New Faces

By Wendy Lawrence, Inspire Contributor

NATALIE ABEL IS JOINING EASTSIDE PREP as a Learning Support Specialist and a proud dyslexic. “I’m a big-picture thinker and have endless creative ideas. Navigating rigorous independent and liberal arts schools with dyslexia has given me a strong work ethic and taught me how to be resilient.” These experiences drew her to the field of special education and she’s excited not just to help students, but to teach them to advocate for themselves. Her proudest moments are her students’ successes, “whether that’s mastering a math concept or making their first true friend.” Abel has worked at several schools, but her favorite job was camp counselor at Camp Nor’Wester. She earned an M.Ed. in Special Education from the University of Washington and a B.A. in Economics from Colorado College.

Abel is endlessly adaptable, having already worked at two start-up schools that required her to be “scrappy and creative.” She thrives in an ever-changing environment and is excited no matter what the next adventure brings. At home, Abel spends time with her husband and dogs and loves ball sports and yard games. “Put a ball in my hands and my competitive spirit comes out.”

Sam Baldwin, Resident Drama Teacher & Student Activities & Clubs Coordinator, earned his B.A. in Theater and Philosophy from the University of Portland. He has extensive theater experience. “In third grade I played the part of Veruca Salt’s father in my school production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I am convinced this was my peak.”

Baldwin is familiar with adaptability. When the pandemic started, he performed in a cabaret group that posted weekly videos of performances they all created from home. “Anything is possible with Zoom and a Phillip Hue lightbulb!” Baldwin is also no stranger to EPS. “I know how nurturing a community EPS is. I am really looking forward to playing my part in this. You may know my parents…Vickie and Bob Baldwin. They’re great people…look them up.”

Outside of the theater, he loves to cook, dance, and take long walks to the refrigerator. Ask him about his Adam Sandler impression.

Laura Botero teaches Spanish, coming to EPS with an M.A. in Communications-Media Analysis from the Universidad Nacional de Antioquia and a B.A. in History from the Universidad de Colombia Sede Medellin. She played waterpolo with the Antioquia State Team and the Colombia National Team. Botero has always been adaptable, proving that recently when she moved to the United States with only $1,000 and a plan to start a new life.

Botero, the first of four children, lives with her husband, Lucas, and describes her proudest accomplishment as her two-year-old daughter, Elena. She loves to read fiction (favorite book = The Iliad!) but she stays away from nonfiction because, “I had a huge dose of reality when I was raised in Medellin.” She also enjoys TV shows like Derry Girls, Mixed-ish, and Game of Thrones (until the end of course). She considers herself an extrovert among Latinxs and an introvert among English-speaking communities.

Ian Corey-Boulet will be running Guided Study Hall classes as a new Learning Support Specialist. He loves the variety in the work, from teaching study skills to helping reduce stress or master specific conflict. Corey-Boulet comes to EPS with experience at other local independent schools.

Corey-Boulet doesn’t just teach his students, he lets them teach him. Recently a student convinced him to try bullet journaling, and now he’s obsessed. “It’s helped me do things like get more sleep, meditate regularly, save money, and stop biting my nails. More than anything, I appreciate how it reminds me that I can change my habits. It’s good to keep in mind that I’m still growing into the person I want to be.” Is there a better role model than a lifelong learner?

Corey-Boulet grew up in Tacoma, but has also lived in New York, Seoul, Seattle, and Portland.  He holds an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Washington and a B.A. from Columbia. He loves to read and listen to classical music. One of his favorite memories is of getting to interview his childhood hero, musician Stephen Malkmus, for Interview magazine. “It was both thrilling and scary. I still have his phone number!”

David Deluty is the new visual arts and design teacher for the EPS Upper School. “I sought to find a school that facilitates student growth through critical investigation.” He’s excited to integrate traditional media with digital technologies. He loves to use art to help students become more critically engaged with the world around them.

Deluty earned his M.A. in Education and a B.F.A. in Illustration and Graphic Design from The Maryland Institute College of Arts. He’s taught in Virginia and California in both high school and higher ed, and has watched many students go on to nationally recognized art schools. “I love seeing what they can accomplish through visual arts.”

Outside the studio, Deluty can be found at the gym or cheering on his favorite NFL team, the Baltimore Ravens. He also works on cars and is currently trying out 3D printing techniques for automotive design.

Michael Graybeal teaches algebra and geometry and advises eighth grade students. Before coming to EPS, he taught middle and high schoolers and earned an M.S. in Computer Science from Penn State University and a B.S. in Biology from Eastern Washington.

“My ability to adapt has been tested throughout my entire professional career,” says Graybeal, whose proudest accomplishment was graduating from Navy Officer Candidate School. “In the military, mission success is dependent on adaptability just as much as it is on planning, preparation, and execution. In teaching, unforeseen circumstances can pop up at a moment’s notice (just like with COVID-19). Being adaptable and quick to take action has allowed me to provide the best for my students.”

Graybeal likes cooking and playing racket games like tennis, racquetball, ping-pong, and badminton. He lives with his wife of eleven years and two dogs. He lived in both Japan and Germany growing up.

Dr. David Lao teaches Upper School chemistry and math. The first in his family to hold a degree, Dr. Lao earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry and B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Washington, where he was also a post doctoral student. He has taught science and math to both college and high school students.

Dr. Lao was drawn to EPS for the opportunity to prepare students for STEM careers in a small, inclusive community. “I hope that my research and teaching experience will inspire students to be critical problem solvers and lifelong learners in their future academic, professional, and personal pursuits.”

Last spring, Dr. Lao used the online gaming platform Twitch for office hours. “Although watching someone play video games can be fun, working through a chemistry problem with someone is even better!” It’s unclear if his students would agree with that, but one thing they do like are his jokes, which a student once told him “are funny because they are awkward.”

Dr. Lao loves indoor bouldering, lifting weights, and watching sports. Pandemic permitting, he is hoping to be married this fall. He lives with his fiancé and their retired greyhound Heisenberg, named after the quantum physicist.

Jonathan Litten joins the English discipline, teaching American Literature and Creative Writing, among others. He earned a B.S. in English Education from Kennesaw State University and will soon have an M.A. from TESOL California State University. He joins EPS after teaching at an international boarding school in San Marino, California for the past five years, where he taught English and ESL classes, served as arts club advisor, and coached the boys’ soccer team.

Litten was drawn to EPS for several reasons, “Not only are the staff, facilities, students, and educational practices exceptional, but the school’s values and mission—a critical education designed to inspire students to authentically engage their studies and their lives—is unparalleled. To me, EPS represents the hope and promise of what a critical education can be. More importantly, EPS strikes me as an institution built around a genuine praxis—reflection and action in order to transform. It’s exciting to find a school that is working so diligently to put the abstract and theoretical into day-to-day practice.

Along with his teaching practice, Litten enjoys training Muay Thai (Thai boxing), snowboarding, soccer, and lazy mornings with a good book, strong coffee, and a blank page. He adds, “Currently, I am really interested in educational research—feminist/critical/ and postmodern theory. I am trying to finish a thesis and I have become deeply engaged in the nuances of qualitative research and questions about what it means to conduct research as an emancipatory practice. When I am not being a total nerd, I love music, film, and nature, or anything that inspires me. I guess that is a little nerdy too, alas.”

Amy Sanchez is the new School Counselor at EPS. “I have the privilege of getting to know students’ stories, identities, and interests as we collectively explore how to live a meaningful life,” she says about her new job. “I help students and the people who care about them remove barriers that stand in the way of pursuing what most excites them.” She loves that she not only gets to work with individual students, but to collaborate with teachers, administrators, and families.

Sanchez earned her A.M. (equivalent to an MSW) from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and her B.S. in Education and Social Policy from Northwestern. Last year, she had to adapt often as she filled in as a Licensed Associate Clinical Social Worker for people on leave in three different independent schools, including EPS. As someone who cares deeply about mental health, Sanchez is especially excited about how EPS is dedicated to continuous learning and innovation.

On her high school cross country team, Sanchez was a “back-of-the-pack” finisher, but she’s gradually becoming faster and now her marathon pace is faster than her 5K pace used to be. Running is Sanchez’s great accomplishment (she’s completed three marathons!) but also her greatest failure. She fainted on mile eleven of her first half marathon, after being so excited to start she didn’t eat breakfast. But her time was still good, because they took her to the finish line on a stretcher.

She loves cooking, and has been using all the extra time at home for longer recipes (such as boeuf bourguignon and chile verde). Her husband is a graduate student at the University of Michigan in Speech Language Pathology. “If you have jokes about couples who are both therapists, I am all ears.”

Sanderson returns! After an adventurous hiatus, founding faculty member Jeff Sanderson is coming back to Eastside Prep to teach Upper School math.

Sanderson brings a lifetime of diverse career experiences with him. After a B.A. from Princeton, he was one year into an MBA at Harvard Business School when he left to join Microsoft. His proudest moments were being the marketing lead for Microsoft Word for Windows, v. 1.0, and of course being on the founding faculty for EPS! But those were raging successes, obviously. “Failure is a much better teacher,” he says. “Opening Stopsky’s Delicatessen was a project of passion, heritage, and community, but overall a very humbling experience.” In addition to Microsoft, teaching and subbing, and opening (and closing) a deli, Sanderson has also co-founded Sanderson Ventures with his wife Lara, tutored for the Catholic Community Service’s Youth Tutoring Program, and served on the boards of Overlake Hospital and the Seattle Symphony.

Why come back now? “I’ve always kept in touch. In this period of great uncertainty, it felt important to contribute where I have passion, which is education. The founding philosophy of the school under Terry’s leadership has both remained and evolved with the times.”

He enjoys puzzles (crossword, Kakuro, and Kenken), playing piano and tennis, and doing pilates and meditation. He lives with his wife Lara and has grown children: Oliver, who just earned a master’s in English from Tulane, and Eden, who attends the University of Wisconsin. He and his wife grow a lot of their own food as well as flowers.

Dr. Samuel Shaw joins EPS to teach World History and Social Studies, having previously taught both high school and college students. Dr. Shaw earned his Ph.D. in Sociology from Vanderbilt, an M.A. in Sociology from Portland State, and a B.A. from the University of Oregon.

When he was twenty-one, Dr. Shaw beat a chess master by sacrificing a bishop in the middle game, a move that was marked with a double exclamation (!!), meaning “brilliancy” in the chess world. But today he does more woodworking than chess and is currently working on a baby-changing table and hardwood shutters for his house. He lives with his wife and they are expecting their first baby this year.

He loves the innovative nature of the school and how it leads the way in adopting technologies for learning. Adapting to COVID-19 times, he struggled balancing work and life in the absence of a spatial/temporal boundary, so he created one: his workday ends at 5:00pm at his refrigerator.

Madeleine Stearns joins EPS as a new member of the Upper School math discipline. She earned her M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and has taught for both St. Paul Academy and Mathnasium, as well as volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and the ASCE Youth Popsicle Stick Bridge Competition. Her proudest accomplishment was quitting her job to live on a sailboat in the San Juan Islands before moving across the country to start a new chapter in her life. Or was it joining the Polar Bear Club in Barrow, Alaska?

During her first cross-country move, her alternator gave out and stranded her and her cat on the side of I-90 in the middle of Montana. She was hoping not to repeat the experience, so she kept the incident in mind as she planned her move. “It’s important to be flexible!”

She loves walking her dogs, rock climbing, watching soccer, and keeping score at baseball games. “And I have way too many things on my Netflix list because I keep re-watching Parks and Rec instead of starting something new.”

Minako Sugimoto started as the Administrative Assistant to Director of Academic Design and Integration in August and will be working closely with Matt Delaney (Director of Academic Design and Integration) and the entire EPS faculty. Asked what drew her to Eastside Prep, Sugimoto responds, “The warm and inviting/accepting culture, and the school’s vision and mission, particularly “lead compassionately.” I think the world would be a far more welcoming and comfortable place to live in for everyone if we all could be more empathetic, and more thoughtful and sensitive to the perspectives of others—myself certainly included.”

Sugimoto has a degree in International Policy Management from Keio University in Japan. Previously she worked for five-and-a-half years at a small aerospace manufacturing business with efforts ranging from human resources, office management, auditing support, and special projects. Sugimoto looks forward to “diving into the education sector and supporting and contributing to the EPS community.

Sugimoto likes to eat, cook, bake, sleep and is an avid learner of “new information and things.” She is starting to re-learn Chinese from a neighbor and some “very basic French” from a former colleague and friend.

Katie Yost began as the new Administrative Assistant to Alumni Relations and College Counseling in August. In that role, she will be supporting the daily operations of the College Counseling office as well as coordinating communications and events for alumni. Planning those events will be easy for Yost, who previously worked in the live journalism events division of The Atlantic and was the Director of Event Logistics for TEDxUNC while at Chapel Hill. She’ll also bring a wide variety of other experiences to EPS. “As a college student, I took a gap year to further explore my academic and career interests before deciding on my course of study. I spent time in South Africa volunteering with a marine conservation organization, helping with ocean research, ecotourism efforts, and coastline conservation initiatives. I also volunteered full-time for the nonprofit Invisible Children and toured the United States as a Regional Representative, leading presentations to thousands of students about social justice and global citizenship.”

Yost earned her B.A. in Political Science and Communication Studies from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. In her free time, she likes exploring the Pacific Northwest (her new home since 2019) with her dog, Berkeley. She’s also an avid sports fan and enjoys running, playing soccer, and cooking.