This fall six teachers join the Lick-Wilmerding High School faculty. They are experts in their fields and also have many other interests such as screenwriting, cooking, soccer, hiking, and playing Irish football.
Natalie Freed joins the Technical Arts Department to teach the new class Building and Programming Intelligent Machines. Freed grew up in Berkeley, California, and went to Arizona State and MIT. Before coming to Lick, she researched educational technology and often collaborated with teachers, which stimulated her interest in teaching. She is not only teaching at Lick; she continues as part of the new media team at the Exploratorium, which works on exhibits with anything digital (digital being defined as computers or screens). She has also led electronics and programming workshops. As a teacher, Freed loves seeing student ideas, especially when she receives innovative project proposals. She thinks Lick is a supportive and positive place where people are proactive about giving new teachers the help they need. Her hobbies include tinkering with electronics and mixing electronics with other media, as well as finding books to read and doing crafts of all kind. During her thesis research she worked on a plush robot that teaches children French and eats virtual projected fruit. Freed’s favorite place that she has been is Burning Man, an annual festival in the desert, because she thinks the playa is a beautiful place and she enjoys all the interesting art sculptures. One day she would love to go to India.
Shaun Lopez is one of two new teachers to join he History Department this year. He is teaching two sections of sophomore Modern World History and two sections of the senior seminar International Politics. Originally from Fresno, California, Lopez has lived in a wide variety of places including, Tucson, Arizona; Salt Lake City, Utah; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Irbid, Jordan; Cairo, Egypt; Chapel Hill, North Carolina and most recently Seattle, Washington. Lopez has a PhD in Middle Eastern history; he studied Arabic in Jordan and completed his dissertation in Egypt. His favorite place that he has been is Irbid, Jordan where he lived for seven months because, despite being the only non-native Arabic speaker, he felt very welcomed. Before coming to Lick, Lopez taught at University of Michigan, University of North Carolina, and the University of Washington, but never before at a high school level. His favorite part of teaching is the “aha moment” in which students learn something completely new. At Lick he enjoys the very tight-knit community, which is part of what he was looking for in a school. Lopez loves all things soccer; he plays soccer, goes to matches, and collects jerseys. Aside from teaching, he is also very interested in the involvement of sports in politics. He has a three-year-old daughter who dreams of becoming purple fairy mermaid princess.
Zach Mitlas joins the Visual Arts Department this semester while Oleg Osipoff is on sabbatical. Originally from Portland, Oregon, he has lived in Micminville, Oregon and Bourges, France where he taught English in two high schools. Mitlas has lived in San Francisco for the past four years. His favorite place he has been is Bordeaux, France because of the beautiful scenery. He enjoys teaching because he thinks it is a great way to give back. His favorite thing about Lick is the students because he says they are “energetic and passionate” which is “inspiring.” He spends a lot of his free time painting but also enjoys cooking. In elementary, school Mitlas learned to juggle and ride a unicycle and was a part of a group that participated in parades.
Colleen Nyeggen is the only addition to the Science Department this year. She teaches four blocks of physics. She grew up in Tennessee, went to college in South Carolina and then taught in Oakland for two years, where she taught middle school science with Teach for America before moving to Maryland to obtain her PhD in science pedagogy. In Maryland she also taught high school physics as well as middle school science and geometry at a private school near D.C. Ms. Nyeggen’s favorite part of teaching is hearing the interesting ideas students have about the world, especially as physics applies to a lot of real world situations. Her favorite thing about Lick so far is that it is a place where she believes her teaching can improve by working with such great students and colleagues. In her free time Nyggen likes to swim, hike, and cook. She loves being outdoors and has two cats, Romeo and Beowulf. While she has driven across the country four times, one of her favorite places is Yosemite, where this past summer Ms. Nyeggen really enjoyed backpacking in some of the more remote areas.
The other new addition to the History Department is Eileen O’Kane. O’Kane teaches two sections of sophomore World History and two sections of the senior seminar Revolutions. A San Francisco native, O’Kane grew up in Daly City and now lives very close to her childhood home. She has also lived in Spain while studying abroad, in Ireland where she worked in a restaurant and in a factory, and in Oregon for a shorter period of time volunteering. Out of all her travel destinations, El Salvador, is her favorite. There she was amazed by the generosity of people, despite having so little. She has mostly taught at high schools in the past, teaching in the Bay Area at Galileo High School, Balboa High School, and Immaculate Conception High School. Her favorite part of teaching is making connections with students and watching them grow academically. At Lick, O’Kane appreciates the sense of community and the diversity. She enjoys playing Irish football and has two kids.
Joining the World Languages Department this year is Cheyenne Yao, who teaches two sections of Chinese 3. She is originally from southwest China but has also lived in Hong Kong. She has lived in the US, always in San Francisco, for ten years. She has taught Chinese at Urban High School and Crystal Springs Uplands School. She also teaches older businesspeople in Silicon Valley. She loves teaching because she gets the chance to learn so much from her student. At Lick, she admires the traditions such as the technical arts and architecture programs. Besides teaching, Ms. Yao has also worked in the film industry for many years as a screenwriter and has worked closely with Jackie Chan’s future daughter-in-law. She is currently creating a film her first feature length film in San Francisco. She also worked at the biggest television in Greater China where she wrote news stories and sometimes hosted TV programs. Her favorite place she has been is Paris, because of the culture and quaint coffee shops. In the future, she hopes to get the chance to visit Brazil, travel near the North Pole and to Africa.