AHA TEACHERS

 

Naomi Washington - Dance
Naomi is the Artistic Director of Diamano Coura West African Dance Company. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and minor in African History from the University of California, San Diego. Naomi is a strong advocate of Arts-In-Education and has conducted and organized various projects that introduce the arts to youth and merge acdemics, music and dance. She currently teaches West African dance and culture at Berkeley High School to over 400 young teens a semester.

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Linda Carr - Dance

Linda Carr is a Bay Area native and has been (happily!) teaching modern dance and choreography at Berkeley High School since the Fall of 2000. After graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Studio Art, having studied painting and sculpture with Wayne Thiebaud and Bob Arneson, she returned to the Bay to pursue her interests in improvisational dance and avant-garde physical theater. She has performed in theaters, museums and on the streets of the Bay and beyond, with several Bay Area choreographers and her own trio, ETIQUETTE, which made a splash in the late '90s. She r­eceived a Fleishhacker Foundation grant for her well-received 2003 piece 28 very short scenes about love.

Berkeley High School has been a perfect fit for Ms. Carr. She enjoys harnessing the creative force of her students and helping them to bring their artistic visions to the stage. In 2004, along with Miriam Stahl and denise brown, she created the vision for the Arts and Humanities Academy as a community where student artists can thrive.  

When Ms. Carr isn’t at school, you might find her with her husband and two kids, hiking, riding the waves at Stinson, or checking out a show at one of our great local theaters.  Her favorite interdisciplinary performance groups from the Bay and beyond are Joe Goode Performance Group, Ohad Narin/Batsheva Dance Company, DV8 Physical Theater & Pina Bausch/Tanztheater Wuppertal.

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Eric Norberg- Visual Arts

 

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Miriam Stahl - Visual Arts

In 2006 Miriam Stahl and Linda Carr founded the Arts & Humanities Academy. Ms. Stahl says, “I didn’t come to AHA, AHA came to me.” The illustrator of two New York Times bestsellers, Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide, Ms. Stahl has taught at Berkeley High since 1995. When she’s not at school, Ms. Stahl enjoys skateboarding, making art, spending time with her family, gardening, and “revelling in delicious food.” Ms. Stahl lists fellow AHA teachers Andrea Sanguine and Eric Norberg among her favorite artists, as well as Emory Douglas, the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party. Ms. Stahl believes that education is about creating opportunity for learning and teaching, and making space to explore ideas and express ourselves. With that in mind, Ms. Stahl says her favorite moment teaching art is the “gorgeous hum” that occurs in the room when everyone is totally engaged in what they’re making, and feels safe to express themselves. Ms. Stahl loves AHA because it is a community of students, staff, parents, and local artists working together to offer opportunities for artistically-inclined students to experience school in a different way than the traditional model.


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Andrea Sanguine - Visual Arts

Andrea Sanguine is from the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York.  She relocated to San Francisco and graduated from San Francisco State University in 1997 with a degree in Art Education and an emphasis in Ceramics.  She began teaching at Berkeley High in 1999 and was hooked ever since. 
 
One of her main goals as an Art teacher is to create a space for risk taking, experimentation, and attention to detail.   She tries to help students find their strengths in creative thinking and use them to express themselves.  She values the importance of the process and reflecting on the process of making things.  She is interested in encouraging students to have fun and explore one of the oldest Arts on the planet.  She holds dear the connection to people and cultures of the past, the science of firing, and the freedom to express ideas that provoke and inspire.
 
Andrea's favorite artist is Peter Voulkos, a Greek sculptor and Bay Area icon. She appreciates the free spirit he brought to the field of Ceramics. Oftentimes ripping and distorting forms to make new objects. When she's not working with clay, she can be found firing glass, dabbling in textiles, or playing music.   Andrea loves to travel, especially to places like Southeast Asia and Guatemala, but also enjoys local jaunts to the
Sierra and Big Sur.


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Dana West- English

Dana West joined the AHA family in 2013 after teaching in San Diego for seven years. Ms. West’s favorite books to teach are Sula by Toni Morrison and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In her teaching practice Ms. West creates learning opportunities that present information in creative and challenging new ways. Education according to Ms. West is constantly happening in our lives and comes to each individual in a different way. Her favorite writers are Zora Neale Hurston, Geraldine Brooks and Agatha Christine. If you are in her class you will quickly notice she has a deep love for owls and cats.

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John Becker - English

After graduating Wesleyan University, John Becker traveled for a year and then moved to the Bay Area because the alternative was New York and, while they have better pizza, he didn’t want to live there. He came to Berkeley High in the fall of 2006 after teaching in San Francisco. Mr. Becker loves AHA because students are free to be as weird as possible. There are very few constraints on who students can be and how they can express who they are in AHA, so it’s a joy to watch them grow. He is constantly learning from students, and finds that, while he may have more years of experience, his students are frequently more intelligent and talented than he is. One of his favorite things about teaching is watching students encounter challenging ideas for the first time and seeing their learning of parts of the world and themselves. His favorite part of his day happens some time in the middle of every class period when the world around him and his students has melted away and they are all in the moment learning together.


He particularly enjoys teaching logic because he believes this equips students with practical defensive and offensive skills in our existing world -- a modern “jedi academy.” He also enjoys teaching some of his own favorite literature, such as work by James Baldwin or Maus by Art Spiegelman. In general, Mr. Becker enjoys deepening student understanding of works they may already think they understand.

When he’s not teaching, Mr. Becker loves reading science and speculative fiction, hanging out with his kids, gardening succulents, riding bikes, surfing, and playing 1990s grunge rock on guitar. He likes to remember the Kurt Vonnegut phrase “So it goes” throughout life and teaching. Some of his favorite artists are Neil Gaiman and BHS’ own Miriam Stahl and Eric Norberg.

 

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Amanda Toporek- History

Amanda Toporek came to Berkeley High in the fall of 2017 from her home in New York City. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia University's Teacher Colllege, Ms. T came to the Arts & Humanities Academy because of the diversity of its students' experiences--such a wealth of perspectives and lives provides an incredibly rich context for teaching.

Ms. T was a Government major in college, and believes that informed opinions are the most valuable asset anyone can have. She believes that the study of History informs our understanding of the present but more importantly ourselves. Understanding who we are and whence we came enables us to shape the future as we move forward into it. Now more than ever we need the ability to parse fact from fiction.

When not in the classroom, your best bet to find Ms. T is to look outside: whether hiking, running, or just eating outside, she escapes the tyranny of the roof at any possible opportunity. While she loves to see bands she's never heard of so as to be surprised, she dips into the occasional well of legends, having attended Bruce Springsteen's legendary 4-hour concert. A Water Rooster, it's perhaps no surprise that she found transcendence in Monet's Water Lilies during a trip to Paris.

In times of joy or stress, she thinks of her much-younger brother, whose wise, simple advice grounds her and keeps her focused on what's important.


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Shannon Erby - History

Shannon Erby is a dancer, drummer, traveler, avid reader, and history teacher. Originally from Ohio, she attended the College of Wooster in her home state before moving to California and pursuing her teaching career. She is currently in her eight year at Berkeley High and her seventh year teaching 9th and 11th grade History in AHA.

Shannon thinks of history as a tool for students to learn critical thinking skills in a society where people tend to jump on bandwagons. She wants to show future generations what it means to think about the consequences of their actions, challenge the status quo, and effect change on the world.

Shannon appreciates AHA because of the energetic, creative students and supportive staff who are committed to solving issues of social justice and inequity. What she enjoys most about teaching is the opportunity to inspire students to become engaged and excited about their own futures.

AHA is a community of artists, and the teachers are no exception. In addition to teaching, Shannon studies Aztec, Brazilian and Afro-Cuban dance. She also plays the repinique with Batala San Francisco, a samba reggae (Brazilian) percussion group.

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Dr. Kate Garfinkel- Math

Kate Garfinkel was born and raised in the Philadelphia, PA area. She earned a B.A. from Smith College in Mathematics, an M.S. from Neumann University in Educational Leadership, and an Ed.D. from the University of Southern California with a concentration in teacher education. She taught for five years in the Philadelphia area and three years in Los Angeles before moving to the bay area in the summer of 2011 so that her husband could pursue his Ph.D. in city planning at U.C. Berkeley. Her hobbies include curling, riding her bike, baking, sewing, and going for long walks with her husband and dog, Kima.

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Laura Gorrin - Math

Laura Gorrin is a yellow jacket through and through. They were born and raised in Berkeley, attended Berkeley High School as a student (BHS Class of 2007), did their student teaching at BHS, worked in the BUSD Independent Study Program, and have been teaching Math in AHA since 2015.

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University in Youth and Social Justice, they earned their teaching credential at San Francisco State. Gorrin was drawn toward teaching because kids are more open minded and creative than adults are. Gorrin sees math as a creative subject, and as the study of patterns. Their long term math teaching goal is to integrate social justice and art into the math curriculum in a meaningful way.

In their scarce free time, they plan and organize gender neutral social dance events and facilitate groups of youth at a Gender Spectrum conference.

 

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Devon Brewer - Science

Born and raised in Turlock, CA, Devon Brewer Belcher is a 4th generation Californian turned science teacher extraordinaire.  AHA is very excited to have Devon as our 10th grade Honors Human Anatomy and Physiology teacher and AHA co-lead teacher.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in Biology from UCLA, and a teaching credential from Humboldt State University, Devon began her teaching career in South San Francisco in 2001.  She came to Berkeley High and AHA in 2008, and now has her two kids in Berkeley schools.

When she’s not teaching, Devon loves exploring the outdoors with her kids. Hiking, camping, or chasing after her dog, Devon and her family are always on the go.  Devon even prefers her music in the outdoors.  A big fan of live concerts and summer festivals, Devon admits to a love of “Hippie Music.”

Devon appreciates large-scale art pieces and bright colors and was excited by the recent exhibit of one of her favorite artists, glass blower Dale Chihuly, at the de Young Museum.  Though she describes herself as primarily a scientist, Devon is also a dabbler in the arts and enjoys the academic integration of art and science in her AHA Anatomy classes. 

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Mat Glaser - Science/ Lead Teacher

Mat Glaser has lived in the Bay Area since 1998 and has been teaching with AHA since 2008. He studied Molecular Cell Biology at UC Berkeley and Education at UC Santa Cruz.  He has been interested in science since he was a small boy playing with bugs.  While he was originally on a path toward medicine, a great experience teaching Chemistry with the UC Berkeley Upward Bound program planted the seeds of teaching during college.  He strives to open the eyes of all students to the wonders of science and leave them in awe of the natural world.

Mat’s love of science and the outdoors extends beyond the classroom into camping, cycling, and ultra-running.  During breaks from school you may find him with his wife and two boys in Joshua Tree National Park, the Sierra, or the Alps. Mat loves music of all types and is usually listening to reggae, jazz, Phish, the Grateful Dead, or Hip-Hop while dancing alone in his living room.  

Mat thrives in the AHA community because of the constant collaboration, artistic genius, and family-like atmosphere.  He has had the pleasure of being a lead teacher of the academy since 2010.

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Teri Goodman - Counselor

AHA is extremely lucky to have Teri Goodman as our counselor.  She is an amazing counselor and an integral part of our team.  Ms. Goodman is also the team leader for the counseling department at BHS.

Teri grew up in Los Angeles and came to the Bay Area to pursue her studies in biochemistry at Cal.  After completing her undergraduate work, she received her teaching credential and her masters in counseling and psychology at Cal State Hayward.  Teri taught Math for eight years and has been in counseling for nine years, three of those in AHA.

Including being a mother to all the students in AHA, Teri has two boys of her own.  Kelvin is a freshman at Howard University and Dylan is a junior at BHS.  In her free time Teri enjoys biking.  For the last two years she has participated in the AIDS ride, where bikers ride over 500 miles from San Francisco to LA in seven days and is now a training ride leader.

Teriís favorite artist is Andy Goldsworthy because she loves his integration of art and nature.  She really appreciates the beauty that people can create in his world without destroying it.

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Christie Riedell- Resource Specialist

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