Upper school welcomes new faculty faces on campus

Upper school welcomes new teachers and faculty members

From bacon lovers to avid Beyoncé dancers, the new teachers and staff members joining the Harker Upper School for the 2022-2023 school year have so much to offer. With nine new teachers and a new athletics trainer, as well as Head of Upper School Paul Barsky stepping into his new position following the departure of former Head of Upper School Butch Keller, and Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Brian Davis working on DEI efforts across all three campuses, new faculty faces are all around campus.

Read below to learn more about them!

 

Paul Barsky, Upper School Division Head

Barsky is the new Head of Upper School this year.

Favorite cuisine: Vegan Vietnamese food

Paul Barsky, Head of Upper School, smiles with a jar of vegan cookies in his office. He hopes to engage with the school’s culture and support student and faculty. (Sabrina Zhu)

Favorite book: “Bhagavad Gita”

Favorite exercise: the Peloton

I was very excited to see a school that truly believed in excellence on a number of different levels, in everything from science, to performing arts, to humanities to character education”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brian Davis, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion director Brian Davis poses in his office. “I’m here to make sure that every student feels welcome, loved and respected,” Davis said. (Olivia Xu)

Davis is the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion across all campuses, a new position this school year.

Favorite artist: Vocal group Boyz II Men

Favorite food: Sushi and pizza

Favorite sports teams: Harker Eagles and Philadelphia Eagles

I’m here to really make sure that every student feels welcome, loved and respected, whether you’re in kindergarten [or] 12th grade. I want students to come to me with suggestions, ideas, feedback, opportunities, or other opinions that they have”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bronwen Callahan, World history teacher

Upper school history teacher Bronwen Callahan stands with textbooks. She teaches world history. (Olivia Xu)

Callahan is teaching World History 2 and Honors World History 2 this year.

Favorite artist: Interpol

Favorite book: “Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster

Favorite food: All, but especially a simple pesto pasta

I started realizing that everything that I loved, like art, music and religious studies, all combined into history. I realized history encompasses everything I’m interested in”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walter Han, Math teacher

Upper school math teacher Walter Han smiles with his book. Han looks forward to joining school life. (Olivia Xu)

Han is teaching Algebra 1, AP Statistics and Honors Algebra 2 this year.

Favorite artist: BTS

Favorite book: “Animal Farm” by George Orwell

Favorite motto: “Shoot for the stars. Even if you miss, at least you’ll get six feet high”

Teaching something like [AP Statistics] is part of fulfilling my dream where I could teach kids to apply mathematics”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wes Howard, Athletics trainer

Howard is the upper school athletics trainer this year.

Wes Howard, upper school athletics trainer, examines a student’s leg. Howard previously worked with the Sharks for two decades. (Sabrina Zhu)

Favorite sports: Football and hockey

Favorite movies: “The Lord of the Ring” series

I was a sports fan growing up and played sports as a kid, and have worked in sports my whole life. It’s pretty awesome. ”

 

 

 

Yi Jiang, Mandarin teacher

Upper school Mandarin teacher Yi Jiang poses with her poster. Jiang studied Chinese linguistics before starting to teach. (Sabrina Zhu)

Jiang is teaching Mandarin 1, 2 and 3 and Honors Mandarin 3 and 4 this year.

Favorite Chinese holiday: Autumn Festival

Favorite movie: “Porco Rosso”

Favorite food: Dumplings

I want to motivate my students to be lifelong learners. I hope they are encouraged to explore the language and Chinese culture”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelly McKeown, Counselor

Upper school counselor Kelly McKeown smiles in her office. McKeown hopes to serve as a support system for students. (Olivia Xu)

McKeown is an upper school counselor this year.

Favorite food: Sushi

Favorite movie: “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Favorite artist: The rock band Cake

I love to learn new things about how to support people. I don’t have answers; I don’t tell people what to do. I just help them think about their own best next step”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swati Mittal, Computer science teacher

Upper school CS teacher Swati Mittal smiles with her computer. Mittal is working part-time to teach Programming classes. (Olivia Xu)

Mittal is teaching Programming this year.

Favorite food: Thai food

Favorite artist: Taylor Swift

I want all my students to feel comfortable, confident. By the end of semester, when they leave, they should be happy about the course”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kevin Oliver, Journalism teacher and cross country coach

Upper school journalism teacher Kevin Oliver holds the 21-22 TALON book. Oliver also coaches cross country. (Sabrina Zhu)

Oliver is advising TALON yearbook and teaching Introduction to Journalism this year.

Favorite food: Bacon

Favorite TV show: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

[I’m looking forward to] the students and athletes. It’s great to be around people who are pursuing their passions, and I’m really lucky that their passions overlap with mine”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Tate, United States history teacher

Tate is teaching AP United States History and United States History this year.

Upper school history teacher James Tate poses with a cutout of John Adams. Tate teaches AP United States History. (Sabrina Zhu)

Favorite historical text: Thomas Hobbes’ “Leviathan”

Favorite food: Gnocchi

[I like] looking at a juicy primary source or having a good Socratic conversation, since critical thinking is important to history”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jaco Wong, Instrumental teacher

Jaco Wong is conducting Orchestra, Jazz Band and Lab and teaching AP Music Theory this year.

Upper school instrumental teacher Jaco Wong prepares to conduct. Wong teaches music theory and orchestra. (Sabrina Zhu)

Favorite composer: Johann Bach

Favorite book: “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari

Prior to this year, I [was] at the middle school. I wanted to apply for this job because I’ve been part of the community and have felt lots of love”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jill Yager, Dance teacher

Yager is leading the Harker Dance Company and teaching Study of Dance this year.

Sitting on the floor of the dance room, upper school dance teacher Jill Yager reaches out her hands. Yager leads the Harker Dance Company. (Sabrina Zhu)

Favorite singer to dance to: Beyoncé

Favorite book: “It” by Stephen King

I’m very excited to to be in a community that is welcoming, kind and thoughtful”