Meet the teachers: Westside School introduces middle-school lineup

April 29, 2011 11:55 am
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle schools

Often in the realm of hiring, an organization will say it’s conducting a “nationwide search.” On Thursday afternoon, Westside School (WSB sponsor) invited families and interested community members to come meet the faculty for its new Middle School – and the team (listed here) displayed international flair, with Mandarin Chinese teacher Su-Chen Wang, who originally hails from Taiwan, and humanities/drama teacher Glyn Jenkins, with British roots. The Middle School will launch with sixth grade when the new school year starts this September; more on the faculty’s meet-and-greet ahead:

(From left, humanities/drama teacher Glyn Jenkins, athletic director/PE teacher Devin McQuiston, math teacher David Preston, Spanish teacher Veronica Hellar, Mandarin Chinese teacher Su-Chen Wang)
Jenkins is coming from New York, where he has been teaching at the British International School of NY, with past experience including years of teaching in Liverpool. He’s also a writer, and told the Westside gathering that he’s writing a novel and has written several theatrical scripts.

Another new faculty member coming from afar is science teacher Sarah Harper-Smith, who is still working at a boarding school in Iowa. She joined the meeting via an online video connection and mentioned her excitement at being able “to help build a new private middle school program.”

The ebullience of the new arrivals was also embodied by Wang, who declared, “I’m really happy to be at Westside Middle School,” heavy emphasis on the new “middle.” She talked about the fact that middle-school students are still playful, drawing laughter from those on hand, and discussed her plans to teach Chinese culture as well as language.

Moving up from a different role on the Westside staff is Devin McQuiston, currently a fourth-grade assistant who will become athletic director and PE teacher for the middle school. He talked about his passion for what he hopes the students will be able to experience as Westside sets up a new program. Middle-school math teacher David Preston also is moving from a different role at the school – he’s currently teaching fourth grade at Westside, and will move to teach fifth/sixth.

In preparation for the expansion, head of school Jo Ann Yockey also has added to her administrative team; it’s the first year for assistant head of school Don Cunningham, who moderated the gathering, which included a Q/A period – Yockey invited students to ask questions too.

Though we were unable to stay for the entire Q/A, we heard questions about plans for music and art – all of which are in the works. Particularly in the realm of arts, they’re hoping to “take advantage of community resources,” with students getting a chance to see what’s happening out in the community, in addition to learning on campus.

What about technology plans? the administration also was asked. Their goal so far is to have enough laptops – transportable from room to room – for up to half the middle-schoolers to be online at any given time.

As they are building the program from the ground up, they still have room for more students next year; Yockey said packets are going out to families in about three weeks, including the choices they will be able to make for electives – for language, Mandarin or Spanish, for example. Their admissions info is online here.

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