Welcome new UD teachers!

Ms. Odom

From a young age, education has been of the utmost importance to Associate Director of the Office for Identity Culture and Institutional Equity (ICIE) Bri’ana Odom, she said. Her love for school led her to study sociology at Davidson College, where she learned how people’s identities and backgrounds affect their everyday lives. 

Since many of the courses she took centered around education, Odom decided to teach. She taught high school Spanish for several years. Afterwards, she decided to get a Masters of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. 

Odom was drawn to the school because of how the school constantly tries to find different ways to approach diversity and equity. 

This school year, Odom will be working alongside the deans in the Nursery, Lower, Middle, and Upper Divisions to develop a curriculum that ensures the syllabi and teaching methods in classrooms are equitable. 

She will also be teaching sections of 11th-grade Seminar On Identity. Odom plans to make the idea of resilience the focus of her courses, she said. “My graduate school work revolved around talking about what it means for students to be resilient, thinking about the role of resilience,” she said

Odom is thrilled to be part of the school’s community and hopes that students will feel comfortable enough to go to her office, ask questions, and share ideas, she said.

 

Ms. Patmon

Dance and Theater teacher Angela Nicole Patmon’s teaching career began when she was fifteen years old, but she began dancing before that. “A dance studio came into my pre-school and did these little dance classes there,” Patmon said. “I loved it so much that at the age of three I begged my parents to go to dance class.” Patmon has been dancing ever since and has taught dance classes throughout high school and college. 

This year, Patmon will teach three Upper Division courses: Dance History and two dance workshops. She will also teach 7th and 8th grade Dance in the Middle Division.

Patmon is especially excited to teach Dance History and plans to broaden her students’ knowledge of dances from different cultures, she said. “I would like to bring in guest artists for dances from different cultures, which is something that a lot of dance programs don’t offer.”

Patmon is thrilled to be a part of the school’s community, especially given the co-ed nature of the school, since she previously taught at Marymount, an all-girls school. “The Dance and Theater program at Horace Mann is a lot bigger than the previous ones that I’ve been a part of, so I’m really excited for that,” Patmon said.

 

Mr. O’Neill

This year, Patrick O’Neill will teach sections of Dance Performance, Dance Workshop, and The Art of Mindfulness Yoga in the Upper Division (UD), as well as Dance Theater 6, Dance Theater 7, and Dance 7 in the Middle Division. 

O’Neill’s passion for dance began before he turned two years old, when his mother, a dance teacher, brought him to work with her, he said. By the time he was seven years old, he helped teach classes at the studio. He began to teach weekly classes at the age of fifteen.

O’Neill went on to dance for the Lucinda Childs dance company while attending New York University. However, he felt that dancing for the company was not enough and started to teach at different studios, he said. He later taught ballet at Yale University and a variety of dance classes at Sacred Heart University before becoming an assistant artistic director at a ballet studio in Connecticut. 

O’Neill decided to teach at the school after a friend informed him of a job posting, he said. 

“The program looked really interesting to me, and I like the way that the whole department works together and collaborates on different things, like the musicals and the plays,” O’Neill said. “In the past, I’ve been strictly at dance studios, so I think the collaborative process was very appealing to me.” 

For his UD dance classes, O’Neill looks forward to teaching a variety of dance styles, as opposed to teaching the same style every week like he usually did in a studio setting.

O’Neill is particularly excited to teach the sixth and seventh grade Dance Theater classes because he hopes to introduce dance in a way that is fun and engaging. “I’m really excited to mix it up and get students moving with different activities like pantomime and gestures because dance is literally just moving your body,” he said.

 

Mr. Bautista

This year, Khiray Bautista, who has worked as an athletic trainer at the school for ten years, will begin teaching sections of Physical Education and CPR. 

Bautista became interested in athletic training at the start of his high school football career, during which he sustained frequent injuries. “I was kind of shell-shocked at first,” he said. “Football was my first sport, and I was injured in the first week.”

As a result of his injuries, Bautista spent a lot of time in the athletic training room, where he took a liking to the profession and learned from the athletic trainers. “I started to ask them questions. I started shadowing them around and seeing what their job was like, and I kind of fell in love with it through there,” he said.

Bautista pursued his passion for athletic training in college and received a BA in Athletic Training from the University of Vermont. After graduating, he started to work professionally when a classmate informed him of an opportunity to cover Nike basketball tournaments throughout New York City.

Afterwards, Bautista mostly did per diem work, which meant that he was hired for specific games on specific days. One of the per diem jobs was for the school’s football team. “After speaking with the coaches, the athletic training staff, and the Athletic Director, I became a part of the Horace Mann community through per diem athletic training,” he said.

While Bautista will still work as an athletic trainer this year, he has decided to teach CPR classes, as well, given that he has experience with the technique. He also believes that he has a good relationship with students and wants to share his knowledge and experience with them by teaching CPR classes from an athletic training standpoint, he said.

“I definitely don’t want to let go of athletic training,” Bautista said. “It’s my passion. I’ve seen it as my job throughout my whole life. But I’ve also been an educator for my whole life.”

 

Ms. Matsuyama

“When I think about [starting school], it kind of gives me butterflies, especially when I think about meeting those new students, I feel like all the energy comes up,” Japanese teacher Atsuko Matsuyama said. This year, Matsuyama will be teaching four classes at the school: two sections of Japanese 1, one section of Japanese 2, and one section of Japanese 3 and 4 combined. 

Both of Matsuyama’s parents were teachers, but she did not consider teaching until her daughter attended a private school similar to Horace Mann, she said. “I wanted to give back to the school, and I thought, ‘I like to teach language.’”

After a few years of volunteer work, she landed her first teaching position at Oregon Episcopal School, located in Portland, Oregon, where she taught from 1995 to 2011, she said. In 2012, she taught part-time at the school, but for personal reasons, she left the school in 2014 to teach Japanese at Pace University, Matsuyama said.

She decided to return this year when she learned that the school was looking for a full-time Japanese teacher, she said. “Teaching a language, it’s very important,” Matsuyama said. “I can share my culture. It’s something to give.”

 

Mr. Fouchet

“When I think about [starting school], it kind of gives me butterflies, especially when I think about meeting those new students, I feel like all the energy comes up,” Japanese teacher Atsuko Matsuyama said. This year, Matsuyama will be teaching four classes at the school: two sections of Japanese 1, one section of Japanese 2, and one section of Japanese 3 and 4 combined. 

Both of Matsuyama’s parents were teachers, but she did not consider teaching until her daughter attended a private school similar to Horace Mann, she said. “I wanted to give back to the school, and I thought, ‘I like to teach language.’”

After a few years of volunteer work, she landed her first teaching position at Oregon Episcopal School, located in Portland, Oregon, where she taught from 1995 to 2011, she said. In 2012, she taught part-time at the school, but for personal reasons, she left the school in 2014 to teach Japanese at Pace University, Matsuyama said.

She decided to return this year when she learned that the school was looking for a full-time Japanese teacher, she said. “Teaching a language, it’s very important,” Matsuyama said. “I can share my culture. It’s something to give.”

 

Ms. Harvey

Associate Director of College Counseling Mich Harvey will replace Frank Cabrera, who left for a position at the Brooklyn Friends School, Oxelson said. Harvey will take over Cabrera’s 27 seniors, Oxelson said. In the spring, she will start to advise a new group of juniors through the process.

Before she came to the school, Harvey was the Assistant Director of Admissions at Vassar College. “If you know how decisions are made as an admissions officer, you can really help students figure out how to best present themselves in their applications,” Oxelson said.

Harvey also volunteered in community-based organizations as a “pseudo college counselor,” Oxelson said. Along with her work experience, Harvey received a master’s degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education at the start of summer. “Though she is relatively young, she’s really experienced in both admissions and college counseling,” he said.

During the interviews, Oxelson was struck by Harvey’s desire to work closely with students, he said. “She really, really wanted to build relationships with students and help them through a process that has gotten more and more complicated over the years.”

 

Ms. Maloney

Inspired by her former orchestra teacher, Christine Maloney decided to become an educator at a young age in hope of creating the same safe space her teacher had fostered, she said. This school year, she will be the new Director of the Office for Identity, Culture, and Institutional Equity and will be teaching Seminar on Identity (SOI) to 6th and 11th graders at the school.

Maloney has taught at independent schools for nine years. She chose to come to the school because of its values. “Horace Mann has a core dedication to equity and belonging for every member of its community,” she said. “I am thrilled to be here.” 

She became interested in teaching SOI when she realized the impact such a course could have had on her growing up, she said. 

To prepare for this role, Maloney spent her summer learning from others. “I have been preparing for this role by having conversations with as many groups and individuals as possible.  While I have experience in this type of role in other communities, it’s critical that I get to know the specific needs of Horace Mann,” she said.

To best lead the department. Maloney believes that communication is key to implementing equity work. “Equity work sometimes happens in a silo which prevents the growth of a sense of belonging for all members.”

Maloney is thrilled to be working in an office with three full-time ICIE members, she said. “This model truly sets the community up for success and I can’t wait for the amazing work that has already begun.”  

In the coming year, Maloney is delighted to help strengthen the school’s community and encourage it to continue flourishing, she said. “My plan is to let the students shine through their growth and support of one another.”

 

Feingold

Fascinated by logic and puzzles, computer science and engineering teacher Avery Feingold fell in love with the infinite and creative possibilities in the field of computer science, they said. Feingold will be teaching Intro to Programming in Python, Art of Data, and Theoretical Computer Science this school year. 

Feingold has always had a love for teaching and a passion for justice work, they said. After college, they applied to Teach for America and taught math at a middle school in New Haven, Connecticut. They then taught computer science at a boarding school before coming to the school. 

In addition to teaching code, Feingold plans to have more philosophical discussions in the classroom. “My big goals for all of my computer science courses are to deconstruct my students’ presuppositions about what computer science is, who it is for, and why we do it,” Feingold said. 

Feingold is particularly excited to explore how technology can also be impactful across the lines of identity and how each person’s interaction with technology vastly differs. 

It was difficult to contain their excitement about the upcoming year, they said. “All I can say is, I’m just really, really excited.”

 

Dr. Wodnicka

“I am thrilled to be embarking on a new adventure and am so looking forward to getting to know and contribute to the community at HM,” World Languages Teacher Dr. Natalia Wodnicka said. This school year, she will be co-teaching French 3 and French 3 Honors with Dr. Niamh Duggan and teaching two sections of French 4.

Wodnicka became interested in teaching while working as a tutor in college. “I was drawn to the relational aspect of the work as well as the opportunity for intellectual exchange with people of diverse backgrounds and experiences,” she said.

As part of her doctoral studies at New York University, she was a teaching assistant and taught French at different levels. Wodnicka has been teaching for 15 years, most recently at the Collegiate School.

Wodnicka is most excited to meet her students and get to know their individual interests, she said. She has also worked to balance the curriculum in each class to include a variety of perspectives and topics. 

Wodnicka chose to come to the school because she found the environment welcoming and the students passionate about language studies. “In addition to the excellent linguistic proficiency students have, I was impressed by the level of student engagement and motivation and enjoyed the conversations I had with other language teachers,” she said.

To prepare for the year, Wodnicka spent time collaborating with the other Upper Division French teachers, drafting curriculum maps, and curating resources to use in each class, she said. “This work was instrumental in helping me learn the ins and outs of the French program and also in introducing me to the department and the Upper Division.”

This summer, Wodnicka spent her time reading short stories and novels in French and traveling in Brittany, the Loire Valley, and the Southwest.

Both nervous and excited, Wodnicka anticipates an amazing year with her new students and is thrilled to embark on a new journey at the school.