The Circle Voice

9 Faculty Members in New Roles on Circle

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Groton has welcomed nine new teachers this fall. Their subjects range from art to English, and with interests spanning from running to music production. The Circle Voice has profiled them – along with two familiar faces who will take on new roles on the Circle – below.

JAKE KOHN

This year, Jake Kohn will be teaching Third and Fourth Form English, and will serve as assistant coach for the boys cross country and track and field teams. Originally from the West Coast, he earned his B.A. in Comparative Literature from Stanford University. Last year, Mr. Kohn completed a teaching fellowship at Philips Academy. He thoroughly enjoyed his time there, and now looks to continue his career in education at Groton. Mr. Kohn recalls loving his visit to the Circle, and said, “Everyone I met seemed not only diligent but also friendly and genuinely enthusiastic about their classes.” He is excited to learn from Groton students, see the autumn colors and try Dining Hall food. Outside of the classroom, Mr. Kohn’s most serious hobby is running – he was formerly a member of the Stanford Running Club – and he also enjoys music and video production.

MICHELLE BRITO ‘02

After graduating Groton in 2002, Michelle Brito earned a bachelor’s in history from Middlebury College and a M.Ed. from Emmanuel College. She worked for nine years variously as a teacher, administrator and principal at Mother Caroline Academy, a school in her native Boston for economically disadvantaged girls, and has now decided to return to the Circle, where she will work in inclusion outreach in the Admission Office. She will also be a faculty co-advisor for the Cultural Alliance. “Groton shaped the way I view education and was instrumental in my learning,” Ms. Brito said. She especially recalls the supportive teachers, adults and friends who helped and nurtured her during her formative years. She said that the school instilled in her the philosophy “with great wisdom, comes great responsibility”, a principle she has exemplified throughout her career. Outside of teaching, Ms. Brito enjoys running and looks forward to doing so on the Triangle again.

CAROLYN CHICA

While Assistant Director of Admission Carolyn Chica is new to Groton, she is no stranger to our headmaster. Indeed, the Maqubelas’ presence was among Ms. Chica’s reasons for coming to Groton – Headmaster Temba Maqubela was her science teacher and advisor in her high school years at Phillips Academy, and English teacher Vuyelwa Maqubela was her house counselor. “I have always looked up to them as educators and as individuals,” she said. She was also attracted to the close-knit nature of the Circle, and especially enjoyed seeing student chapel talks on her visit. Ms. Chica has been a middle school science teacher, and has taught at public, charter and independent schools in different boroughs of New York City. She is looking forward to Groton’s “back to school electricity”, her first St. Mark’s Day and Surprise Holiday. In her free time, Ms. Chica enjoys traveling.

MICHAEL GNOZZIO ‘03

To many, Michael Gnozzio’s presence on campus is not unfamiliar. He graduated from Groton in 2003 and has worked with the Debating Society for many years. This year, Mr. Gnozzio will teach math and continue to work with the debate team. He will also coach boys junior varsity hockey. Mr. Gnozzio earned his bachelor’s in computer science from Williams College, which he says he chose due to its similarities to Groton. He described his experience on the Circle as “fantastic,” and said that much of his worldview was shaped by classes and discussions here. After graduating college, Mr. Gnozzio worked as a software developer for Cogo Labs, a startup incubator that focuses on online advertising. Through his ten years there, he saw the company grow and thrive, and eventually came to head engineering operations across the organization. Mr. Gnozzio’s decision to return to teach at Groton was sparked by a conversation with the debate team. On the bus ride back from a tournament, students were discussing the cases they had argued earlier that day, and he was struck with a feeling of pride. Mr. Gnozzio realized that “spending time with [students] is almost certainly going to be more rewarding than working in online advertising.” Mr. Gnozzio is excited to teach precalculus and return to math topics that he hasn’t thought much about in recent years. In his free time, Mr. Gnozzio enjoys playing board and video games; attending classical music concerts; and discussing politics, religion and philosophy.

MATTHEW REICHELT

Matthew Reichelt will teach Latin and Greek, and will serve as assistant coach for the boys cross country and track and field teams. Before coming to Groton, he earned a B.A. in Classical Studies from Trinity College. He says he chose Groton because of the “wonderful academic environment and the strong sense of community among both the students and the faculty.” In the upcoming year, he looks forward to meeting everyone in the community and beginning his courses. Outside of teaching, he enjoys hiking and camping.

MELISSA DE JESUS

Melissa De Jesus will be a new member of the art department, teaching Visual Studies, Ceramics and Drawing Workshop. She will also be working with the costume design team in the theater department. Ms. De Jesus has had extensive experience with art and teaching. While completing her Masters in Art Education at Pratt Institute, she worked with elementary school students on the autism spectrum at the Learning Spring School in Manhattan. She also worked at The American Folk Art Museum teaching high school students alongside the Museum Educator and oversaw an Art Portfolio Prep class at a public school in Brooklyn. Ms. De Jesus cites Groton’s “expansive art program, student body, supportive faculty and perhaps most importantly its institutional focus on inclusivity” as her reasons for coming to the Circle. In her free time, Ms. De Jesus enjoys creating art, traveling, visiting museums, listening to music, and dancing.

 

CHRISTOPHER WADE

Christopher Wade will teach Third and Fifth Form English this year. After studying at Wesleyan University, he started his teaching career at Match Public Charter High School in Boston. After that, he served as a teaching fellow at Phillips Academy, and he went on to teach at Northfield Mount Hermon. In addition to teaching English, he has coached soccer and also served as a house counselor in boys dorms. Mr. Wade is passionate about education: “I got into the teaching game because, more than anything, I love to learn – about books, about my students, about what makes us human.” He is eager to join Groton’s tight-knit and rigorously intellectual community, and he looks forward to meeting and working with students and faculty. In particular, he is excited for “the collaborative learning and exploration” of new texts with his students. Apart from teaching English, Mr. Wade will head an Upper School boys dorm and help coach the boys varsity soccer and track teams. Outside of teaching, Mr. Wade enjoys playing video games and walking his dog, Mochi.

 

JESSICA BROWNFELD

Last year, many students had the privilege of getting to know Jessica Brownfeld through the yoga classes she offered on weekends and to sports teams. This year, she will join us as a dorm head while continuing to lead yoga classes. Outside of the dorm, she works as the director of communications at The Fessenden School in West Newton, Massachusetts. Prior to moving to Groton last August, she spent over five years in communications and marketing in New York City. She was also a group fitness instructor in New York, and has been teaching yoga for nine years. She describes the Groton community as “incredibly welcoming,” and has enjoyed getting to know students through yoga classes and dorm duty with her fiancé Mr. Spierer in Spring’s dorm. She and Mr. Spierer are excited to run a dorm, and are looking forward to getting married this November.

ALISON HAMLIN

This year, Alison Hamlin will be teaching Second Form Science and Chemistry, and will also coach girls varsity field hockey in the fall. Upon earning a B.S. in Chemistry from University of Rochester, Ms. Hamlin spent eight months in Armenia writing educational materials for two environmental organizations and tutoring students at the American University of Armenia. After returning to the U.S., she worked at a scientific publishing company, and then spent a year as a teaching fellow in chemistry at Phillips Academy. She was struck by Groton’s “tight-knit feel” and looks forward to being part of a small-school community. Ms. Hamlin is also excited to design her own curriculum for Second Form Science. She loves hiking, and is an amateur birdwatcher.  If she is free on Sunday afternoons, she parades through the streets of Cambridge with the School of Honk brass band.

 

SONJA CWIK
Upon graduating from Wellesley College in May, Sonja Cwik came to Groton as a physics intern. This year she will teach two sections of Advanced Physics and serve as a coach for the girls cross country team and the track team. When Ms. Cwik was a teacher at a public high school, she found that she could not connect with her students there due to the large class sizes. She was thus drawn to Groton’s small classes, sense of community and the many ways to connect with students outside the classroom. Outside of teaching, she enjoys to run, bake, hike and play board games.  

KATE MACHAN  
Kate Machan moved onto campus with her husband, Associate Director of College Counseling Mark Machan, in 2014, and joined Groton’s Alumni Affairs and Development Office in 2015. She will now assume a position as the director of Groton Affordability and Inclusion (GRAIN) affairs. Prior to Groton, Mrs. Machan worked in alumni affairs and fundraising at many other schools, including St. Mark’s. Throughout her years on the Circle, she has helped with Machan’s dormitory, and looks forward to becoming more involved with the dorm this year as well as working with advisees and having more frequent contact with students. In her free time, Mrs. Machan enjoys spending time with her two young children, Teddy and Biz, and visiting museums and parks.

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