Faculty Profiles

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Catlin Gabel teachers are wise, dedicated, expert, approachable, and supportive. In a word, they are amazing.


Shellie Adams, LS student teacher, at CG since 2014.

Pilar Arias, LS Spanish teacher, at CG since 2013. Bachelor's in elementary education, Playa Ancha University of Educational Sciences. Bachelor's in secondary education/English as foreign language, Catholic University of Chile. Master's in curriculum and instruction, Portland State University.

At the age of 15, I was asked by a church leader to teach a kindergarten class in the Sunday school in my country of origin, Chile. I accepted without hesitation because I liked being around children. I enjoyed the experience so much that I continued teaching classes at church. Looking back, this exposure developed my love for teaching children even before college.

I love to read books and I alternate between books in English and Spanish. Also, I love to travel and one of my most enjoyable times is walking at the beach.

Rachel Bell, LS student teacher, at CG since 2014. Bachelor's in child development and English, Humboldt State University.

Maggie Bendicksen, 4th grade teacher, at CG since 2002. Bachelor's in English, Amherst College. Master's in education, Lewis & Clark College.

As a former reporter and editor, what I love about teaching is that I get to combine my thirst for new information with building lasting relationships.

As a native New Yorker who also lived in the West Indies when I was a wee one, I am drawn to all types of water and learned to surf the wild and chilly North Pacific when I turned 40. My students can tell you that I can relate just about anything to a corny surfing metaphor!

Carrie Blank, LS/MS PE teacher, at CG since 2005. Bachelor's in anthropology, Humboldt State University. Bachelor's in physical education, Illinois State University. Master's in education, Lewis & Clark College.

I have always been active. Many of my high school years were spent working with young people at camps, and it was this connection with children that inspired me to go into teaching and coaching.

Some of my passions include golfing, scuba diving, and working in my yard. One of my scariest moments was when I was separated from my group in the Vatican City without a phone or wallet and not knowing where our hotel was located. I'm still teaching, so I obviously made my way back!

Katie Boehnlein, 5th grade teaching assistant, at CG since 2012. Bachelor's in environmental studies & English, Seattle University.

Genevieve Bouwes, assistant lower school head, at CG since 2012. Bachelor's in geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Master's in education, Bankstreet College of Education.

My 3rd grade teacher, whom I adored, gave me a huge box of chalk on the last day of school. It sparked hours of playing school and teaching my dog how to read. My inspiration to teach children was rekindled my last years of college as my studies of human geography were juxtaposed with my work in an aftercare program. I loved teaching the kids and saw how they were the agents of change.

I love to spend time taking road trips, camping, and swimming in lakes in the summer. Hiking with my dog and identifying plants is a joy to me! I also love to repurpose clothes with my sewing machine in my free time.

Angelica Boyden, LS student teacher, at CG since 2014. Bachelor's in hispanic studies, Pacific Lutheran University.

Marcelle Donehower, 3rd grade teacher, at CG since 2012. Bachelor's in political science, Lewis & Clark College. Master's in early childhood/elementary, Lewis & Clark College.

As a teacher I get to learn about new ways of thinking and being in the world, and how to share my knowledge with others. I get to dissect concepts to make them interesting and approachable for my students. I also learn from my students every day about how we interact as a community and about their diverse perspectives.

I raised dairy goats as a child. Through junior high I was in a 4-H club, where I leaned how to take care of them, and I learned a lot about life and responsibility. I bred the goats, helped them give birth, milked them twice a day, and showed them at the county fair. I kept the goats through high school but I stopped breeding and milking them when I started playing water polo as a high school sophomore. Raising goats helped teach me to be responsible and to have a strong work ethic. Even though I love living in Portland, at some point in the future I hope to live in the country and once again raise goats.

Lisa Ellenberg, LS librarian, at CG since 1991. Bachelor's in education, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Master's in education, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

Teaching and learning from children is challenging, restorative, joyful, and satisfying. I gain these same benefits from travel adventures or when awed by the power and beauty of Mother Nature. How grateful I am that my professional duties allow me to synthesize it all via global and outdoor education programs at Catlin Gabel.

Eleanor Ellis, 2nd grade teaching assistant, at CG since 2014. Bachelor's in race & ethnic studies, Whitman College.

Lauren Figi, LS learning specialist. Bachelor's in elementary education, Illinois State University. Master's in reading and literacy, Benedictine University.

There is nothing like coming into a classroom full of children to make each day fulfilling. Children make every day better; what they learn, how they learn, what they say, and the relationships you establish with them as their teacher - it's all special and one-of-a-kind. There is nothing else like it.

I am a Chicago native and a lover of the Chicago Bears and Chicago Blackhawks. While a part of my heart will always be in Chicago, I love the beauty and nature that Oregon has to offer. I enjoy spending my time hiking the various terrains in Oregon, skiing, and taking advantage of what Mother Nature has to offer in this part of the country.

Ric Fry, LS woodshop teacher, at CG since 2013. Bachelor's in anthropology, University of Western Ontario.

Stephen Grant, LS counselor, at CG since 2012. Bachelor's in psychology, University of Oregon. Master's in social work, Portland State University.

I was drawn to counseling because I have always been interested in how people develop. How much is nature and how much is nurture? How much of what is natural can be shaped and changed by nurture? How does our thinking and sense-making about the world shape our behavior? I was drawn to working with children because changes happen so quickly at younger ages. Though I don't feel much closer to having the answers, I'm sure having a great time collecting data. Kids are just plain fun!

I spent my formative years living on both coasts of the U.S., from Brooklyn, N.Y., to my grandfather's dairy farm in Skomokawa, Washington. I'm both a country mouse and a city mouse.

Keli Gump, 4th grade teacher, at CG since 2011. Bachelor's in English, University of San Francisco. Master's in curriculum & instruction, City University.

I traveled to Brazil in my late teens, and on the streets of Rio de Janeiro saw homeless children huddled under movie marquees asleep at night. It might sound clichéd, but this trip changed my life. I decided right then that I had to be a teacher, and have spent the rest of my life fulfilling this dream.

I hiked the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu when I was 18. This tested my endurance beyond all measure.

Jordan Heintz, 5th grade teacher, at CG since 2004. Bachelor's in psychology, Whittier College. Master's in education, Whittier College.

The act of learning feeds the good stuff in us all. As a teacher I'm lucky enough to spend my day with children exploring the world, building ideas, and discovering. It's simply awesome.

In college I supported myself as a DJ, designed studio lighting for clubs, and took on additional coursework in film production. What do I do with these skills? I play cheesy dance music for Lower School children during our Disco Friday celebrations, complete with full lighting and a film that showcases the kids' sweet moves.

Julie Higgins, LS administrative assistant.

What was a great Catlin Gabel experience you've had lately? We just had Harvest Festival which is my very favorite tradition at Catlin Gabel. All of the Lower School teachers and students, and many parents gather in the Fir Grove to celebrate the changing of the seasons. We have a bonfire and the kids sing, recite poetry, play instruments, and dance. After the bonfire we all gather to roll a giant oatcake marked with an X on one side, and an O on the other side. If the oatcake lands on O we'll have a mild winter, if it lands on X, we'll have a long cold winter. Of course we hope for a long cold winter with lots of snow days! Then we all have treats. Harvest Festival is the perfect example of the community coming together to celebrate and the community is why I work here. 

Mariam Higgins, 5th grade teacher, at CG since 2006. Bachelor's in medical illustration, Ohio State University School of Medicine. Master's in teaching, Lewis & Clark College.

Carefully striding down the rock-strewn path, I revel in the electricity in the air and gusting wind of an impending storm. Admonishing, finger-wagging Haitian women, old uncles, even children would run up to me, always with a smile, warning me again of the obvious and ominous dark clouds. I adore exploring, particularly in foreign environments. I am well prepared, but impulsive, open to new opportunities. This engaging pastime has taken me to the deepest rainforests of Malaysia, remote islands off Mexico, mountains of Haiti, swamps of Florida, rivers of China, ruins of Malta, and coasts of Ireland, not to mention many not-so-civilized pubs and cafés around the world. Nearly every weekend I discover a new trail somewhere in the Oregon woods. I hope the feeling I enjoy is similar to that of my students’: curious, alive, observant, and eager to experience more.

Leslie Hillman, 3rd grade teaching assistant. Bachelor's in physical education, Linfield College.

Dawn Isaacs, 2nd grade teacher, at CG since 2011. Bachelor's in elementary education, Bradley University. Master's in educational leadership, Maryville University.

I'm drawn to teaching by the endless possibilities. Teaching is a creative, intellectual, emotional, exhausting, energizing endeavor. Each morning I wake up eager to come to school and excited by the opportunity to create the just-right conditions needed to draw out the potential of each child. I leave school each evening honored to be a part of my students becoming who they will be as learners, as thinkers, as people in the world.

For four years, I lived aboard a sailboat, and completely off the grid, a mile from the shore of Key West, Florida. My commute each day included a dinghy ride to land and a quick trip on my moped to school.

Herb Jahncke, 3rd grade teacher, at CG since 2007. Bachelor's in biology, Rollins College. Master's in teaching, Lewis & Clark College.

The heart of education for me is creativity. Students are always creating ways to understand the world, and developing their logic and problem solving skills to make sense of experiences, ideas, and concepts. In order to construct this knowledge, they take what they already know and build on it. As a teacher, I am allowed to participate in this remarkable process of watching student creativity blossom and grow and to help encourage, support, and challenge students to help them move out of their comfort zones and explore new ideas. No two students are the same, nor do they come to the classroom with identical backgrounds or perspectives. Creativity in the classroom involves discovering how these learners think when they walk in the door, and finding ways to guide them along their educational pathways. Being able to listen to the students, encourage their ideas and plans, and watch them grow is one of the richest experiences one can have.

Emily Krohn, LS student teacher, at CG since 2014. Bachelor's in elementary education, University of Portland.

Jennifer Marcus, LS woodshop teacher, at CG since 2004. Bachelor's in art, Mills College.

When my oldest daughter attended preschool in Los Angeles, I agreed to open up the woodworking shed during their recess. That first group of 4-year-olds introduced me to something so special that I had no choice but to make a career of teaching woodworking to as many kids as possible.

I worked in the advertising department of Wham-O Manufacturing as a graphic designer when Frisbee golf was being introduced in the United States.

Kristy Marling, LS learning specialist, at CG since 2014. Master's in disabilities, DePaul University.

John Mayer, 2nd grade teacher, at CG since 2006. Master's in education, Lewis & Clark College.

During college I thought I was going to change the world by fighting for social justice in courtrooms and the halls of government. But then when I was 21, I was a delegate to the United Nations Conference Against Racism in South Africa…an experience that soured me on bureaucracy. Later, I saw that my work for social justice could be much more satisfying in a classroom of young people. How wonderful to be able to grapple with the biggest issues our world faces with the people who are going to continue the work beyond me.

In 2004, after dating my future wife for six months, we quit our professional jobs, sold most of our possessions, packed up a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser with a rusty bumper, and took off. Our goal was to travel the U.S. and Canada together until our savings ran out-a luxury of youth, luck, and circumstance. We drove over 20,000 miles, visited 34 states and all of the Canadian provinces, hiked hundreds of miles, connected with long-lost family and friends, and only spent two nights in a hotel.

Peggy McDonnell, LS music teacher, at CG since 1978. Bachelor's in education, University of Maryland. Master's in curriculum & instruction, Portland State University.

My grandmother played piano by ear for silent movies. She could not read a note. My family had weekly sing-a-longs, and I was exposed to music throughout my childhood. I went into music education in my sophomore year of college and never looked back.

I am a bi-coastal resident. I live in Ocean City, New Jersey, in the summer and in Portland during the school year. Every summer my husband and I explore the expanse of this great nation and visit different sections of our county and national parks as we drive east.

Beth Merrill, LS science teacher, at CG since 2013. Bachelor's in environmental studies, University of Oregon. Master's in general science, Portland State University.

I have always enjoyed the outdoors and was fortunate to spend my childhood in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada outside of Yosemite. I spent a good deal of time wading through creeks, climbing boulders, and observing animals. As a teacher, I aim to give students opportunities to develop a connection to nature through science. Kids see the world with such openness and honesty. I feel fortunate to be part of the learning and discovery that happens every day at school.

In my free time, I enjoy gardening, hiking around Portland, and discovering interesting treasures at yard sales. I'm an avid reader who is always looking for another good book to pick up.

Shizuka Morse, 1st grade teaching assistant, at CG since 2010. Bachelor's in linguistics & business administration, University of Oregon.

While I was growing up, I always had teachers that I liked, but my 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Hagino, made the greatest impression on me. Due to my family moving, I only had her for about four months, but I remember wanting to be at school all the time. I want to be a part of children's lives in a way that gets them excited about something - if not everything - just the way Ms. Hagino did for me.

I learned to speak English when I was 16 years old. Having my educational career split between Japan and the U.S. taught me so much. Even after 10+ years of living in the U.S., I am still learning things about American culture!

Laura Morton, 1st grade teacher, at CG since 2014. Bachelor's in child development, University of California, Davis. Master's in early childhood education, Portland State University.

Courtney Nelson, lower school math specialist, at CG since 2011. Bachelor's in landscape architecture, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Master's in elementary education, Lewis & Clark College.

I worked as a landscape architect after college and realized there, in the design office, that my favorite days at work were the days when the administrative assistant brought her children in and I could explain our projects to them. I realized then that I wanted to teach.

Outside of school, I play on a coed field hockey team, surf, snorkel, garden, and try to visit places and people all over the world.

Monica Palmesano, LS student teacher, at CG since 2014. Bachelor's in educational foundations, University of Oregon.

Vicki Roscoe, lower school head, at CG since 2002. Bachelor's in early childhood, Central Washington University. Master's in teacher education, Bank Street College of Education.

I decided to teach while living in a classroom culture of public humiliation in the 3rd grade. Horrified, I realized the powerful influence of teachers and vowed to have a positive impact on children.

My passion is travel, especially overseas. I crave the cognitive dissonance you get when you are immersed in another culture. Travel has been one of my greatest teachers.

Peggy Schauffler, LS art teacher, at CG since 1994. Bachelor's in art education, University of Oregon. Master's in education, Portland State University.

I come from an enormous family of teachers, the most influential being my father, a music and woodshop teacher. He gave me the love, the voice, and the desire to teach students in the most creative way possible. Teaching art is the answer for me.

I love to sing and play guitar, and have written many songs throughout my life.

Guimin Tang, LS Chinese teacher, at CG since 2011. Bachelor's in English language and literature, Guangdong University. Master's in applied linquistics, Guangdong University. Master's in education, Portland State University.

I have a deep love for education, and recognize education as the noblest profession in the world. Education is the transmission of civilization. In Chinese culture, teachers are often compared to gardeners and engineers of human souls to indicate the significance of education. To represent the pride, commitment, and devotion I have in being a teacher, I share one of my favorite Chinese sayings: “The spring silkworm will only end its thread when death befalls; the candle will not stop dripping with tears until it turns to ashes.”

My passion outside of work and family is reading and listening to music. I think reading broadens my horizons and enriches my knowledge, while music brings me peace of mind.

Mimi Tang, 1st grade teacher, at CG since 2005. Bachelor's in English, University of Washington. Master's in education, University of Washington.

Although my memory of what my 3rd grade teacher looked like or sounded like has faded, I will never forget how Mrs. Cleveland made me feel. When she looked at me, she saw me. She truly saw me. As a shy, introverted, voiceless child, I was never invisible in Mrs. Cleveland’s universe. She succeeded in drawing me out of my typical way of being, challenging me and including me in the culture of the classroom seamlessly and respectfully. Many of her former students became teachers. Her spirit of kindness and ability to include all children lives on in us. I feel so fortunate to have learned from a master teacher and memorable human being.

Sheila Williams, LS PE teacher, at CG since 1990.

Lora Worden, LS library assistant, at CG since 2014. Master's in library science, Emporia State University.