The beginning of the 2022-2023 school year has seen the introduction of many new faculty to the Northwest School community. While you may already be familiar with some, I hope to provide names to the faces of some of the faculty you may have seen on campus but haven’t interacted with yet.
Alonzo Collins is a Humanities teacher for the 6th grade. Before he began working at the Northwest School he taught English as a second language in Switzerland, France, and China. Some of his hobbies include visiting art museums, watching movies, reading comics, and going on walks. When asked what drew him to Northwest Alonzo answered, “I moved to Seattle, Washington last year. When I started looking for a job in education I discovered Northwest. I was a substitute for a year. I was able to know more about the students, administration, faculty, and most importantly the curriculum. I loved how the school was very supportive in all areas.”
Gabi Dinkin is an assistant to admissions and college counseling at NWS. Before coming to the Northwest School she was a student at Whitman College and wrote her senior thesis on the differences between school choice policies in urban and rural regions. Researching this topic solidified her interest in education. She became specifically interested in admissions work through interning in the field before coming to Northwest. She noted that she was drawn to Northwest “because of the liberal arts curriculum. I really like how the values of the school, including social justice and environmental sustainability, shine through the curriculum.” Some of her hobbies include cooking, hiking, skiing, and traveling.
Cathy Brownell is the Northwest School’s Human Resources and Information System and Benefits Coordinator. Cathy’s job involves assisting Northwest employees in navigating their benefits and assisting with the hiring process. She answers faculty questions about benefits and gets them enrolled in a specific plan. She is also involved in the hiring process through the initial offering of a position, the background check, and their first day on the job. She manages the Northwest School’s Human Resources Information System (HRIS) database, making sure its employee data is consistently accurate and up to date. On top of all that she helps in processing credit card transactions and employee reimbursements and serves on the school’s 403b Committee and Safety Committee. Immediately before she began working at The Northwest School she was assisting in the care of her father-in-law until he passed away. Previously, she had worked on payroll and benefits at the gaming company Valve, in Bellevue. Seven years ago she worked at the school in a temporary role with similar responsibilities and she had enjoyed our “warm and fun” community, so when she saw a position opened up here she jumped on it. Some hobbies of hers are spending time with her husband and three sons, reading, cooking, playing cards, canning during the summer months, and being a 24/7 doorman for her finicky cat.
Paige Brandon works as the assistant to Ray Wilson, Northwest’s head of School, and also serves on Northwest’s Board of Trustees. When asked about her responsibilities she answered that “A typical day for me includes managing Ray’s calendar, working on projects for the board, and helping out in the main office.” Before she began working here at NWS she was part of Amazon’s Construction Legal team. When job-hunting, the last part of our mission statement caught her eye; “We graduate students ….believing they have a positive impact on the world.” She loves traveling, trying new foods, and taking dance classes. She encourages people to, “feel free to stop by [her] office (next to the front desk) to say hi or get help with something.”
Pete Traube teaches Chemistry and Advanced Chemistry to 11th and 12th graders. He has joined the Northwest School faculty after taking a break from teaching to take care of his family. He says that when looking to begin teaching again the Northwest School stood out to him because “the progressive values of the school align with my own values more than any other school I’ve taught at. Plus, I dig the heck out of the location; working in an urban school is energizing for me.” He’s really enjoyed his time at NWS so far and says that “the environment here has felt welcoming to me since the day I walked in the door, and I feel a generally high level of kindness from faculty and students.” When not teaching chemistry here he enjoys reading, riding his bike, playing video games with his stepson, hiking, and backpacking.
Jeana Hrepich Kumar
Jeana Hrepich Kumar teaches Humanities to 6th and 9th graders. The curriculums of both grades center on ancient world history and literature. She moved to Seattle in 2015 for a job as a core faculty member of the teaching program at Antioch University in Master of Arts. Throughout the pandemic, she recorded zoom lessons for Foster High School students in Tukwila. Prior to moving to Seattle, she taught at middle and high schools in New York and San Francisco. When asked why she was drawn to the NWS she answered, “its liberal arts focus and its commitments to global perspectives, social justice, and environmental sustainability. I was also drawn in by all of the warm, kind, and talented faculty I met during my interviews.” When Jeana isn’t teaching she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, reading, writing, gardening, and playing tennis.
Kelly Marshall is our new Director of Learning Resources. She is in charge of ensuring students get the accommodations they need to succeed here at NWS. She accomplishes this with the help of our Learning Resources Coordinators, Sarah and Samantha. She also helps students schedule tutoring and assists Sarah Z. in the creation and implementation of testing accommodations for the SAT and ACT. Working as Learning Services Coordinator for the 12th grade is a highlight of her job here. Before coming to NWS she worked at Pacific Northwest College of Art and as the Director of the children’s arts school Color, Construct, Create Studios. She shares that she has also been a classroom teacher. When asked what drew her to NWS she answered, “I am a practicing artist and social justice is a part of my teaching pedagogy so I was naturally drawn to this school. I love the work we do here and seeing students have so many opportunities for creative self-expression. It is very important to my identity as an educator to be a part of an institution that aligns with my personal and professional values.” While she only recently moved to Seattle from San Diego she says she’s already almost used to our famously dreary weather. I am sure this will be helped along by walking her puppy Olive throughout the winter. On top of being our Director of Learning Resources she is also a conceptual artist, and recently completed her Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies. Stop by her office off of the commons (where Ya’s office was previously) to grab a sweet treat, ask for pictures of Olive, or of course to reach out for academic support.
I hope that this article has taught you a bit more about some of the amazing new faculty here at NWS this year. Next time you see one of these new faculty or staff in the hallways wave or say hi! Let’s all make sure they continue to feel welcome here in this community.