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Meet OUr Faculty

Elizabeth Brennan, Mathematics Department Chair

Elizabeth Brennan, Mathematics Department Chair

Recognizing that young women benefit from having female role models in STEM fields, Elizabeth Brennan, Ph.D., was drawn to teaching at a girls’ school and joined Hewitt in 2011. As chair of our mathematics department, she appreciates that “the administration at Hewitt supports me so that I can teach in a way that is informed by all of the latest research in mathematics education.” For Elizabeth and her colleagues in the mathematics department, this means putting students at the center of each lesson by asking them to come up with and evaluate solution methods for a variety of math problems. 

Elizabeth’s teaching is guided by research showing “that one of the best ways to help girls be successful in the field of mathematics is by using a problem-based curriculum and pedagogy.” She also points out that collaboration is often cited as one of the things necessary for students, and girls in particular, to be successful in STEM majors in college. With all of this in mind, Elizabeth teaches students to complete difficult problem-solving challenges by collaborating and iterating with their peers, encouraging them to embrace creativity and mistakes as part of the process of coming to a solution. She notes that the methods and philosophy she and her colleagues use in the mathematics department are shared across disciplines at Hewitt. “Every faculty member motivates students to think critically about challenges.” 

 

Her favorite teaching moments come when students develop a new or unexpected solution that she has not seen before, and Elizabeth recognizes that these creative moments only happen when students are asked to create their own unique approaches to problem solving. “When we are aware of a solution method, we don't always feel like we can pursue other, potentially more creative paths. I love watching students work through problems before I have given them a solution method. Their results are often clever, creative, and surprising!”

Tim Clare, Science Teacher

Tim Clare, Science Teacher

Since 2013, Tim Clare has brought his passion for earth sciences and the environment to The Hewitt School. As a middle and upper school science teacher and sustainability coordinator, he enjoys helping future generations develop greater environmental literacy and has been a leader in bringing the emergent field of sustainability education to the Hewitt community. Tim feels grateful to work at a school where students, colleagues, and families are eager to learn about and get involved in new sustainability initiatives. 

Tim’s favorite moments as an educator come when his students have the opportunity to interact with and learn from the natural world, and his classes are characterized by frequent hands-on experiences. “I love connecting students with nature and helping them build their understanding of how the Earth's systems work through experiential learning. My students and I take regular trips to the woods of Central Park to observe local ecosystems and we maintain ongoing gardening and composting projects in the classroom.” Inspired by his enthusiasm for environmental action, Tim’s students have successfully advocated for triple stream waste bins in Hewitt’s lunch room, researched and implemented a snack wrapper recycling program, and presented about plastic pollution at local sustainability conferences. 

 

As he collaborates with members of the school community to ensure that environmental literacy is a key component of a Hewitt education, Tim stays current on the latest research on sustainability, geosciences, and climate science. “I believe climate change will be a defining characteristic of the world our students are inheriting. To prepare them for their future, this human-driven phenomenon needs to be a central focus of our teaching across all disciplines.” In addition to impacting his own pedagogical philosophy and practices, Tim’s attention to a wide range of relevant research helps him support his colleagues beyond the science department as they incorporate the complexities of sustainability into their own classrooms. 

Benjamin Dickman, Math Teacher

Benjamin Dickman, Math Teacher

Benjamin Dickman, Ph.D., has a background in mathematics and mathematics education research and pivoted towards pursuing a career as an educator after a year spent learning about math teacher training in China as a Fulbright Fellow. With a particular interest in mathematical creativity and problem posing, he views his classes as opportunities to build on students’ intrinsic curiosity through student-generated problems and cooperative tasks. Benjamin joined the Hewitt community in 2016.  

Taking full advantage of Hewitt’s collaborative environment, Benjamin has partnered with colleagues to find writings situated at the intersection of mathematics and gender theory, build puzzles in the Hewitt Innovation Lab to elucidate complex mathematical ideas, discuss how word problems in math textbooks reflect the societies in which they are produced, and apply Writing to Learn activities — originally designed to help students get a foothold on literature — to investigate student thinking about mathematics. He takes an expansive view of what math education can be, noting that math classes need not simply be places to memorize decontextualized algorithms or solve equations, but rather that they can be places where teachers “engage purposefully with students as they develop into the types of people that they want to be, and collectively work towards the type of world that they want to inhabit.”

 

Benjamin is interested in research on mathematical pedagogy and framing mathematics as a fundamentally human endeavor. He regularly publishes journal articles on mathematics education and participates in conferences and gatherings around new developments in and around STEM education. Along with Dr. Elizabeth Brennan, chair of Hewitt’s mathematics department, Benjamin has also developed several mini-courses for Math for America, an organization that provides math educators in New York City with professional development and opportunities for collaboration. 

Anusheh Hashim, Lower School Teacher

Anusheh Hashim, Lower School Teacher

Anusheh Hashim discovered her love of teaching while working at a Montessori school during her final year of college. After studying psychology and management, she pursued a graduate degree in education and began teaching full time, a decision she considers one of the best she has ever made. Anusheh joined Hewitt’s lower school faculty in 2017 and currently serves as a first grade teacher and grade level coordinator. Of her 12 years as an early childhood and elementary educator, Anusheh says, “I love what I do and can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Anusheh appreciates that Hewitt is a uniquely supportive environment in which faculty members are invited to pursue the same intellectual growth that they encourage in their students. “Hewitt teachers care about their craft. They are creative, hardworking, and are constantly learning and challenging themselves.” Given her personal appreciation for the joys of learning, it comes as no surprise that some of Anusheh’s favorite moments as a teacher are those in which “students are so excited about a new discovery or idea that they jump up, full of energy and enthusiasm for new information.” Anusheh celebrates and extends these thrilling moments of discovery by encouraging her students to document their learning, evaluate their growth, and share their knowledge with peers.  

 

With an appreciation for the ways in which best practices in teaching are constantly evolving, Anusheh looks to professional development workshops and the latest research on educating girls for inspiration. Whenever she comes across research that sparks her curiosity, she thinks critically about how she can apply it in a way that advances her students’ needs and interests. This thoughtful approach to incorporating research into her teaching ensures that Anusheh’s first graders benefit from their teacher’s innovative thinking and deep commitment to knowing and supporting each individual student. 

Tegan Morton, Science Teacher

Tegan Morton, Science Teacher

Tegan Morton discovered her love of teaching while pursuing graduate work in research biology. As a volunteer with Science Club for Girls, she taught students in pre-K through first grade and mentored middle school girls, and after completing her degree she knew she wanted the opportunity to bring her joyous approach to learning to even more students.

A graduate of a women’s college who saw firsthand the power of single-sex education, she was drawn to Hewitt’s mission of inspiring girls and young women. Tegan joined Hewitt’s science department in 2012 and since then, she has been a leader in adopting innovative techniques and critical approaches to teaching and learning. For example, when her research into grading practices revealed that many traditional science assessments, including tests and quizzes, failed to accurately evaluate students’ effort and learning, she investigated more equitable and effective alternatives. Now, instead of testing their ability to memorize information, Tegan assesses her students’ mastery and understanding of various concepts through assignments that ask them to describe, explain, and critique what they are learning. 


Tegan notes that students display an impressive enthusiasm and eagerness when they are encouraged to use skills from multiple disciplines to investigate real-world problems. She developed Wicked Problems, an upper school course, to give students an opportunity to use science, ethics, and research to investigate complex societal problems that have no easy solution. “My favorite thing about teaching is when I get all of the ingredients of great teaching and learning just right and see the students show up in powerful ways. Often, this happens just as much outside of the classroom as it does during a great lesson.”

Jennifer Olivera, Educational Technologist

Jennifer Olivera, Educational Technologist

Jennifer Olivera’s love for her work goes back as far as middle school, when she remembers asking teachers if she could help repair broken computers and other technology in the classroom. Since 2017, Jennifer has brought her passion for tinkering, making, and building to her role as an educational technologist in Hewitt’s lower school. A graduate of girls’ schools, she was attracted to Hewitt in part because of her own commitment to teaching girls and young women that their voices matter and their contributions are valuable. 

Whether teaching students how to build and program their own robots or collaborating with colleagues on the best way to incorporate video production and digital mapmaking into a classroom project, Jennifer looks for ways to make sure every lower school technology project is student-directed. She feels excited to work in a school environment that encourages her to develop innovative curriculum in response to her students’ interests. “I love that at Hewitt we don't just sit back and rest on what has always been done. We actively seek out new and research-driven ways to educate our learners.”


Jennifer has a particular interest in bringing design thinking into Hewitt’s lower school classrooms, asking students to begin any project by thinking empathetically to identify a specific problem before coming up with ideas or solutions to that problem. “This approach to teaching allows students to be not only engaged in what they are learning, but also enthusiastic about the fact that they are making something for a specific and real audience. When I watch girls solve problems in my classroom, I see them developing skills they will use to be successful throughout their lives.”

Christopher Riddick, Science Teacher

Christopher Riddick, Science Teacher

Science teacher Christopher Riddick joined The Hewitt School in 2018. An educator who enjoys exploring new approaches to curriculum, he was drawn to our commitment to applying the latest research on girls to teaching and learning. Christopher appreciates how his own experiences as a lifelong learner help him empathize with his students when they are faced with new and challenging concepts in the science lab.

Christopher is inspired by the potential he sees in his students, and he finds it especially rewarding to watch that potential evolve over time. Knowing that research shows girls and young women are often socialized to fear science courses, he understands how important it is for students to feel empowered in his classroom. “At Hewitt, students learn to recognize themselves as scientific thinkers who are equipped with a variety of non-traditional approaches to problem solving. Coaching these students as they take ownership of their learning and acknowledge their own potential is what makes teaching so fulfilling.” 


Our middle school science symposium is one of Christopher's favorite examples of student-led learning at Hewitt. Combining experiential learning with design thinking, the Symposium asks middle school students to identify a consumer problem and conduct research to more thoroughly understand its causes and potential solutions. Based on their findings, students develop a new product to address the problem, creating packaging, a brochure, and a sales pitch to market their prototype. “When students are given opportunities to use their scientific knowledge, interpersonal skills, and research abilities to develop and problem solve, they become actively invested in their own learning.”

Olivia Robbins, English Teacher

Olivia Robbins, English Teacher

A deep love of reading drew Olivia Robbins to her career as an English teacher. Knowing the power of literature to teach us about ourselves and others, she was eager to provide students with opportunities to see their own experiences reflected on the page and to learn about the lives of others through reading, writing, and dialogue. Impressed by Hewitt's commitment to enabling young women to develop their sense of purpose, Olivia joined our school community in 2019. 

Some of Olivia’s favorite moments in the classroom come when her students surprise themselves with their own abilities. In Magic and the Supernatural in Shakespeare, an upper school elective course, she collaborates with Performing Arts Department Chair Daniel Denver to encourage her students to engage with texts through performance and public speaking activities, which sometimes lead to nerves and jitters. But, says, Olivia, “It's a delight to see students who were initially nervous come to feel proud of themselves for stepping outside of their comfort zone, and gaining a deeper understanding of our texts through the experience of performing.” 
 

As an educator, Olivia is especially interested in the role of emotions in memory and learning. At Hewitt, she has found a meaningful intersection between research that shows emotional engagement is necessary for memory- and meaning-making and our commitment to RULER, a curriculum that helps students build their emotional intelligence by noticing, naming, and regulating their emotional states. “When I ask my students to engage in critical reflection about how various texts make them feel, they are thinking about literature while also doing work to develop their cognition, retention, and self-awareness.” 

Kemy Wahpepah, History Teacher

Kemy Wahpepah, History Teacher

History teacher Kemy Wahpepah loves watching students light up as they discover ideas or problems they are passionate about. Drawn to Hewitt’s dynamic faculty and focus on girls’ research, she joined our faculty in 2016. She is an innovative educator who enjoys staying current on research into teaching and learning. 

One of Kemy’s goals as a history teacher is to prepare her students to understand and navigate the complexities of the world today. As a Native American woman, she remembers learning different and often conflicting historical narratives while she was growing up, and she credits figuring out how to make sense of those narratives with helping her develop the strong critical thinking skills she now models in her classroom. As they learn to make sense of history, Kemy wants to “provide students with opportunities and tools to explore multiple perspectives and draw their own well-informed conclusions about the materials they study.”


In addition to teaching middle school history and acting as a homeroom advisor, Kemy also oversees the middle school Social Justice and Activism Committee (SJAC), a club that grew out of her students’ interest in digging deeper into some of the topics they were discussing in history class. She shares that “having the opportunity to guide students as they research an issue they care about, develop a proposal for policy change, and reach out to various stakeholders here at Hewitt is nothing short of inspiring.”