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Our Faculty
Potomac Faculty

Individuals of talent, achievement, and passion

Meet our Faculty - Individuals of talent, achievement, and passion comprise the Potomac School faculty, a group intensely committed to educating young people. Potomac teachers take pride in providing uncommon support for every student.

Ask any student what they love the most about their Potomac education and they will tell you the teachers – even before they say the food! Potomac faculty members are dedicated to the growth and success of each student. It's why our students often come back to visit. Our educators nurture lifelong learning habits and foster long-lasting relationships.

We are always looking for dynamic faculty and staff to join our community. Take a look at our current job openings.

Grade 2 Teacher Invited to Present at Smithsonian Teach-In

Jenni Hoffmann, grade 2 teacher and K-6 social studies chair, was invited by Renée Gokey, teacher services coordinator at the NMAI, to present and model place-based teaching practices. The teachers who attended learned to see the outdoors as a teaching tool and further embrace the diverse culture and history of Indigenous American Nations

Bill Cook Award Presented to Mr. Morgan

This year’s honoree is Cort Morgan, art department chair, who is also celebrating his 40th year at Potomac. This award holds particular significance because Mr. Morgan and Mr. Cook were close friends. 

Pursuing a PhD in Athletic Training

Precious Barnes, Head Athletic Trainer

While working at The Potomac School, I have had the opportunity to complete two post-graduate degrees. I have been able to broaden my skill set by focusing on topics that complement athletic health.

Ms. Petro's class

Congratulations to Upper School science teacher Laura Petro on being named the 2022 Greater Washington DC Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) Teacher of the Year! Ms. Petro earned this recognition for her exceptional contributions to promoting student research. She was nominated for the honor by a former Potomac student. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense, the JSHS promotes original research and experimentation at the high school level; teacher and mentor recognition is a key component of the program. 

Bringing it Back to the Classroom

Nick MacDonald, Upper School History Teacher

Over the summer, I was fortunate enough to complete my graduate work and earn a Master’s degree in history. Some years ago, when thinking about a graduate program to apply to, I quickly came to the conclusion that I needed flexibility: I wanted to still work full time as a teacher and to be able to study and learn while doing so.


Greg Mueller

Greg Mueller, Intermediate School Science Teacher and Dean

I had contemplated pursuing a postgraduate degree on and off since 1995 when I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Science Teaching from Clemson University. Since then I have been working in the classroom and the field with students during the school year and honing my leadership skills as the director of our summer programs and robotics in summers and for extracurricular activities.

Lifelong learners

Supporting our faculty with professional development

All Potomac faculty have opportunities to continuously learn and grow with grants and tuition support.

Read their stories


I'm impressed with the creativity of our faculty for constantly thinking of new and better ways to reach students. I see a lot of teaching that is creative, driven by a love of learning and passion. Plus, all of this helps students see the relevance of what they are learning to what skills they will need in life. 

Harry Strong, Upper School Faculty

Faculty & Staff Directory

Mr. Bill Hoffmann

Intermediate School Science Teacher

“Seventh and eighth grades have been the best 30 years of my life.”

I am honored to return “home” to Potomac and rejoin the Intermediate School Science Department. My first days at Potomac were as a pre-K student in 1968. In the years since, I have been a Potomac student, a summer camper, an undergrad intern, a camp counselor, a bus driver, a teaching intern, a faculty member, and an Alumni Council member. I have also wandered out into the world, teaching across the water in such far away places as São Paulo, Brazil; Cairo, Egypt; Mumbai and Chennai, India; Singapore; and Bethesda, Maryland. 

I have always taught intermediate-level students – seventh and eighth grades have been the best 30 years of my life. I love the energy that IS students carry with them, and I love knowing that the young people I meet on the first day of school will be much different from the ones who walk out the door on the last day. Helping them learn and grow into their best selves is an honor and a privilege. I try to follow educator Paul Andersen's advice about not killing young people’s wonder, and I have learned that the best answer to any question is usually another question. 

Outside the classroom, I like to keep active, play bluegrass music, travel, cook, eat, ski, play indoor soccer, and laugh. 

Mrs. Sarah Tiamiyu

Director of Learning Support (Grades K-6)

I am a firm believer that “we can teach from experience, but we cannot teach experience.”

Learning is an adventurous encounter! It is why I am a glutton for it. My over 20 years of learning experiences includes, a combined Elementary/Special Education Degree from the University of Alberta, graduate studies specializing in Elementary Mathematics from the University of Toronto, and an array of immersive professional development opportunities including Project Zero - Harvard, The Project Based Learning Coaching Institute – Napa and most recently the Columbia Coaching Certification Program from Columbia University.

I am originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. My childhood was spent sitting atop the Rocky Mountains of Banff and Jasper, ultimately instilling an insatiable curiosity for the world around us. As an inclusive educator I take pride in casting a wide net, and see all growth edges as learning opportunities for enrichment and advancement. I am a Responsive Classroom Educator and Consultant which promotes a student-centered, social and emotional learning approach to teaching.

In my time off campus, my husband Josh and I are carefully noticing the world with our daughter Bianca (Potomac Class of 2033) a budding entomologist. We are a multinational family with roots in San Francisco, Nigeria, Toronto and the Ukraine.

Mrs. Weezie Parry

Grades 5-8 Counselor

"A lifelong learner, I attend workshops in child development and the emerging field of interpersonal neurobiology, as well as seek opportunities for collaboration, supervision and self-reflection to hone my craft and deepen my own sense of self."

As a child, I looked up to my teachers not just as educators but as coaches and mentors who nurtured the "whole child.” Coming from a family of special educators, I had a hunch that the field of education would also be the right professional fit for me. With a deep interest in the social-emotional development of children and the power of the family as a support system, I wanted to be where I could have a positive impact on the social-emotional development of children.

After graduating from Brown University with a degree in psychology, I immersed myself in a teacher training program at The Shady Hill School and Lesley University. With my master's in education and state certification, I arrived at The Potomac School as a fifth grade homeroom teacher. I was struck by the warmth and creativity in the hallways and celebrated the traditions of Friday assemblies, The Greek Olympics and May Day. Now as a Middle School counselor, my goal is to empower kids to deepen their understanding of themselves, teach them tools to manage hurdles that come their way, support teachers as they connect with a range of thinkers, and serve as a resource to parents as they navigate these Middle School years. Seventeen years later, Potomac remains an important part of my extended family as my husband, Brian, and I raise our three children in Washington, DC.

In addition to teaching and serving as Potomac's fourth and fifth Grade counselor, I work as a child and family psychotherapist and serve as an adjunct faculty member in Catholic University’s School of Social Service. A lifelong learner, I attend workshops in child development and the emerging field of interpersonal neurobiology, as well as seek opportunities for collaboration, supervision, and self-reflection to hone my craft and deepen my own sense of self.

Mr. Ross McEwen

Grade 3 Teacher and US Soccer Coach

"Teaching children in Lower School is a dream come true.  I never wanted to stop being a kid, and now I'm fortunate enough to immerse myself within energetic and creative personalities on a daily basis.  I wouldn't have it any other way."

I grew up in Littleton, CO and eventually went to school on the east coast.  I attended Westminster Prep School during high school, and then later played soccer and hockey at Colby College.  My mom was an educator and my dad a coach, so it's no surprise to me that I ended up teaching and coaching here at Potomac.  I began my journey as a Panther in 2004 as in intern, eventually getting my masters degree in 2006.  I have been teaching in Lower School and coaching the Girls Varsity Soccer team ever since!  My wife and I have 2 daughters, both of whom attend Potomac, so the "daddy bus" is often busy from September till June.  In my mind, Potomac is the perfect place for me and my family!

Dr. Giorgio Secondi

Upper School Economics Teacher, Leadership for Investment Club, Upper School Financial Literacy, and EFEB Concentration

“I started teaching at Michigan and fell in love right away – there is nothing quite as exciting as nudging students toward questions and discovery.”

I was born and raised in Milan, Italy. I discovered economics in college and wrote a senior thesis on China, which had just started the reforms that would later turn it into an economic powerhouse. After studying abroad in Upstate New York, I decided to return to the US for graduate school, and earned a Master’s and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan. I started teaching at Michigan and fell in love right away – there is nothing quite as exciting as nudging students toward questions and discovery.

After brief stints teaching at American University and Wellesley College, I moved to Los Angeles and taught at Occidental College for ten years. There, I was granted tenure and served as Chair of the Department of Economics. Looking for new challenges, I moved to New Hampshire and taught ten years at Phillips Exeter Academy, before returning to the DC area.

At Potomac I have enjoyed teaching a variety of economics classes, helping to lead Financial Literacy initiatives in the Upper School and the new Economics, Finance, Entrepreneurship, and Business (EFEB) concentration, coaching an economics competition team, and advising student groups interested in investment and financial markets. I'm always looking forward to new adventures in learning!

Ms. Sharyn Stein

Intermediate School Mathematics Teacher

"As Nationally Board Certified Teacher in early adolescent math, I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that I have made two holes-in-one."

I truly believe that I have the best job in the world. What other career would allow and encourage me to surround myself with people, both young and old, who stand firm in their belief of seeing the world the way it SHOULD be and not the way it is? Additionally, "Generosity of Spirit" has all sorts of opportunities to run rampant in the IS and often appears in the most unexpected ways. And finally, being surrounded by these amazing people allows me to tell others that I get paid to laugh every single day of my career. Not a bad gig, is it?

My first teaching job, in 1986, took me to Vero Beach, FL, for four years and provided me with the wonderful opportunity of teaching physical education to pre-K through sixth grade students and Introduction to Sociology and Psychology to juniors and seniors, as well as coaching a variety of middle school sports.

Working with children between the ages of 5 and 18 on a daily basis instilled in me the sense of joyful exhaustion at the end of each day, as well as just how cool it was to gain insight into their lives. It also gave me a genuinely sincere and deep appreciation of middle school children and just how complex their world is; how deeply they wanted to be successful; how their enthusiasm could carry them oh so far; and just how clever, witty and funny they can be. I felt that on most days I learned just as much from them, if not more, than they did from me.

I came to Potomac in 1982 after earning a master’s degree in math education. At Potomac I teach Intermediate School math and advise eighth grade students as well as coach soccer and softball. Additionally, I have had the vast pleasure of providing community service opportunities for our students so they can gain a sense of the larger world and discover that by giving just a little bit of themselves they can make a huge difference in the lives of others. Working with children from diverse backgrounds and interests has helped me grow as an educator and as a person. I would not trade these experiences for anything.

As Nationally Board Certified Teacher in early adolescent math, I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that I have made two holes-in-one. The first I shot in September 1995, with my dad watching, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and my second hole-in-one was drained in West Virginia in August of 2010. I also had the opportunity to play ball at Camden Yards with Jim Palmer in September 2001, winning an autographed Palmer ball for making the best play of the day among the 50 participants. And finally, my two mini-poodles, Fred and Wilma, actually own my house, and they are generous enough to rent it back to me.

Mr. Jason Lu

Teaching Fellow

"At The Potomac School, I am so excited to learn from the expert and talented educators, my other teaching fellows, and the students I work with every day!"

At Pomona College, I studied neuroscience, and through various activities such as mentoring classes, coaching swimming, and volunteering at Camp Kesem I discovered a passion for teaching. However, the most impactful experience, and what made me decide to pursue teaching, came in my senior year. I conducted an extensive research thesis that was focused on social media overuse and how it affects the brain, especially in adolescents. After that was completed, I designed and taught a course called "Social Media and the Brain: How It Harms and How to Help," to a biology section at Claremont High School. It was through this class and the other activities that I decided to explore a career in education. 

At The Potomac School, I am so excited to learn from the expert and talented educators, my other teaching fellows, and the students I work with every day! I hope the next two years are filled with adventures, learnings, and friendship. I am thrilled to be working at The Potomac School as a Teaching Fellow and cannot wait to see what the future holds!

In my free time, I enjoy being active and playing sports such as basketball, swimming, ultimate frisbee, tennis, and many others. In addition, I love to be outdoors while spending time with friends and family. 

Mrs. Jackie Harper

Kindergarten Teacher

“Kindergarten children are confident in spirit, infinite in resources, and eager to learn.  Everything is still possible.”

The opportunity to be a foundational part of a child’s educational development is so rewarding to me.  From an early age, I knew I wanted to be an educator. I devoted myself to early elementary education, first at Dartmouth College and then at UVA where I obtained my Master of Elementary Education. For the past 17 years, I was a first grade and then kindergarten teacher in Falls Church City before having the opportunity to teach at Potomac.  The second I stepped onto Potomac’s campus I felt a magical, positive energy and I knew I wanted to be a part of this incredible community. I love being the first teacher, in the formal school setting, that directly contributes to creating a child’s love and enthusiasm for learning. I get so much joy from connecting with students and building a solid foundation for lifelong learning.  In addition to teaching, I enjoy skiing (grew up as a ski racer), reading, and watching my kids play sports, including soccer, basketball, and lacrosse.  I am so excited to join the Kindergarten team at Potomac!

Mr. Jon Pirnia

Upper School Science Teacher

"For an adventurous kid with diverse interests, it meant the world to have professors during my formative years who not only took sincere interest in my curiosity and growth, but also took pride in guiding my bright-eyed aspirations."

I graduated from Loyola (the Baltimore one) with dual degrees in Biology and the Classics around the turn of the millenium. Sounds like a long time ago, but my time there still resonates with me. It was there that I had two hugely impactful capstone projects: (1) undertaking independent research on a gene that affects cancer, and (2) joining an archaeological team to reconstruct a newly unearthed ancient temple in southern Greece. My adventures continued at Penn and WashU, where I had the opportunity to intensify my language studies, intern at art and archaeology museums, develop research on epic poetry, theatre, and the history of medicine, and grow my passion for teaching through increasingly involved TAships and ongoing work with a volunteer group whose mission was "to promote literacy through the arts."

I’m excited to join Potomac's Upper School as an advisor and science teacher. For an adventurous kid with diverse interests, it meant the world to have professors during my formative years who not only took sincere interest in my curiosity and growth, but also took pride in guiding my bright-eyed aspirations. Their attentiveness and encouragement has influenced much of how I view my role as an advisor and mentor, and why I gravitated to teaching here. I credit a constellation of teachers for helping orient me on a path whereon I could define my own research questions, make discoveries in the lab and in the field, recognize the vital importance of service learning and community engagement, and ultimately encounter the joy of teaching.

Mrs. Nadia Pardesi

Lower School Math Specialist and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator

"Being in the classroom and working alongside students energizes me and brings me great joy."

I have been an elementary educator for 13 years, with experience in both public and private schools. I love watching students explore through hands-on experiences, letting their curiosity and passions take the lead. I root my classroom in a growth mindset by reminding students that they are powerful, capable, and resilient.

Prior to joining Potomac, I was a third grade teacher at Francis W. Parker school, an independent school in Chicago. At Parker, I was also a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator and a Students of Color Affinity Group Facilitator. In these roles, I worked alongside students, faculty, administration, and families to promote a school environment that was empathetic, inclusive, and equitable. I am devoted to creating anti-bias, anti-racist curriculum and take pride in cultivating culturally responsive classrooms.

During my freetime, I love to travel, cook and explore different cuisines, hike with my family, and work endlessly on puzzles!

Ms. Suzanne Bailey

Upper School English Teacher and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator

“The intellectual energy, inclusivity and culture of kindness at Potomac have challenged and nurtured me as both a teacher and a learner over the past several years.”

The Potomac students I met when I interviewed in the spring of 2009 for an English position convinced me there was no other place I wanted to teach. While most independent schools have a mission similar to ours, these students were testament to the authenticity of Potomac’s philosophy. Indeed, the intellectual energy, inclusivity and culture of kindness at Potomac have challenged and nurtured me as both a teacher and a learner over the past several years. While I’m entering my ninth year at Potomac, my roots in the DC area and independent schools run even deeper.

After graduating from Holton-Arms in 1987, I headed to Brown University, where I played soccer and lacrosse with the same passion that I studied literature. I earned my bachelor’s in American civilization, with a focus on studying history through literature. In soccer, my teammates and I captured four Ivy League titles. New England became my second home, and I remained there for nearly 20 years, 17 of which I spent at Providence Country Day School teaching English, advising, coaching soccer and lacrosse, and finally serving as PCD's director of admission. Through coursework over several summers I earned my master’s degree from Georgetown University. With the encouragement of an inspiring professor, I wrote my thesis on athletics, learning and spirituality.

Surgical records confirm the adage that as an athlete I “left everything on the field;"thus, my physical pursuits today are low impact. I enjoy spinning, practicing Bikram yoga, and spending as much time as possible on my paddleboard or in my kayak. In fact, kayaking has helped me find Savasana—“stillness between the postures”—which can be the most elusive pose for me both on and off the yoga mat. Being on the water slows life down and provides the opportunity for reflection. I’m also energized by spending time with friends and family (four-legged members included!) and traveling whenever possible.

Mr. Scott Clark

Intermediate School Mathematics Teacher

"I have been teaching for 30 years at schools in New York, Japan, and California, where I’ve worked with students from the third grade up through junior college."

Prior to Potomac, I spent 11 years at the Head-Royce School in Oakland, most recently as the Tan Distinguished Chair in science, mathematics, and technology. At Head-Royce, I enjoyed working in range of different capacities, including as a MS/US mathematics teacher, MS jazz ensemble and beginning band director, US photography teacher, fine arts department chair, and MS technology coordinator. I earned both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oberlin College. Outside of school, I enjoy freelance trumpet playing, recording engineering, bird watching, photography, biking, and most importantly, spending time with my wife, two children, cat Mystic, and extended family.

Mr. James Hightower III

Director of Community Engagement

I joined the Potomac community in July of 2022 marking my 21st year in Independent Schools.  Previous to entering independent school life, I attended the University of Virginia and Penn State University and graduated with a B.A. degree in African and African-American History. My professional career in education began in undergraduate admissions primarily at Johns Hopkins University.  Prior to coming to Potomac, my independent school experience had been immersed in college counseling. From the Associate Director of College Counseling at Phillips Academy Andover and the Lovett School in Atlanta, GA, to Dean of College Counseling and Student Life at Greensboro Day School, to most recently the Director of College Counseling at Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia, PA.

When you think about the fact that my entire career has been grounded in relationship building across all facets of higher and secondary learning - students, parents, faculty and staff, admissions, advancement, alumni, trustees, DEI, and student life, my transferable experience and skills are the perfect fit in serving as Potomac’s inaugural Director of Community Engagement.  

I maintain a holistic approach and focus on community well-being.  In my new role, I will lead our efforts to strengthen connections at Potomac. I will work to increase inclusion, promote engagement, and foster a deeper sense of belonging for all members of our community. In addition to supporting student and parent groups, I will collaborate with offices across campus to strengthen existing community initiatives and develop new ones. I am a great listener, and will be very visible on campus, to serve as a common point of contact for everyone who has suggestions or concerns related to fostering a strong and connected community at Potomac. In addition to my leadership responsibilities, I will also work with a small cohort of seniors as their college counselor.

Mrs. Barb Mays

Lower and Middle School Physical Education Teacher and Coach

"I love teaching and coaching and Potomac allows me to do both. I can be teaching first graders how to throw overhand in the morning, coaching an eighth grader on the finer points of how to shoot a layup in the afternoon and spending the evening explaining how our JV basketball team is going to execute a full court press. I love all of it!"

I am still an avid athlete and enjoy running, weight lifting and golf. I graduated from George Mason University for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. My greatest accomplishments are rising triplets and pitching in three college world series while playing softball at George Mason.

Ms. Theresa Coffeen

Grade 6 Teacher

“Commitment and dedication to my students, families, and school community is at the core of my educational philosophy.” 

I am constantly seeking new ways to incorporate differentiation in a classroom. I believe it is essential that children feel confident as students and members of their classroom community.  I believe in a growth mindset approach and create a responsive classroom where children understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching, and persistence. 

Over the past five years, I have had the opportunity to teach, advise, coach and grow at The Park School in Brookline, MA. I used the Lucy Calkins’ workshop model when teaching units in reading and writing. The workshop model allowed me to guide my instruction mindfully while differentiating, and adapting lessons based on specific student needs. In addition, I collaborated with various stakeholders at Park to develop our year long social studies immigration unit.

I received my M.Ed at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA and my Bachelor of Arts degree at Roanoke College. While I am not in the classroom teaching or on the field coaching, I love spending time with my family, especially my beautiful nieces Madeline, Elise and Ava. I also enjoy playing tennis, going to the beach on the Cape, and watching the New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox! 

I am very excited to be joining The Potomac School community!

Mr. Steve Wolfe

Middle School Science Teacher

"As a science teacher, I work hard to create an environment that is fun, engaging, and provides a safe place for children to explore their natural imagination, curiosity and creativity. "

I am dedicated to incorporating visual and performing arts into the lessons I teach, making challenging content more meaningful and leaving a strong, lasting impression.  My passion for science, the arts, and the natural world have helped me develop as a professional and connect with my students.  After teaching science at The Lab School of Washington for 17 years, I am very excited to join the community at Potomac School. 

I grew up in Mclean, VA,  and as a child I loved riding my bike to the local creek, hopping rock to rock, catching crayfish, and exploring the woods.  That creek happens to be the same one that runs through our campus--Pimmit Run.  My summers were spent living abroad in Cairo, Egypt where I would enjoy two months of exploring the city, the ancient sites, and the Red Sea.  That experience led to a deep love of culture, history, and the beauty of our planet. 

Outside of teaching science, I enjoy spending time with my family (my wife, four teenager and a rescue dog), gardening, playing and composing music, soccer, and adventuring in the outdoors.  

Mr. Paul Singleton

School Counselor (Grades 7-12) and DEI Coordinator

"What I enjoy most about the work I do is that I’m able to provide academic, social-emotional, and behavioral counseling for students, all while making sure students are heard, seen, and feel as if they belong."

Through my work as a counselor educator, I developed a fondness for using research to guide instruction. I saw the benefit of gaining exposure to research findings and ideas that might help shape my own conceptual understanding of school counseling. My interactions with other counselors and educators reinforced my belief that a greater understanding of the importance of counseling and mental health will make stakeholders more aware of mental and emotional health’s impact on student outcomes. I believe this foundational knowledge is crucial when supporting the holistic development of a student. 

Additionally, I am a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate (ABD) in the Counselor Education at the University of Connecticut. My degree focuses on educational equity and social justice. Moreover, I’m a certified school counselor and Crandall-Cordero Fellow at the University of Connecticut. My research interests surround African American male academic achievement, social and emotional wellbeing, and college & career readiness. I have various educational experiences in low-income, culturally diverse communities (Hartford, CT, Philadelphia, PA, Orangeburg, SC, Abington, PA) and schools with students and families identified as being at high levels of risk or underserved.

What I enjoy most about the work I do is that I’m able to provide academic, social-emotional, and behavioral counseling for students, all while making sure students are heard, seen, and feel as if they belong. I'm looking forward to working, supporting , and building with all of our Potomac community! 

Food for thought

"In times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers”. - King T’Challa

Ms. Laura Petro

Upper School Science Teacher

"The discrete study of the sciences alone will not aid us as we move forward in our lives; we must learn to apply, sometimes in a cross-curricular manner, the knowledge we have acquired along the way in a most creative way."

My interest in the sciences actually began toward the end of my high school career, after participating in a classroom assignment to teach another student about DNA transcription. I was amazed by the intricacies of the process and captivated by my anatomy and physiology teacher. After high school I pursued my bachelor's and master's degrees in biochemistry with a minor in theology from the University of Scranton, conducting research on Alzheimer’s disease. The interest I developed in the hands-on world of research led me to pursue further studies in environmental carcinogens at Penn State University Medical Center. From then on, my love of chemistry would combine forces with my love of teaching, taking me to places I never thought possible, including teaching organic chemistry for 5 years at my alma mater. All these experiences have presented me with challenges, both as a teacher and as a person, shaping the way I approach education and fueling my desire to become better.

What I enjoy most about teaching at Potomac is the quality of the relationships that are formed on every level.

When I’m not in the chemistry lab, you can usually find me in the weight room, baking in my kitchen, or enjoying local restaurants with my husband, Ian.

Mr. Andrew McGrath

Grade 9 Dean, Upper School History Teacher, and Grade 9 Seminar Teacher

“There’s no better way I can imagine spending my time than working with the bright, curious, talented, and motivated students that populate Potomac’s hallways.” 

I grew up in northern New Jersey with my three younger brothers and spent my college years in Vermont at Middlebury College, where I earned a B.A. in History. I was also fortunate enough to play football and men’s lacrosse for the Panthers. After moving to Washington D.C. in 2017, I spent three years working in healthcare consulting at an awesome company alongside even better people. While I enjoyed my time there, I knew I had more to give. That initial thought launched a journey that brought me to Potomac and I haven’t looked back since. 

Working with students in the IS classroom and then on the field with grades 7-12 provides me with quite the vantage point as they make their way through the ups and downs of adolescence. My job description as I would describe it: Meeting kids where they are with a smile on my face, learning their specific needs and frame of mind, and using that understanding to help them achieve their goals through preparation, hard work, and a positive attitude. This formula applies as much to 8th grade history as it does to the week leading up to the MAC championship. With that in mind, I look forward to every day at Potomac. 

When I’m not on campus, you’ll find me on the running & biking trails across DC and NoVa, in my apartment reading a book, or trying out as many DC restaurants as possible with my girlfriend. 

Ms. Shuping Zhang

Intermediate and Upper School Chinese Teacher

"Growing up in China's remote Xinjiang province, my childhood memory is filled with communities of different cultures and languages.  I had always dreamed of becoming a teacher one day, helping people of diverse backgrounds to interact, connect, and become friends with each other."

I graduated from Beijing Normal University with a BA in English, before coming to America to study at the University of Delaware for a MA in Teaching English as a Second Language. With the career goal of language teaching, I became certified in both ESOL and Chinese language after graduation. In past years, I have taught at both public and private schools in Maryland and Virginia. In March 2019, I was brought to Potomac as a long-term substitute, and in August 2022 as a faculty member. When I first taught at Potomac, I was constantly inspired by the creativity of the students and the professional ethics of colleagues and administrators here.   

When teaching in classrooms, I strive to create a warm, comfortable and positive environment to motivate my students. To develop students’ language proficiency, global awareness, cultural curiosity, and interest in learning Chinese, I place a strong emphasis on creating rich language learning experiences in my classroom where students engage in group discussions, hands-on activities, contests, short film clips, blogs, and games. Language learning is meant to be fun.  

With the splendid Chinese civilization of 5000 years, and an open, dynamic and cooperative academic environment here at Potomac, I am thrilled to welcome each student to the Chinese classes, and we will have some productive yet fun years ahead together!

Mrs. Mia Fisher-Phillips

Head of Theater, Director of Theater Productions, and Upper School Theater Teacher

“To find your passion in life is to know you would do that one thing for free, every day, for the rest of your life. To make your passion your job every day is the ultimate dream.”

Since I was 9 years old, I’ve known that Theatre Arts was my passion. Every day, I am blessed to have my passion as my actual job…what better way to live this life we’ve been given?

Creating tangible art from the pages of a script, building life on stage from a blank space and watching students breathe life into characters, are my great joys as an educator. There is no better moment than seeing a student’s confidence grow before your eyes…to watch their “light” turn see them recognize their true power within. 

Drawing upon my professional experiences from performing on Broadway, off Broadway, national tours and regional theatre, I love imparting this knowledge to my students as they embark upon their own professional careers and theatrical journeys!

As a faculty member at Potomac, I am incredibly honored to work with such distinguished educators as we all work towards the same goals…fostering a rooted foundation while giving wings for our students to fly!

Mr. Henry Heidtmann

Middle, Intermediate and Upper School Band Teacher and Pep Band Director

“I developed a passion for music early on, and I realized I wanted to teach when I reached high school. My parents are lifelong musicians and teachers, and always supported me throughout my musical career wherever it led, encouraging me to share the music I loved with others."

A native of North Carolina, I attended Appalachian State University in Boone, NC where I studied trumpet with James Stokes, piano with Bair Shagdaron (Moscow Conservatory), and conducting with John Ross (Interlochen). I was active in the Marching Mountaineers as both performer and arranger, and played trumpet and piano in the Appalachian Wind Ensemble, Symphony Band, and Trumpet Choir. I received my Bachelors of Music in Instrumental Music Education in 2017.

After graduating, I moved to Northern Virginia and began working as a substitute teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools. I spent 2 years working with many band programs in the Fairfax and Loudoun areas, including the Northern Virginia Youth Winds, before joining the Potomac family.

At Potomac, I am privileged and thrilled to work with students of all ages through our strong instrumental music program. In addition to working with the Intermediate School Symphonic Band, I assist with the Upper School Wind Ensemble and the 6th Grade Concert Band. I also teach 5th Grade beginning woodwinds and private lessons on trumpet and piano. Being part of the Potomac School community is a truly incredible experience, and I strive to cultivate a welcoming, challenging learning environment for my students. Every child learns differently, and I love helping to create the 'aha!' moments that show genuine learning is taking place. Most days, the students teach me just as much as I teach them!

Outside of my teaching duties at Potomac, I arrange music for band programs around the country, and work with the Langley High School Marching Band down the road. When I’m not teaching or arranging band music, I perform regularly with the Main Street Community Band and the City of Fairfax Swing Band. I live in Fairfax with my wife Erin and our bunny (Bun-Bun), and we enjoy hiking and adventuring in nature.”

Mrs. Alex Helwink

Intermediate School Learning Specialist

In all I do, I embrace and share one of my favorite mantras: "You can do hard things."

As someone who grew up with ADHD at a tough prep school in New York, I remember everything just feeling so hard... even though I was capable! My experience as a student with learning differences inspired me to become a Special Education Teaching Fellow with The New Teacher Project in Washington, DC after I graduated from Skidmore College. After earning a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from American University, I began my transition to a career as a Learning Specialist and Executive Functioning Coach; in this new role, I take a much less directive approach to working with students, opting, instead to build students' confidence in themselves, agency and independence, and capacity to work through whatever challenges life puts in their path. 

A very much self-described lifelong learner, I seek to understand as much as I can about how to support others; in fact, as I went through my 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training program, I determined my Sankalpa—the closest semantic translation of which is akin to purpose—to be "to empower others to discover their fullest potential". I seek to do this through taking a holistic approach to working with students: understanding their values and habits, what is meaningful to them, and who they are as a person, not just how they show up from 8am to 3pm in the classroom.

Outside of my work teaching students in classrooms or yoga studios, I love to cook and try to do so almost every night; I also find travel and experiencing other cultures to be some of the most meaningful and mind-opening experiences in life, and I have visited over 40 countries! When I'm not at school, teaching yoga and fitness classes, cooking, or traveling, you can find me passing the time at home with my new husband (we were married July 31st!) and one of the members of my darling menagerie: two adorable tuxedo cats, Tomato and Mozzarella, and our sweet terrier, Addison.

Mrs. Jasmine Jackson

Grade 2 Teacher & US Coach

“The middle is messy, but it’s also where all the magic happens”

My current teaching environment is an inclusive and community-centered education setting. I pride myself on having a personalized and student-centered classroom with a variety of learning models in order to reach every learner where they are, through authentic and innovative projects (which can get messy!) . I enjoy incorporating real-life connections to jobs and career fields through STEAM and digital projects where students discover endless possibilities through exploration. 

I went to college to earn my B.S. in Elementary Education (k-6) from Delaware State University while playing division 1 volleyball. Shortly after graduating and accepting my first teaching position in Loudoun County Public Schools over 6 years ago, I then went on to complete my M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction with Digital Design from George Mason University. 

When I am not in the classroom, you can find me on the volleyball court!  I am the Varsity Volleyball coach here at Potomac as well as a competitive travel coach in the area. My greatest joy has been starting my own youth volleyball training academy,  Virginia Rise Volleyball Academy. 

Mr. Matt Marriott

Associate Director of Admission and Coach

"My favorite aspect of the Potomac community is the strength of relationships I am able to develop with the students I coach."

A native of Maryland's Eastern Shore, I attended boarding school at Saint James School in Hagerstown, Maryland before earning my Bachelor of Arts in History from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.  I developed a love of teamwork and competition during my scholastic and collegiate career both in the classroom and on the playing fields and I am grateful for the life lessons l learned through academics and athletics.

After beginning my professional career as a wealth advisory representative for RBC Wealth Management, I began coaching youth, high school, and club lacrosse in 2010.  At Potomac, I am an Assistant Director of Admission, the Head Boys Lacrosse Coach, and an Assistant Coach with the football team.

I live in Washington, DC with my wife, Alison, and our cat, Pippa.  We enjoy cooking, hiking, traveling, and celebrating the joys of life together.  In my free time, you will find me on the golf course, playing with my nieces, or reading in our hammock.

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