New Teacher Feature


NDP prepares to welcome its new teachers to the 2016-2017 school year.

Grace Sullivan , Co-editor

Whether they be anxious or eager, many new faces have made their debut in our halls this September. And behind every new face, there is a story. This year’s batch of new teachers come from many different backgrounds and bring a wide array of unique interests to the table. In order to get to know them, we asked them some thought-provoking questions. Their answers may surprise you!

Ms. Helie, the newest member of the Art Department, explained that her favorite cereal is oatmeal and that her favorite flavor of ice cream is strawberry. While she was born in Baltimore, the farthest she has ever been from home is Florence, Italy. She describes herself as honest, thoughtful, and energetic, and she looks forward to experiencing her students’ creativity.

NDP has also gained a new college counselor in Ms. St. Laurent, who is a licensed counselor with a Master’s in Education. She was born in Indiana, and she enjoys Frosted Mini Wheats cereal, mint chocolate chip ice cream, and the TV show Modern Family. With her enthusiasm, optimism, and special talent for being a good listener, Ms. St. Laurent is the perfect counselor. When asked what she likes most about working in education, she explained, “I love learning from the students!”

Ms. McGrain, Middle School Learning Specialist, shares a similar passion for, “working and learning with youth.” She was born right down the street at Mercy Hospital, Baltimore City, but she has traveled as far away as Switzerland. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys cheerios, pistachio ice cream, and the great outdoors. In her own words, she is “little but mighty.”

Another fan of Cheerios joining the Notre Dame community is Ms. Ryder of the Religion Department. She was born in Troy, NY, attended Loyola College in MD, and has traveled as far away as Rio. With a special talent for, “loading the dishwasher efficiently,” Ms. Ryder is sure to shine at NDP with her outgoing, witty, kind, and compassionate personality.

A member of the NDP class of 2010, Kara Gioioso is joining us once again as Social Service Assistant. Outside of work, she enjoys meditation, reading, and barre classes. She describes herself as, “empathetic, caring, optimistic, organized, and friendly.” Her favorite cereal is Honey Bunches of Oats, and her favorite ice cream flavor is cookie dough. Something else unique about Ms. Gioso is the story behind her name. Like every girl in her family going back seven generations, her first name is Mary, but she instead goes by her middle name in honor of a cool and quirky Catholic family tradition.

Our new Events Manager, Colleen Driscoll, is a lover of the ocean, Baskin Robbins, and trying new things. She is loyal, dedicated, loving, caring, silly, and a great organizer. She was born in Annapolis, but she has ventured as far away as Egypt.

With five new staff members, the Science Department has expanded more than any other this year. Mr. Kahl, our new physics teacher, enjoys running, ultimate Frisbee, and gaming while he is outside of the classroom. His cereal of choice is Strawberry O’s while his ice cream of choice is chocolate peanut butter. Though he was born in South Carolina, he has traveled as far as Peru. Mr. Kahl, who enjoys, “being part of a learning community,” has studied at Franklin and Marshall College, MIT, and Towson University.

Dr. Jess Simmers, the sister of the one and only Ms. Christa Simmers, is also joining us as a biology teacher. Her favorite things to watch on TV are Mercy Street and Orioles games. She has been all the way to Beijing although she was born not too far away in West Chester, PA. With her fun, analytical, joyful, and creative personality, Dr. Simmers enjoys “getting students excited about science.”

A fan of fudge swirl ice cream, the TV show NCIS, and golf, our new Steam Coordinator/Engineering Teacher Mr. Winter was born three miles from NDP at St. Joseph’s Hospital. His love of travel has taken him all the way to Australia. When asked to describe himself, Mr. Winter explained he is “strategic, curious, empathetic, and collaborative.” His drive to teach comes from his enjoyment of “intellectually connecting with students.”

Of all our new teachers, only one said that his special talent was “tree climbing.” Mr. Barr’s uniqueness does not end there. He was born in New Orleans, has traveled to Indonesia, and enjoys cooking. Mr. Barr states that his favorite cereal is Lucky Charms, his favorite ice cream is peanut butter, and his favorite TV show is Seinfeld. With his fun, compassionate, and helpful personality, he will make a great impact on his students.

Ms. Fleischmann, yet another new member of the science faculty, was born in Baltimore and attended IND, Lynchburg College, and Towson University. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys singing, coaching, and traveling. She has been as far away as England, but she also enjoys the beach. Her food preferences include chocolate marshmallow ice cream and Reese’s Puffs cereal. She describes herself as, “fun, outgoing, silly, funny, and adventurous.” When asked what she likes most about teaching, she stated that she enjoys “connections formed with students and coworkers.”

As we settle back into old routines this school year, let us remember to welcome these new members into our community. They will make great contributions and will become part of the seamless fabric that holds us all together in no time.