Waverly’s middle school teachers are a welcoming cohort of experienced instructors who work together to create an interconnected program specifically geared to the changing, sometimes challenging needs of middle school students. Under their teachers’ guidance, middle school students participate actively in learning.
Adriana teaches Spanish in the middle school. She received her B.A. in international relations and political science at El Salvador University in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a B.A. in Spanish language and culture from California State University, Northridge. Adriana chose to become an educator because, as she explains, “It is the most enjoyable job that I know. I teach Spanish and I see the evolution of the students and their enthusiasm in learning and I feel useful helping them.”
Leo teaches middle school history. He has a B.A. in history from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a B.A. in political science and M.A. in history from Arizona State University. In addition to teaching history, Leo coaches the middle school boys’ and girls’ basketball teams. Leo recently co-founded a non profit organization called Warm Hearts, Inc., which will provide services for people experiencing homelessness in the greater Los Angeles area. When it comes to his students, Leo fills numerous roles to support them. He explains, “I am more than just an educator. I am a friend, advisor, someone they can talk to and someone they will get the truth from. I constantly strive to keep the lines of communication open and implore them to self-advocate.”
Lisa teaches English and creative writing in the middle school. Lisa has a B.A. in English literature from Lewis & Clark College. She has taught high school and middle school English and creative writing and has also worked in administration at Waverly. When it comes to supporting her students, Lisa says, “I get to know my students well, and I pay attention to the things that light them up and the things that bog them down. I try to keep a balance between those points so the student feels capable and nudged.” Lisa’s daughter, Katie, graduated with the Waverly class of 2010.
Grace is the middle school math teacher. Grace has a B.A. in chemistry from Occidental College, an M.S. in chemistry from the University of California, San Diego, and a Ph.D. in higher education and adult development from the University of California, Los Angeles. Grace says, “I am very happy that Waverly is a small school, which helps me to genuinely and personally provide the right level of challenge balanced with tons of scaffolding and support uniquely suited for each student.” Grace has two children – Sophia ’17 and Nicholas, who is in 12th grade.
Jennifer is the learning specialist for kindergarten through 12th grade. Jennifer has a California Teaching Credential, a Master’s in teaching, and certification as an educational therapist. Led to a career in education by a lifelong fascination with the many different ways people think and learn, Jennifer is happiest when around children and teens and believes that most kids are naturally curious and seek challenges to stretch themselves. To support them, she explains,“Often, you just need to give them the time and space to follow their curiosity. For children who may find themselves facing tasks which are too challenging, what is often needed is support in building the skills to feel capable of meeting a challenge.”
Toby McDonald Chou
Toby teaches science and Japanese in the middle school. She holds a B.A. in geography and environmental studies with a minor in Japanese studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to coming to Waverly, Toby taught English and American history and culture in Japan’s public schools on the Japan Exchange Teaching Program. Toby supports her students by letting them know, “It’s okay to fail, but never okay to give up…Persevering through challenges is one of the most important skills students can develop.” Follow Toby’s science blog at sciencewithtoby.net.