Head Teaching Staff
Azure Akamay: Senior Teacher (2012 - present)
A 2012 graduate of the Arbor Center for Teaching program, where she was part of the Intermediate teaching team, Azure has become an integral part of the Senior staff. Her varied interests and her rich educational background inform her work with her students and colleagues daily. A rigorous thinker who is deeply committed to her students, Azure balances an engaged interest and utter delight in their ideas and questions with a warm demander’s stance, nudging them forward toward precision of language, logic, and thought.
(BA Religion, Reed College; MAT Arbor Center for Teaching/Marylhurst University)
Patricia Ballarché: Primary Design & Junior Design/Reading/Math Teacher (1991 - present)
Arriving at Arbor at the start of the school’s third year, Patricia brought with her ten years of previous elementary teaching experience in Oregon and abroad (Luxembourg and Israel). After fifteen years as a head teacher in the Juniors, Patricia took her delight in integrating art in the classroom to crafting lessons in the Design Studio for Primaries and Juniors. Patricia also assists the Junior classrooms with literacy and math instruction.
(BA Education and BS Communication Disorders, University of Massachusetts at Amherst)
Becca Blaney: Intermediate Teacher (1994-1997; 2001; 2009 - present)
Having returned to Arbor after spending eight years as a Public Defender, Becca is relishing the non-adversarial nature of teaching Intermediate students. With a background not only in political science and law but also in languages (she is a student of Spanish and Mandarin), Becca brings unusual depth to her role. She has a clear understanding of where the Arbor curriculum is headed and is a wonderfully sympathetic observer of children and their advocate in the best possible way.
(BS School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University; JD Northwestern School of Law, Lewis & Clark College)
Annmarie Chesebro: Arbor Center for Teaching, Director of Teacher Training (2000 - present)
Once a classroom teacher and an adjunct professor in Lewis & Clark College’s MAT program, Annmarie brings a uniquely balanced approach to the ACT program. With particular expertise in math, science, assessment, and preparation of Apprentices for their first teaching jobs, Annmarie leads the ACT program, mentoring our Apprentices, conducting weekly Seminars, and serving as liaison to other teacher training programs and Oregon’s licensure commission.
(BA summa cum laude Sociology/Anthropology, Amherst College; MAT, Lewis & Clark College; Initial Administrator License, Portland State University)
Nick DeBoer: Senior Teacher (2016 - present)
Nick joined family in the Northwest in the summer of 2016 after enjoying 10 years in Hawaii. While working toward his M.S in Tropical Conservation Biology at the University of Hawaii, he was granted a National Science Foundation Fellowship in which he partnered with local school teachers in the development and implementation of new science curriculum for the middle grades. Finding himself drawn to working with children, Nick joined the faculty at Punahou School in Honolulu, where he spent five years teaching 6th grade science and math. Delighted to have joined the Senior team at Arbor, you may also find Nick playing Ultimate Frisbee or exploring the neighborhood with his dog.
(BS Integrative Biology, University of Illinois; MS Tropical Conservation Biology, University of Hawaii; MA Teaching, Chaminade University)
Marc DeHart: Intermediate Teacher (2010-2012; 2014 - present)
Marc falls into the category of the ultimate Arbor student. He attended Arbor School for his elementary and middle school years and, after college and work at the Christie School, returned to join the Arbor Center for Teaching’s apprentice cohort for 2010-2012. Upon graduating from the ACT program, Marc taught in Portland schools and tutored students on the side. Marc has been commended by his colleagues for his empathy, humility, and ability to develop trusting and productive relationships with students. Marc’s long history with Arbor, combined with his inherent understanding of what it means for teachers to remain optimistic about students when things are challenging, makes him a logical and positive fit for the Arbor community.
(BS Psychology, Oregon State University; MAT Arbor Center for Teaching/Marylhurst University)
Peter ffitch: Assistant Director of Programs (1996 - present)
Peter first came to Arbor as a parent, watching Brendan (‘02) and Taylor (‘04) thrive. He was drawn to teaching and learned his craft through 10 years of teaching in the Primaries. In 2006 Peter moved up with some of the Primaries to the Junior level. His training and work as a lawyer a professional competitive runner add further dimension to the multiple talents and skills that are apparent in his teaching and work within the school community. In the fall of 2017 Peter moved from the classroom to the office as Assistant Director of Programs.
(BA Political Science, University of Illinois; JD Northwestern School of Law; work toward graduate degree in elementary education at Portland State University)
Laura Frizzell: Music Teacher (1993 - present)
With experience as a piano teacher, choral director, and elementary music teacher, Laura has developed an incredibly rich approach to musical pursuits at Arbor. Her creative capacities are legendary, and each class and every community gathering is enhanced by the performances, large and small, that she educes from the children. From Beethoven to beatboxing to Bollywood, Laura leads the children in exploring a wide spectrum of music, dance, and song. She names finding music which dovetails with classroom themes as a particular delight. Working with faculty and children to create large-scale productions has been a collaborative and inspiring part of the job, and a gift to this community: “A Midsummer Night's Dream set in New Orleans? Cue the accordion, assemble the Second Line....let's go!” In addition to being a composer of works for the classroom and beyond, Laura is Past President of the Portland Orff-Schulwerk Association, and a local and national American Orff-Schulwerk Association conference presenter.
(BA Teaching Field in Music K-12, Portland State University; Orff-Schulwerk Music Education Certificate, University of Denver)
Laurel Glasmire: Junior Teacher (2016 - present)
A 2008 graduate of the Arbor Center for Teaching program, where she taught at the Junior level, Laurel returned to us after one year substitute teaching in Portland and seven years teaching 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades at a charter school based on Arbor’s structure and curriculum. Laurel loves developing engaging and creative curriculum and helping to build a strong school community. Her classroom reflects the joy that she takes in learning and teaching, and the value that she places on developing empathy, compassion, and an openness to new relationships and experiences. Laurel’s students are delighted to share in her love of history, dance, and music of all kinds.
(BA History, Lewis & Clark College; MAT Arbor Center for Teaching/Western Oregon University)
Robin Gunn: Junior Teacher (2003 - 2010, 2016 - present)
After beginning her career in Boston, teaching kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade at the Atrium School, Robin followed friends and family to Portland and joined the Arbor School faculty in 2003 as a teacher in the Primaries. In 2006, she moved to the Junior level, taking on the role of literacy specialist for both Junior classes, before rejoining the Primary class from 2008 - 2010. Returning to Arbor from family leave in 2016, Robin skillfully divided her time between the Primary and Junior programs before stepping fully into the position of Junior teacher in the fall of 2017. A skilled observer of children and a developer of lasting curriculum, the children know Robin for her warmth and for the delight that she takes in their work. An avid and lifelong sailor, on a breezy weekend you may well find Robin enjoying a sail with her family on the Columbia.
(BS Psychology, Business, Ithaca College; Masters of Science in Education, Wheelock College.)
Dylan Hardy: Junior & Intermediate Math and Science (2017 - present)
After graduating from Reed College in 2003, Dylan worked with computers, taught basic adult education through Americorps, and even dabbled in the world of professional poker, all of which led him to pursue a career in teaching. Prior to coming to Arbor, Dylan taught high school biology, math, social studies, physics, and home economics. He then went on to co-found Terra Nova High School, a specialized science program within the Beaverton School District focusing on sustainable farming, engineering, and practical social responsibility. Passionate about decompartmentalizing science and math, and about igniting student inquiry in the process, Dylan’s own energy and curiosity extend well beyond the boundaries of his classrooms, enriching the entire school community.
(BS Biology, Reed College; MAT Lewis and Clark College.)
Kit Abel Hawkins: Founder, Director (1989 - present)
Kit, who was associated for 18 years with Catlin Gabel School prior to the founding of Arbor School in 1989, specializes in work with 8-12 year olds. She taught, however, at several levels in the elementary years and also spent five years as a children’s librarian. In addition to teaching, Kit has served as the president of two non-profit organizations and as a trustee for Neskowin Valley School and Catlin Gabel School. Kit has trained and advised school founders and leaders through the School Leadership program of the Arbor Center for Teaching, and written a book about Arbor entitled The Idea of Arbor School.
(BA cum laude Philosophy, Oberlin College; MAT programs, Portland State University and Lewis and Clark College; Master of Music program, Lewis and Clark College; PhD Social Studies, Grinnell College)
Caroline Hurley: Senior Spanish Teacher (2004 - present)
Caroline brings a background in Spanish literature, culture, and history as well as linguistics, and is hard pressed to choose just one favorite among these topics. In her three-year Senior Spanish program she strives to bring each of her students as far along as is possible in the language in order to create avenues toward a more bilingual, bicultural society. Caroline also visits with the Primaries and Juniors each week in a more informal setting in order to sow the seeds of the sounds and flavors of Spanish.
(BA Spanish Literature, Phi Beta Kappa, Reed College; MAT, Spanish, Portland State University)
Andrew Manton: Intermediate Teacher (2015 - present)
Andrew came to us from the San Francisco Day School where he served as a middle-grades science teacher, Director of Outdoor Education, and coach. Prior to his years at San Francisco Day, Andrew led outdoor and environmental education groups through Naturalists at Large. Andrew’s enthusiasm for experiential education informs his science teaching at the Junior and Intermediate levels, and he has become an integral part of the Intermediate team. Andrew enjoys sharing his passions through after-school activities, from sports to maker-space classes, and most weekends you can find him climbing rocks or playing ultimate frisbee.
(BA Environmental Studies, Pitzer College)
Karli Merkens: Assistant in Senior Science (2016 - present)
After graduating from Arbor in 1995, and St. Mary’s and Earham College thereafter, Karli filled her life with scientific adventures. Science internships took her to the Gulf of Mexico and the Massachusetts coast, she spent six months sailing aboard a research vessel in the Mediterranean Sea, and she spent two years researching ALS in New Hampshire. Her interests eventually led her to San Diego where she completed a PH.D. in Oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She is currently conducting an acoustical study of whales in the Pacific and is delighted to be returning to Arbor as an assistant in Senior Science.
(BA Biology, Earlham College; Masters and Ph.D. Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego)
Anne Moloney: Intermediate & Senior Design Teacher (2004 - present)
Anne first became known to us when she served so beautifully as a mentor for an 8th grade Senior Project in jewelry design and fabrication. A long-time art instructor at the Multnomah Art Center, Anne was also responsible for K—8 art education at Trinity Lutheran School in NE Portland for two years. Her undergraduate work in English and Fine Arts degree, combined with her exquisite design sense and technical skills, make her the perfect teacher for bringing the Humanities and science curriculum alive through Design while bringing new possibilities for exploration and expression to the Intermediate and Senior classes.
(BA English, Lewis & Clark College; BA Fine Arts in Crafts, Oregon College of Art and Craft; Certificate in Teaching ESL, Seattle University)
Eliza Nelson: Intermediate Teacher (1996-2004; 2009 - present)
Eliza first developed her ideas about education as a researcher and writer at Yale University’s Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy. Deciding to trade policy for work in an actual classroom, she spent eight years honing her teaching skills at Arbor in the Intermediate class. After being away from Arbor to begin a family, Eliza returned full force to her home in the Intermediates. Her special ways of connecting with students through writing, her high and clear expectations, and her deep well-spring of warmth join the long list of reasons we are so glad she has returned to teaching.
(BA English, Wesleyan University)
Greg Neps: Senior Teacher (2001 - present)
Greg’s classes focus on building skills in math while developing a love for its workings through hands-on and real-world applications and games. He helps students use math as a tool for understanding and exploring the world. Previous experiences as a tutor and a K—8 math teacher (with responsibilities for science, P.E., and stagecraft) brought him to Arbor with a well-developed repertoire of approaches and engaging experiences. He is using that science background to good effect to lead this year’s Senior Science study of Invertebrate Biology and Physics. Greg also manages Arbor’s audio/video needs and leads the Seniors through on-campus community service activities.
(BS Elementary Education, Western Illinois University)
Felicity Nunley: Primary Teacher (1996 - present)
Having taken her elementary training at the prestigious Shady Hill School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Felicity has a strong background in inter-disciplinary curriculum development, arts instruction, and early education. She has taught in mixed-age settings (K-3rd) at a small independent school, Chelan Valley School, and at Riverdale School in Dunthorpe. In 2006 she returned to the Primaries after a five-year stint as the Design Studio instructor for the Primary and Junior classes.
(BA English, Vassar; MEd Lesley College/Shady Hill School)
Lori Pressman: Primary Teacher (1999 - present)
As she grew up in a family with a math/science teacher for a father, Lori has, in a sense, been involved in the world of teaching always. Her previous experiences include a multi-age intern teaching experience with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders, and two years of teaching at the 2nd grade level. Known in those positions for her devotion to individual children and for the creativity she shows with all the components of the classroom environment, Lori has demonstrated her exceptional teaching qualities throughout her years at Arbor.
(BA Sociology, Washington State University, Pullman; MAT Lewis & Clark College)
Kirsten Rian: Librarian (2014 - present)
Curator, artist, musician, published author and editor, teacher, activist, and journalist, Kirsten is a rare polymath. She has taught English as a second language to refugees and immigrants, created a school anthology of poetry working with multi-language classrooms at a Portland elementary school, worked with high schoolers as a Writer in the Schools, conducted writing workshops for adults through the Multnomah County Library, taught writing and visual arts at Saturday Academy, and much more. You might recognize her name as the poetry editor for The Oregonian. Given her rich and varied work life, we are fortunate to have her as our full-time Librarian this year.
(BA English, Lewis & Clark College; MFA, Summa Cum Laude, Portland State University)
Linus Rollman: Senior Teacher & Senior Team Convener (2000 - present)
The study of anthropology and Reed’s rigorous and well-balanced program gave Linus a generalist’s tools for thinking about the world. He spent six years in the Intermediate classroom before moving to the Seniors. Having also taught Senior Humanities and writing in the past, this year finds Linus continuing to teach Senior Seminar, math, and Design as well as continuing to write and edit the Arbor Algebra math series. A student of philosophy, the craft of writing, and the mysteries of mathematics, Linus is an enlivening force at Arbor.
(BA Anthropology, Reed College)
Cara VanGorder-Lasof: Senior Humanities Teacher (2010 - present)
Cara is a veteran middle- and high-school Humanities teacher with years of experience working primarily in environments that, like Arbor, promote an interdisciplinary approach to the study of history, literature, geography, and cultural anthropology. Her energy, breadth of knowledge, and careful thinking are a boon to the Senior Humanities team.
(BA Sociology & Anthropology, Lewis & Clark College; MEd Evergreen State College)
Leigh Wood: Physical Education Teacher (2000 - present)
Between experiences cultivated both at school and at summer camp, Leigh came to us with a diverse background in academics and athletics, with a particular focus on fostering teamwork, understanding, cooperation, facilitation, and leadership. In her time here, she has devoted herself to building a P.E. program that relies on those core values as a foundation for both physical and character growth for students across the grades. Viewing P.E. through several lenses simultaneously, Leigh has created a dynamic program at Arbor that engages students actively, positively, and thoughtfully.
(BA cum laude English with Geology minor, Mount Holyoke College)