Upper school welcomes eight new teachers to the community

by Michelle Liu, Winged Post Design Editor

This year, Harker will be welcoming eight new teachers to the upper school community. Although the year will begin with remote learning, they look forward to getting to know their students and shared their high hopes for the upcoming school year with Harker Journalism.


Provided by Bridget Nixon

Bridget Nixon is teaching English 1: The Study of Literary Genres and English 3: Survey of American Literature this year. Before coming to Harker, she taught English in Holland.

Goal for this year: “Making sure to take care of myself and helping my students to take care of themselves too, trying to help my students cope with some of the complicated feelings that everyone is having during the pandemic.”

Hobbies: Spending time with family, reading

Favorite Food: Chocolate

Favorite TV Show: The Office

Favorite Book: American Indian Stories, Legends, & Other Writings by Zitkala-Ša

Fun Facts: Ms. Nixon was born a couple hours before an earthquake, so she didn’t have an official name until she was 10 days old.


Provided by Jaco Wong

Jaco Wong will be co-teaching the Harker upper school orchestra this year, as well as teaching band, string orchestra, jazz band, and full orchestra at the middle school. Previously, he taught at Palisades Charter High School in Los Angeles, where he was also a freelance composer and conductor.

Goal for this year: “I think the main thing would be, no matter the situation, to have students continue to make art and that music be an inspiring part of their lives, no matter what the circumstances are.”

Favorite Foods: Sushi, Pasta

Hobbies: Visiting art galleries, cooking

Favorite Book: Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Favorite TV Show: Chef’s Table

Favorite Movie: Moonrise Kingdom

Fun Fact: Mr. Wong grew up in Hong Kong.


Provided by Sarah Roberts

Sarah Roberts is teaching Introduction to Journalism at the upper school and Speech and Debate at the middle school. Previously, she worked as an assistant debate coach at Harker while a student at University of California, Berkeley, where she graduated in 2020 with a degree in linguistics.

Goal for this year: “I’m really excited to become more of a part of the Harker community and get to know my fellow faculty members and students.… I love the camaraderie and how much everyone cares for one another.”

Favorite Food: Bread

Hobbies: Spending time outside, cooking, baking bread

Favorite Book: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Favorite TV Show: Planet Earth


Provided by Michael Wilt

Michael Wilt is teaching Honors Geometry and Honors Algebra 2 this year. Previously, he taught twice-exceptional students at Bridges Academy in Los Angeles. 

Goal for this year: “I’m really looking forward to learning new ways to teach and learn. It seems like Harker students are really open to learning in new ways, and I’m really excited about that. I think that this is such an opportunity to try new things with really great students.”

Favorite Foods: Pizza, sushi, kebabs, Indian food 

Hobbies: Photography, music (singing and playing many different instruments)

Favorite TV show: Game of Thrones

Favorite Childhood Movie: Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Fun Fact: Mr. Wilt was on a German talk show once in the 1990s when he was in an exchange program.


Provided by Neil Shaw

Neil Shaw will be teaching Chemistry (Honors and Regular) this year. Before coming to Harker in 2020, he taught chemistry in Virginia.

Goal for this year: “To build a reputation for being a good, fair, honest teacher would be my main aim. And after that, moving on to contribute to chemistry and [the science department] at school, to bring my experience and meld it with everybody else’s.”

Favorite Food: Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad)

Hobbies: Lego, going to concerts (when it was still possible)

Favorite Movies: The Shawshank Redemption, The Fifth Element

Favorite Books: The Helliconia Trilogy by Brian Aldiss

Fun Fact: Before teaching in the U.S., Dr. Shaw taught science at a school in the U.K., moving on to live in Hong Kong, Turkey, Thailand and Argentina.


Provided by Susanne Salhab

Susanne Alissa Salhab will be teaching English 1: The Study of Literary Genres and English 2: Survey of British Literature this year. Previously, she taught English in San Francisco and at the International Baccalaureate program. 

Goal for this year: “I think, especially in this difficult time, my number one goal is to support students in any way that I can … [and to] help them achieve their goals.”

Favorite Food: Falafels and hummus

Hobbies: Yoga (virtual), traveling, reading

Favorite Books: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, any poetry by Emily Dickinson

Fun Fact: Ms. Salhab has lived in the United States, Italy, Jerusalem, India, Estonia, Scotland and Portugal.


Provided by Chris Gatto

Chris Gatto is teaching World History 1 and U.S. History this year. Before coming to Harker, he was a graduate student at the University of Chicago, where he finished his Ph.D. in Latin American history.

Goal for this year: “I hope to get to know each of my students as well as I would have if we were in person. That might take additional one-on-one conferencing or office hours sessions, but I look forward to the challenge.”

Favorite Food: Deep dish pizza

Hobbies: Watching sports (especially football)

Favorite Movie: Good Will Hunting

Fun Fact: Dr. Gatto lived in Chicago for 30 years, so San Jose is the second place he’s lived in.


Provided by Noriyo Ikeda

Noriyo Ikeda is teaching Japanese 2 and Japanese 5 classes this year. Previously, she taught Japanese at a middle school in Palo Alto.

Goal for this year: “Especially this year, since we start remotely, … it’s not easy to learn a language, because [students] need to see how the mouth or lips move. I try to make it clear when I say sentences or pronunciation. But sometimes it’s not easy, so I am planning to use a lot of ideas that students can enjoy and also love.”

Favorite Foods: Sushi, ramen

Favorite TV Show: House Hunters International

Hobbies: Hiking, spending time with family, traveling, dancing flamenco, cooking

Fun Fact: When quarantine began, Ms. Ikeda and her family bought a 50 lb bag of bread flour and have since used it all up to bake and cook during quarantine.