Commons presents awards to faculty and staff


Illustration by Alexa Druyanoff

Konnie Duan

President Rick Commons presented awards to six faculty and staff honoring their dedication to the school Aug. 17 .

Mathematics teacher Mike Grier won the Kogan Family Award for innovation in teaching, and Learning Center Coordinator Nathaly Blanco was awarded the Marion Hays Award for her service to the school. Middle School Physical Education Department Head Robert Ruiz and science teacher Blaise Eitner also won the Distinguished Service Awards for their long-time commitments to the school, while dance teacher Joe Schenck and world languages teacher Brad Holmes earned Early Achievement Awards for impacting students early in their careers.

The school awarded Grier and Blanco the Kogan Family Award

The Kogan Family Award is given to teachers who frequently use technology in their classes and motivate others to do the same. Grier said he integrates technology into all of his classes and encourages his colleagues to do the same.

“In my math classes, I use technology to incorporate games, demonstrations and activities into my teaching,” Grier said. “In [the course Directed Study:] Analysis of Interactive Media, we play video games and analyze the games’ narratives and mechanics. Last year, we experimented with new forms of interactive storytelling, including [virtual reality].”

Holmes won an Early Achievement Award, along with Schenck

At the Upper School, Holmes currently teaches two core Latin classes and three electives. Holmes also chairs the Senior Independent Study Committee and co-sponsors the Junior Classical League club.

Avery Konwiser ’22 took three classes with Holmes last year: Latin III Honors, Classical Athenian Society & Its Modern Influence and Myth and Its Meaning in the Ancient & Modern World. Konwiser said that Holmes creates a welcoming atmosphere in his classroom.

“Conversations always flowed freely, and everyone felt their opinion was heard, respected and discussed,” Konwiser said.

Holmes said he hopes to continue nurturing this classroom environment and will use this award as further inspiration to do so.

“This award motivates me to keep trying to improve and innovate in what I’m doing in all of my courses since the school recognizes what I’ve already been able to do,” Holmes said.