Welcome Students, Welcome New Teachers!

Hello Hillsiders!

You may have noticed that we have a few new teachers this year. We’ve asked each of them to introduce themselves with a paragraph or two about their lives.  Read up – there may be a test later.

Here you go –  in alphabetical order:

Merideth Block – Grades 5/6 Supervising Teacher, Humanities

Merideth Block has been teaching forever.  She began her work interning in the

Merideth and Erik in Japan

classroom at a YWCA domestic violence shelter during her undergraduate program at Earlham College.  After a few years as a psychiatric social worker, she moved to Japan with her husband Erik to teach English.  She then moved to Monterey, California where she began teaching in her first 7th grade classroom and received her Masters in Education from Chapman University.  After another stint in Japan she worked at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto, CA, Spring Street International School in Friday Harbor, WA before being welcomed to Hillside.  These were in middle school Humanities programs.

As well as teacher, Merideth is also a student.  She studies the fiddle, theater (acting, directing, and scenic design and painting), draws, reads tons, and practices Vipassana meditation.

Merideth as the Deaf Mute in “Madwoman of Chaillot”

For fun outside the classroom, Merideth swing dances “East Coast” with her husband.  She is an avid knitter, doing mostly stranded colorwork and fair isle.  She travels as much as possible and loves hiking in both urban and rural environments.  She has two cats, one beta fish, a parakeet named Bob, and shares a dog with her mother in Spokane.  She bakes a lot but hates cooking.  Her dearest desires are to drive a reasonably priced car on Top Gear (UK, thank-you) and to be a companion to Doctor Who.

Monique Catino – French II

Monique and her two Charlies

Jain Young-Pak – Intermediate Math, Algebra I & II, PE

Hi, my name is Jain Pak. I am a graduate student at the University of Washington obtaining my master’s degree in secondary math education. I am very excited to start my teaching career at Hillside.

Jain with her family

I lived in South Korea for about 11 years and moved to Washington State during high school. My favorite food is korean food, especially kimchi. I must have it with everything I eat! I don’t think I can live without it :)

I absolutely love the outdoors. I like to play basketball, go out for hikes, bike rides, and just be outside. I love to be with my family and friends. I love love traveling around all different countries and eating food from many countries. I have traveled all around Asia and Europe. My next trips are South America and Africa.

Jain picnicking and playing volley ball in Denver

I am pretty outgoing once I get used to my surroundings and I love meeting new kinds of people.

And one of my favorite quotations is:

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

– Michael Jordan

Ashley Thirkill-Mackelprang – Spanish

I am a great example of how much speaking Spanish can open up the world to great

Ashley in San Cristobal

interaction and learning opportunities. Most of my travel has involved research, teaching or study around peace and conflict. I backpacked through Central America with my husband and lived with local families as I researched war and recovery in Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador. This is where most of the pictures I sent you come from — the one with the kids is in a market in the Guatemalan highlands called Solola’. Another is at ancient Mayan Tikal ruins that were uncovered in the northeastern Guatemalan jungle.

Ashley with kids in Solola’

I’ve organized service learning projects in Nicaragua and Guatemala that provided students with opportunities to plan, serve and learn side-by-side with locals as they carried out teaching, ecotourism, social work and medical projects. In 2006, I explored southern Mexico with my husband as I carried out research in Oaxaca and Chiapas. We enjoy visiting ancient ruins in our travels and were excited to visit tombs, palaces and pyramids at Palenque, Mitla and Aztec ruins near Mexico City. Most recently, I carried out my own doctoral research in Colombia in the Candelaria area of Bogota and other outlying regions. I enjoyed working with scholars from a peace and conflict think tank, Universidad de Los Andes and various government and nongovernmental agencies.Other areas I have traveled include East Africa, Europe (while I was carrying out fi

eld research for my UK University of Cambridge studies) and Asia.

I have a well-rounded education that includes the study of Economics and Political
Science (honors) at University of Utah and University of Cambridge. I have a minor in Spanish and Psychology and utilized my Spanish while working on service learning and community development projects locally and abroad during my undergrad years. I was in student government and served as the diversity board chair, where I promoted awareness about learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD and other visible and invisible disabilities that students face. Afterwards, I enjoyed working experience at international development firms and the US Agency for International Development (Africa Burea) in Washington D.C..  I also worked at the National Press Building in DC and wrote PSAs for the Red Hispana, a Spanish speaking nonprofit that researches and broadcasts radio stories relevant to the Spanish speaking population in the United States. Finally, I came to Seattle 7 years ago for graduate study at the University of Washington — two Masters (International/Latin American Studies  and Political Science) and a 2-year graduate certificate in Social Science and Statistics). My theses and doctoral work were on Latin American and East African peace and conflict subjects. During my time at the UW, I also developed a UW peace and conflict studies course and taught many Japanese and Korean students coming to the University of Washington specifically for the program.

I’m a student of the world and love learning languages for the unique opportunity it gives you to understand other cultures, perspectives, and ways of living. I have been very fortunate to have traveled the globe through research or study, and often funded through scholarships, grants or fellowships. As a first-generation college student, I’ve learned skills in resourcefulness that have allowed me to find opportunities to continue learning, traveling and forming friends and family across the globe. I hope to share not only the Spanish language, but this resourcefulness with my stu
dents so that every student may enjoy the vibrant world that awaits them.

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