English teacher leaves upper school, handing over classes


Kathy Fang

The upper school Main office building.

by Kathy Fang, Editor-in-Chief

English teacher Dr. Anne Douglas will not be returning to the upper school for the second semester. Her two sections of AP English Literature will be taught by English teacher Nikolai Slivka, and her sophomore British literature class will be taught by English teacher Christopher Hurshman. Dr. Douglas’s senior advisory will now be overseen by director of alumni relations Kristina Alaniz. 

Dr. Douglas had planned to retire at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. She taught at the upper school for 16 years prior to her departure, and her classes have ranged from freshman survey classes to senior English 4 electives. In addition to teaching a wide variety of English classes, Dr. Douglas was also the faculty advisor for the Harker Eclectic Literature and Media club, which will now be overseen by English department chair Dr. Pauline Paskali, who has declined to comment on this transition.

Students in her classes and advisory were notified of her departure on Friday. The reasons for Dr. Douglas’ departure are unknown.

“It was just quite a shocking experience to see her just go. We never heard from her again, even her advisees—we never got a goodbye or anything,” said Dr. Douglas’s advisee Rishi Dange (12), who has been in both Dr. Douglas’s freshman English class and her AP Literature class this year. “I wish we could’ve at least said bye to her if we had known about it.”

On campus, Dr. Douglas’ classes were characterized by her depth of knowledge about a wide variety of literary topics as well as her unique teaching style, which provided students with many creative mediums to explore literature, such as through skits or modernizations of literary works.

“She [was] able to lead discussions to very interesting ideas and topics that we as students might not have thought about on our own,” said Rashmi Iyer (12), who has also been in both Dr. Douglas’s freshman class and AP Literature class. “That [allowed] us to have better conversations because now with these new, more nuanced ideas we can get a better understanding of what we read.”

Students in Dr. Douglas’s classes and their parents received an email about the transitions from Head of Upper School Butch Keller on Jan. 17 at around 5 p.m. In the email, Keller specified that Dr. Douglas will submit all semester one grades, but Slivka, who taught two sections of AP English Literature in the first semester, and Hurshman, who has been teaching 3 sections of Honors British Literature in the first semester, will lead the classes moving forward.

In his email message, Keller also encouraged students and parents with any questions to email him.