Teachers tackle new positions

A handful of teachers have taken on new classes or positions. Sue Nellis is teaching Comparative World  History; Ron Bell has taken over AP Art History; Mollie Hawkins has become the yearbook adviser; Joe Tellez teaches Chemistry and AP Chemistry; and Tucker Foehl has become assistant head of strategic programming.

After history teacher Daniel Neukom and Sue Nellis, former head of high school, partially retired and yearbook adviser Joel Rickert left, many classes were left open.

Ron Bell

Bell is now teaching AP Art History in place of Rickert.

“I volunteered because I think art history is an important subject,” Bell said.

“I was worried (the class) might not be offered. It should be part of everyone’s cultural education.”

Often using examples of art and architecture in his English classes, Bell is familiar with the subject.

In preparation for teaching the class, Bell took a week-long training course in San Diego. The course was designed to teach new or returning AP Art History teachers how to be more effective.

Teachers were also told about the changes to be made to the course in 2015 by The College Board; for example, more attention will be paid to the historical context of the art. The class studied exams, visited museums in the area and discussed using field trips as a learning opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to sharing another piece of my knowledge of cultural history in general,” Bell said.

The course curriculum of AP Art History will mostly follow the guidelines set by the College Board, Bell said.

Tucker Foehl

As assistant head for strategic programming, Foehl is in charge of enrollment management, overseeing the school’s curriculum, marketing, and creating opportunities for students to engage with the community.

“I love my new position!” said Foehl, who was previously the academic department head at the Baltimore School of the Arts.

“It’s a combination of doing things that I have experience with but also some new challenges and responsibilities that I’m really excited about.”

Foehl’s position was created after it became apparent in the interviews for head of high school that Brooke Wells and Foehl were the top two choices.

“We saw that it would be a missed opportunity to not have (Foehl),” headmaster Stephen Repsher said. “It turned out to be serendipity that we had two outstanding candidates and that we had the opportunity to bring them both to Country Day.”

Foehl is currently working with Julie Nelson, director of communications, on updating the school’s website and finding the best places for advertising the school.

Sue Nellis

Nellis teaches Comparative World History instead of Neukom, who has dropped Ancient History to teach only AP European History.

“History classes don’t open up very often, so when Mr. Neukom retired, I used that as an opporunity to step down as the head of high school,” Nellis said.

Nellis told Repsher about her interest in accepting the open class.

“I was thrilled,” Repsher said. “She’s a wonderful teacher and I was happy to have her stay on board.”

Nellis has made changes to the Ancient History class curriculum, including adding material from Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

“I think those are two areas that are not studied enough,” Nellis said. “Particularly in the U.S., where we have many immigrants from these places, I think that knowing about those cultures is enriching.”

“Ms. Nellis is a great teacher and I’m sure she’ll do a great job this year,” freshman Kyra Petersen said.

“So far the class has been well taught, pretty interesting and straightforward. Ms. Nellis makes certain that we understand what we’re studying and keeps us engaged in class.”

Mollie Hawkins

Hawkins, the assistant librarian, took on her first teaching job as the Medallion adviser after Rickert left the school last year. She said she is not experienced with controlling a staff of people, but went to a conference in San Diego in April and has been mentored through the Journalism Education Association.

One of Hawkins’s new responsibilities is managing work nights.

“I thought it would be a lot of fun to work with students on a publication,” Hawkins said. “There’s so much creativity, hard work and fun that goes into it.”

“I”m excited about Mollie teaching,” junior co-editor Gracie Strumpfer said. “She’s really nice. We’ve got a big group and they seem pretty motivated.”

Hawkins is planning to have workshops with the Octagon staff, technology department and Walsworth, the yearbook’s publisher.

Joe Tellez

Tellez has begun teaching the chemistry and AP chemistry classes in place of Robin Altman and Michael Covey.

Previously, Tellez was doing research at UC Davis. When his time there was almost up, he heard about the open teaching position from math teacher Chris Millsback’s wife, Stephanie.

Tellez first spoke with Altman and biology teacher Kellie Whited about applying for the position. Later, he taught a short chemistry lesson to a class and was offered the job.

Tellez is most looking forward to the students. “The students here are really high quality and really want to learn,” he said.

“I’m adjusting easily to Dr. Tellez,” sophomore Kaeleigh Valverde said. “He is a happy medium of strict and laid-back. He is very nice and a joking guy.”

Previously published in the print edition on Sept. 16, 2014. 

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