By Ani Eagan
Having come to the U.S. only a few years ago from the UK, with an interest in history and museums, Hannah Ewing now teaches global studies along with other subjects, to upper school students.
After doing an internship on museum education while she was getting her master’s degree in Material Culture and Public Humanities at Virginia Tech, (having got her initial degree in Archaeology at University College London), Ewing realized the part she liked about the experience was the interaction with the students, and getting to teach them.
“It felt like kind of the natural next step for me,” Ewing said.
The internship she did for museum education shows her love for museums, her favorite being the Pitt Rivers Museum which connects to the Museum of Natural History in Oxford.
“It’s just so disorganized that it’s fantastic,” she said.
The museum has all kinds of archaeological and ethnographic artifacts and was originally started by a founding gift from General Pitt Rivers of over 26,000 objects, though the collection has now grown to over a million. It has things such as samurai suits and even used to have shrunken heads.
If she wasn’t working as a teacher she’d like to be in a museum doing museum education or exhibition curation.
“I could spend my life in museums,” Ewing said with a smile.
She teaches a couple subjects such as Global Studies, U.S. History and even History of Religion as an elective this trimester. She sees the importance of teaching global studies as she thinks it's important for students to have an understanding of the world they live in at a young age, so they can become people who are open and educated about the world they live in.
Ewing was born in Scotland, but raised in a small town near Oxford. She considers herself British, not English.
“I think it's so important to developing global people, as we all are.”
Ewing also says she enjoys teaching the ninth grade as she and them both are new to the high school, so she gets to grow with them.
She also teaches an elective on religion. “The elective is just a project of my soul, I just find that topic fascinating.”
“She is a very good teacher,” one of Ewing’s ninth-grade students said when asked about her class. “The activities we do in class are fun and keep us interested in the topic.”
Outside of teaching and her interest in museums, Ewing also likes the outdoors and occasionally goes backpacking. She and her family even have blow-up canoes that they use to go on the river together. She is also currently planning her wedding, for which she has unique ideas.
“Trying to convince my fiance that we need like a thousand disco balls,” Ewing said with a chuckle.
Ewing met Dr. Naginey in 2018 in Oxford. They plan to be married at Corpus Christi College, Oxford with the reception in the Museum of Natural History in July 2022.
Dr. Naginey thinks the museum’s fossils will be decorative enough, Ewing said.
While she is still new to North Cross, Ewing’s students talk positively about Ewing and her class. She feels the same about them.
“My favorite thing about teaching is just talking to the students,” Ewing said. “It’s so fun just being around people who have such like an… excitement.”
Dr. Makenzie Seiple arrived to teach Spanish this year after teaching at the college level since she was 22.
She previously taught at Longwood University after earning her doctorate at the University of Virginia.
“I was lucky enough that my contract ended right in the middle of a global pandemic,” she said sarcastically.
Seiple started looking for jobs shortly after her contract ended and colleges were not taking new employees due to the pandemic. She ended up teaching at a public high school last year but that school was not the best fit for her, so she was excited to come and try North Cross.
She enjoys teaching at the high school level, “You can get better connections with the students at this level,” she said.
Seiple knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was in high school. After she finished Gettysburg College she went straight to grad school at UVA.
“After you get your doctorate I think it's sort of expected that you start teaching at a college somewhere,” she said, “so that's what I did.”
Seiple grew up in western Pennsylvania is a small town right on the Ohio border. Before she started teaching, she did small tutoring jobs with kids while she was in college. She started learning Spanish when she was in 9th grade.
“Unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to start learning Spanish at a very young age like most kids do now.”
“The instant of watching something click for someone,” this is why she loves teaching people, she said.
Seiple came to North Cross because she wanted to teach high level Spanish. At North Cross, since the kids here start learning Spanish at such a young age, by the time they get to high school they are already at such an advanced level.
“All of these kids have the possibilities to start taking more classes because of their high level in Spanish.”
Michael Koss, calculus teacher, and Timothy Naginey, physics teacher, are the two faculty advisors of the robotics club, but they also share many more interests.
Robotics sparked both Koss and Naginey’s interest after they started teaching at North Cross. After Naginey heard about the robotics team, he wanted to get involved this year. Koss, on the other hand, got introduced to the team when he assumed the role of their bus driver a couple of years ago.
Both Naginey and Koss also expressed that it was natural for them to take over the robotics team because of their background in STEM. Koss has his Ph.D in logic-based philosophy from Indiana University and Naginey earned his doctorate from Oxford University.
“I always want to learn more about computer programming. I’ve done a little bit, but not very much, and that’s a big part of it, so I joined in as the assistant coach for the team,” Koss said.“It also fit because, as a math teacher, I'm sort of part of the STEM program as well, and that’s one of the main STEM extracurricular activities that we have. So it was a good fit and a good way for me to be involved and contribute.”
Similarly, Naginey’s experience in physics contributed to his choice to take on this position.
“I know a little bit about circuits and electronics from my physics degree,” Naginey said, “and there’s also a lot of other physics in robots, like just simple movement and acceleration of different parts.”
This year, much of the team is brand new to robotics, so currently, they are figuring out some of the basics.
“We just want to get a working robot first,” Naginey said. “We have like a base with wheels and we’re trying to get the code to work to power the thing, and so just the very basic stuff right now. All of us are just trying to figure out what we’re doing.”
“Our goal right now is to build a robot that can move around on the wheels that we put on it,” Koss said, “and if we can accomplish that, that’s gonna be a really big successful accomplishment for a team that’s so new to all of this.”
One of the students who stands out in the team, Umair Rasul ‘24, is often working on the robot after school, on his own time, and coming up with new ideas for it.
“We finished building a prototype to figure out all the mechanics for it to move. We are currently working on coding the robot to move in different directions,” Rasul said. “My favorite part is seeing the parts that I built and coded working successfully when we got the robot to move.”
The robotics team will be competing in the First Tech Challenge Frenzy Competition this year in December. Everyone on the team will be able to attend, but only one coach and two drivers will be involved in controlling the robot as the competition is going on. If something breaks or needs to be changed, the whole team will be there to work on that.
The robotics team went to a kick-off meeting this year at the Roanoke County library, where they met some other teams from the region.
“We all watched the video about this year’s challenge,” said Naginey, “and then we had pizza together and we discussed ideas about how we can get the robot to do what it has to do.”
Before these coaches got involved in robotics, they were both intrigued by calculus. Naginey said that his interest in calculus began in college, when he took his first calculus class.
“Calculus is the language of Physics,” Naginey said. “The first lecture of my first calculus class, he [the calculus professeur] talked about Zeno's paradox, which is a problem in philosophy, and the beginning of the math class was a philosophical paradox. From then on, I just loved that class.”
Koss’ interest in calculus also began in a similar way.
“It was really when I got to calculus that I thought ‘oh I really can see how fascinating this is and understand the ideas involved a lot more,’” Koss said, “So that really grabbed my attention, it made me go like ‘oh this is a really powerful, intellectual idea. I can see why this is a big deal historically’ and it was really interesting to see math in its full power, where you are not just learning some rules for manipulating symbols, but you’re seeing what those things mean, why they’re so useful.”
Both Naginey and Koss also share a fascination with music. Naginey plays guitar, while Koss plays the bass. They both played a little bit in a band together last year in the North Cross talent show, Muses at Bay, as well as the end-of-the-year faculty party. Koss expressed that he mostly plays the type of music that is somewhat repetitive, like certain types of jazz, rock and funk music.
“With the bass especially, a big part of it and a lot of genres of music, is you're playing something that all the other instruments in the band use as like a foundation for what they're doing,” Koss said. “The bass part then can often be a little repetitive, but if it works out well, it’s the part that gets you stamping your feet and grooving along to the music, and that’s what I want when I’m playing bass.”
By Helen Hertz '24
Dr. Daniel Hood, a former theater arts student turned high school history teacher.
Hood moved frequently in his childhood. Bouncing from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, eventually ending up in Greensboro, North Carolina for middle and high school.
Hood attended the Weaver Academy for Performing & Visual Arts. The Weaver Academy is a magnet school, attended by students interested in pursuing or experiencing artistic careers in the future. Hood specifically went for theater, performing in plays and musicals.
“We liked to think of ourselves as the school from Fame,” Hood said “We were definitely not that cool.”
Though he attended a vastly artistic school, Hood’s favorite subject has been history since AP World History his sophomore year.
“It was basically love at first sight,” Hood said, “My teacher was just amazing.”
Along with having a general love for in-school history, Hood had the chance to study abroad in England for the fall semester of sophomore year in high school. Hood’s father led the program, which was essentially “homeschooling” but not anywhere near Hood’s home.
The semester was very interactive with the history Hood was learning.
“What he would do is; ‘Oh you’re studying the ancient Greeks? Let’s go to the British museum and look at all their stuff!’,” Hood says, “I didn’t fully understand how lucky I was.”
Growing up Hood was surrounded by teachers. His mother being a minister, or spiritual teacher, and his father being a teacher. Hood says he has “always had the inclination” or being a teacher for this reason.
“It was really in high school and college when I learned my preferred method of studying was teaching,” Hood said. “I kinda felt it was my calling.”
After graduating high school Hood attended Guilford College, a small liberal arts college. Hood received his bachelor's degree with a double major in history and political science in 2011.
“Everyone was like, ‘Oh you’re going to law school?,” Hood said, “And I had to say ‘No I’m not!’”
After graduating from Guilford, Hood studied at Boston College, where he got his masters and Ph.D. in 2020.
The whole process took about nine years, with Hood’s total schooling being about 25 years long.
“Now I’m back in school,” Hood said, joking “Just on the other side of the desk.”
Hood teaches, AP World History, Modern World History, and a section of US Government.
Hood has been given a tentative go-ahead on teaching next year’s AP European History. Though it is not yet set in stone, it could be possible with enough willing participants.
The possibility of starting or helping with extra-curricular activities has also crossed Hood’s mind.
“I kinda want to start a board game club,” Hood said. “I love the way that board games can teach cooperation and multi-level thinking.”
Hood is still getting the lay of the land, so nothing is happening yet, but an idea is the first step.
The most rewarding part of Hood’s job are the students, he says.
“From where I stand at the front of the room I get to see that light-bulb moment,” Hood said. “It fills my heart with joy to see that.”
Surprisingly enough, Hood’s first year nerves also involve the students. Going from a college setting where information is taught at a much faster pace, to a high school is an adjustment.
“I’m having to ‘chunk it,’” Hood said. “I can’t expect high schoolers to work like a sponge and soak up a ton of information in 80 minutes.”
Hood’s method of teaching he describes as “exuberant and intelligent chaos” and “a work in progress.”
Outside of school Hood enjoys a variety of things. Particularly video games, watching TV, and reading.
“I am a sucker for strategy games,” Hood said. “When I’m not working I’m playing video games or watching TV.”
Hood’s love for screens has become a running joke for his wife and friends, during a particular moment involving many screens at the same time.
“It was not a good look,” Hood laughs.
A current favorite show for Hood is Ted Lasso, a sports dramedy on Apple TV.
“It’s super heartwarming,” Hood says, “And it doesn’t shy away from issues, but deals with them in a really human way.” He also praises the show for the breaking of masculine stereotypes and the rejection of pitting women against each other.
Hood also just recently moved to Roanoke, so he is also getting to explore a new city and place of living.
“I’d love to get out to Roanoke more,” Hood said. “I’d love to go to the museums, or have brunch downtown some weekend.”
This year for Hood brings new challenges, bright possibilities,long with a realization of his new-found love for teaching this age.
“There’s something really cool about this age,” Hood said., “To be allowed to be a part of helping kids find themselves is exciting.”
Hood’s current long term goal is to keep teaching, he is starting off his first year “on the right footing.”
“I couldn't ask for a better set of students, a better set of colleagues, a better place to come for my first year of teaching."
by Gracean Ratliff '23
Sarah Sledd ‘12 is the Upper School Graphic Design and Yearbook teacher. As a former student, she now gets to work with some of the teachers that taught her. She also gets to work with her mother, who is just down the hallway.
Sledd attended North Cross for 13 years, making her a “Fat Pencil Student”.
She was taught by teachers that impacted her greatly.
“I had amazing teachers," Sledd said, "and I think they're the reason I love learning as much as I do.". Although she enjoyed her middle and lower school years more than her upper school, she loves the environment now, compared to when she was a student.
Something was missing in her Upper School experience and now working here, she now realizes it; the SCA. During her time in the upper school, the SCA didn’t do spirit week, the senior trip, and homecoming and prom were not as big of a deal.
“I'll take a minute and brag about the SCA in the Upper School," Sledd said, "that was the key thing missing from my upper school experience was that like the togetherness, the sense of belonging working toward things together."
In her junior year, she took Mr. Jeff Canards Graphic Design class and fell in love with it.
“I'm not a great fine artist," Sledd said, "but I love the combination of the art with the organization that design requires”.
She then went on to Liberty University Online and received a Bachelor of Science, in fine art with a focus in graphic design.
A requirement for her schooling was to partake in an internship. Through her many connections in the school, she found an internship at North Cross helping out with a capital campaign. After working under Jessica Schindhelm for a while, the campaign grew, and by the time her internship was over, she was eventually hired full-time to work on the project.
After two or three years of working on the campaign, she was asked to be the Graphic Design Teacher.
Sledd has been teaching Upper School Graphic Design only for a couple of years but also finds time to teach the Yearbook class.
Aside from teaching, she leads the Media Club; a club where students write captions and take pictures for the North Cross Instagram page. She also does a lot of marketing for the school as well. This year is her first year of full-time teaching, having three design classes and her yearbook class as well.
Following in her Mother and Grandmothers footsteps, Sledd lands herself a role as a teacher. “ I never thought I'd be a teacher," Sledd said, "but my grandmother's a teacher, my mother's a teacher, I was like I’m never going to do it. I'm not going to be a teacher. Here I am. A teacher."
Being right across the hallway from Mrs. Laundry, her 10th-grade chemistry teacher; Dr. Finney, her senior year Latin teacher; and now her boss, Mr. Belderes, her math teacher for three years and her D’Hart advisor; Sledd felt right at home working here.
While being a teacher’s kid for her whole life, working with her teachers was the same feeling. “Already being a teacher's kid, I was used to seeing them in different capacities," Sledd said, "so it becomes natural very quickly,”
Another positive aspect of working here is being able to be just a walk down the hallway from her mother, Mrs. Holley.
“I don't really know a life not being around her every day," Sledd said, "because when I was a student she was a teacher and we're here every day together." Holley and Sledd are the Mother-Daughter duo on campus and her pretty much attached at the hip. “It's kind of awesome,” Sledd said, “there's a built-in buddy to eat lunch or to go somewhere with, so it's nice.”
From once being impacted by her teachers, she now gets to do the same to hers. Zane Ratliff ‘22, a Graphic Design 3 student, reflects on how Mrs. Sledd has impacted him throughout his Upper School years. “Mrs. Sledd has helped me in a lot of different ways, mainly helping me with my D’Hart speech," Ratliff said, "I really don’t know where I would be without her. She has been a great graphic design teacher and is just a great overall role model”.
Sledd has been a impactful addition to the North Cross Family for the past years, both as a student and as a teacher, and will continue to thrive in her work.
the Willis Hall Herald
Editor-in-Chief: Gracean Ratliff
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