Palo Alto High School will have both new and familiar faces on campus for the 2015-16 school year, according to a staff position announcement at the Site Council meeting yesterday.
The changes include math teacher Kathi Bowers as athletic director; math teacher Suzanne Antink as the PAUSD Teacher on Special Assignment for Math Common Core State Standards; and veteran Physical Education teacher Peter Diepenbrock as head boys’ varsity basketball coach. In addition to assigning new teachers, school administrators have also delegated new counselors and other sports coaches.
Principal Kim Diorio is confident about all the new hires.
“I think we’ve done an exceptional job just getting real quality people in the right positions,” Diorio said.
Diorio says Bowers, as the new athletic director, will bring great ideas to the future of athletics at Paly.
“Ms. Bowers has worn many hats in our community: as a parent, as a coach, as a teacher, as a teacher advisor and as a fan,” Diorio said.
Antink will be leaving the math department to join the district office. Math Instructional Supervisor Radu Toma said that Antink’s departure, along with the significant math course-drop from Bowers, will force the department to make some structural changes.
“Existing teachers would take on higher loads,” Toma said. “We’ve lost some periods so overall we’re not going to hire anybody brand new. … There are part-time people who will take a higher number of courses next year than they did this past year, and there may be a couple of teachers who have been on maternity leave who may be returning for a couple of periods.”
Toma also noted that Antink’s departure will be a huge loss, because as a teacher, she played a large role in designing, improving and refining classes in the department. However, Antink will not completely lose contact with her Paly roots.
“We hope to still have her around for quite a bit next year because her job at the district is going to be mentoring and assisting math teachers in the district with the implementation of Common Core and alignment and math-related issues,” Toma said.
This year, social studies teacher Eric Bloom was a TOSA for School Climate. For the 2015-16 year, the job will be split between him and science teacher Josh Bloom. Eric Bloom will focus on school climate committee, Not In Our Schools week, working with the parent community and Challenge Success. Challenge Success is an initiative to help parents and schools raise healthy, motivated children beyond the classroom by providing students with practical, research-based tools.
Josh Bloom will focus on working with mindfulness in the classroom and looking at opportunities to add some social and emotional curriculum into advisory.
“What we’re doing is also happening across town at Gunn [High School],” Diorio said. “They’re also hiring a social and emotional learning TOSA. We’re making sure that between the two high schools, the structure is very similar, so they can cross collaborate between schools.”
Brian Wilson, a Michigan high school journalism teacher, will be joining the journalism department.
“We recruited him from Michigan and he’s super qualified and experienced in journalism,” Diorio said. “I think he’ll fit right in with our world-class journalism program.”
According to Diorio, two special education teachers, Brooke O’Donnell and Ruth Theuri, have also been hired from nearby schools. They are from Carlmont High School and Cupertino High School respectively.
Diepenbrock will be returning as the boys’ varsity basketball head coach.
“I’m excited to have Coach Diepenbrock back,” Diorio said.”He’s a huge gain for our school.”
Former junior varsity volleyball coach Jekara Wilson will become the varsity coach.
The hiring process began as early as January this year with Diorio expecting the entire hiring process to conclude either by the end of this week or the beginning of next week.
“We’ve been really lucky to be able to attract and recruit and hire some really exceptional teachers,” Diorio said. “I hope that the teachers someday become real leaders on this campus.”
Below is a list of the new and continuous staff positions for the 2015-2016 school year.
Athletic Director: Kathi Bowers
Instructional Supervisor (Science): Kelli Hagen
Journalism and Yearbook: Brian Wilson
Special Education: Brooke O’Donnell, Ruth Theuri
Mental Health Therapist: Jonathan Frecerri
Varsity Boys’ Basketball Coach: Peter Diepenbrock
Varsity Volleyball Coach: Jekara Wilson
PAUSD Math CCSS TOSA: Suzanne Antink
TOSA School Climate: Eric Bloom
TOSA Professional Learning Kindel Launer
TOSA WASC/PCL: Emily Garrison
TOSA Digital Learning: Mindy Steiner
TOSA Technology Specialist: Paul Hoperich
TOSA Social Emotional Learning: Josh Bloom