Mr. Jesús Cobo
Nick Dalessio ’23
During this abnormal time, new Spanish teacher Mr. Jesus Cobo is adapting to life at Loomis Chaffee. However, he is already familiar with the prep school environment.
“I was a teacher at another…private school before. I came to Loomis because I wanted a bigger community…Loomis just offered many possibilities as a teacher to grow…and teach many subject areas,” Mr. Cobo said.
Mr. Cobo found difficulty in adjusting to the scheduling during Fall Term I. He had to make sure that his students understood the content given in class, since the pace of term moved quickly. Overall, he feels confident in his progress.
“Arranging the asynchronous work has been the most complicated part because communication needs to be very clear for students to be able to work [independently], but I think it went pretty well. My favorite part [is] the synchronous classes in person, because being a new teacher…felt nice to get to connect with students in a somewhat normal environment,” he said.
Mr. Cobo brings a diverse background to his role as a teacher and as a member of the Loomis community.
“I was born in Spain and I studied abroad in Germany…I bring that experience of being away from home which I think is important in my interactions with students,” he said.
Mr. Griffin Cunningham
Charlotte Millman ’24 & Madison Bromberg ’24
Mr. Griffin Cunningham has joined the Loomis Chaffee mathematics faculty this fall.
Mr. Cunningham was born and raised in Cheshire, Connecticut. Growing up he participated in hockey and lacrosse and continued to play lacrosse at the University of Connecticut.
His passion for sports in his youth continued into adulthood, which led to him becoming a coach at Loomis. This year, Mr. Cunningham will be an assistant coach for the girls’ varsity ice hockey and the boys’ lacrosse teams.
As a junior in high school, Mr. Cunningham realized that he was interested in studying math.
“I think [I was] in pre-calc at that time and we were talking about trig-identities, trig and geometric identities and I just thought it was really cool,” said Mr. Cunningham.
The boarding school aspect of Loomis was a draw when Mr. Cunnigham was applying to teach.
“I knew that if I was going to teach, I wanted to teach at a boarding school because of the sense of community that schools like this can create,” said Mr. Cunningham.
COVID, and especially social distancing, impacted how he was planning to teach his math course, Advanced Algebra 2. However, he was prepared for the challenge because of his online school experience at UConn.
“For me, trying to figure out how to navigate group work, and making sure everyone had an opportunity to share with each other, and collaborate was difficult,” he said.
Mr. Cunningham is looking forward to making the math environment fun for his students while teaching here at Loomis Chaffee.
Mr. David Edgar
Stacey Zhang ’22
Joining the Island from Columbus, Ohio, Mr. David Edgar has adjusted to his new English and history classrooms and frequents the NEO to assist in the production of the fall play, Antigone. He studied economics and politics at Georgetown University but possibly spent even more hours honing his racquetball skills.
After teaching English in Korea for a year, he spent seven months in Morocco studying Arabic. While he entertained the idea of performing economic analyses from a cubicle, Mr. Edgar found teaching to be a far more exciting and intriguing career.
“What makes me want to get up in the morning, I realized, was engaging in the deepest questions, to talk about what it means to be alive, and to live a good life,” he said.
History and English drew Mr. Edgar in, as he believed them to hold societal relevance and prompt philosophical explorations. Enthusiastic about both subjects, he is excited to bring his energy to the classroom and group discussions.
Loomis Chaffee’s combination of professional development opportunities for teachers and a strong academic program were compelling attributes for Mr. Edgar. Outside of the classroom and the racquetball court, he enjoys reading, biking, and most importantly, playing the abstract strategy board game, Go.
In 2013, Mr. Edgar carried his passion for the game to his university program in Argentina, where he, unprepared yet undefeated, took the title of the Argentinian Mind Games champion.
Mr. Richard Karrat
Jordan Korn ’22
From teaching in Jordan to studying abroad in France, Mr. Richard Karrat’s life has seemingly always revolved around language. Now after only one (half) term at Loomis Chaffee, he is filling a plethora of roles in the language department: French, Spanish, and Arabic teacher, all while directing the new language practice sessions for language level 1-3 students.
Having spent the last two years teaching middle school, Mr. Karrat has returned to the familiarity of teaching high schoolers. Of course, that is not to say that the fall term has been anything typical.
“Async work is crazy: planning async work, having students estimate how long it will take them, then grading it, grading double the assignments. I miss teaching every day,” Mr. Karrat said.
Despite having to adapt to asynchronous classes, in terms of COVID-19 restrictions Mr. Karrat has found socially distancing to be relatively more manageable at Loomis than his previous schools.
“It’s nice to see that all the teachers either have their own classroom or office. In Jersey …we all shared an office with 8,9,10 people. During COVID, it’s nice to spread out like I have this big beautiful office. A lot of schools have it worse in terms of space. We can socially distance [at Loomis],” he said.
Loomis has also brought relative freedom to his teaching role. “If you start a new job, for the first month everyone is nice, but [at Loomis] people are still nice. Administration trusts teachers and gives them freedom in the classroom to be who they want, not micromanaging,” he added
After teaching at Pingry School then Greenwich Country Day School for two years, Mr. Karrat is teaching at a boarding school for the first time this year. For him, a Warham dorm affiliate and night class teacher, teaching at Loomis has not been “an 8-4 job.”
Mr. Karrat shared the familiar sentiment of having to adapt to only seeing the upper third of everyone’s faces, especially in the classroom environment with his students.
“You don’t know if they’re smiling or not. Are they liking my class? Are they hating my class? Smiling, laughing, crying?” said Mr. Karrat.
Like the rest of us, Fall Term II commenced another five weeks of new classes, new schedules, and general unfamiliarity for Mr. Karrat.
“Fall term 2 felt like the first day of school again.”
Mr. Kim Sang-yeop
Hazel Le ’22
After a decade teaching at universities in Korea and then a couple of years teaching at a public charter school in New York City, Mr. Kim Sang-yeop, new English teacher, has decided to choose the Loomis Chaffee School as his next stop.
“I never really thought of myself as an educator until I had that opportunity. It was one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve ever had,” said Mr. Kim, reflecting on his teaching experience as a graduate student at Brown.
Before coming to Loomis, Mr. Kim taught at another school in New York. However, he decided to move as the disciplinary models and network there didn’t align with his own philosophy.
Expecting to face lots of challenges beginning teaching at a new school under such different circumstances, Mr. Kim was pleasantly surprised at how Loomis effectively set up the resources and other logistics to maintain a functional experience for both teachers and students.
Although restrictions exist at Loomis, Mr. Kim thought that compared to other schools, especially compared to his wife’s public school in New York City, Loomis is succeeding in delivering a meaningful experience to students.
“I expected a nightmare and ended up with just a slightly unsettling dream,” Mr. Kim said.
Mr. Kim acknowledged the difficult transition between communicating with students in-person and virtually. As students started to come to campus during Fall Term 2, Mr. Kim had more opportunities to get to know more students in the dorm and in classrooms at a deeper level.
“I am looking forward to being able to make deeper connections with people across departments. That’s one thing that has been slightly awkward since we tend to minimize our movements around campus,” Mr. Kim said.
Mr. Kim said if he had to describe his experience at Loomis in one word, it would be “full.”
“It was full. Full of everything. Full of amazing moments. Full of problems. Full of anxiety. There are good and bad things but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Mr. Kim.
Ms. Jen Legendre
Calvin Pan ’23
After teaching for 16 years at an all-girls Catholic high school in Glen Burnie, Maryland, Ms. Jen Legendre decided that it was time for a change in location, and joined Loomis Chaffee this year as a physics teacher.
Her virtual move to Loomis was primarily out of concern for her family’s health in the midst of the pandemic, which would have been jeopardized due to her previous school’s requirement that all faculty members teach in-person starting in the fall.
“It turned out that my school said every teacher at this school is required to come in-person to teach and I was not able to do it. My family has some high-risk health issues going on, so I wasn’t going to go in-person during the pandemic, but it turned out that Loomis wanted me to come to teach Physics,” Ms. Legendre said.
Ms. Legendre has many fond memories of her former school, having taught physics and math during her time there.
“I love my former school still. It’s a great place,” she said.
After her move to Loomis, Ms. Legendre’s main goal is to teach to the best of her ability in this entirely new environment.
“[I’m] trying to really offer the best instruction that I can to my students that are in this new online learning environment, which is just so new to everybody,” Ms. Legendre said.
When asked about what she wanted to say to the Loomis community about herself, Ms. Legendre expressed her gratitude to be teaching here at Loomis.
“For the students, I can say already that I’m impressed with just [their] ability to take a leadership role, take risks, try something new. And the other faculty members here—going for it, wanting what’s best for the students. So I’m impressed,” Ms. Legendre said.
Dr. Lauren Riva
Harry Knight ’21 and Ryan Fortani ’22
Coming to Loomis as a new teacher in the midst of a pandemic, much less filling the position of chair of the math department, is a challenging task. Nonetheless, Dr. Lauren Riva has taken these challenges in stride.
After spending three years at the Chapin School in Manhattan, she and her family “were excited about returning to boarding school [because] the community is what really makes a boarding school a boarding school. You don’t get [that] at a day school,” Dr. Riva said.
While in college, Dr. Riva focused on philosophy of religion while also majoring in math.
“[In college] I was totally focused on philosophy of religion. [After graduation,] I wanted to work before I went back to get my PhD to become a professor in philosophy of religion,” Dr. Riva said.
As the new math department chair, Dr. Riva remarked that the difficulty getting to know people through normal, day-to-day conversations is the hardest adjustment for her so far.
“I think that in a department head role, you really need to know people and [that is] really hard through Zoom. And then the teaching and being a student this year is very different for everyone so it’s also a weird adjustment,” she noted.
Dr. Riva is also a dorm parent in Batchelder Hall, where she resides with her husband and three children. When she moved to Loomis, she promised her sixth grader that we “would move somewhere he can go to high school, so he is expecting to come to Loomis.”
“[The kids are] really excited about everyone coming back when it’s a normal campus again…[but,] I think the COVID-world has just made everything harder,” Dr. Riva said.
Ms. Petagay Rowe
Samantha Tishler ’23
Ms. Petagay Rowe ’95 has returned to Loomis Chaffee as a new English faculty member, joining her sister Ms. Stacey-Anne Rowe, Assistant Director of Communications, Visual Arts Faculty, and Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.
“I am the one who kind of paved the way for Loomis for [my two sisters],” said Ms. Petagay Rowe, the first of three sisters to attend Loomis Chaffee as a student.
Ms. Rowe’s introduction to teaching was through dance. After she choreographed hip-pop for various competitions and TV shows, she found herself teaching in the dance studio.
“I thought I was really good at conveying instructions, ideas, and helping people understand what needed to be done but never really thought about the academic side of it,” Ms. Rowe said.
After having three kids, she wanted to find a career that allowed her to raise her family and provide for them simultaneously. She began teaching English, her major in college, to ninth-graders in Florida.
“Teaching is teaching…If you’re able to convey what the person needs to know so that they walk away with knowledge, then you’ve done your job,” she said.
Ms. Petagay Rowe and her sister Ms. Stacey-Anne Rowe applied for positions at Loomis Chaffee a year and a half ago.
“I had actually been talking about…going to Loomis for a long time especially after I had my kids…So I guess we both kind of got the itch, you know, at the same time when we decided to make that move and actually go for it,” said Ms. Petagay Rowe.
Her sister, Ms. Stacey-Anne Rowe came to Loomis Chaffee last year, and Ms. Petagay Rowe joined the English faculty this year.
“I love my sister,” said Ms. Petagay Rowe. “She just won the race a little quicker than me that’s all.”
Ms. Laura Stoughton
Chau Tran ’23
Before coming to Loomis, Ms. Laura Stoughton, a Social Science faculty member, was a college student majoring in Neuroscience. She did lab research throughout her college years.
“I didn’t want to do research as my full time job…essentially, if you go into track getting a Ph.D, you become very specialized and you study one tiny little piece in a lot of depth. I never really like to specialize in anything. I like to keep my toes in different areas,” she explained.
Under her major in Cognitive Science, she studied about human learning capabilities and chose to apply her studies through teaching.
After graduating, she pursued the Penn Fellows program which allowed her to earn a Master’s in Education while also teaching at boarding school. Ms. Stoughton taught at Taft for four years before moving to Loomis Chaffee.
Ms. Stoughton was already familiar with Loomis, prior to starting this fall. Mr. Schulte, her partner, also teaches at Loomis as a Mathematics faculty member. Ms. Stoughton also worked as an intern at Loomis over a summer.
“So my experience at Loomis Chaffee Summer Program was my first test,” she said. “I totally fell in love with it.”
Ms. Stoughton went to a big public school so that summer was her first experience with boarding schools.
This year, Ms. Stoughton will teach Biology and three Psychology electives: Social, Positive, and Developmental Psychology. Ms. Stoughton will design the curriculums of the elective courses.
For Ms. Stoughton, the process of learning is one thing that links Biology and Psychology together.
“How you gain knowledge in [Biology], by using scientific methods and doing empirical research, is exactly what we do in Psychology,” she said.
Mr. Rick Taylor
Henry Cassidy ’22
Bouncing around between Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oxford, and Turkey, Mr. Rick Taylor, Loomis Chaffee’s newest history faculty member, soccer coach, and Palmer resident, brings his medley of experiences back for his third round as a Loomis teacher.
Even before his first job application, Mr. Taylor had Loomis “on [his] radar” for most of his life. Mr. Taylor’s childhood soccer team used to practice on the Island, so he was already familiar with Loomis.
From there, Mr. Taylor ascended to the Ivies. After earning his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University, Mr. Taylor then continued his education across the Atlantic at the University of Oxford’s graduate school for Classical Archeology.
“[I became] interested in independent schools…because academia was definitely of interest,” Mr. Taylor said.
Ultimately, this interest would lead him to Loomis for his first year-long bout before returning to Oxford. Later, his passion for history, a “living and breathing subject” that provides “an opportunity for students to engage in conversations with the past,” brought Mr. Taylor back again to the Island. After meeting his wife, Emily, at Loomis, Mr. Taylor briefly relocated to Boston before returning to Loomis for a third time, this time with a newborn baby in tow.
Ms. Chiara White-Mink
Emily Khym ’23
During her college years at Clark University, Ms. Chiara White-Mink, a new English faculty member and Writing Studio associate, had the opportunity to travel around the world, and even teach in West Africa through the Peace Corps Program.
“College helped me to be exposed to traveling as I had the opportunity to travel to countries in Western Europe and Africa,” she said.
When she decided to teach in Sierra Leone, and later Namibia, she was astounded that there were 180 students in one class with only one teacher. She took this as an opportunity to teach the students English and help them understand their history.
The desire to teach started when she took the Complexities of Urban Education course at Clark University. Ms. White-Mink initially planned to pursue a career in Diversity and Inclusion instead of teaching English, but this course changed her mind as it allowed her to reflect on her secondary education experience.
“I attended a school in Hartford predominantly with students of color, but I couldn’t connect with the deeply Eurocentric curriculum and I didn’t have the opportunity to learn my own history,” she said.
This course allowed her to unlearn things about herself that her secondary school made her think was true. Ms. White-Mink always thought she was out of place because of her race. However, she later came to the conclusion that it was the educational system that made her feel unwelcome.
“This system fails to honor Black cultural capital—that is, ways of speaking, writing, dressing, and being,” she said.
Ms. White-Mink chose to teach English because she believes writing is emancipatory and emphasized that students should see teachers as role models. She also shed light on how writing has helped her interpret the world around her and speak the truth.
Even as an adult, Ms. White-Mink does a lot of journaling and always seeks to improve her writing. She wants to highlight how society approaches different cultures, history, or literature.
“It’s troubling that we have to demand [to learn about our own history],” she said.
One of the reasons Ms. White-Mink decided to join the Loomis Chaffee community is the Writing Workshop program offered to sophomores.
Being a young African-American woman, she wants to relay to her students how important it is to understand the intertwined history between race and authority. She hopes that Writing Workshop will empower students of color to raise their voice by teaching them different functions of writing and utilizing those writing skills.
“I want to help my students delve into their history through the wide-range of resources offered by the school,” she said.