This fall there are five new teachers at the K–8 campus, the most new teachers hired since the school expanded enrollment in 2013.
Kim Diaz is the Treehouse lead teacher. Though it is her first year teaching at Sequoyah, it is her second as a Sequoyah parent.
As the year began, Diaz was excited about the prospects for her curriculum. “This year we’re doing communities for social studies, and how communities are formed, and how a person’s identity can inform their community choices,” said Diaz.
Diaz has 16 years of teaching experience to bring to her new job. She most recently taught preschool at Rose Scharlin Co-op Nursery School.
Before Rose Scharlin, she taught third grade at Oakwood School. She also taught previously at the Trevor Day School, an independent day school in New York.
Chris Colthart is the new history teacher in the Junior High. He is currently teaching world history.
Colthart said, about developing his class, “it’s really challenging your first year at a new school and teaching something, because you have to come up with a whole new curriculum. It’s a lot of work, but it is also worth it.”
Before coming to Sequoyah, Colthart taught graphic design at Pierce College, a two-year college in Woodland Hills, and worked in the communications department at Marlborough School in Hancock Park. At Marlborough, Colthart also supervised the yearbook production.
Colthart, too, spoke of his appreciation for his new school. “I really value social justice and freedom to learn in a creative way. I really like the atmosphere here and allowing people to be different.”
Drew Gagne is the new lead teacher in the Out Back class. He taught at Walden for ten years, and before that at a school in Seattle for seven years. He is excited to be a teacher at Sequoyah.
About Sequoyah, he said, “it’s a great place to work at for a teacher, and the students are great.”
Drew enjoys hiking, sailing, camping, and trail running in his free time. His active physical life has prompted him to keep up the physical education tradition of his predecessor Art Phiffer.
Being in the Out Back, therefore, still involves jump roping, running, and calisthenics every Friday morning.
Out Back / Over There
Chad Robertson is Gagne’s new partner in the Out Back, creating a new role as math teacher for both the Out Back and the Over There classes. The classes were reorganized to share a math teacher after the retirement of Phiffer and the departure of former language arts specialist Ian Chang for the new Sequoyah high school.
Cynthia Lee remains the lead Over There teacher, with additional support offered in both 5/6 classes by Sequoyah veteran Gabe Dahl.
Robertson has taught for about ten years, most recently as a math teacher in Chicago. His approach to math focuses less on getting the correct answers than on finding patterns and explaining your strategies for finding your answer.
Chad has the two 5/6 classes working on a new middle-school math curriculum called Connected Mathematics, a program developed at Michigan State University, which he supplements with material from a few different textbooks.
When asked how he liked Sequoyah, he responded, “I like it a lot. I like how inquisitive the kids are, and how much they like math.”
When asked what his favorite hobbies were, he said he enjoyed surfing.
Replacing Sequoyah’s previous K–8 music teacher, Zach Provost, Ron McBain is bringing a new music experience to Sequoyah.
McBain already feels at home, he said. “The Sequoyah community has been incredibly warm and welcoming as I begin teaching here. I love all the school-wide events like All-school Meeting, Hot Lunches, and I look forward to the Musicale.”
Ron has had a lot of experience playing music. He said “I began playing the piano at the age of 4 and have loved it ever since, although I never really liked practicing. I played the saxophone for a few years, but the only other instrument I play is the pipe organ.”
He has been really liking the opportunities at Sequoyah. He said that Sequoyah has so many opportunities for students to share their musical talents and build on their performance skills. “It’s really a great place for musicians to grow and gain confidence.”