Spirit of Athenian III in Full Swing, Fall 2013

Marsh Freeman

Marsh Freeman

Holden demonstrates the pneumatic rivet gun.

Holden demonstrates the pneumatic rivet gun.

Eugene shows the instruction manual to parents and students.

Eugene shows the instruction manual to parents and students.

Parents and students learning about the airplane program

Parents and students learning about the airplane program

We kicked off the Spirit of Athenian III program with a meeting on September 10th for returning and interested students and their parents. An overview of the program’s history was detailed, the adult mentors were introduced, and special kudos were given to the originator of the program, Marsh Freeman and his wife, Mugs.

To start the presentation, Eugene showed a short video with photos from the first two Athenian airplane projects, as well as some video of the current project, the RV-12. Then we donned our safety goggles and entered into the workspace to view some of the completed pieces of the plane.

Parents and students were encouraged to view the instruction manuals and see the process by which all progress on the plane is documented. Holden, one of our more experienced builders, gave an informative overview of the process, and instructed students and parents on the proper use of the pneumatic rivet gun. In the true Athenian spirit of experiential education, all were encouraged to demonstrate their ability to properly place a few rivets with the powerful tool.

The fall work sessions have started in earnest, with three sessions held each week. The groups are smaller this year, to ensure that all of the participants have an opportunity for hands-on learning during the sessions.

8th Grade Girls Hear from Women Business Leaders

The girls of the 8th grade glass took a special field trip to Diablo Country Club this past Friday to hear from the Chief Executive Officer of Morgan Stanley Private Bank and the Executive Vice President of Safeway, Shelley O’Connor and Dianne Dietz, respectively. Both women spoke on the theme of “Living Well and Living Wisely,” sharing their personal stories of success.

“We learned what it takes to be successful in a corporate environment,” explained Ciara C. ’18, an 8th grader. Livy W. ’18 explained, “They told us about all the things that they’ve done and how they got to where they are now. It was really inspiring to listen to how successful these women are in a business that is really dominated by male figures.” The girls were particularly impressed by how the women were able to balance a family and career: “That’s one thing I was really happy they touched on—it’s not just about devoting your entire life to work and making money,” said Livy. “They shared the balance between family and work,” echoed Ciara.

More information on the event and the speakers can be found here.

Morgan Fire: Photos and Emergency Plan Update

Now that the fire has been contained and Mt. Diablo State Park has reopened, the School decided we could share student and faculty photos taken from around the Bay Area. Additionally, Eric has included information about emergency communication plans in the works.

Day 1

Photo by Sarah (Martinez)


by Sam Tierney ’16 (Alamo)

Photo by Trevor Grauman (Danville)

by Trevor Grauman ’16 (Danville)

Photo by Sam Tierney

by Sam Tierney ’16

Photo by Sarah (Martinez)


Day 2

Photo by Dave Otten (on campus)

by Dave Otten (on campus)

(on campus)

Photo by Laura Victorino (San Ramon)

by Laura Victorino (San Ramon)

Students sign thank-you's to the firefighters

Students sign thank-you’s to the firefighters

Thank you to firefighters

Emergency Response Update

Athenian was alert and responsive through the duration of the fire. Head of School Eric Niles and CFO Khira Ghriscavage were in close contact with fire personnel throughout the week. Notices were sent to parents via email as new information was discovered and athletics was cancelled once due to air quality concerns. Emergency plans were in place should the school need to evacuate; fortunately, classes were able to continue and no evacuation was necessary .

However, Athenian is always looking to improve on its systems. The School currently subscribes to emergency alert notification technology through Connect Five, an emergency broadcasting system. The School is in the process of creating a system that will allow all members of our community to receive phone and text updates. Before this can happen, several databases will need to be created with accurate information. Please stay tuned for more information as the School rolls out this new program.

Digital Superheroes: 6th Graders Create Citizenship Comic Strips

The sixth grade spent their first Focus Day learning about technology: from troubleshooting with the iPads to an online scavenger hunt about plagiarism to a photography activity, the students are becoming more technologically literate.

Students also learned what it means to be a good digital citizen. To demonstrate their understanding, each 6th grader created a comic strip, portraying a digital problem and a Digital Superhero who comes to save the day. Take a look at their creations.

NegativityMeetingBalance Personal informationcheatingRumors

Note: Students had less than 20 minutes to create their comic strips online using Marvel Comics’ Create Your Own Comic Strip.

Welcome New Faculty and Staff!

Athenian welcomes a great new group of faculty and staff to start the 2013-14 school year. Among the new faculty, two are fluent in American Sign Language, one speaks Bengali, and one is from France. There are 10 Masters degrees among them in 10 different fields and two are published authors. As you see this impressive group on campus, give them a friendly “hello!”

Staff / Student Services

Jeannine Bourhill Morales, Director of Learning Services

Master of Arts, Counseling, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA
Education of Consulting Program, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
Bachelor of Science, Special Education, Hearing Impaired, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH

Jeannine Morales will be working with MS and US administrators and faculty to develop skills and tools to assist students with learning challenges. She will also do professional development for teachers regarding learning styles. Jeannine’s work experience has included positions at The Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles, CA and Walnut Creek, CA, the International School of Prague in Prague, the Czech Republic, South Elementary School in Hingham, VT, Bennington Rutland Supervisory Union in Manchester, VT as well as Austin School for the Deaf in Brattleboro, VT.  Jeannine is fluent in American Sign Languages and Signed Exact English. She has directed programs and taught children and adults of all ages who have learning differences and or disabilities.  Jeannine has organized and led international and domestic school trips for groups of students in British Columbia, Santa Barbara, Australia, Poland, South Africa, China, and Nepal.  Jeannine is an active volunteer with the AIDS Action Committee, Habitat for Humanity, and the Literary Network of Los Angeles.  On top of that, she is a certified Water Safety Instructor/Swimming Instructor.

New Faculty – Middle School

Julia Chambers, Middle School Librarian
M.L.I.S., Youth Librarianship, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
Bachelor of Arts, Political, Legal, Economic Analysis, Mills College, Oakland, CA.

Joining Athenian as Librarian for the Middle School, Julia is eager to inspire students and teachers to develop a passion for reading and learning.  While serving as Head Librarian at Berkwood Hedge Elementary in Berkeley, Julia implemented a number of creative events and programs to promote and enhance literacy curriculum, such as book talks, read-aloud sessions, poetry workshops, author/illustrator visits, summer reading events and field trips.  Julia also led child-focused learning centers at the Children’s Community Center in Berkeley, CA and she is an accomplished author and journalist having had numerous articles appear in magazine publications and periodicals such as Sunset, Woman’s Day, Shape, Parenting, and The San Francisco Chronicle.  Julia is the author of a best-selling series entitled The Go-Girl Guide, a collection of non-fiction lifestyle books for women.

New Faculty – Upper School

Allison Angelico, Foreign Language – Spanish

Master of Arts, Spanish Language and Culture, University of Granada, CLM, Granada, Spain
Bachelor of Arts, Spanish, Gordon College in Wenham, MA

Allison has been teaching beginning to advanced level Spanish at Salem Public High School in Salem, Massachusetts for the past several years.  She also served as a Spanish Interpreter for World Language Services in Lynn, MA. Prior to that, she studied abroad at the University of Seville in Seville, Spain.  Allison has also been an active volunteer in humanitarian service-based projects domestically and internationally.

Marielle Decker, Science – Environmental Science

Master of Science, Science Resource Management and Conservation, Antioch University New England, Keene, NH
Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA

Marielle has a wide range of experience in environmental issues as well as an in-depth knowledge of botany and horticulture.  As part of her college studies, she conducted soil studies in Costa Rica and developed a full-scale mangrove restoration project in the Bahamas.  Marielle then launched into a career that has included work as a field guide and lecturer, naturalist, sustainability consultant, and a horticulturalist at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.  Marielle has also actively participated in resource management and conservation projects and assisted the Land and Water Team of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Molly Gowen, Science – Chemistry
Master of Science, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences – Geophysics, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
Bachelor of Science, Physics, Mathematics, Centre College, Danville, Kentucky

Molly has taught and tutored science and mathematics subjects including earth science, astronomy, environmental science, chemistry, evolutionary biology, calculus and physics.  In her recent role as Museum Educator at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, Molly taught K -12 science and math workshops.  She developed professional development programs for secondary educators in Saudi Arabia and traveled to Saudi Arabia to deliver and implement the programs directly.  Molly also developed curricula at the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky for weekly summer camp attendees and trained new summer camp educators on practicing teaching techniques and executing lesson plans. Molly is fluent in American Sign Language.

Evan Hansen, Humanities
Master of Fine Arts: Writing/Poetry, Columbia University, New York City, NY
Master of Education, Education/Secondary Language Arts, Portland State University, Portland Oregon
Bachelor of Arts: Greek and Philosophy, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY

Evan is a writer, poet, artist, teacher, and, oh – boys’ soccer coach! Evan has designed courses and instructed high school students with a broad spectrum of academic proficiencies and backgrounds. At various public schools in Portland, OR (Lincoln High School, Franklin High School and Roosevelt High School), he taught courses such as American Literature, Creative Writing, Global Studies, World Literature, Poetry and two of the soccer teams he coached qualified for the Oregon High School State Tournament.  Evan also designed curriculum and taught graduate students at Columbia University. He taught art and writing to students at Wadleigh High School in Harlem, New York City.  More recently, Evan has been teaching Middle School English and Social Studies at Cascade Canyon School in Fairfax, CA.

Emily Howland, Foreign Language – Spanish
Bachelor of Arts, English and Hispanic Studies with a minor in Media Studies, Macalester College, St. Paul, MN

An alumnae of two well-known bay area independent schools (The Urban School and the Katherine Delmar Burke School in San Francisco), Emily’s post-secondary education and unique background experience in education, leadership, journalism, human rights advocacy and volunteerism will enrich not only students enrolled in her Spanish classes at Athenian, but the Athenian community at-large. Emily has planned and led community service and language immersion programs in Latin American countries such as Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Peru.  As Director of Gap Programs (through Adventures Cross Country in Mill Valley, CA), Emily developed and implemented curriculum based on academic themes such as Environment and Conservation, Microfinance and Economic Growth, Literacy and Education, Urbanization and the Movement of Peoples, and Public Health.  Emily also worked at Marin Horizon School in Mill Valley, CA, Envision Schools in San Francisco, and Aim High in San Francisco. Emily is an avid outdoor lover.  She snowboards, cross country skies, hikes, camps and is a triathlete.

Jessica K. Jones, Live-in Residential Faculty – Girls’ Dorm

Master of Arts, Communications Studies, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO
Bachelor of Arts, Communication Studies (Dance Minor), Bachelor of Arts, Psychology (Sociology Minor), University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO.

Joining Athenian in a new role as an upper school faculty member living in the Girls’ dorm, Jessica has directed Summer Camp Programs geared for 13 to 17 year old girls and boys. In fact, she has just wrapped up spending the summer of 2013 as the Director of the Counselor in Training Program at Coppercreek Camp in Greenville, CA.  Jessica is a natural leader, having served as a recruitment counselor of a PanHellenic Society and Vice President of Alumnae Relations for her college sorority to teaching ballroom and social dance classes at University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, CO,. Jessica has also served as an orientation leader at new student and visitor orientations and has taught public speaking classes. 

William Kim, Science – Chemistry and Physics (and new on-campus resident)

Bachelor of Arts, Chemistry, La Sierra University

William has worked in the corporate environment as a product manager and technical analyst. He worked at the Loma Linda University of Southern California School of Radiation Technology Sciences where he developed curriculum and taught graduate level courses. As a Science teacher at Marywood Palm Valley School in Rancho Mirage, CA, William has greatly enjoyed developing curriculum and teaching science courses to Middle and Upper School students.  William and his wife, Brittanee, will be moving into one of the new Mary Mae homes on campus.

Mark Lukach, Humanities – History
Master of Liberal Arts, History, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
Bachelor of Arts, History (English Minor), Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Mark has taught U.S. History and World History at St. Paul’s School for Boys in Brooklandville, Maryland and more recently at Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley, CA.  He has also coached swimming and soccer. Mark is a writer who has published/distributed his articles, reviews, stories, and biographical sketches of his life through a variety of media – print, online (via blogs, podcasts, forums, etc.) and radio.  When Mark isn’t teaching or coaching, he may be pursuing one or more of his hobbies such as writing, reading, surfing, traveling or video editing.

Imrul Mazid, Humanities – History/World Cultures (and new on-campus resident)
Master of Arts, Sociology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY
Bachelor of Arts, Sociology, Bachelor of Arts, Economics, University of California Davis, Davis, CA

Imrul speaks Bengali fluently and recites Sufi poetry.  In addition to these unique skills and interests, Imrul has taught a wide range of courses to a diverse group of students at Year-Up – a non-profit education organization dedicated “to close the ‘Opportunity Divide’ by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.” He was program manager at SAYA! (South Asian Youth Action) in New York – a youth development organization dedicated to South Asian youth. Locally, he has taught at Making Waves Academy in Richmond, CA and East Oakland School of the Arts, in Oakland, CA.  Regardless of whether he is teaching students to develop their reading comprehension, analytical writing or critical thinking skills, or mentoring them to develop leadership skills or taking a stand on moral, ethical, or social issues, Imrul engages students and ignites their interest.  Imrul will be joining the Athenian residential community in one of the recently built Mary Mae homes.

Amandine Nelaton, Foreign Language – French teacher
Master of Arts, Secondary Education, Master of Arts, Foreign Languages, French and RESOL, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia
License (Bachelor of Arts Equivalent) in Anglophone Studies, University of Blaise Pascal, Clermond – Ferrand, France

Armandine has lived and attended school in France.  Upon moving to the US, she has taught beginner to advanced level French language courses to high school students at The Washington Latin Public Charter School in Washington, DC, was a college lecturer at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV, and has been a freelance translator.  Amandine has assisted in coaching girls’ basketball teams and is an enthusiastic educator and mentor.