develop new ones. I am a great listener, and will be very visible on campus, to serve as a common point of contact for everyone who has suggestions or concerns related to fostering a strong and connected community at Potomac. In addition to my leadership responsibilities, I will also work with a small cohort of seniors as their college counselor.

Mr. Mike Hutton

"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.

Mr. Michael Hyde

"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.

Having taught and coached in independent schools for over 30 years now, it is a genuine pleasure and great privilege to work at Potomac. It is a remarkable community where authentic learning, intellectual and personal growth takes place on a daily basis. One of my favorite parts of my experience at Potomac is the wonderful opportunity to get to know my students and build relationships both in the classroom and on the playing field. Over the past 8 years at Potomac, I have been blessed to watch my 9th grade ECIV students grow up before my eyes and head off to college and beyond ready to face the challenges that life will throw at them. 

Mrs. Jasmine Jackson

“The middle is messy, but it’s also where all the magic happens”

My current teaching environment is an inclusive and community-centered education setting. I pride myself on having a personalized and student-centered classroom with a variety of learning models in order to reach every learner where they are, through authentic and innovative projects (which can get messy!) . I enjoy incorporating real-life connections to jobs and career fields through STEAM and digital projects where students discover endless possibilities through exploration. 

I went to college to earn my B.S. in Elementary Education (k-6) from Delaware State University while playing division 1 volleyball. Shortly after graduating and accepting my first teaching position in Loudoun County Public Schools over 6 years ago, I then went on to complete my M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction with Digital Design from George Mason University. 

When I am not in the classroom, you can find me on the volleyball court!  I am the Varsity Volleyball coach here at Potomac as well as a competitive travel coach in the area. My greatest joy has been starting my own youth volleyball training academy,  Virginia Rise Volleyball Academy. 

Mrs. Tracy Jaeger

“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.

Ms. Carol Jia

"Teaching Chinese is my passion, and I believe passion can inspire learning."

Language instruction should be conducted in real-life intercultural contexts and I provide environments like this in the classroom. Authentic materials are used to support students' language practice. Students are motivated to discover Chinese culture and we build connections between Potomac students and their counterparts in China. Language skills and culture combine and the result is for students to build a bridge and grow to be global citizens.

As an educator for 20 years since graduation from Peking University, I have taught in various school environments.  I also worked as an academic journal editor and reporter in Beijing. After immigrating to the U.S. in 2008, I became a Chinese language and culture teacher. I enjoy introducing Chinese culture not only to my students but also to my colleagues! I hold a master's degree from Peking University and am currently working on my second master's degree at George Mason University. During my spare time, I love reading, exercising, and cooking Chinese food. I also like learning new skills, such as tai chi. I have two children, a son in college and a daughter in elementary school.

Ms. Shveta Khullar

Administrative, Summer Programs, Finance

Mr. Matt Lijoi

“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.

Mr. Richard Lillis

"I want my students to be successful at Latin. I want them to feel enriched by the grammar, linguistics, history, and literature they've met in class. I want them to be pleased with their achievement, and to know that studying Latin was well worth their efforts."

I've taught Latin across all grade levels--from the fifth grade (a conversational Latin course!) through the twelfth, and a few semesters of college. I've also taught Attic Greek, Homeric Greek, and occasionally ancient and medieval Mediterranean history. The years have sped by, and I'm finding even greater meaning, satisfaction, and delight in teaching as the years pass.

I want my students to be successful at Latin. I want them to feel enriched by the grammar, linguistics, history, and literature they've met in class. I want them to be pleased with their achievement, and to know that studying Latin was well worth their efforts. By the end of third year Latin, I want them to be able to scan a passage of "unseen Latin" and think to themselves, Let me use a dictionary just a bit, and I can get this translation done.

I try to swim six miles per week, usually early in the morning and out-of-doors. I also try to read a bit of Homer several times a week. My wife and I have two daughters, one a working artist in D.C., the other a graduate student in Boston. We live in Potomac with a senescent, tuxedo cat--whose picture I wanted to display here, but didn't, to avoid the inevitable confusion. 

Mr. Jonathan Lindsay

"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.

Mr. Carl Long

"I fell in love with math in 11th grade, when, in a small classroom in Osaka, Japan, I was asked to determine the slope of a parabola."

Throughout that course, we were asked engage with the mathematics, question it, and discover its secrets.  Today, I try to give my students the same kinds of opportunities to explore mathematics, both as a lens to understand the world around us, and as an art for its own sake.  I enjoy looking for mathematics in life's nooks and crannies, and exploring the rich history of mathematics.

My other passion is Theatre.  I was a double major in Theatre and Mathematics at Grinnell College, and have pursued both professionally.  I have been involved in over 100 theatrical  productions as an actor, director, and fight choreographer.  When I am not at school or in the theatre, I enjoy spending time with my wife and two daughters, genealogy, and traveling.

Mr. Jason Lu

"At The Potomac School, I am so excited to learn from the expert and talented educators, my other teaching fellows, and the students I work with every day!"

At Pomona College, I studied neuroscience, and through various activities such as mentoring classes, coaching swimming, and volunteering at Camp Kesem I discovered a passion for teaching. However, the most impactful experience, and what made me decide to pursue teaching, came in my senior year. I conducted an extensive research thesis that was focused on social media overuse and how it affects the brain, especially in adolescents. After that was completed, I designed and taught a course called "Social Media and the Brain: How It Harms and How to Help," to a biology section at Claremont High School. It was through this class and the other activities that I decided to explore a career in education. 

At The Potomac School, I am so excited to learn from the expert and talented educators, my other teaching fellows, and the students I work with every day! I hope the next two years are filled with adventures, learnings, and friendship. I am thrilled to be working at The Potomac School as a Teaching Fellow and cannot wait to see what the future holds!

In my free time, I enjoy being active and playing sports such as basketball, swimming, ultimate frisbee, tennis, and many others. In addition, I love to be outdoors while spending time with friends and family. 

Mr. Nick MacDonald

"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.

Mr. Calvin Mainor

"There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you” - Derek Jeter

As a teaching fellow, I am passionate, hardworking, and dedicated to teaching and coaching the craft of athleticism. This year, I will be teaching Lower and Middle Schoolers P.E. and coaching Intermediate and Upper Schoolers.

My love for sports began at a young age, when I played AAU basketbalI and had the opportunity to travel to various cities for games. I also played baseball and football growing up. My passion for sports crossed over to my adult life when I decided to major in sports management at Bowie State University. I believe that if you have the passion, the competitive spirit, and the athleticism, the sky is the limit of where a fulfilling career in sports can take you, and mine has brought me here.

It is a joy to teach and coach at The Potomac School, and I look forward to inspiring my students, being inspired by them, and helping them reach their full potentials at this pivotal stage in their lives.  

Mr. Matt Marriott

Admission

"My favorite aspect of the Potomac community is the strength of relationships I am able to develop with the students I coach."

A native of Maryland's Eastern Shore, I attended boarding school at Saint James School in Hagerstown, Maryland before earning my Bachelor of Arts in History from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.  I developed a love of teamwork and competition during my scholastic and collegiate career both in the classroom and on the playing fields and I am grateful for the life lessons l learned through academics and athletics.

After beginning my professional career as a wealth advisory representative for RBC Wealth Management, I began coaching youth, high school, and club lacrosse in 2010.  At Potomac, I am an Assistant Director of Admission, the Head Boys Lacrosse Coach, and an Assistant Coach with the football team.

I live in Washington, DC with my wife, Alison, and our cat, Pippa.  We enjoy cooking, hiking, traveling, and celebrating the joys of life together.  In my free time, you will find me on the golf course, playing with my nieces, or reading in our hammock.

Mrs. Barb Mays

"I love teaching and coaching and Potomac allows me to do both. I can be teaching first graders how to throw overhand in the morning, coaching an eighth grader on the finer points of how to shoot a layup in the afternoon and spending the evening explaining how our JV basketball team is going to execute a full court press. I love all of it!"

I am still an avid athlete and enjoy running, weight lifting and golf. I graduated from George Mason University for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. My greatest accomplishments are rising triplets and pitching in three college world series while playing softball at George Mason.

Mr. Brian McCarthy

Technology

“With seventeen years of experience in education and coaching, I am honored to join the Potomac School faculty. Having grown up in a Philadelphia suburb, my journey brought me to DC for college, and I have called this region home for the past few decades.

What drew me to Potomac is its commitment to academic excellence and its embrace of a balanced, student-centered education. Throughout my educational journey, but particularly during my high school years, I was fortunate to be guided by caring and dedicated teachers who instilled in me a lifelong love for both the humanities and sciences. This path led me from studying philosophy and history as an undergraduate to a focus on chemical and life sciences during graduate school. My education is among the greatest gifts life has bestowed upon me, and I'm driven to pass this gift on to the students I'm privileged to work with each day. To paraphrase Isaac Newton, my journey has been one of standing on the shoulders of giants, and I view my role as an educator as guiding students to rise to even greater heights, leveraging my experiences and education.

Though I've only recently become part of the community, I'm already impressed by my colleagues' profound knowledge of their subject matter, their unwavering dedication to educational excellence, and their intense devotion to the students under their care. I'm further impressed by the enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity of the student body and the generosity of spirit they have shown in welcoming me to their community. I look forward to working with them this year and in the years to come.”

Mr. Ross McEwen

"Teaching children in Lower School is a dream come true.  I never wanted to stop being a kid, and now I'm fortunate enough to immerse myself within energetic and creative personalities on a daily basis.  I wouldn't have it any other way."

I grew up in Littleton, CO and eventually went to school on the east coast.  I attended Westminster Prep School during high school, and then later played soccer and hockey at Colby College.  My mom was an educator and my dad a coach, so it's no surprise to me that I ended up teaching and coaching here at Potomac.  I began my journey as a Panther in 2004 as in intern, eventually getting my masters degree in 2006.  I have been teaching in Lower School and coaching the Girls Varsity Soccer team ever since!  My wife and I have 2 daughters, both of whom attend Potomac, so the "daddy bus" is often busy from September till June.  In my mind, Potomac is the perfect place for me and my family!

Mr. Andrew McGrath

“There’s no better way I can imagine spending my time than working with the bright, curious, talented, and motivated students that populate Potomac’s hallways.” 

I grew up in northern New Jersey with my three younger brothers and spent my college years in Vermont at Middlebury College, where I earned a B.A. in History. I was also fortunate enough to play football and men’s lacrosse for the Panthers. After moving to Washington D.C. in 2017, I spent three years working in healthcare consulting at an awesome company alongside even better people. While I enjoyed my time there, I knew I had more to give. That initial thought launched a journey that brought me to Potomac and I haven’t looked back since. 

Working with students in the IS classroom and then on the field with grades 7-12 provides me with quite the vantage point as they make their way through the ups and downs of adolescence. My job description as I would describe it: Meeting kids where they are with a smile on my face, learning their specific needs and frame of mind, and using that understanding to help them achieve their goals through preparation, hard work, and a positive attitude. This formula applies as much to 8th grade history as it does to the week leading up to the MAC championship. With that in mind, I look forward to every day at Potomac. 

When I’m not on campus, you’ll find me on the running & biking trails across DC and NoVa, in my apartment reading a book, or trying out as many DC restaurants as possible with my girlfriend. 

Mrs. Lisa McLane

“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.

Mr. Mark McLaughlin

Technology

"Whether I’m clipping a wireless microphone onto a nervous kindergartner, or a former president, all guests of the Engelhard Performing Arts Center will get the same commitment to courtesy and respect."

Born and raised in Arlington County I am the youngest of 6 boys. I have a BFA in Acting from George Mason University and an MFA in directing from The Granada Artists-in-Residence Program at The University of California, Davis. I have experience in many aspects of production in film, television, and theatre.

As a Potomac faculty member for over 20 years and a parent of two Potomac Lifers I have a rich appreciation for the value of a Potomac education. 

Ms. Lise Metzger

The Arts

"My goal as a teacher is to introduce students to the richness and joy of making photographs, and help them discover their own creative voice."

After graduating from Johns Hopkins University with a BA in American and French literature, I worked as an editor at various publications until I found my way to a photography class. After two semesters, I quit my job and worked as a photo assistant until going out on my own as a freelance photographer. I’ve been a freelancer now for 30 years. I’ve worked on a lot of different types of jobs, but most of my work has been shooting magazine portraits and advertising assignments. I got my MFA from the University of Delaware while I was building my freelance career.

My personal photo work went through a dramatic change about eight years ago, when my interest in food and food systems led me to photograph a woman farmer in Maryland (who coincidentally rented land from the Langstaff family of Potomac fame). My work with her has become an ongoing documentary project about women farmers called Grounded Women.

In addition to leading photography workshops on farms, I have taught photography at George Mason University, Holton Arms School, and Potomac, and I am happy to be returning to Potomac. My goal as a teacher is to introduce students to the richness and joy of making photographs, and help them discover their own creative voice.

Mr. Douglas Mogle

“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 19th year of teaching, I am passionate about educating the whole child and I am honored to be a part of the Potomac School faculty and coaching staff.

Mr. Cort Morgan

The Arts

"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.

Ms. Clare Morrissey

For the past two years, I have been lucky enough to call The Potomac School “home” while working as a Teaching Fellow, assisting with both Middle and Lower School students. I have worked alongside many talented veteran educators here, not only in the classroom but also on the sidelines of soccer fields and swimming pools, and have learned from them and my students what it takes to create a classroom environment filled with joy, curiosity, and respect, and the effort involved to sustain it. I have also witnessed Potomac’s Core Values in every person I have interacted with inside and outside the classroom. I am now eager to take on my new role as a Second Grade teacher for this upcoming school year and feel so fortunate to be part of such a supportive community.
 
Since arriving at Potomac, I have helped students write about “small moments” in their lives. These are not long, drawn-out, stories about week-long vacations or an entire day of sports games. These writing pieces focus on very clear, concrete, moments in time that are important to our students and have left an impact on them. While assisting with the writing, revising, and publishing of these “small moments,” I came to see the value in making the most of all of the small moments that we have with students in our classrooms each day. I believe in taking the time to hear about the after school activities that our students are involved in, or reading a book in order to connect with a student on a particular topic of interest. Giving value to the impact we have on our students, whether the moments seem big or small to us, is how we can connect and create community together. I hope to leave a positive and lasting impact on all of my students and to create a learning community that allows them to feel heard and understood.
 
Prior to teaching at Potomac, I attended the University of Michigan, where I received my Bachelor in Elementary Education with a concentration in Social Studies. I am a DMV native, and am so grateful for the opportunities that Potomac has to offer with its close proximity to the nation’s capital. When I am not teaching, I love spending time with family and friends, reading, traveling, running, and just being outside as often as I can!

Ms. Erin Mulligan

Athletics/Physical Ed

“It is so exciting to help students develop skills they will use now and for the rest of their lives.”

I developed a love for teaching while teaching the “six and under” swimmers on my hometown swim team in Charleston, SC.  My initial major in college was elementary education, but my love for sports led me to study athletic training in the School of Education at the University of South Carolina.  After earning my undergraduate degree in athletic training I continued teaching young swimmers here in DC while pursuing my masters at George Washington University. Upon graduation, I accepted an athletic training position working with football and women's lacrosse at Georgetown University.  I am thrilled to be able to combine my passions for children, sports, education, and medicine at the Potomac school.  It is so exciting to help kids develop skills they will use now and for the rest of their lives.  When I am not teaching PE classes I am either in the athletic training room or on the field.  In my spare time I enjoy cooking and spin classes as well as trying out different restaurants.

Ms. Anne Nightingale

"English teachers are in love with words—passionately in love with them—and we desire to pass a little of our enthusiasm on to our students."

We want to expose our students to myriad voices and invite them to savor the beauty and power of the authors' language as they read, and we try to help them find their own voice so they can enjoy writing as well. I feel most fortunate to be able to help facilitate the students' exploration of stories from the past and present so that they will feel empowered to write the stories of the future. What is most exciting about teaching at Potomac is that most of our students enjoy sharing their ideas and learning from others, and that enables growth to occur at an exponential rate.

Mr. Sanil Patel

Prior to joining Potomac, I worked in the college counseling office at Hopkins School, an independent school in New Haven, CT. At Hopkins, I worked closely with students, serving as an adviser, faculty leader for clubs and affinity groups, and as a member of the office of Equity & Community. Prior to my time at Hopkins, I worked in the admissions office at Skidmore College.

In my free time, I love to travel, explore the world, cook, and find the next trendy restaurant. 

Mr. Bill Peery

Transportation

"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.

Ms. Laura Petro

"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.

What I enjoy most about teaching at Potomac is the quality of the relationships that are formed on every level.

When I’m not in the chemistry lab, you can usually find me in the weight room, baking in my kitchen, or enjoying local restaurants with my husband, Ian.

Ms. Antonietta Pilkerton

"I enjoy working with students as they develop their cultural competency while exploring the rich and diverse francophone world."

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.

Mr. Dave Pinkus

With an industrial arts teacher for a father and a physical education teacher for a mother, it is no surprise that working in a school was on the table for me. Spending a lot of time exploring the suburban forest behind my childhood home and secretly testing the role of pepto bismol in the germination of seedlings in my dresser drawers give a behind the curtain peek to how I ended up with science as my area of focus.

I graduated from Penn State with a BS in Geology and University of Virginia with a MA in Physics Education. My teaching career started in 2001 and has consisted mostly of teaching physics to teenagers but has branched off on occasion to include chemistry, engineering and middle school science. This is my second stint at the Potomac School and I am eager to both be in the science classroom with eleventh graders and to work in Advisory with ninth graders.

When not on campus, I live with my wife and eighth grade son near Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Montgomery County. I am a big FC Barcelona fan as well as a pickleball aficionado. When you see me on campus, please share your recommendations for pizza and barbecue.

Mr. Jon Pirnia

"For an adventurous kid with diverse interests, it meant the world to have professors during my formative years who not only took sincere interest in my curiosity and growth, but also took pride in guiding my bright-eyed aspirations."

I graduated from Loyola (the Baltimore one) with dual degrees in Biology and the Classics around the turn of the millenium. Sounds like a long time ago, but my time there still resonates with me. It was there that I had two hugely impactful capstone projects: (1) undertaking independent research on a gene that affects cancer, and (2) joining an archaeological team to reconstruct a newly unearthed ancient temple in southern Greece. My adventures continued at Penn and WashU, where I had the opportunity to intensify my language studies, intern at art and archaeology museums, develop research on epic poetry, theatre, and the history of medicine, and grow my passion for teaching through increasingly involved TAships and ongoing work with a volunteer group whose mission was "to promote literacy through the arts."

I’m excited to join Potomac's Upper School as an advisor and science teacher. For an adventurous kid with diverse interests, it meant the world to have professors during my formative years who not only took sincere interest in my curiosity and growth, but also took pride in guiding my bright-eyed aspirations. Their attentiveness and encouragement has influenced much of how I view my role as an advisor and mentor, and why I gravitated to teaching here. I credit a constellation of teachers for helping orient me on a path whereon I could define my own research questions, make discoveries in the lab and in the field, recognize the vital importance of service learning and community engagement, and ultimately encounter the joy of teaching.

Mrs. Ginny Ramos

"Whether a scholar, an athlete, a dramatist or all of the above, every student is given the opportunity to excel on our campus."

Potomac has been my home in many ways for the past 16 years. I was a fourth grade teacher for five years, field hockey and lacrosse coach for many seasons, and a one-day-a-week teacher, job sharing in both fourth and fifth grades. I am fortunate to return to Potomac as an assistant in the Arundel Family Library. For me Potomac has always been a welcoming place where all aspects of each child are celebrated. Whether a scholar, an athlete, a dramatist or all of the above, every student is given the opportunity to excel on our campus. I graduated form Harvard College, where I majored in American history and played both field hockey and ice hockey. When not at Potomac, I still play hockey and watch with pride as my two children grow to love learning both in and out of the classroom.

Mr. Jerry Rich III

Music

"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.

Ms. Stacy Richardson

“Seeing students excited about the colleges they visit and apply to is so rewarding! I love hearing about their experiences and impressions as they navigate the college search process!” 

Many years ago when I applied to three colleges, the Common Application did not exist. I remember using a typewriter to fill out paper applications and a lot of white out when I made mistakes! Ultimately I attended and graduated from Towson University with a Bachelor's degree in English, and after trying a few different career paths, I earned an M.Ed. in higher education administration from The College of William & Mary. 

Luckily, pen and paper applications are no longer the standard method of applying to college. The evolution of the process allows students to apply to a variety of different colleges and universities with a click of a button. Deciding where to apply and enroll is exciting but also daunting. I strive to empower students to take ownership of their college search and experience. Having worked as an admission officer prior to being a college counselor, I understand the emotions that are attached to this process for the student and the person reading the application. College counselors function much like a GPS navigation system, providing different routes and advising where to turn, with the student selecting the ultimate destination. There are often numerous side trips during the journey, and everyone has their own unique path to follow. 

I am excited to join the Potomac community, and I look forward to working with students and their families! I am a member of the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC), the Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools (ACCIS), the Potomac & Chesapeake Association of College Admission Counseling (PCACAC), the Southern Association of College Admission Counseling (SACAC), and the Washington Area Independent School Counselors group. I reside in Maryland with my husband and son. 

Mr. Franz Ritt

“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.  

Mr. Russell Roaché

“If I have a great impact on the lives of my students, then and only then, will I feel like I have effectively done my job.”

Although I knew I wanted to be a teacher since the third grade, I tried to escape it numerous times in college. I attended Florida A&M University, Nova Southeastern University, and Florida Atlantic University, where I earned each of my degrees. Between the School Board of Broward County and Fairfax County Public Schools, I have spent the last 13 years teaching every course from Pre-Algebra to Pre-Calculus. Every year I strive to become even better, which awarded me the opportunity to earn Teacher of the Year for my high school and my high school's pyramid for 2022-2023, in FCPS.

But most importantly, I have had the privilege of impacting and influencing the lives of so many students. My job isn’t encompassed solely in manipulating numbers, but in helping my students become better members of society. As an inspirational speaker for young adults, it is my goal to teach lessons of mathematics and life, cohesively. I desire to mentor young adults, especially in the area of how to use their education as a means to create a loving, desirable life for themselves, their families, and their future selves. I am my students’ teacher for as long as they need me. I still support students from my first year of teaching, because I care about my students as individuals and they can all sense that within days of being in my classroom. 

Mr. Matt Scharf

"I always wanted to teach but other things kept getting in the way."

Right out of college, I joined the Navy as a submarine officer where I served for over six years, mainly with the Pacific Fleet. After graduate school, I had a stint as a management consultant, and, most recently, was an executive for a material science company.

As I made my recent transition to education and tested myself as a classroom teacher, I quickly and happily found that working with the energy of 7th and 8th grade students was my sweet spot. I feel excited and lucky to become part of the IS team here at Potomac. 

I am a Maryland native and currently live in Bethesda with my wife, Rebecca, and two children, Olivia and Ben.

In my spare time I enjoy cooking, chess, and training for and recovering from the occasional triathlon.

Dr. Giorgio Secondi

“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, 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, and 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 taught ten years at Phillips Exeter Academy, before returning to the DC area.

At Potomac I have enjoyed teaching a variety of economics classes, helping to lead Financial Literacy initiatives in the Upper School and the new Economics, Finance, Entrepreneurship, and Business (EFEB) concentration, coaching an economics competition team, and advising student groups interested in investment and financial markets. I'm always looking forward to new adventures in learning!

Mr. Daniel Shannon

“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!

Mr. Paul Singleton

Health & Wellness, Diversity & Inclusion

"What I enjoy most about the work I do is that I’m able to provide academic, social-emotional, and behavioral counseling for students, all while making sure students are heard, seen, and feel as if they belong."

Through my work as a counselor educator, I developed a fondness for using research to guide instruction. I saw the benefit of gaining exposure to research findings and ideas that might help shape my own conceptual understanding of school counseling. My interactions with other counselors and educators reinforced my belief that a greater understanding of the importance of counseling and mental health will make stakeholders more aware of mental and emotional health’s impact on student outcomes. I believe this foundational knowledge is crucial when supporting the holistic development of a student. 

Additionally, I am a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate (ABD) in the Counselor Education at the University of Connecticut. My degree focuses on educational equity and social justice. Moreover, I’m a certified school counselor and Crandall-Cordero Fellow at the University of Connecticut. My research interests surround African American male academic achievement, social and emotional wellbeing, and college & career readiness. I have various educational experiences in low-income, culturally diverse communities (Hartford, CT, Philadelphia, PA, Orangeburg, SC, Abington, PA) and schools with students and families identified as being at high levels of risk or underserved.

What I enjoy most about the work I do is that I’m able to provide academic, social-emotional, and behavioral counseling for students, all while making sure students are heard, seen, and feel as if they belong. I'm looking forward to working, supporting , and building with all of our Potomac community! 

Food for thought

"In times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers”. - King T’Challa

Ms. Precious Singson

"I am so excited to join the Potomac community and to learn together, exploring our potential to build a better world one step at a time."

After relocating to Virginia from California and a brief hiatus from teaching, I am thrilled to be back in the classroom doing what I truly love.  I am so excited to join the Potomac community and to learn together, exploring our potential to build a better world one step at a time.  Having taught various ages, I am excited to be with the youngest learners.  Kindergarteners are full of surprises-- they give so much joy and insight to the world, our relationships to each other, and ourselves.  I know I’ll be learning so much from them and I hope to share their joy in return.

Ms. Nancy Smalley

Athletics/Physical Ed

"We have all benefited from the people, the core values, and the day to day collegiality found here at Potomac."

After 25 years working in other local independent schools, I joined the Potomac community as a faculty member in 2009.  But with three children who graduated from Potomac as “lifers”, I have been a member of Potomac’s broader community since 2000.  We have all benefited from the people, the core values, and the day to day collegiality found here at Potomac.

I have a BS in Physical Education from St. Lawrence University and a Masters in Counseling from George Mason University.  While at St. Lawrence, I played field hockey, ice hockey, and lacrosse and was inducted into SLU’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990. While at Potomac, I have coached varsity field hockey and JV lacrosse, and I continue to play ice hockey in a local women’s league - often late at night!

Mr. Mark St. Germain

Athletics/Physical Ed

"I have had the opportunity to work with and benefit from some very gifted and talented administrators, coaches, mentors and teachers. A common theme I gleaned from all of them has been the dedication to the process."

I began my career over thirty years ago as a young teacher and football/lacrosse coach at the St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School in Alexandria where my first scrimmage as an assistant coach was vs the Potomac School. Since then, I have served as teacher, coach, administrator, advisor and grade-dean at Flint Hill, St. Albans, Saint John Paul the Great, and the Maret School. I had the opportunity to work with and benefit from some very gifted and talented administrators, coaches, mentors and teachers. A common theme I gleaned from all of them has been the dedication to the process. It is during the process where both the students and teachers/coaches are engaged in active learning and teaching. Trust is built, obstacles are overcome and confidence is built, especially in athletics.

Coming to Potomac, I believe I have come full circle, back to my roots, Athletics. I am excited to join the Potomac School community and am looking forward to being a part of the process that will enable our student-athletes and teams the opportunity to push and test themselves and their programs even further. I am also eager to work with a dedicated group of coaches who believe in the process and in their athletes' potential.

My wife Christine and I just celebrated our 25th Anniversary and we have two sons. Ben, who attends Connecticut College, and Luke, who has just started as a freshman this year at Boston College.

Mr. Harry Strong

“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.