Bringing together the artist and the scientist

2011-03-08-Science_Wonder_ArtI once had a student ​who was part of a class that included some of the best writers I have ever taught. She was in my 11th grade expository writing class, and it was the “rite of passage” English course that involved a big research paper. The bottom line was this course made solid all of the skills the English department had taught students from citations to different ways to approach a compare/contrast essay to process. It was a school whose English department valued product and process equally. I wish I could find this student’s essay. She wrote this compare/contrast essay between expository writing and creative writing, and how in the end they were exactly the same. People often see science and art or science and creativity as the opposite things. That the scientist is seen in the lab coat highly driven by facts, reason and the ability to reduce an understanding of things to a nullable formula. That’s why so often scientists are seen as godless because there is nothing rational in some respects. And artists are so often seen dappled with the instruments of their trade. Clay under their fingernails. Paint all over their hands. Dust in their hair. And as doing something that in the end seems unknowable and un-understandable. But the fact is, they are doing the same work. It is discovery. It is invention. It’s taking one point of view, digging under it and completely shifting a paradigm.

We want our students to know both science and art. We want them to see the discovery in both and learn that they are not mutually exclusive; rather, they are complementary and necessary in mastering and integrating ideas in the world. Understanding the world requires multiple layered and nuanced understanding and perspectives. That’s not possible without the intertwining nature of science and art.

We can see this overlap in poetry as really great poetry is about math. There are structures and rhyme and meter and rules — some of which are not fully understood or immediately known. And there is a human need to discover patterns within the language, a wish to make meaning in new ways. A poet is someone for whom expressing the rational and irrational world is not an either/or but a both/and. A poet is an artist and a scientist. Experimentation just happens on the page rather than in the lab.

And that’s why our new building is going to incorporate, to reflect, the integration of creative and critical thinking. It will bring together the work done on the page and the work done in the lab. Our new building will give our students a physical space and an intellectual space to explore both artistically and scientifically, and find new ways of viewing the world. From the patterned carpet to the light filtering through the windows to the maker’s court and the student art installations, this new space will intentionally bring together the artist in white lab coat and the scientist basking in dappled light looking for meaning.

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Balancing many voices and our own

The last few months have brought us the early days of presidential debates. And this year seems to be the most diverse candidate pool in the history of debates. The field is wide. The issues multiple. And the perspectives diverse. As a country, we are nationally engaging in a process of sorting in both parties. Who will capture the ideas and the hearts of the voters? Inevitably in this process, the national debate will focus and sharpen.

So how do we both on campus and in our family conversations and with our neighbors frame a dialogue that creates open spaces rather than corners?

Inevitably high school students who are in the process of developing their own points of view about the world will find themselves ascribing to their parents views, rejecting or trying to make sense of a world in which they genuinely think differently from others. As educators, we try to model critical and compassionate thinking. So how do we as adults maintain our authentic voice in the very same moment that we are encouraging students to think for themselves. We have to accept the fundamental truth that whether our children agree or disagree with us, that we loom powerful in their imaginations.

When I was a full-time teacher, my students often referred to, affectionately, my banker’s face. And when I asked them about my banker’s face, they would say it’s when we don’t know your opinion. And I would say, then I’ve done a good job teaching today. The greatest gift that I believe teachers in schools can give students is the freedom to explore and turn over every rock, adopt every perspective and point of view they can in order to figure out who they are and what their values are. It’s a complicated process when you factor in the role of friendships, teachers, family, religious or cultural leaders, and pop culture. Our students have to wade through a lot of noise that is dissonant and consonant in trying to figuring out who they are.

So how do you engage with kids in a way that’s authentic to you and your relationship and keep central the growth that students are engaged in? It is one of those moments when our opinions don’t matter, and it’s the questions that we ask in helping them tease out their own understanding. Which is not to say we should’t share our opinions, but we need to share them, understanding to what end we are sharing them.

These high investment moments take a double awareness as an adult. We need to understand both how we share our insights and the impact those opinions may have. We must be conscious of and intentional with our words. And we must always be looking for ways to create open spaces for students to think and learn and grow.

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A look inside our classrooms

This week’s post is from our new Academic Dean, KaTrina Wentzel. She hasn’t been on campus six months, and yet she’s integrated into the community with ease. I’m thankful for her work and her ability to bring a new set of eyes to our work as we continue to find ways to push educational boundaries and reflect on our own best practices. Enjoy.—Travis

KaTrinaWentzel_smallWhen I arrived in July, I was overcome by a feeling of belonging as I read through the school materials and found statements about Marin Academy that reflected everything I believe about teaching and learning: many voices and perspectives are welcomed and encouraged; high school should be joyful; students are the center of their education. As I thought about my first year of learning and being at MA, I wanted my classroom visits to be focused and purposeful. So I decided that each month, as I visit classes, I would do so with a lens taken from statements or phrases I found woven in the school materials. And recognizing that my gift of being able to get into classrooms isn’t one that everyone has, I also wanted to share my thoughts in order to celebrate and acknowledge the amazing everyday classroom life of MA.

For September, I focused on two aspects:

  • Education should push the boundaries of what is known today.

  • What good is learning without reflection?

Here’s what “pushing boundaries of what is known today” looks like. It looks like Bill Meyer asking Hidden History students to read passages of U.S. history textbooks and study guides in search of the implicit and explicit messages we are receiving from “official stories”—then discussing and questioning them. What do they tell us about the Confederate flag? What don’t they tell us? How do they approach race? Why? It looks like Bob Schleeter and Chris Detrick asking American Roots students how they could push themselves in their practice. Could they make their instruments more accessible? Make their practice space more inviting? Change their routine in some way? How could they make it better this week? It looks like Stori Oates and Liz Gottlieb preparing APES students for a project-based learning experience where learners, in preparation for a Conference of Democracy debate, began to tackle different roles that included reaching out to experts, researching, and making conclusions around a question that has brought much controversy: Should a stricter Stream Conservation Area ordinance be established in West Marin to protect the endangered coho salmon population? It looks like David LeCount purposefully leaving the classroom after putting up an intentional mistake on the board, leaving Honors Geometry ninth graders flummoxed as they tried to figure out what to do with a problem that didn’t quite work. In English III, it looks like J O’Malley returning to a text that students thought they had moved beyond—an excerpt from Nash’s Wilderness and the American Mind—to see it in a new light as they were reading The Scarlet Letter. I swear it’s not just because I’m an English teacher that their “aha” moment (when students connected ideas of reason and thought versus passion to both Wilderness and The Scarlet Letter) brought a huge involuntary smile to my face. It happened in all of these classes. Seeing how students are challenged to take in difficult information but then are pushed to see it in new ways and take it in new directions—that’s pushing boundaries. And to me, that’s rigor.

As for my second lens this month, I’ve learned that learning tied to reflection is rampant at MA. In Nicole Klaymoon’s Hip Hop class, students started by reflecting on their practice, acknowledging a part of their growth they are proud of while also thinking about a specific way in which they wanted to grow. Some thought about moves they could do slowly, but not at a faster pace. Others thought about the position of their knees when moving. Still others thought about being aware of their arms. In Jon Bretan’s Advanced Physics class, students were taking a math diagnosis when I visited. In some schools, I imagine this would be a boring activity to observe. But here, it meant students were working in pairs and discussing. It meant they often disagreed about how to solve a problem—then reflected on why one way worked and another didn’t, why both ways worked, or why neither worked. In Human Development, Joani Lacey took students through an entire reflective activity where students thought about how they deal with stress, the stressors in their lives, what was and wasn’t in their control, and how they might begin to combat a piece of it. And in Yue Lin’s Chinese II, students were asked why certain characters would be chosen over others for formal versus casual conversations.

I cannot tell you what a joy it is to be here, to see everything happening in classrooms, and to see the ways in which faculty challenge students to question and challenge what is in front of them and to truly and authentically reflect. This month, I’m visiting additional classes, but also am spending more time with clubs and athletics as well. I’ll be observing with the following lenses:

  • Learning comes alive both during and after class.

  • Many voices and perspectives are welcomed and encouraged at MA.

I look forward to sharing future observations!

KaTrina Wentzel, Academic Dean

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That feeling of being uncomfortable

Liz and I as educators are very deliberate previewers. We practiced our kindergarten morning routine for two weeks before the boys began school. Part of that had to do with the big change in routine for them from their summer and pre-school days, and part of it had to do with wanting to make sure that they were ready to go to school. For us, a humbling dynamic of being a parent is that you are constantly creating these parallel experiences. And for me, really great parenting is knowing when to have boundaries between these parallel experiences and when to have them merge. By that I mean that we worked hard with the boys to get them ready for the first day of school; we wanted them to feel in control and confident. While at the same time, we were preparing ourselves to let them go. And we were preparing ourselves for the uncomfortable moment that comes from stepping into the unknown.

bryant-growth-mindset-ccs-iStockphotoIn many of the recent senior speeches the students have talked about being uncomfortable and how they overcame that uncomfortableness through a growth mindset. From these speeches I have been reminded that two things go hand-in-hand in adolescence: uncomfortableness and boundaries. The physiological growth and the emotional identity building that take place during adolescence is just uncomfortable. The most tangible way this happens is for kids who grow very fast. Their joints hurt; their body hurt. Life is just painful. This is why giving adolescents room to figure out who they are is so important. While at the same time we must create clean boundaries. We all know that adolescents are risk takers, but through those risk is how they learn who they are and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Where are they willing to grow? Where aren’t they? Learning those answers is part of defining who they are. It’s amazing to see kids grow into this understanding over the course of four years. So to me, this whole notion of uncomfortableness is important because we have to learn to have flexibility and guardrails. And this is the beauty of high school: it’s not formulaic and we don’t have all the answers. We don’t actually know who our students are going to become, but we have a sense of who they might be and what we need to do to get them there.

One of the reasons Liz and I are previewers is because it gives our boys a chance to try things on. We also preview because we have an idea how things should go. Selfishly, previewing also helps assuage some of our anxiety as it can be difficult to step away as a parent. We care a great deal about our boys and we want things to go well. But no matter how much previewing we do, or how flexible we think we’ve become, things still don’t go our way. And that’s ok because when we find ourselves in those uncomfortable moments we do the best we know how.

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The season of forgiveness

I’ve had the opportunity to have breakfast with three different advising groups of ninth grade parents this fall, and our conversation has ranged from students managing transitions to academics to social lives to engagement in growing up. As I’ve reflected on those conversations, I’m always reminded of what it means to grow up. I don’t know about you, but I certainly made my share of mistakes in high school. And as a young teacher at a boarding school in New England, I found myself quickly thrown into the role of parent. That is, parent to 22 8th and 9th grade girls. Which I have to say was more challenging than being a parent to my own two boys. But in being the dorm parent to those 22 kids who were off to boarding school for the first time and living away from home for the first time, I got to see the complexity of their decision-making, and could watch really great kids who knew they were making mistakes and could do nothing to stop them from making them. And so what I learned early on as a teacher and now I believe very strongly as Head of School, is that we don’t want to concentrate on keeping kids from making mistakes. We want to teach them how to make a good decision after they’ve made a bad one. And to me, that’s the essence of good education. It requires self-reflection, honesty. It requires a school to be clear about its values, and to have the courage and fortitude to live those values in a relationship with the students.

For me and my family this is a time of year for thinking about atonement and what it means to know that you’ve done something wrong or have wronged someone. At MA, we talk a lot about intention and impact. And that’s where we know that the decisions we make are almost always in relationship to others. And it takes a lot of courage to say: I didn’t mean to do that, but I understand that it had a certain impact on you. So I think it’s important for all of us to think about the last time we explicitly asked someone to forgive us. I suspect we find ourselves saying more frequently, you need to apologize. But the willingness to ask for forgiveness requires a sense of one’s own humility and to recognize that our own needs are not more important than the needs of others. And when we begin to think about what it means to ask for forgiveness, I think that’s when we recognize our humanity and the value of compassion.

Along with opportunities of asking forgiveness and showing compassion, we also all need the opportunity to earn redemption. Any school that doesn’t as part of its educative process allow kids to not only make mistakes and take risks but also to ask and get forgiveness, isn’t tending to the development of the child. We need to let kids learn how to let themselves off the hook and how to move forward with wholeness and integrity.

In this particular season of forgiveness, let’s not think about apologizing; let’s think about what it means to ask forgiveness from not only those around us but also from ourselves. It’s the compassionate thing to do.

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Summer Rediscoveries

My two boys are well into their second week of kindergarten, and at times it seems like summer is far behind us. But what I am regularly reminded of is the amazing discoveries I made in these last few months, and how I will carry them with me throughout this year.

I really mean it when I say that we as a family had the best summer we’ve had since moving to California. It was unfraught. Having little kids is the best, and it’s also really hard some times. The lack of sleep. The lack of time for yourself. Mix that with all that was happening at school, and heading into this summer there was a lot going on. But it was all manageable. And that allowed me to step into some parts of my life that had been dormant for awhile. In all honesty, the most profound experience of my summer was rediscovering my intellectual life.

All the lightIt began when I read All the Light We Cannot See. I originally wanted to read it because I loved the title and was intrigued by the cover. I was also dying to know what this book about WWII was going to be about. I felt the prose was poetic, rich, never over done, sparing when it needed to be, and laid on at other times. And the dynamic of that central metaphor of how blindness leads to sight and how sight can lead to blindness. That book just brought me back into the beauty of language and trying to say something important about the human experience.

MiddlemarchThe second great moment came from a gift Nicole Stanton gave to me as she was leaving her role of Dean Of Faculty. One of the things Nicole and I bonded over the last few years was our love of 19th Century British Literature. We have shared this back and forth, and she knows that George Eliot’s Middlemarch has changed my life. The book that Nicole gave me was My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead. Mead is a writer for the New Yorker, and Middlemarch was a defining book in her life, and her new book looks at how going back and re-reading Middlemarch shows her that the text mirrors her own development as adult. While I have read Middlemarch 12 times, this new book reminded me about the importance of having an interior life. And that’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot in the last couple of days. We all have an inner life. And how we choose to engage with it shapes how we think and live in the world. Not only did I rediscover my intellectual life, but I also really engaged with my own inner life. And I think that that has allowed a return to some of the things I truly love. What I loved about reading My Life in Middlemarch was that it reminded me that literature — and for others it’s other things — is a window into understanding the world in addition to enjoying it.

Teddy picMy third moment was completely by chance. It’s funny. I didn’t love to read as kid, and I didn’t start reading for pleasure until I was 22 years old. For me, I loved literature, but it was an intellectual exercise and it was not for enjoyment. So what I would read for enjoyment were biographies, and someone left the biography of Teddy Roosevelt at the house where we were staying. That experience of reading, and looking at time through another perspective, was like falling into another world again. Two fascinating things stand out for me from this biography. First, Teddy’s experience of the Civil War was conflicted because his father paid to avoid participating in the war and his mother was from Alabama and supported the war. This familial strife gave me a new perspective on what Teddy’s life at that time must have been like. Second, when Teddy went off to Harvard in the 1876 he spent $2000 on clothes that year. I can’t even imagine what that would be in today’s dollars. The book was also interesting because there was a lot about Teddy’s lack of a structured education in his childhood. His education was about learning while doing, and yes he had the money to travel the world, but his experiences got him excited about topics and ideas, and then he pursued those passions. It was a really interesting way to look at the development of a child. Sure the 19th Century was a more formal time, but whose strategic and formality we try to imitate now.

As I look back on this summer and balance that with what is ahead, I am reminded of the power of stepping away. It’s ok to take off a solid block of time and rest and allow my boys to enjoy the ocean. And it’s ok for me to use that time to rediscover some parts of myself that bring me joy and rekindle what I love about life.

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Comings and Goings for the Upcoming 2015-2016 School Year

Now that school is out and the Class of 2015 has graduated, things have quieted down a bit on campus. Before I take off for some rest and relaxation on the east coast, I wanted to take the time to wish you all a restful, stimulating summer break. I also wanted to acknowledge the members of our faculty and staff who will not be returning next year, as well as introduce the new members of the community who will be joining us for the 2015-2016 school year.

Best Wishes to John Hicks on His Retirement

John Hicks

In April we let you know that John Hicks, a beloved member of our community since 1978, had announced plans to retire at the close of the 2015-2016 school year. John has touched many throughout his 37 years among us and he will be sincerely missed.

While here, John opened his heart to us every day with his laughter and his unbounded curiosity about teaching and learning. John’s passion for science was reflected in each lesson he taught and this love transferred directly to his students in each and every interaction he had with them.

In addition to his time on land and in the classroom, we all know he spends the other part of his life below the surface. We all know that he has done scuba outings forever, that he is, in fact, scuba at MA. He literally takes students, faculty, and parents by the hand and teaches them to move, to breathe, and to see in a different environment. To me, this is what a master teacher does. And John does so with an artist’s eye. Submerged, floating in water, through more than one lens, he uses his camera to capture wonder, color, nuance, another way of being, and he brings it to the surface for us to see, a gift, an offering of sorts, an invitation to join him where he loves to be.

John, thank you for your artist’s eye, for inviting us on your journey, for sharing your spirit and laughter with us, for devoting your heart and soul to MA.

We wish John, his wife Karen, and their kids, Alicia ’01 and Tom ’04, all the best as this is sure to be an exciting new chapter for the whole Hicks family.

If you’re interested in sharing a favorite memory, photo or video of John, I encourage you to visit the tumblr we’ve created in his honor, which can be viewed at:


I’d also like to acknowledge several other members of our faculty and staff who will be moving onto new opportunities. Thank you for your service to MA and we wish you the best as you embark upon your next endeavors.

Steve Bayes, Science Teacher

Amy Clausen, Librarian

Sue Crowther, Admissions Associate

Mike Fargo, History Teacher

Julie Feldman, Music Teacher

Connie Goldsmith, Associate Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Coordinator

Nicole Jensen, Science Teacher

John Svitak, Science Teacher

Lisa Tsubouchi, Crossroads Program Coordinator

Jiazhen Zhang, Math Teacher


As we look ahead to the 2015-2016 school year, I am so pleased to announce the addition of several new faculty and staff members to the MA community. You’ll get a chance to meet everyone once school resumes in the fall but I wanted to give you a preview below.

Tania Bettis will join the science department as a biology teacher and as one of the two coordinators of the Marin Academy Research Collaborative. Tania received her B.S. in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavioral Sciences (with a minor in Latin) from UC Davis in 2000 and her PhD in Psychology from UC Berkeley in 2011. Tania joins us from UC Berkeley, where she spent three years as the lab coordinator and developer for the introductory biology course. In that role, she designed new labs and worked with students to help them develop their own research projects. This summer, Tania is leading a workshop for other biology laboratory educators on a primate phylogeny lab, which she developed. Tania loves teaching, and she is excited to join the Marin Academy community. She and her husband live in Pinole with two daughters and a small flock of chickens. In her free time, Tania likes to hike and camp with her family, or train for triathlons.

Nghiem Bui is the new Assistant Director of Admissions. In his role, he will do outreach to prospective schools, support current students and families, help manage the database of incoming applications, and oversee the Admissions Fellows and Daily Visit programs. Nghiem graduated from Boston College with a B.A. in Theology with a focus in social justice and ethics. After graduating, he went on to teach in Chicago Public Schools as part of the Inner-City Teaching Corps where he was a teacher’s assistant, lead teacher and mentor teacher for grades Kindergarten through fourth. Nghiem also has a M.Ed from Northwestern University, where his thesis project explored how technology can bridge the gap between low-income families and student achievement. After getting frostbite during one of the coldest winters in Chicago history, Nghiem moved back to his native San Rafael where he worked as the Alumni and Admissions Coordinator for the educational justice, non-profit organization Next Generation Scholars. As a former student of the program, and being tri-lingual in Spanish, Vietnamese and English, he continues to have close ties to the program’s mission, students and families. Outside of work, Nghiem can be found exploring the Bay Area with his family and friends, watching and playing all types of warm-weather sports, learning about and trying new types of food, and on the dance floor where he’s been known to do a pretty good Bruno Mars impression.

Mary Kay Dolejsi will be joining MA’s science department where she will be teaching Chemistry and Advanced Chemistry. She will also be a sophomore academic counselor. Mary Kay received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Washington State University, and a PhD in Chemistry (with an emphasis in biochemistry) from the University of Oregon. Mary Kay also has a Masters in Teaching from Seattle University. Mary Kay joins us from Bainbridge High School in Bainbridge Island, Washington, where she taught Chemistry and AP Chemistry. She also taught at the University of Puget Sound, and worked at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) in the Biotech Shared Resource Lab, which provided automated chemistry synthesis of DNA and small protein segments, and genetic analysis for FHCRC researchers. Mary Kay is moving to Marin with her husband, Chris, who will be working at BioMarin. Mary Kay and Chris have two grown sons, Bill and Brad, and they like to hike, garden, cook, and read. She is looking forward to exploring the Bay Area and getting to know her new community.

Lane Fischman is also joining the science department this fall. Lane will be teaching Conceptual Physics, acting as the faculty advisor to the Jew Crew, and serving as a sophomore academic counselor. Lane received a B.S. in Physics (with an emphasis on Physics Teacher education) from Illinois State University and a M.S. in Science Education from Montana State University – Bozeman. His research focused on using Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory as a basis for differentiation in a ninth grade physics classroom. Lane has taught physics at Antioch Community High School in Antioch, IL, and, most recently, at The Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles. Lane was born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and he loves the outdoors: camping, skiing, hiking, and scuba diving. Prior to recent knee injuries, Lane took up running and ran three different half marathons in 2014. He is looking forward to moving to the Bay Area with his wife Allie, and their two dogs Maggie and Nigel. Lane is a proud lover of gaming and all things nerdy.

We are thrilled that Karen Jacobsen is returning to Marin Academy to serve as Registrar and Academic Program Coordinator, a position she held from 2007 thru 2011. For the last four years, she was Assistant to the Head of School at Mark Day School. Karen studied film at the University of Iowa and Spanish at Universidad de los Andes in Venezuela. She worked in the film industry in Los Angeles before moving to the Bay Area. Karen lives in San Rafael with her son and daughter and her spoiled dog, Ringo. She enjoys independent cinema, running the dog on the beach, boogie boarding, and perusing food blogs.

Francesca Johnson will be MA’s inaugural Human Resources Manager, and we will welcome her to campus in mid-July. Francesca was born and raised in Marin county, and attended Marin Catholic. She now lives in Corte Madera with her husband, Jeff; her three children, Alex, Kyle, and Amanda; and her two dogs and two cats. Francesca graduated from Cal State Sacramento with a degree in Business, and has worked for American Express and General Electric in Account Management, Reporting, and Training. Seven years ago, she moved into Human Resources, working at a local advertising company in Sausalito.Outside of work, Francesca is an avid trail runner and she has participated in many races, including Escape from Alcatraz. Her goal is to run a marathon one day! Francesca speaks Spanish fluently, loves cooking, and enjoys spending time with her family.  She is thrilled to be joining the MA community.

Rachel Kernodle will be joining the math department this fall. She will be teaching Geometry, Algebra II, and Precalculus, and she will also be a sophomore academic counselor. Rachel received her B.S. from Vanderbilt University in Secondary Education and Mathematics, and her M.Ed. from Vanderbilt University in Curriculum and Instructional Leadership. Rachel began her teaching career at Flint Hill School in Oakton, Virginia, where in addition to teaching math, she coached the JV softball team. She eventually returned home to Tennessee to teach at her alma mater, Brentwood High School, where she taught Advanced Algebra, Trigonometry, and Algebra I, and served as faculty sponsor to the feminist club. Outside of school, Rachel enjoys connecting with other math teachers online, reading on the couch with her cat, Gatsby, taking long walks in search of four-leaf clovers, and road tripping in the summer with friends. Rachel is excited about living on the west coast.

Starting July 1, Evie Koh will transition from Registrar to Senior Associate Director of Admissions. Although Evie is known throughout our community for the great work she does with the academic team, she has also exhibited entrepreneurial work in admissions and outreach with Juilliard, has an excellent track-record with data and strategy, and has demonstrated her value as an insightful and creative collaborator, making her a perfect fit for this new role. In addition to Evie’s invaluable knowledge of all things MA, she has an amazing ability to connect with students and families. The admissions office is eager to have Evie joining their team!

Marin Academy is excited to welcome Stori Oates into the Science Department. Stori will be teaching Chemistry and AP Environmental Science (APES), helping to coordinate the Marin Academy Research Collaborative, and serving as a freshman advisor. Stori received her B.S. in Biology (with a minor in Environmental Studies) and a M.S. in Marine Science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and San Jose State University. She taught General Biology and Human Biology at Hartnell College in Salinas, and she has also served as a long-term substitute teacher here at MA, teaching courses including Anatomy & Physiology, AP Environmental Science, Biology, and Chemistry. Stori maintains ties with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center, responding to oil spill events, and she currently collaborates with researchers from the One Health Institute at the U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine to investigate health and disease of marine species throughout California. Stori lives in Fairfax with her husband, history teacher Bill Meyer, where they have a tripod dog, three cats, five tortoises, and a gecko. She has great stories to tell about the sea otters she has come across in her research.

Joining the history department this year is Kacey Schneider, who is moving to the Bay Area from Massachusetts. Kacey graduated Magna Cum Laude from Skidmore College with a B.A. in American Studies and a double minor in Dance and Exercise Science. Kacey worked as a surf instructor and hostel manager in Playa Grande, Costa Rica for a year before she accepted a teaching position at the HomeSchool Beach Academy, where she taught world history and Costa Rican history at all levels from kindergarten through 11th grade. After three years in Costa Rica, Kacey moved to Groton, Massachusetts to teach at Lawrence Academy. There, she taught history, modern dance, and coached the boys and girls varsity cross country teams as well as the junior varsity girls ice hockey team. Kacey comes from a hockey-loving family and loves the Bruins and other Boston sports teams. At MA, Kacey will teach Modern World History I and II, working with the Model United Nations group, advising freshman, and serving as the girls varsity cross country coach. Kacey is excited to be living in a place without snow and cannot wait to enjoy all of the sun and warmth that the west coast has to offer her. In addition to dancing and surfing, Kacey also enjoys yoga, running, and scuba diving.

New Academic Dean KaTrina Wentzel begins her work at MA on July 1. KaTrina received her B.A. in English from the women’s college, College of St. Catherine, and an M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Minnesota. Before coming to MA, she was the Director of Studies at Mounds Park Academy (MPA) in Saint Paul, MN. During her tenure at MPA, she also served as Diversity Coordinator and taught in the English department including English 9, senior electives, and yearbook. Before her 14-year tenure at MPA, KaTrina was a teacher and curriculum coordinator for St. Paul Public Schools and worked for Free Spirit Publishing in acquisitions and editorial. At Marin Academy, KaTrina will be teaching Sci-Fi and the Politics of Imagination and Film and Literature, two junior/senior English electives. Being a Midwest native new to California, she is looking forward to reading outside during all seasons, no longer needing an ice scraper, and discovering the hiking trails that abound in Marin.

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