Back row left to right: Casey, Maria, Ben, Matthew, Jenny, Michael. Front row: Josie, Justin, Rae, Elizabeth, Tanya
Tanya Azari, MS Faculty – Spanish
Tanya Azari has been involved at the Athenian School since the moment that they* were born, as a faculty child, seven-year student, Summer Programs camp counselor, substitute teacher, swim coach, and finally, Middle School Spanish teacher. They graduated from UC Davis with a BA in Spanish and a minor in English, while also heading the school’s spoken word collective and editing the Opinion section of the school newspaper. Throughout their time at Davis, Tanya lived in several different co-ops, which immediately struck them as an “Athenian where you could sleep over.” Tanya is passionate about cooperative living, social justice and equity, the practice and study of education, creative writing, and above all, books and reading. Since graduating, they have substitute taught and coached the swim team at Athenian, tutoring several students on the side, and they just finished teaching at Athenian’s Summer Programs and working as dorm staff for the Summer English Language Program (SELP). Every year they gain a new perspective on life at Athenian, and every year they look forward to learning from and giving back to their community.
*Note: As a self-identified genderqueer person (not male or female), Tanya uses gender-neutral pronouns “they/them/their.”
Josie Chapman, Associate Athletics Director
Josie Chapman is excited to join The Athenian School after eight fulfilling years at Park Day School in Oakland. She served as the Athletic Director and Middle School PE teacher but changed hats on average nine times a day–from facilitating fire drills to feeding chickens and building Ninja-Warrior-style obstacle courses for kindergartners. Hailing from the beautiful state of Rhode Island, she now considers herself a legit Warriors fan after fifteen years in the Bay Area. Josie lives and breathes athletics and fitness, she is a member of her high school’s Athletic Hall of Fame, and she played three sports at Colby College, where she received her BA in Human Development. She is looking forward to working with high school athletes! When not at Athenian you can find Josie on the trails running or walking her dogs, in her backyard urban farm or on her bike riding up Mt. Diablo.
Rae Goodman-Lucker, US Faculty – Science department: Environmental Sciences
Rae Goodman-Lucker has taught biology and environmental science at the Jewish Community High School and at the Bay School. She is excited to take advantage of Athenian’s expansive campus to provide a field-lab-based, hands-on, applied environmental science course for Athenian seniors, and to join an amazing team of educators in providing well-rounded, comprehensive biology instruction. Rae earned her BA in biology from Pomona College and her MS in Biology at San Francisco State. Her thesis research uncovered surprising effects of climate change on California’s resident and migratory birds. When not teaching, Rae enjoys hiking, camping with her toddler, rock climbing, long-distance bicycle trips, catching fireflies, and sitting in a tree with a good book.
Justin Guerra, MS Faculty – English
Justin finished his MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University in 2014. He has since published his first Middle-Grade novel and moved back to the Bay Area to raise his daughter, who is 8 months old. Justin has held many different leadership roles during his education career, including English Department Chair, Project-Based Learning Coordinator, Technology Integration Coordinator, and Advisory Lead. Justin’s roots in teaching were fostered within the High Tech High organization in San Diego, which is where he learned what compelling learning can look like through meaningful multifaceted projects. Before becoming a teacher, Justin was a small business owner. He owned a boutique surf shop and gallery, The Break Room, with his wife in Pacific Beach, San Diego. Justin likes to bring his business experience and the core value of high-quality final products (precision he learned while shaping surfboards) into his project design. Outside of school, Justin is always looking for time to read and write, build things, draw, jump in the ocean, ride boards of all variations, and spend as much time with his daughter as possible. Justin lives in Pleasant Hill with his wife, Bridget (who is pregnant again!), baby girl Brixtin, and their little dogs, Frankie and Lily.
Michael Heyward, Assistant Director of Admission and Financial Aid
Michael Heyward is new to the west coast, hailing from New York City. He served as the Associate Director of Admissions at Holderness School, a coeducational preparatory school in Plymouth, NH and his high school alma mater. He is excited to join the admission office at Athenian to help and develop meaningful relationships with families and prospective students around the East Bay and the world. When Michael is not working, he enjoys working out, watching sports, and traveling. He is a big time sports fan. He loves all New York teams (in particular Knicks, Yankees, Rangers, and Giants), but since he has moved to the East Bay, he has become a big Golden State Warriors fan. After a career-ending wrist injury which he sustained in high school, Michael started coaching basketball. He has coached at the high school and collegiate level for the last seven years. Michael holds a BS in Management and Business from Skidmore College and an MA in Coaching and Athletic Administration from Concordia University Irvine.
Jenny Hogg, Director of Annual Giving – Advancement department
Jenny previously served as the Annual Fund Manager at the Katherine Delmar Burke School in San Francisco and is happy to join the Athenian team in the Advancement office as the Director of Annual Giving. She believes that philanthropy should be fun and fulfilling and is ready to bring excitement and success to the program. Prior to working in independent schools, she worked in development at the Asian Art Museum, University of the Pacific, and the East Bay SPCA. She is known by previous employers as an expert piñata maker and the office printer whisperer, and always has a survival kit and tool box in the trunk of her car. When Jenny is not busy stewarding and cultivating donors, she enjoys hiking with her chocolate lab, Scout Finch, and spending time with her family, which mostly consist of trying to keep the twins from burning the house down. She holds a BA in Classical Studies from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College with an emphasis in Archaeology and a Masters in Museum Studies from San Francisco State University, and she is slightly afraid of owls.
Elizabeth Jurado, US Faculty – Foreign Language department: Spanish
Elizabeth came to the United States in 1994 as a Fulbright Scholar. During her scholarship, she taught Spanish at Mendocino High School for a year. Elizabeth is from the narrowest and longest country in the world, the beautiful Chile. She has been teaching for more than 28 years and holds a BA and MA in Education (from Universidad de Talca and Universidad de Concepcion) and has taught all levels from elementary to university in Chile. In the U.S., Elizabeth has taught at Dorris-Eaton, Orinda Academy, and Head Royce School. In her free time, she loves to work in her garden and attempt to cook edible food for her family and friends. She loves to walk her naughty and funny dog, Kenji, who loves to eat her shoes. Elizabeth has a passion for traveling, having taken students on educational trips to 14 European countries just in the last six years. She feels a strong responsibility that as a society, we should teach our kids community awareness. She started the Community Awareness Club at her last school where they help local and international organizations. Elizabeth’s favorite daily job is to be a mom and spend any and all possible time with her two kids, Sophie and Stefan, both teenagers, and her husband of more than 20 years.
Maria Luca, US Faculty – Science department: Chemistry
A lifelong Californian, Maria grew up in San Mateo, CA and received her BA in Biology-Chemistry from Scripps College and M.S. in Chemistry and Biochemistry from UC San Diego. She recently moved from San Diego, where she was a science teacher at Balboa City School, as well as a tutor at It’s Academic Tutoring Center. When not teaching, Maria enjoys hiking, running, reading, baseball games, and hanging out with her husband and cat.
Benjamin Paul, US Faculty – Residential Program: Live-in Residential Faculty
Ben grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he acquired a love for nature and boxcar diners. As the son of two English teachers, Ben had a hard Scrabble (and other word games) upbringing that gave him a lifelong passion for books and learning. He may often be seen using his smartphone to look up unusual etymologies. Ben obtained his BA in French Studies from UMass Amherst in 2014 after spending a year studying abroad in Montpellier and volunteering on French farms. He worked as a marketing intern for the National Repertory Orchestra in 2015, channeling his love for classical music and his interest in graphic design. Most recently, Ben returned to France to work as an English teaching assistant at two public high schools. When he is not reading a book or playing piano, Ben enjoys hiking and playing tennis. He is thrilled to be joining the residential team at Athenian this year as an LRF (Live-in Residential Faculty).
Casey Schuller, US Faculty – Residential Program: Live-in Residential Faculty and Middle School Office Coordinator
Casey is a recent graduate of Colorado College where she majored in Sociology and double-minored in Anthropology and Feminist and Gender Studies. Before attending Colorado College, she both grew up at and attended St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, DE as the daughter of two administrators. Thus, she is very familiar with the community and lifestyle of independent school faculty. While in college, she spent three summers working with children of all ages at a summer camp in Maine. In her last year at camp, she was promoted to coordinator of the sailing program. When not working with children, she interned in admission to explore her passion for school administration. In her senior year, following her semester in Australia, she worked for her study abroad agency, IFSA-Butler, as an independent on-campus college representative, promoting study abroad and coordinating events. Casey has always had a passion for travel, expressed through her three study abroad experiences and her goal to reach all seven continents in her lifetime. In her spare time, she loves to be out on the water, sailing, swimming, scuba diving, and more. In addition, she is a certified lifeguard. Most recently, she was working as a stand-up paddle boarding instructor in Maine.
Matthew Stewart, US Faculty – Foreign Language department: Spanish
Matt grew up at a boarding school in Connecticut, where his parents were teachers and ran a dormitory. For high school, he attended Hamden Hall Country Day School. Thereafter, he earned an undergraduate degree in Spanish at Castleton State University in Vermont and then went on to earn an MA in Spanish Language & Culture from UCSB. Matt’s most recent teaching positions were at Wilbraham & Monson Academy in Massachusetts and Sage Ridge School in Reno, Nevada. After teaching for 22 years on both coasts, in boarding and day schools, and having participated in residential life and coaching (basketball and baseball), Matt is very excited to join the Athenian community. He and his wife, Bonnie, and their one-year-old daughter, Olivia, live in San Ramon.