Virgil Beck, Math and Science:
BAE Natural Science, Eastern Washington University. Since moving back to Seattle in 2004, Virgil briefly served as a middle school substitute in the Seattle Public Schools and now revels in teaching K-5 science at Tilden School. Having grown up in both Seattle and North Idaho, his heart lies somewhere in-between–maybe at Vantage. Virgil was an avid cyclist until his first daughter, Violet was born, and he is now an avid bicycle collector. In 1995 Virgil completed Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue School, as well as a successful ascent of Mt. Baker. He also hopes that his experience as a photographer, bike mechanic, flight attendant, sailboat crew member, and thespian will help him delight the 7th graders at Explorer West.
Aurora de la Cruz, Music:
BA Music (minor in Computer and Information Science) and MA Music Education, University of Oregon. Aurora joined Explorer West in its third year to initiate and develop the music program. Over the years, she has led our many music ensembles, both instrumental and vocal, and the world music curriculum, for which she wrote a middle-school workbook. Aurora also earned the “Outstanding Performance in Music History” award from the University of Oregon School of Music. In addition to music classes, Aurora assists with our school musicals. In her spare time, Aurora enjoys sailing, sea kayaking, hiking, cooking, traveling, sports, and, of course, music. She currently sings with the Seattle Symphony Chorale.
Sherman “Doc” English, English and Dean of Students:
BA English, University of Wisconsin-Madison; MDiv, Union Theological Seminary; MLitt, Drew University; EdD, Seton Hall University. Doc has taught English to grades 6-12 at various independent and public schools in New Jersey, though he has focused exclusively on middle school since the start of the millennium, and has held different administrative positions since 1990. He and his wife moved to Seattle to be closer to their children and grandchildren. In his spare time he loves to cook, hike, and sail, attend the theatre and various music venues, and sing, act and compose music.
Ron Evensen, Latin and English:
BA History and MA Medieval History, University of South Florida. Ron began his teaching career with The Canterbury School of Florida in 1989, where he taught social studies, Latin, and English for seven years. After a brief stint teaching ESL in South Korea and in Tampa, Florida, he and his wife moved to North Carolina, where he taught at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy for eight years. In 2008, they moved to Seattle and Ron joined the Explorer West faculty during the 2009-2010 school year. In his spare time, Ron loves to follow sports and listen to his collection of old, scratchy albums from the 60s.
Philip Giammarino, Outdoor Education:
BS Allied Health/Physician Assistant Program, Springfield College, MA. Phil spent his formative years in New England searching for deep powder, steep descents, and hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail. After college, he was an outdoor education instructor and full-time teacher/coach at Black River High School in Vermont. Since moving to Washington, Phil has taught skiing and snowboarding; volunteered for Outdoors For All and Evergreen Mountain Bike Association; and has ski descended Mt. Hood, Mt St. Helens, and Mt. Adams. He is currently an avid soccer player and bike commuter, and loves his red heeler. Phil hopes to pass on bits of life-wisdom and love for sustainable living to the students at Explorer West.
David Orace Kelly, Drama:
MFA Arts Leadership, Seattle University and BFA Performance (acting, dance and voice), Naropa University. David has been teaching drama and performance since 2004. Since joining Explorer West in 2007, he has directed the productions, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Our Town”, and “My Fair Lady”. In 2010, he presented at the Washington State Arts Alliance Cultural Congress on “The Ethics of Art”, and has worked with several Seattle-area theatre companies such as: Intiman Theatre, Balagan Theatre, Washington Ensemble Theatre, Youth Theatre Northwest, and Stone Soup Theatre. Prior to teaching at Explorer West, David worked as a professional juggler and directed over 30 youth productions including: “Grease”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and “Stuart Little”.
Kristin Moore, Science:
BA, Ripon College and MEd, University of Washington. Kristin joined the Explorer West faculty in 1997. Claiming an inability to sit still for very long, Kristin sympathizes with her often-squiggly students. Consequently, her science classes teem with hands-on projects, and she emphasizes learning in the great outdoors during our overnight trips. Kristin brings a wealth of wilderness, community service, administrative, and middle school teaching experience to Explorer West. During the summers, she is the Sr. Camp Program Director at Camp Treetops, a 7-week camp on a working farm committed to simple and sustainable living. An avid backpacker and environmentalist, Kristin contributes a great deal of experience to our outdoor education program. She is currently certified as a Lifeguard and Wilderness First Responder.
Tim Owens, History:
BA Politics and Government, The University of Puget Sound and MA in Teaching, Seattle University. Tim joined Explorer West after teaching eight years at Madison Middle School in West Seattle. He was first hit with the teaching bug while teaching at a high school in rural, northern Japan where he was an assistant language teacher for two years. Tim has a vast appreciation and understanding of the world through study and travel. In addition to living in Japan, Tim lived and studied in Mexico, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Tim and his wife, Shelby, live in West Seattle and enjoy hiking, backpacking and international travel in their spare time.
Sarah Robertson Palmer, Art:
BA Art History, University of California at Santa Barbara; additional studies at The California College of Arts and Crafts and The Pratt Fine Arts Center. Sarah has developed, taught and administered art programs for over 25 years at numerous arts and educational organizations. Sarah enjoys painting, printmaking, ceramics, metalsmithing, collage, mixed media and jewelry. She has created, exhibited and sold her art in a variety of venues, and is co-author of a cultural arts activity book, Festivals of Light. Her artwork is featured in the book, Wild With A Glue Gun. World travels inspire her to create a multi-media fine arts and crafts curriculum for her students that includes art history, cultural awareness, and the celebration of the imagination.
Maripat Webber, Latin:
BA Latin/English, Dominican College and MA Classics, University of Hawaii, Graduate work in Classics and English, University of Washington. She grew up in the Bay Area, and came to Seattle in 1976 for graduate school. She subsequently worked in a variety of roles for various non-profit organizations in Seattle and tutoring in her off hours before gravitating to technical writing. She was Production Editor for Linux Journal, and has held editing and writing positions at a number of software companies. She joined the EW faculty in 2004. Since 2006, she has co-led the annual 8th grade trip to Rome. Her interests include books, gardening, books, ancient cultures, Medieval and Renaissance Literature, books, Hawaiiana, and aboriginal canines, especially Basenjis, of which she has several. She and her dogs enjoy long walks, lure coursing and curling up after all that activity with a good book, usually about the history and archaeology of Rome
Sandra Washington; Health, History, Physical Education and Athletic Director:
BA History and BA French, University of Washington. Sandra was born and raised in Seattle. She enjoys traveling all over the world, but always seems to make her way back to the Northwest. Sandra has worked as a substitute teacher at University Prep, and taught 5th grade humanities as an Instructional Assistant at Open Window School in Bellevue. She has also coached volleyball at the high-school and middle-school level at a number of Seattle schools including University Prep, Mercer Island High School, Forest Ridge Middle School, and Open Window School. This year, in addition to her role at Explorer West, Sandra will be pursuing a Masters in the Art of Teaching and her Washington State Teaching Certification through Seattle Pacific University. Besides teaching, Sandra is passionate about volleyball, healthy living, being outdoors, and reading.
Britt Williams, Mathematics:
BA Anthropology, Mount Holyoke College and MS Math Education, City College of New York. Britt began her teaching career in Senegal, West Africa were she taught 7th and 8th grade math and science in a bilingual school in the capital city, Dakar. From there she joined the New York City Teaching Fellows program where she taught in a public middle school for eight years. In addition to teaching math, Britt obtained a second NY State teaching certificate to be able to share her love of dance with her students. In her free time, Britt enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, taking dance classes and reacquainting herself with her hometown Seattle.