By Annie DreyerÂ Â
When Ari Engelberg â89 attended Harvard School for Boys, he visited teachers in their offices where Munger Science Center currently sits, performed labs in a building that has been replaced by Feldman-Horn and watched football games take place on a grass field, rather than turf.
Now, 20 years later, he teaches US History and American Pop Culture in the same Seaver classrooms he sat in. He coaches the basketball team in the Taper gymnasium he conditioned in as a student.
In addition to Engelberg, English teacher Adam Howard â93, history teacher Francine Werner â68, dance teacher Zoe Robin â99 and science teacher Yanni Vourgourakis â90 are other upper school teachers who attended Westlake School, Harvard School or Harvard-Westlake.
On the Middle School Campus, dance teacher Carrie Green â99, Community and Work Service Coordinator Victoria Goddard â60, science teacher Hillary Schwab â00, math teacher Dan Reeves â94 and Middle School Plant Manager David Mintz â87 are also alumni faculty members.
Unlike Engelberg, who views the school he attended as being quite similar to the one he teaches at, Goddard sees few similarities between her high school and teaching experiences.
When she attended Westlake, it was a boarding school, which taught girls from kindergarten through 12th grade. The girls were required to wear uniforms. The current cafeteria building was the library then and some of the existing language classrooms were the schoolâs dining room.
The only part of the campus still functioning as it was when she attended Westlake is the court next to the pool; however, it was only used for tennis when she was a student and now it is used for basketball too.
Green is more familiar with the school where she teaches dance.
âSo much is theÂ sameâ she said. âThe teachers are still amazing, the students are awesome, theÂ programs top-notch and there are so many amazingÂ opportunities to get involved in.â
Despite the similarities, Green cites SQUID, the lack of lunch cards and the middle school modernization project, once it is completed, as the biggest differences in school life.
âI knowÂ just how much homework [the students] get, what it feels likeÂ to take AP tests inÂ Taper, how heavy [a studentâs] backpack can be, what retreat was like when I was a ninth grader and I think I have a good understanding of the Harvard-Westlake culture,â Green said.Â âSo in that way, I try to relate to my students and be there to support them,Â not just as their teacher, but as someone whoÂ went through a littleÂ of what they are going through.â
After dancing in high school and college, Green wanted to continue dancing, and since Harvard-Westlake was hiring, she joined the staff in 2003.
Greenâs classmate and fellow dancer Robin is Greenâs counterpart on the upper school campus. Since Robin is currently on medical leave due to frequent migraine headaches, a fellow classmate of theirs, Imani Alexander â99 is substituting for her.
âItâs been great to work with them again knowing that weâve come from such a strong dance background here at Harvard-Westlakeâ Green said.Â âWe understand each otherâs programs very well and what it was like to go through it ourselves, so itâs been a blast gettingÂ to know them again and sharing our passion for dance and teachingÂ together.âÂ
Howard worked in the Middle School performing arts department with Green for two years before coming to the Upper School to teach English in 2006. He also feels that due to his relatively recent graduation he is able to understand his studentsâ stress easily.
He attended Harvard-Westlake during the merger and regularly participated in the drama department and Peer Support.
âWe suddenly had girls in class during my junior year,â he said. âIâd be lying if I said I wasnât thrilled about that, and from that point on, school was certainly a better experience.â
After graduating from Kenyon College, Howard returned to his alma mater because of his âdesire to teach,â he said. âOnce I found myself back at the school, however, I realized that it was a gift for any teacher; it was the right fit and the right community for me.â
Howard, Green and Engelberg all started their teaching careers at Harvard-Westlake and feel connected to their students partially because they are Harvard-Westlake alumni.
âShared experiences help to develop relationships with students,â Engelberg said. âAfter all, I know first-hand what itâs like to suffer through an AP Chem lab practical with Mr. Marsden, write an AP US History term paper for Dr. Waterhouse or even listen to one of Mr. Amatoâs lectures about the Boston Celtics.â