Faculty Profiles

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


Paul Andrichuk, MS learning specialist, at CG since 1997. Bachelor's in history, Oberlin College. Master's in school counseling, Johns Hopkins University.

I thought I wanted to be a lawyer but when, at age 16, I started coaching my younger brother's soccer team I was immediately hooked on teaching. Planning lessons to develop technique and training teams in tactics are great preparation for classroom teachers. Most people think teachers get into coaching; I was a coach who wanted to teach. Learning to coach was my first step in learning to love teaching. I'm really good on a forklift. I worked in a warehouse with the best collection of characters ever. We designed the forklift Olympics during slow times, with events ranging from slalom, to scratching the backs of brave co-workers, to relocation operations that involved picking up lunches. Colleagues, truck drivers, commercial builders, and even our bosses looked on in appreciation.

Deirdre Atkinson, MS arts & drama teacher, at CG since 2004. Bachelor's in theater, Willamette University.

I grew up watching the San Francisco Mime Troupe and the Pickle Family Circus in the parks of San Francisco (in those summers after the one of love), but the first real play I remember seeing was "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Joyce Theater. They allowed the audience to go up on stage during intermission, and a star was born. I made my professional debut at age 11, sharing the stage with Placido Domingo in "Carmen" with the San Francisco Opera. I enjoy working with Middle Schoolers as we turn our Chipmunk Hollow theater into a different world every six weeks. That little tool shed has been transformed into a Scottish heath, a beach-blanket seascape, a far-away planet, Dracula's castle, a world-class museum, the Wild West, Verona, ancient India, a honky-tonk diner, the star ship Enterprise, and any number of dramatic little holes in the wall.

Chris Bell, middle school office manager.

I like working with middle schoolers because they are fun, full of life, excited about almost everything, and will try almost everything. I enjoy my unique role in the middle school that allows me to work with students, colleagues, and parents, while at the same time working closely with students as advisor and 8th grade team member.

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!

Len Carr, assistant middle school head, at CG since 1989. Bachelor's in social sciences, Evergreen State College.

I sort of fell into teaching, headlong. I started off teaching 3rd graders as part of a math class when I was a high school student at Catlin Gabel. During my junior and senior years I was a counselor on the 6th grade trip to Cape Arago. After high school I spent two summers as director of Catlin Gabel's summer day camp. In college I had a work-study job as custodian at the campus day care, which soon turned into a teaching position. After college I was hired at Bush School in Seattle doing a lot of everything, I was a utility infielder - global education coordinator, summer school director, PE teacher, soccer coach, yearbook advisor, middle school history teacher and "in-house sub." At Bush, I was fortunate to become a colleague of Schauff, a teacher who had been headmaster at Catlin Gabel when I was a student.

My grandmother took me to the Beatles concert in the mid 1960s when they played in Portland. I met the real James Bond while hitchhiking in Canada. I have hopped freight on several occasions - riding the rails is a great way to see the landscape. My wife and our three daughters are Catlin Gabel alumnae.

Li-Ling Cheng, MS Chinese teacher, at CG since 2005. Bachelor's in occupational therapy, National Taiwan University School of Medicine. Master's in occupational therapy, New York University School of Education.

I never thought I would become a teacher, but after working as a midwife nurse and an occupational therapist for more than 15 years combined, I realized that what I do best is work with and help people.

Growing up in Taiwan I had never heard of mushroom hunting, which has become my favorite pastime since moving to Oregon. With a little rain, mushrooms are the best and most reliable gift nature offers. I enjoy adventuring into the woods, with the wind whistling and streams gurgling in the background, in search of my preferred mushrooms. The hunting trip does not always guarantee harvest, but I do appreciate the time I spend in nature.

Natalie Dickinson, MS PE teacher, at CG since 2012. Bachelor's in interdisiplinary studies, University of San Diego. Master's in teaching, University of Portland.

Combining my love of fitness and sport with the desire to influence others to lead healthy and active lives from a young age led me to teaching. I worked in the healthcare world for five years before going back to school to become a teacher. Getting a job as a physical education teacher at Catlin Gabel has been a dream come true.

I have been teaching yoga since 2008. My dad took me to my first yoga class when I was in high school and I've been practicing ever since. Yoga has been life changing.

Lynda Douglas, 7th grade math teacher, at CG since 1998. Bachelor's in biology, Lewis & Clark College. Master's in biology, University of Chicago.

Catlin Gabel's natural beauty and close community of progressive and dedicated educators resonates perfectly with my view of what an educational setting should be. My love for math grew from the influence of two very strong math teachers: Virginia Bartell in high school and Elva Fredrickson in college. My first teaching job at the progressive Green Acres School (also on the site of an old farm) cemented and foretold my future. It all came together at Catlin - a beautiful setting in which progressive ideals are held protectively in the hands of inspiring colleagues and where I can share mathematics with my students as simply another way by which to know the world. How lucky I am to have come to this place.

Javier Duque Rey, MS PE teacher, at CG since 2013. Bachelor's in physical education and recreation, Northern Technical College.

Ema Eldredge, 8th grade math teacher, at CG since 2004. Bachelor's in mathematics, Pacific University.

I started out my career emphatically not wanting to teach. I come from a long line of teachers. I tried others things. But nothing satisfied my desire to leave an impact on the future like working with young people and helping them learn how to think and be in this world.

At one point I my life I had five dogs at once: a chocolate Lab, a Great Dane, two Maltese, and one Maltese-Shih-Tzu mutt.

David Ellenberg, 8th grade history teacher, at CG since 1991. Bachelor's in biology, Brown University. Master's in education, Portland State University.

During the time I worked as an urban park ranger in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, teaching school groups park history, ecology, and botany became the most loved part of my job. When winter came, my colleagues and I took educational programs to classrooms throughout the borough and I experienced extended time with students for the first time. Those were wonderful days and I came to realize that full-time teaching was the career for me.

Instead of attending classes during my senior year of high school, I interned with the chairman of the education department at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Ann Fyfield, 6th grade humanities teacher. Bachelor's in international studies, Portland State University.

I wasn't drawn to teaching at first; I was drawn to languages, French and Japanese. I wanted to travel and learn about other cultures, learn about other people. It was this desire to travel that drew me to teaching English, and I found my passion for connecting with students, both young and old. My first teaching job was on a street corner in San Francisco. My friend and I were asked by a young Brit at San Francisco State to teach a classroom of Italian students. We had no idea what to do. But after two weeks of conversational English, the reviews from the students were that I was a natural teacher. I went from teaching Italians to teaching Hmong and Mien refugees, then Japanese and Vietnamese speakers, and now Catlin Gabel students.

I hitchhiked through southern France when I was young and naive. I met the most wonderful people on that crazy journey. One family in Aix-en-Provence took us to their home, complete with monkeys and ocelots! It was a wild ride, but one I'll never forget.

Brian Gant, MS health & PE teacher, at CG since 1984. Bachelor's in geography, Simon Fraser University.

All through my formative years I had teachers that had a great influence on me. They taught me to value education, the people around me, and the larger community. Their values became some of my values, and those years are still so vivid in my memory. My aunt was a teacher and inspired me to really look into pursuing it as a profession.

I love coaching! I have played team sports since I was 5 years old, and that has been one of the greatest influences on my life. I first started coaching when I was 13 and fell in love with everything about it. Coaching and leading a group to success provides an incredible feeling of accomplishment. Blending a variety of talents and personalities is challenging, but oh so rewarding.

Brendan Gill, 7th & 8th grade arts media teacher, at CG since 2010. Bachelor's in film production, Loyola Marymount University.

I grew excited about teaching after my junior year because of my high school English teacher, Mr. Curtis. He once created a montage of movie clips that he played silently behind music and burning incense, and we all instinctively knew not to talk. He led us out after that to pick a spot of our own in the forest, where I later realized I'd meditated for the first time. I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker, and along the way decided I would pick up a teaching gig at an art center or college in between film projects. I quickly learned I got more out of teaching. I love that exchange between teacher and student, where the roles switch and blur. I have learned so much about filmmaking and self-expression from the work my students produce.

I love karaoke. It's a great way to appreciate music - it's live, loud, participatory, and a way to share the love of a song. Through karaoke I overcame stage fright, became a better singer, and was approached to audition for the band I'm now in. I host the Middle School karaoke club because it's important to offer a variety of arenas for students to discover their inner performer and build self-confidence.

Katie Gunderson, MS French teacher, at CG since 2012. Bachelor's in French, Portland State University. Master's in French, Portland State University.

Ever since the first time I was asked, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” I've answered, “I want to be a teacher.” When I fell in love with French on the first day of high school, it was the missing piece to my puzzle. Through the years, I have learned that the subject taught is not as important as the way students feel when they leave your classroom. I have worked with students of all ages: high schoolers in Vancouver, Washington, and elementary students in France. But middle schoolers are the most fun!

I am an Oregon native but loved the year I spent living and working in France, and I almost feel as if I have two nationalities.

Larry Hurst, 6th grade science teacher, at CG since 1998. Bachelor's in biology, California Poly State University. Master's in Latin American studies, University of Florida.

In the Peace Corps I worked at a zoo where I would often bring tame animals to visit local schools to educate teachers and students about Jamaica's native wildlife. That's when I discovered the power of teaching and how one “aha” moment can wake a child's interest in learning more.

I put myself through college by working on a huge cattle ranch near San Luis Obispo, California. My favorite courses were ornithology, vertebrate zoology, tractor operation and maintenance, and best of all, colt breaking, where I roped my own horse instead of the target bale of hay during the final test.

Hedy Jackson, MS health & PE teacher, at CG since 1996.

Christa Kaainoa, 7th grade English teacher, at CG since 2004. Bachelor's in journalism, University of Oregon.

Teaching snuck up on me slowly, and it's been one of the best surprises of my life. I had been headed toward a career in journalism, PR, or politics until I spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, West Africa. A group of children in the small village of Kokojo taught me to speak basic Bambara, showed me how to operate the foot pump so I could get clean drinking water, brought me embers from their families' fires so I could start my own fire for cooking, and basically introduced me to the people and culture of the village. They were patient and kind, friendly and fearless, and they became my good friends. When I returned to Portland to work in public relations, I missed being around kids! I quit my job, enrolled in a masters of teaching program, and haven't looked back since. If it weren't for my young friends in Kokojo, I may never have discovered how brilliant, fun, complex, interesting, and important children are and how meaningful and satisfying it is to work with them!

Carter Latendresse, 6th grade English teacher, garden coordinator, at CG since 2007. Bachelor's in English, University of Washington. Master's in English, University of Washington.

I got into teaching after reading Jonathan Kozol and bell hooks when I lived in Berkeley in the mid 1990s. At that time, I was working at a book wholesaler cooperative and volunteering at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House. After visiting Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley and seeing Alice Waters and the incredible teachers there starting the Edible Schoolyard program, I decided I also wanted to “educate as the practice of freedom,” in hooks's phrase.

My family and I did a yearlong Fulbright Teacher Exchange in Istanbul, Turkey-a Muslim nation-four years after 9/11. The experience was fantastic, as I learned that people are people, despite the xenophobia and ahistorical misinformation ubiquitous to our popular news media. The Turks helped us open our eyes and hearts to diverse cultures, an experience that we will always have, as we are still in touch with many of our friends there.

Jesse Lowes, MS science teacher, at CG since 2012. Bachelor's in biology, Colorado College. Master's in teaching, Lewis & Clark College.

I grew up with a voracious drive to explore and understand the world around me. Immeasurable childhood moments spent overturning rocks in search of salamanders and climbing trees to gain a better view of birds paved the way for ecology field research in college and beyond. However, research on its own never seemed enough without the human component. I discovered the missing piece while working as an environmental educator at an outdoor school in California and immediately knew teaching was for me. Teaching is the perfect blend of personal inquiry and community, challenge and support, work and fun. I feel extremely lucky every day that I am able to work with students to facilitate deeper understanding, respect, and stewardship for our community and the natural world.

On separate occasions I have found myself within 20 feet of a big cat: a mountain lion while solo backpacking in the North Cascades and an African lion only an arm's length away through my tent door in Tanzania. Both times were powerful and chilling and both times I felt fortunate for the experience…and more so for the lack of scars.

Sandy Luu, athletic director, at CG since 2011. Bachelor's in education and pe, Concordia University. Master's in athletic administration, Ohio University.

What brought you to Catlin Gabel (if you are new to the school), or why do you like working at Catlin Gabel? I came to Catlin because I love the small school environment. Within this model, Catlin is mindful about seeking out the interests of the students. We have an amazing number of offerings with sports, clubs, and activities. The kids are so talented here and can do anything they set their minds to.

Paul Monheimer, 7th grade world cultures teacher, at CG since 1995. Bachelor's in German, Lewis & Clark College. Master's in education, Lewis & Clark College.

I was drawn to teaching when my parents gave me the gift of a younger sister. In order to converse, plot, and connive, we needed to talk, so I taught her to speak. At Berkeley High School, Thomasine Wilson taught me to fill my life with heroes, beginning with Thomas Jefferson. Since those formative years, I humbly stand on the shoulders of giants. Retired Catlin Gabel art teacher Judy Teufel taught me the value of trusting middle schoolers to do the right thing, and always maintaining a strong safety net when they need one. Retired Catlin Gabel science teacher Lowell Herr taught me that allowing kids to discover solutions to problems taught them to puzzle out answers instead of looking for the right one. Verna Bailey taught me that the best education happens outside school walls. I have long been interested in how the brain learns, and I love asking students to explain their thinking.

I have taught every grade level from kindergarten to seniors, for at least one year, and have taught on three continents in six countries. I enjoy travel and constantly look for opportunities for adventure. Returning to Catlin Gabel to share stories is a real treat.

Cindy Murray, MS learning specialist, at CG since 2011. Bachelor's in education, University of Missouri. Master's in special education, Michigan State University.

I knew I wanted to teach from the time I was 10 and had my first neighborhood nursery school charging 50 cents per week. Then as a camp counselor, when a deaf camper couldn't receive her horseback-riding award because she didn't know the parts of the horse, I figured out a way to teach her and experienced her joy firsthand. From that time on I have worked with students who needed “just a bit more of something” to succeed and realize their potential.

I love the outdoors, including camping with my family, rejuvenating my gardens, some of which have been cultivated for 100 years, and most memorably, have tiger fished in the Chobe-Zambezi River in Namibia.

Kristin Ogard, MS counselor, at CG since 2001. Bachelor's in physical education, Pacific Lutheran University. Master's in counseling psychology, Lewis & Clark College.

The experiences I had in school and in sports led to my desire to work with children and teens. During those formative years I had connections with some very special teachers and coaches who clearly cared deeply for their students and were very interested in making a difference.

My high school my drama teacher, Mr. Lesch, encouraged me to audition for a Dairy Farmers of Oregon commercial. I was selected for the lead role and briefly became the "face of milk." My career path did not lead to further auditions or any other roles in television, and I am quite happy and content in my role as a middle school counselor: no cameras, no lights, but lots of drama!

Barbara Ostos, middle school head, at CG since 2011. Bachelor's in government, Harvard University. Master's in nonprofit leadership & management, University of San Diego. Doctorate in educational leadership, University of California, San Diego.

I love school. I have always loved school. I love the energy, creativity, and possibility that schools create. School allows me to be part of something bigger than myself for societal good - it inspires me every day.

It's a privilege to work with students and their families. Independent schools are not ivory towers. Our work is to provide a microcosm of the real world.

Carol Ponganis, 6th grade math teacher, at CG since 1988. Bachelor's in biology, University of California, Santa Cruz. Master's in education, Portland State University.

I fell in love with marine biology and field ecology when I was in high school. My senior year, I did an internship in which I had the opportunity to teach in an outdoor school setting on the coast. I had a fantastic mentor there who was a huge influence on my teaching style today. I quickly discovered that sharing my passion for marine science with young students made my love for the field twice as rich!

Many moons ago, the 6th grade math teacher at Catlin Gabel got me interested in whitewater rafting on a Middle School Breakaway trip. Since then, I have rafted on 10 different rivers in Oregon and have taken about 200 middle schoolers rafting.

Mark Pritchard, MS music teacher, at CG since 1998. Bachelor's in music, New South Wales Conservatory of Music.

I had decided I wanted to be a music teacher when I was in the 7th grade. The chance to share what I love (music) with others has always been incredibly appealing to me. Teaching gives me the opportunity to set up situations where people can have musical experiences like performing and composing. It's given me great joy over my career to teach music at all levels-from preschool to college.

I was born in Australia, lived in Austria, and now live in America. Perhaps I'm ready to move on to a country beginning with the letter B!

Dale Rawls, MS art teacher, at CG since 1989. Bachelor's in art, Portland State University. Master's in education, Lewis & Clark College.

Art professor Ray Grimm was an important role model for me. Not only did I meet the love of my life and wife of 34 years in his college class, but I was his studio apprentice during several summers in college. He modeled problem solving as an effective way to teach and continued to have shows and make art during the 35 years that he was a college professor. He continues to be a friend and mentor to this day.

Lynn Silbernagel, MS librarian, at CG since 1995. Bachelor's in English, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Master's in library science, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Master's in education: curriculum & instruction, Portland State University.

From the time I was 7 years old, I knew I wanted to be a librarian. Early in my career I worked as both a children's and young adult librarian at public libraries in the Midwest. I did not think I was interested in working in a school, where my responsibilities would expand into classrooms and curriculum, but after doing extensive research and over the course of a daylong interview on campus, I discovered that Catlin Gabel was, indeed, exceptional. I knew this was a place where I could be a learner as well as a teacher and librarian. The school has supported me in earning a degree in curriculum and instruction in progressive education.

Chris Skrapits, 8th grade science teacher, at CG since 1998. Bachelor's in biology, State University of New York at Geneseo. Master's in education, Lewis & Clark College.

I am not sure what drew me to teaching. My high school teachers told me not to go into teaching because I was too smart for it. In college I had the opportunity to TA for many classes, and I really enjoyed it. Science and teaching were a couple of things I enjoyed; the combination is almost like a Reese's peanut butter cup.

I love to run.

Tom Tucker, MS woodshop teacher. Bachelor's in design, Marlboro College.

When I was a middle schooler it seemed to me that my teachers were having fun. They got to teach subjects that were dear to their hearts, coach sports, take kids on class trips that got everyone out of the usual classroom setting, got them singing songs and playing Botticelli, and trading their own ideas in exchange for my peers' and mine. What's not to like?

Holly Walsh, 8th grade English teacher. Bachelor's in psychology, University of Vermont. Master's in education, St. Michael's College.

I first began school at the age of three. I attended a tiny Montessori school where most of my classmates were years older than me. Initially, everything seemed gigantic and out of reach because of the age difference, but my teacher, Miss Salomi, encouraged me to work with the older kids. Somehow, she always made their lessons accessible to me, which was incredibly empowering. This early experience and a great liberal arts education focused on humanities prompted me to consider teaching others. Eighth graders never cease to amaze me.

I have enjoyed teaching reading and writing to students from 2nd to 12th grade, to students whose first language is English, Vietnamese, Spanish, Mandarin, and French. I have worked in public schools, at an international school, and in an inner-city school where I was a minority. I have internalized the school calendar, so my “New Year's Day” is celebrated in September.

Yen-Ling Wang, MS Spanish teacher, at CG since 2012. Bachelor's in Spanish, University of California, Riverside. Bachelor's in biology, University of California, Riverside. Master's in Spanish literature, Stanford University. Master's in education, Stanford University.

Alison Ward, learning center administrative assistant, at CG since 2014.

Spencer White, MS Spanish teacher, at CG since 1996. Bachelor's in hispanic studies, Lewis & Clark College.

I'm drawn to teaching by two forces: the desire to be a positive influence in the lives of adolescents at a very challenging time of growth and the profound desire to maintain my youth. A close third is sharing my love of Spanish language and culture with kids who can, and will, go change the world for the better.

I am pursuing the hobby of bike racing, mostly cyclocross, but road criteriums, Kermesses, and mountain biking. Not sure whether it keeps me young or makes me old. What I do know is it's a blast!