The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

New faculty and staff join for 2023-2024 school year

Sarah Miller: Upper School Dean

By Alex Lee

Printed with permission of Sarah Miller

Sarah Miller joined the Upper School as a dean, replacing Sara Miranda, who left after three years at the school.

Miller worked in college admission and college counseling for 13 years before joining the Upper School dean team. Miller served as the Assistant Director of Admission for Centre College for eight years, then as Co-Director of College Counseling at Marymount High School, an all-girls school, for five years.

Miller said her favorite part of the dean experience is serving as a guiding figure to high schoolers. 

“Helping students navigate high school and prepare for college is such a privilege,” Miller said. “Every day I feel incredibly lucky that I get to have a job that I care so much about.”

Miller said the largest difference between her previous job and her new role is the amount of attention and detail she can provide to individual students. 

“My new role as Upper School Dean will differ from my previous role as a Co-Director of College Counseling at my previous school, as I will have a smaller group of students to work with, and that work will be done in an even more holistic manner.” Miller said.

Outside of her job, Miller said she enjoys collecting maps, watching college basketball and traveling. 

“I love maps, both new and old, both for their beauty and for their function,” Miller said. “I really like NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association] basketball. Like many people in this community, my husband and I are huge travelers. On any break from school, you can typically find us riding metro in various countries around the globe.”

Miller said she’s always open to talking with students, especially through in-person interactions and meetings. 

“I love a good one-on-one conversation,” Miller said. “I’ll always choose in-person [conversation] to e-mail, text, Face-Time or any other mode of communication. Come stop by.”

Printed with permission of Stephanie Chiang.

Stephanie Chiang: English Teacher

By Erin Ryu

Stephanie Chiang joined the English Department this year to teach English II and Honors English III: Imagining America. Chiang received a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and a master’s degree in education at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Before coming to the school, Chiang taught at the Taipei American School for nine years.

Chiang said she credits her high school biology teacher, Mr. Olson, for inspiring her to pursue teaching.

“[My] favorite teacher was my biology teacher because he created a safe learning environment that empowered me to do better,” Chiang said. “Up until today, we stay connected and go on hikes whenever we are in the same country. I wanted to be a Mr. Olson for adolescents navigating all that comes with growing up.”

Chiang said her teaching philosophy revolves around fostering an inclusive classroom to emphasize expression and define individuality.

“It has always been important to create a loving environment that encourages play,” Chiang said. “I have always been interested in redefining play in traditional learning spaces, ways for students to engage in creative processes that are simultaneously fun and cultivate moral responsibility, collaboration and belonging.”

Chiang said she enjoys teaching English because it encourages students to immerse themselves and connect with their surroundings, resulting in a more introspective outlook.

“[The] English space is one that fosters inward reflection, compassionate curiosity and creative expression that can encourage young people to explore their identities,” Chiang said.

Chiang said she appreciates the school’s lively community.

“I love that there are so many opportunities for students to learn and grow to be their most full selves, and I love that the teachers here are so passionate about their work,” Chiang said.

Amy Stout: Math Teacher

Printed with permission of Amy Stout.

By Lyla Kavanagh and Nathan Wang

Amy Stout joined the Math Department this year to teach Precalculus and Calculus and Statistics.

Stout earned her bachelor’s degree in politics and women’s studies at New York University (NYU). Stout worked as a paralegal for eight years before returning to NYU to get an additional bachelor’s degree in math. She then obtained a doctoral degree in abstract algebra from the University of California (UC), San Diego. Prior to joining the school, Stout spent eight years teaching at Polytechnic School and the Episcopal School of Los Angeles.

Stout said her past teaching experience has helped her develop a versatile teaching method that is accommodating of all students.

“Since I was teaching at a small school, the ability in my classes was so different,” Stout said. “I had strong kids mixed in with students that really struggled, and being able to see the way [that] everyone has a strength developed a way [for me] to recognize and highlight the different ways that students can be good at math. [It] forced me to think of different ways of being accessible to students.”

Stout said she decided to become a math teacher because it allows her to pursue her passion in a subject she loves.

“I enjoy math,” Stout said. “It’s the human connection [and] being able to see what students are think-
ing. I feel like I’ve learned things so much more deeply after teaching them. A student will think about [precalculus] a different way, [and that is] so much deeper.”

Stout said the most rewarding part of teaching is helping students navigate through the subject.

“It’s important to me that [students] have confidence in themselves,” Stout said. “I feel like math comes with a lot of anxiety and baggage. If I can create an environment where students can bring themselves and recognize that, I’m an expert.”

Outside of school, Stout said she enjoys hiking and spending time with family.

“I like hiking, and just being outdoors,” Stout said. “I grew up in Pasadena, so I’m partial to the San Gabriel Mountains and the canyons there. I like to play a lot of board games with my family.”

John Garrison: English Teacher

By Tali Gurule

Printed with permission of John Garry

John Garrison joined the English department after 16 years as an English professor at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. Garrison earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, an MBA from the University of San Francisco and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California, Davis.

Garrison said he found his love for English when he discussed his favorite books with his high school teacher.

“[My teacher] and I found that there were lots of books we both enjoyed outside the assigned reading in the class,” Garrison said. “That helped me see that reading books is a way to form a community and friendships with people. You can see what makes people who they are by learning about the books they love.”

Garrison said he discovered his passion for teaching when he once trained volunteers at nonprofit organizations.

“I trained volunteers who answered calls on the California AIDS hotline,” Garrison said. “It was really important to communicate information to different kinds of audiences. I really wanted to pass on what I learned about the value of being a strong writer and a strong reader in all different kinds of workplaces.”

Garrison said he enjoys exchanging ideas with students outside of class just as he did with his teachers in high school.

“Students often come to meet with me to talk about a text from class, but we end up talking about
all different kinds of stuff that we love to read and watch,” Garrison said. “In some ways, I’m experiencing that very thing I loved in high school.”

Garrison said he often incorporates pop culture into the standard curriculum of his classes to emphasize the themes of the course.

“I bring a lot of pop culture into my classes,” Garrison said. “Students can expect to read
what’s on the syllabus, but we’ll also be listening to lots of music and watching clips from movies and television shows to bring out the themes and ideas in the books, plays and poems we’re going to read.”

Jesse Rueter: Upper School Dean

Printed with permission of Jesse Rueter

By Connor Tang

Jesse Rueter joined the Upper School as a dean, replacing Celso Cárdenas, who departed after eight years at the school. Previously, Rueter served as a counselor at Loyola High School for seven years, a role similar to that of an upper school dean.

Before working at Loyola, Rueter worked in college admissions at University of Southern California (USC) as the Assistant Director of Enrollment Services. In this role, he reviewed student applications and processed financial aid requests.

Rueter said he has long been acquainted with the school’s values and principles.

“Growing up in Southern California, I always knew about HW, and I’ve had friends who’ve attended and always spoke highly of it,” Rueter said. “I got to know HW better during my time in admissions at USC and at Loyola.

I’m excited about the HW mission and fostering a joyful pursuit of educational excellence within
my students. I’m a firm believer that education should be joyful, and I have developed a passion for helping students find joy and balance in their lives.”

Rueter said the biggest difference from his role at Loyola and his role at the school will be working with all genders instead of just boys.

“I’m coming from an all-boys school, so the biggest difference will be working with girls,” Rueter said. “I’m excited for the change and have missed working in an environment inclusive [of ] everyone.”

Rueter said he is excited to experience the traditional rivalry between Loyola and the school through sports.

“I’m looking forward to getting out to some sporting events,” Rueter said. “I’m a big sports fan and having been at a rival school for so long, I’m excited to experience these rivalries from a different perspective.”

Rueter said he is looking forward to collaborating with his fellow deans and meeting members of the community.

“I’m excited to be here and to work with such a great team of deans,” Rueter said. “I’m someone who loves meeting new people and learning about them, and from them. I look forward to meeting as many students and faculty as I can in the coming months.”

Michelle Martinez: History Teacher

By Colin Ho

Printed with permission of Michelle Martinez.

Michelle Martinez joined the History Department for the 2023 – 2024 school year to teach The Rise of the Modern World, a history class designated for sophomores.

Martinez previously taught history to 8th through 12th graders at Pilgrim School in Los Angeles. Before teaching, Martinez received her undergraduate degree in International Relations and Politics from USC (University of Southern California) and her master’s degree with the same focus from Claremont University.

Martinez said she enjoys history because it allows people to better understand the world around them.

“What I love about history is that it is a way for people to understand the present because it is all interconnected,” Martinez said. “Past events shape the systems, ideals, power structures, cultural norms and stories we tell in the present. I also love the personal touches of learning about individual people’s lives and the universal human experience.”

Martinez said that one area of particular interest to her is the Renaissance.

“One of my favorite time periods is the Renaissance due to the growth in art, travel, innovation and transformations that were happening across the globe that have had long lasting im- pacts still today,” Martinez said.

Martinez said she is excited to join the school’s faculty and staff and teach in a different academic environment than what she is used to.

“What drew me to [the school] was the great opportunity to learn from a variety of colleagues in a larger school setting, as I have worked mostly in smaller independent private schools,” Martinez said. “I’m excited to get to know the students and participate in many of the [school activities] it has to offer.”

Neelima Reddy: English Teacher

By Lydia Gugsa

Printed with permission of Neelima Reddy.

Neelima Reddy joined the English Department this year to teach English II and English III: Living America.

Reddy earned her undergraduate degree at New York University (NYU) and started her career in advertising. Reddy then returned to NYU through the New York City Teaching Fellows Program and earned her master’s in Secondary English Education. Prior to joining the school, Reddy worked as an English teacher on the East Coast. She acted as the English Department Chair for St. Andrew’s School, a residential high school in Delaware, for 13 years.

Reddy said her interest in reading books began back in middle school.

“I had trouble making friends, and I could not figure out how to fit in with the school culture,” Reddy said. “I navigated that difficult time by escaping to my room and reading excellent books.”

Reddy said she strives to create a classroom environment for her students that is intimate and engaging.

“I insisted on creating a culture of compassion, empathy and understanding in my classroom,” Reddy said. “I continue to believe that love is the most important part of teaching and learning. Literature is the ideal tool for that kind of work.”

Reddy said she recognized similarities between the school and St. Andrew’s during her visit.

“Harvard-Westlake reminds me of St. Andrew’s,” Reddy said. “When I visited [the school] last spring, the energy of the students and teachers felt like a warm embrace. It continues to feel that way, and I’m so happy I’m here.”

Reddy said she looks forward to collaborating with students at the school.

“I am excited to learn more about life and literature from the incredible students here,”

Reddy said. Outside of school, Reddy said she likes to spend time with her family.

“I love impromptu dance parties, playing with my girls (Leela and Maia) and eating my hus-band’s vegan meals,” Reddy said.

Nicole Stanton: English Teacher

By Ella Jeon

Printed with permission of Nicole Stanton.

Nicole Stanton joined the English Department this year to teach English II and English IV Honors in the upcoming school year. Stanton received her master’s in literature at Breadloaf School of English at Middlebury College.

Stanton said she has always loved reading and writing, but she first realized her passion for teaching after college with the help of two women she lived on a small farm with.

“They had both been teachers, and I saw them as people who felt confident in the experiment of gathering people together and seeing what might emerge,” Stanton said. “Teaching feels like a way to practice this belief [in sitting down together]. It’s messy and energetic and full of possibility.”

Before teaching, Stanton worked for a literary arts magazine in rural Colorado. After a few years, Stanton moved to Los Angeles and taught litera- ture and writing at the Episcopal School of Los Angeles. Stanton spent last year working on a writing project before joining the school.

Stanton said she spends a lot of time thinking about climate change and is interested in how this can be integrated into her classroom.

“I’m personally and professionally curious about what it might look like to hold the realities of a changing climate inside the rituals of the English classroom,” Stanton said. “[This world we’re in and will continue to live in] will require adaptation, and I’d like to challenge myself and my students to use literature as a tool to pay sustained attention to this reality.”

As a teacher, Stanton said she prioritizes teaching students how to read meticulously and with the purpose of reflecting on oneself.

“I think paying attention these days is really difficult,” Stanton said. “Paying sustained attention to something that makes us uncomfortable or “undoes” us in some way is even more impossible. I prioritize reading as an act of attention, or as a way for us to practice what it feels like to look at something with all of ourselves. It’s so rare, this type of attention, and it has so much to offer us.”

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About the Contributors
Alex Lee, Assistant News Editor
Nathan Wang, Assistant News Editor
Connor Tang, Assistant News Editor
Colin Ho
Colin Ho, Sophomore Editor
Colin Ho ’26 is the Sophomore Editor of the Chronicle. In his free time, Ho said he likes to sing, listen to music and go out with friends. Ho said he also enjoys going out to nature and trying new restaurants with his family. Ho said he joined the media program because he wanted to become a better writer. “I joined media because I was interested in learning more about journalism and how it works because I have been intrigued by journalism since middle school,” Ho said. “I wanted to learn about how to interview people and talk to people I don’t know because I think that’s a really important skill to have.” Ho said he is most excited to work in different sections and at layout. “This year, I am looking forward to being able to get more involved and writing more articles, as well as expanding my range and trying to write articles in different sections, such as A&E or Opinion,” Ho said. “I am also looking forward to layout because I think it’s a great opportunity to bond with the other people on The Chronicle.”
Lydia Gugsa
Lydia Gugsa, Layout Assistant and Staff Writer
Lydia Gugsa ’26 is a reporter on HW media. Gugsa said she joined because of her love of journalism starting with the course News Journalism. “I joined HW media because I did news journalism last year and I really enjoyed it,” Gugsa said. I thought it would benefit me to continue.” Her favorite part of media is writing briefs for Chronicle. In her free time she said she enjoys playing violin, listening to music and hanging out with her friends.

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