New faculty and staff join for 2022-2023 school year


Julee Madkins: Director of the Learning Center

Printed with permission of Julee Madkins

By Nathan Wang

Julee Madkins joined the Upper School this year as the Director of the Learning Center.

Previously, Madkins served as the Director of Learning at New Roads School in Santa Monica, CA. In total, she has spent 10 years of her career as a learning specialist at independent schools in both Los Angeles and New York City, and she said she hopes her experience can help both students and faculty.

“I began my career as a classroom teacher and worked with neurodiverse students in a self-contained classroom,” Madkins said. “That experience will help me tremendously since I will support both students and faculty in my new role as the Director of the Learning Center.”

Madkins said she decided to become an educator after seeing the positive impact good teachers can have on students.

“It is such a game changer for young people when they feel seen and heard by the adults at school,” Madkins said. “I knew that I wanted to be a difference-maker for students the way others had been for my own children and extended family.”

Madkins said she is excited to join a community that is full of avid learners and work alongside her new colleagues.

“It is inspiring to be with teenagers, and it keeps me young and excited to do this work,” Madkins said. “I also love my Learning Center team, [Assistant Director of the Learning Center Ramon Visaiz] and [Assistant Learning Resource Specialist] Jenna Gasparino and look forward to working with them.”

Madkins said she strives to serve as a ‘warm defender’ for students, described by author Zaretta Hammond in her book “Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain,” and is deeply invested in her students’ well being.

“I want my students to know that I have so much personal affection for them, and also that I have an unshakable belief in what they can achieve,” Madkins said.

Outside of work, Madkins said she enjoys exploring the greater LA area, spending time with her husband and their three kids, traveling, reading and going to her favorite beaches.


Printed with permission of Jill Turner

Jill Turner: English Teacher

By Georgia Grad

Jill Turner returned to the Upper School English Department this year to teach English II and Honors English III: American Studies after taking a 10-year break from teaching at the school.  

Before she began her six years teaching at the school in 2006, Turner previously taught at Idyllwild Arts Academy in Riverside, CA and Anhui University in Hefei, China.

After taking a break from working, Turner said she missed the classroom and got a job at Oakwood School as an English teacher in 2020, where she taught for two years.

Turner received a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the College of William and Mary.  She also earned a master’s degree in English Literature from Penn State University and a master’s degree in Communications Management from the University of Southern California.

Turner said she discovered her love for teaching when she was offered to assistant teach her own class at Penn State.

“I thought I would want to continue on the long path to getting a doctorate and becoming a professor, doing research, getting published and teaching some,” Turner said. “But this first teaching opportunity made me realize that it was the classroom piece of the puzzle that I really wanted.”

She said her time at Idyllwild Arts Academy allowed her to discover what it means to be a great teacher and how she could become one.

“Idyllwild Arts Academy made me the kind of teacher I hope to always be, one who cares an awful lot about the books I teach, but also about the kids I teach,” Turner said.

Turner said she is thankful for the opportunity to teach at the school again and looks forward to interacting with the students and faculty.

“I remember simply feeling comfortable with and impressed by the teachers and the students at this school,” Turner said. “That feeling has actually never gone away for me. Coming back to [the school] feels like a true homecoming, and I am so grateful that I was hired here a second time.”


Billy Montgomery: Communications Teacher

By Alex Lee

Printed with permission of Billy Montgomery

Billy Montgomery joined the Upper School as a Communications Teacher and an advisor for The Chronicle, Big Red Magazine and Panorama Magazine this year. 

Montgomery received a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication from Chicago State University and a master’s degree in Journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Before coming to the school, Montgomery taught journalism and served as a media advisor at Roosevelt University and Columbia College Chicago for 13 years. He then worked as a law clerk and a general assignment reporter at the Daily Southtown.

Montgomery said he views journalism as a way to inspire young people to speak up for what they believe in.

“My goal is to allow young people to use [journalism] to address the issues that impact their lives,” Montgomery said. “There is a moment where you see a lightbulb go off in someone’s mind, when they realize that their voice is one worth being heard. I love that moment. That’s why I teach.”

Montgomery said journalism can reveal perspectives readers may not have previously considered and amplify the voices of those who are not heard.

“Diversity of viewpoint is essential in any news report,” Montgomery said. “People should read articles that do more than just repeating the same angle. Journalism is a tool for change.”

Montgomery said he uses a curriculum that both guides students and gives them the space they need to grow.

“I would say my teaching style is hands-on, but not so hands-on that students have no freedom to branch off from the template,” Montgomery said.

He said he plans to improve school publications’ use of multimedia and increase coverage in The Chronicle. Additionally, he said he encourages all journalists to learn graphic design, writing and photography.

“I am excited to leverage my experience to help The Chronicle reach its potential,” Montgomery said. “It is hard improve upon something so stellar, but I am sure we will find a way.”


Max Baril: Cinema Studies Tecaher

Printed with permission of Max Baril

By Jayan Kandavel

Max Baril ’06 returned to the school this year to serve as a part-time Cinema Studies teacher.

Baril received a bachelor’s degree in Film Critical Studies from the University of Southern California as well as a master’s degree in Cinema Studies from New York University.

Baril worked in film finance for three years and then taught middle school English at KIPP Philosophers Academy in South Los Angeles. Baril has also guest lectured in the school’s Cinema Studies class and co-hosted a podcast “Classic Movie Musts” with former Interdisciplinary Studies teacher Ted Walch. Additionally, Baril has appeared as a guest panelist in the Cinema Sunday program hosted by Walch.

Baril said he has always been interested in film and movies.

“By the time I was a student, I was sure that I wanted to attend film school,” Baril said. “It wasn’t until a few years after I finished film school, however, that I realized my true passion was teaching film history.”

Baril said he wants to make learning about film an interactive experience for students.

“I want to facilitate a learning environment that fosters dialogue, where students are able to come to their own conclusions and find their own voice when it comes to analyzing film or any art form,” Baril said. “In my past experiences guest teaching here at [the school], I’m always blown away by the intellectual curiosity and enthusiastic engagement the students possess.”

Overall, Baril said he is thrilled to rejoin the school community and interact with the student body again, this time as a teacher.

“[Rejoining the school] is surreal,” Baril said. “I took   Cinema Studies classes when I was a junior and senior, and [the classes] were transformative for me. To be back in Ahmanson Lecture Hall after all these years gives me a strange sense of time passing and staying still. The school has both changed a lot since I graduated, but it also seems the same in so many ways.”


Sabrina Washburn: Performing Arts Teacher

Printed with permission of Sabrina Washburn

By William Liu

Sabrina Washburn joined the Upper School Performing Arts department as the Director of Theater this year. She will teach The Actor and the Stage I and II and direct the musical.

Washburn received a bachelor’s degree in Theater from Emerson College in Boston and a master’s degree in Educational Theater from New York University (NYU).

Washburn founded and served as the director of the theater program at Grace Church school in New York from 2012 to 2022. Washburn also worked as an adjunct professor in the performing arts department at NYU and as a teacher at The American School in Switzerland.

Washburn said she has received many hours of professional development training from renowned playwrights, actors, vocalists and movement specialists and has always been passionate about teaching theater.

“The first time I considered doing [theater] as a career was in my mid-20s when I was doing a theater education tour in Italy, using theater to teach English speaking skills to children of all ages,” Washburn said. “I thought it was going to be a temporary gig between acting jobs, but I never really turned back.”

In her teaching, Washburn said she prioritizes developing relationships and collaborating with students.

“I set up my classes by getting to know my students and working with who they are and what they bring to the table,” Washburn said. “I enjoy letting out my own goofy, flawed self in front of students to help them feel more comfortable with taking risks and being vulnerable on stage, something very important to theater.”

Washburn said she is excited to join the community, meet students and faculty and forge long lasting relationships.

“Lots of people have told me that [the school] is the best place they have ever worked,” Washburn said. “I love seeing the loyalty and longevity many families have here, and it is a good sign that people can stay so connected over so many years. So far, everyone has really made me feel like a part of the family.”


Li Sun: Chinese Teacher

Printed with permission of Li Sun

By Olivia So

Li Sun joined the Upper School World Languages Department this year to teach Chinese II, Chinese III and Honors Chinese III.

From 2012 to 2022, Sun taught English for Speakers of Other Languages, Mandarin, AP Statistics and Conceptual Physics at Pilgrim School in Los Angeles, where she also served as an advisor.

Sun received a bachelor’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature from Beijing Foreign Studies University and later earned a master’s degree in Educational Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Sun said she realized her passion for teaching while working as an assistant instructor in a Mandarin class.

“My first experience in teaching Mandarin as an assistant teacher led me to see how working with learners is a humbling and empowering experience,” Sun said.

Sun said she is excited to hone in on teaching Mandarin and interact with students and faculty.

“There are three things that I am most excited about coming to [the school],” Sun said. “First, I’m excited to focus my teaching energy on one subject, Chinese Mandarin. Second, I am eager to work with [the school’s] language learners, and third, I can’t wait to get to know my coworkers.”

Sun said her teaching style prioritizes relating to content as a way to help students connect their education more deeply to the real world.

“I go by the phrase ‘Experience first, formalize later,’” Sun said. “Language learners are capable of appreciating the target language in a variety of its authentic forms, from modern poetry to a meme created by [internet users]. Education is a practice of freedom by which we deal both critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of our world.”

In her free time, Sun said she enjoys participating in a wide variety of activities.

“I have a wide range of hobbies including practicing Chinese martial arts, playing guitar, learning languages, playing video games, foraging, hiking and going on walks with my dog Bella.”


Erik DeAngelis: Upper School Dean

Printed with permission of Erik DeAngelis

By Hannah Shahidi

Erik DeAngelis joined the   Upper School as a dean this year. He will replace outgoing dean Jennifer Cardillo.

DeAngelis worked as an Admissions Officer at the University of Rhode Island from 2004 to 2006, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and a master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in College Student Personnel.

He then worked as  an Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admission at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island from 2006 to 2010. In his most recent role, DeAngelis served as the Senior Associate Director of Admission at Brown University from 2010 to 2022. In total, DeAngelis has over 18 years of experience in college admission and counseling.

DeAngelis said he looks forward to working with high school students as they navigate the college application process.

“My entire career has been in the college admission world, so I’m excited to [start working on]  what we call the other side of the desk to work more directly with students in a counseling and advising capacity,” DeAngelis said. “I’m looking forward to every day being a different adventure.  I’m also excited about getting to know different types of schools because I’ve been accustomed to [the same] school for 12 years.”

DeAngelis said he looks forward to becoming a resource for students in his role as a dean.

“I’m excited to help [students] make the best choices for themselves, to help them combat any problems or challenges that they might be having,” DeAngelis said. “But most importantly, to help them gain clarity.”

Outside of work, DeAngelis said he enjoys spending time with his partner and pets. He said he is happy to move to Los Angeles and experience a new lifestyle.

“We love trying out new foods [and] new restaurants and cuisines,” DeAngelis said. “I also personally love driving, which I guess is good for LA residents because you do a lot of it. I love coming up on places that not a lot of people see, kind of making your own adventure.”


Marc Schuhl: Latin Teacher

Printed with permission of Marc Schuhl

By Max Turetzky

Marc Schuhl joined the Upper School World Languages Department as a Latin teacher to teach Latin III and Latin IV, after teaching at Brentwood School since 2007.

In addition to teaching at Brentwood, Schuhl taught at Trinity-Pawling School in Pawling, New York, and served as a teacher and dean at Pace Academy in Atlanta.

Schuhl was raised in Pennsylvania, where he said his teachers inspired him to become a Latin teacher himself.

“When I was a kid, the only college graduates I knew were my teachers, and they became models for me,” Schuhl said. “Academic learning opened up a lot of real-world possibilities for me. Latin might seem like a strange subject choice, but it was simply a mandatory curricular requirement at my high school and after a year or two I realized that I liked it and could potentially get really good at it if I pursued a career in it.”

Schuhl graduated from Fordham University with a bachelor’s degree in classical languages and anthropology, and later earned a master’s degree in classical studies at Duke University.

Schuhl said his teaching philosophy is based on his belief that students should drive and shape their own education.

“Teaching never seemed like a burden since I have always liked the learning process itself,” Schuhl said. “My guiding question as I plan units and lessons is, ‘How can I shape this experience so students are producing their education rather than consuming their education?’”

Schuhl said a key factor in his decision to join the school was his positive impression of the student body after teaching a demonstration class in March.

“The students in my class that day were wonderful, but what was most impressive was actually how [the students] interacted with each other out on that covered patio by Seaver,” Schuhl said. “When you were not required to perform for adults, it was still a great mix of academic and social energy.”

Latin Teacher Brad Holmes said he is eager for Schuhl to join the faculty.

“Schuhl brings many years of experience teaching Latin and also other subjects,” Holmes said. “He is a gifted educator and a true global citizen who will be a huge asset to the World Language Department and the school.”


Naqib Shifa: History Teacher

By Everett Lakey

Printed with permission of Naqib Shifa

Naqib Shifa joined the Upper School History Department to teach the Rise of the Modern World.

Shifa grew up in Sacramento and earned his bachelor’s degree in geography at University of California, Los Angeles. Before he went into teaching, Shifa briefly held a job as an environmental consultant after college, but said he did not find it to be his passion. He then taught humanities at Waldorf School of Orange County for six years and at Highland Hall Waldorf School for three years.

Shifa said he loves education because he gets to see students bring the subjects they study to life with their contributions.

“It’s just beautiful to see students with their unique aptitudes contributing insightful thoughts and sharing… beautiful conclusions, ” Shifa said.

Shifa said his teaching style is based on mutual respect, with him and his students simultaneously learning from each other.

“I’m able to share with the students the collaborative work that the history department has put together,” Shifa said. “And at the same time, I also benefit from the students because being in the company of young scholars, the teachers always benefit as well.”

Shifa said he was eager to work at the school because of its rich history and academic rigor.

“What I love about [the school] is that it’s such a well-established institution of learning,” Shifa said.” It has a very rich history that stretches back many years [and] it’s so firmly rooted in the realm of academia. It’s not only a pioneering school in terms of its rich history, but it’s at the forefront of high-level learning.”

Outside of the classroom, Shifa said he enjoys gardening, growing rare fruits, playing basketball and engaging in spiritual studies.