Please Pass the Chalk?

Joy Sawyer Mulligan
This fall, Thacher’s community arms flung wide to embrace these newbies on the faculty.
This fall, Thacher’s community arms flung wide to embrace these newbies on the faculty—well, once they'd cleaned up after their five-day backpacking orientation in the High Sierra.

Aaron Mieszczanski
Williams College B.A.
Upon graduating from Williams College with a degree in history, Aaron was eager to trade east coast for west and to join the Thacher community as assistant director in the Admission Office. A native New Yorker and graduate of The Fieldston School, Aaron claims that it was his passion for education that brought him to Casa de Piedra. During his time at Williams, Aaron tutored second-grade students for three years at Williamstown Elementary School, mentored local high school students in partnership with A Better Chance, and was co-chair of the Black Student Union. Beyond hosting prospective students and their families in the WLT daily, Aaron is an advisor to junior boys.  He lives on campus in what’s known as The Music Box—as faculty homes go, cozy and centrally located.

April Word
Bard College B.A., M.A.T.
April teaches history, advises sophomore girls, and serves as assistant coach for JV Girls’ Volleyball. Before joining us, April worked at the Julia Morgan School for Girls in the Admission and Business offices, coached volleyball, and advised a dozen sixth grade girls.  April launched her teaching career at Poughkeepsie Middle School, where she taught U.S. History; she also taught Global History at Onteora High School.  Attracted to Thacher by our Outdoor Program and strong sense of environmental stewardship, April already has one trip to the Sierra and an Extra Day Trip under her belt.  In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, cooking, sewing, and reading.  She lives above the Business Office with her partner, Matt Palmquist.

Anita Wilson-Chisolm
University of San Diego B.A.
Cal Lutheran University M.S.
Stepping into the Study Skills office and joining the English Department during Alison Curwen’s sabbatical year is someone who knows well the ropes of academic services: Anita has been in teaching business for over twenty years, abroad (South Korea, Japan) and quite locally (at Ojai Valley School and at Cate). In addition to her classes and work with individual students, she is an advisor to sophomore girls. Anita lives in Ojai with her husband Nigel and her daughters Erin—a Thacher sophomore—and Paige, an 8th grader at the local junior high. What brought her to our doorstep? “I was drawn to Thacher by the high standards of academic excellence, the school spirit of community, and the collegial ethos of the faculty and administration—and my family and I have enjoyed attending many theater productions, sporting events, lectures and art exhibits over the years.”

Teddy Reeves
Hampton University, B.A.
Teddy joins the Thacher Community as the 2008-2009 E. E. Ford Fellow.  During his internship, he will observe and ultimately teach English classes, advise sophomore boys, and work with the Indoor Committee, which plans all weekend activities. That’s not a random assignment: Teddy’s ability to organize big events is far reaching and proven, as in college he was the brains behind a local Hampton University Pageant—the Mr. James Hall Kenneth Riddle Scholarship Pageant to help freshman African-American males garner scholarship money for college.  Thacher’s educational atmosphere drew Teddy here, and he appreciates the cultured, diverse environment available to all students.  Teddy lives in Los Padres Dormitory.

William Okin
Middlebury College B.A.
University of California, Santa Barbara M.A., Ph.D. (ABD)
William has known his way around Thacher for some time: his stepson, Thomas Waltcher, was a member of the Class of 2008, and together the two inaugurated a weekly meditation program on campus. Director of Ojai's Dharma Center for five years, William actually joined the Mathematics Department faculty last year, mid-stream, but since we didn’t have the chance to introduce him last September, we’re officially welcoming him now.  William lives with his wife, Patty Waltcher—a long-time realtor of high repute—in Ojai.

Kristen Finch, DVM
University of California at Davis B.S.
Atlantic Veterinary College D.V.M.
Kristen is an equine vet, state and national level championship cutting horse rider, and an East End neighbor (she and her husband Jim live on a citrus, avocado, and blueberry ranch on Grand Avenue, where they are raising fruit and kids—Michael and Sarah). She actually came on board last spring to teach Veterinary Medicine, an upperclass science elective, which she’ll be offering again come March. But for now, she is working with 9th graders in the Horse Department, saddling up each afternoon and teaching the new riders the ropes (and leather) at the barns, on the trails, and in the arenas.

Ann Merlini
Westbrook College B.A.
Ann, her husband Pete, and their two well-behaved Bernese Mountain pooches (Sophie and Gracie) arrived at Thacher last September, when Pete joined the Mathematics Department. Like many other faculty members, they are east coast transplants. This year, Ann has jumped into the fray, with responsibilities in Casa dormitory as an advisor to freshman girls and in the Horse Program as an afternoon coach. When not being walked by her dogs, or down at Casa or out at the barns, Ann can be found at her sewing machine, in the gym, in the library, or trying to find someone to play a game of Scrabble.

Susannah McGowan
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill B.A.
University of Virginia M.Ed.
With her husband, Mike—Chair of the History Department—and son Javi, Susannah, became part of the CdeP family a year ago when the McGowans made the cross-country trek from Virginia to make Thacher their home. Although her undergraduate degree is in French and Art History, she’s ace in Instructional Technology; she’s also fluent in curricular design (her job at Georgetown University prior to coming west). Here, she holds the title of Student Information System Implementation Manager; she is also an advisor to 11th grade girls living in The Courts.

Rene Duykaerts
A multi-lingual architect-ferrier-teamster-packer-outfitter-English and Western riding instructor-horse (and mule) gentler, Rene is also pretty handy with leather- and wood-working tools, graphic illustration, all manner of firearms, and the bow-and-arrow. He has moved to Thacher with his wife, Debbie (an outdoorswoman and equine handler in her own right), to direct the Horsecamping Program. (Did we mention that he’s a knight, as well? A tale for another day. . .)


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