We have just concluded a tremendous year at North Cross, a year that I consider to be the best of my four. Graduation was exceptional, and I was particularly proud of the student speeches. I thought they positively reflected many of the programmatic changes we have worked hard to implement over the last four years. With the new school year just around the corner, we are already working hard to make the 2015-2016 school year even better. Toward this end, I would like to briefly introduce you to our new faculty members for next year as well as inform you of some changes within our current faculty.
I hope you will welcome our new faculty members when you get the chance. They are all eager to begin their tenure at North Cross, and I am pleased at our ability to attract a strong applicant pool. In addition, please congratulate our current teachers on their moves as they are each very excited about their new position at North Cross School.
We have a number of notable changes in job duties with three of these changes taking place in the lower school.
Betsy Cook, a long tenured first-grade teacher, will bring her love of the outdoors to the fourth- and fifth-grade science classrooms. Betsy has recently completed her certification as a Master Naturalist and is very excited to create a hands-on activity-based science program that will include the new lower school garden.
Betsy will be taking over for Mary Semler who will move to the P.E. Department as Department Chair. Mary will work with our P.E. staff to create a thoughtful curriculum that will not only teach sport specific skills but also teach personal fitness. Those familiar with Mary know how much she enjoys athletics, and she will be an excellent fit.
The final change in lower school faculty is perhaps the most dramatic. I hope you will congratulate Victor Lamas as he moves to the Upper School to teach AP World History and serve as the Director of Global Studies. Victor will be sorely missed in the lower school, but this shift will allow him to utilize his teaching talents at a different level of instruction and his language talents to assist us in pivoting our global studies program towards Spanish speaking countries.
In the upper school, Stephen Belderes will take on the role of Dean of Student Life. Stephen will continue to teach AP Calculus but will move to a part-time teaching load with the addition of his administrative duties. Stephen will also be handing off his position as Boys Lacrosse Head Coach to Chris Pollock.
In addition, Becky Sharkey, our graphic arts teacher and yearbook guru, will add the Willis Hall Herald to her responsibilities as well as increasing our offerings in the graphic arts. Becky was new to our faculty last year and graduated with a degree in mass communications and art from Emory and Henry College. While at Emory and Henry, Becky was both the Editor-in-Chief of the yearbooks and Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper.
New Faculty Members
We have five new faculty members arriving this year, four in the upper school and one in the lower school.
In the upper school, Dan Dudek will take over in our physics department for Kevin Wells. Dan comes to us from Virginia Tech where he has been an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering for the past six years. Dan has his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from the University of California at Berkeley. In addition to the physics curriculum, Dan will create a program in robotics as well as helping us develop our STEM curriculum.
Joe Harris will also join the upper school as a history teacher. Many know Joe as the father of Isaiah Harris ’15, and Joe brings 17 years of school experience as a teacher and administrator. Joe has his Bachelor’s Degree from Morehouse University and his Master’s Degree in Social Studies Education from Syracuse University. In addition to teaching, Joe will work closely with Mark Thompson on DeHart papers and presentations.
Erin Hunter will join our faculty to teach French. Erin has been a frequent substitute at North Cross for our French teachers and comes well recommended by Ed Dickenson. Most recently, Erin has been a long-term substitute at Roanoke Catholic where she was well regarded by students and administrators. Erin received her Bachelor’s Degree from Hollins University and just returned from a self-directed study in France where she continued to perfect her French.
Wesley Claggett has a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and just completed his Master’s Degree in Education from Drexel University where he taught at Paul Robeson High School for Human Services. Wesley will join us as an upper school mathematics teacher. This is a new mathematics position at North Cross created by our increased demand for computer science and Stephen Belderes’ shift to the Dean of Student Life position. Wesley will also serve as moderator of our chess club.
Our new hire for the lower school is Lily Angus who will teach fourth- and fifth-grade mathematics. Lily has her Bachelor’s of Arts in Elementary Education and her Master’s of Arts in Teaching from Trinity University, San Antonio. She is familiar with the Singapore Math curriculum having used it to supplement her teaching. In addition, Lily brings International Baccalaureate experience, having worked in the Primary Years Program (PYP) at several international schools in the Austin area. She has been on our radar for more than a year as a potential star teacher moving to the area.
New Staff Members
We have been very fortunate to have Nani Moskal serving as an interim school counselor this past spring and she has performed admirably in this role. Nani is returning to graduate school this fall to pursue a graduate degree in counseling.
To fill our school counselor position, we have hired Leigh Ann Hamlin. Leigh Ann has her Bachelor’s Degree from Virginia Tech where she was Phi Beta Kappa, and a Master’s in Counselor Education from Virginia Commonwealth University. Leigh Ann has worked in student counseling at William Fleming and Virginia Western and is a licensed school counselor.
Non-Retiring Faculty Members
Rumors of his retirement have been greatly exaggerated, and I am pleased that Richard Cook has agreed to delay his retirement for one more year. He will teach three AP U.S. History courses and coach golf. This will be Richard’s 44th year at North Cross, and he shows no signs of slowing down.
We had anticipated his retirement and kicked off a campaign to raise funds for a Cook Field. To date, we have raised approximately $150,000 toward our goal of $350,000, so this additional year provides us with more time to complete our fundraising efforts!
I hope you have a relaxing and enjoyable summer ahead of you and look forward to seeing all in August. We have just moved to summer office hours this week but North Cross will remain active. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to stop by.