Our Faculty

Beck, Virgil

Virgil Beck, Math & Science

BAE Natural Science, Eastern Washington University. M. Ed. Education, University of Washington. Having grown up in both Seattle and North Idaho, his heart lies somewhere in between––maybe at Vantage. Virgil is an avid cyclist and enjoys both the math and science of bicycle wheel building. 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, sailboat crewmember, and dramatist will help him delight the 7th graders at EW.

Boba, Leslie

Leslie Boba, Latin & English

BA Latin and BA English, University of Washington; MA English, University of Virginia, and Master of Librarianship, University of Washington. Born in Germany to an American mother and Eastern European father, she early on developed an affinity for language study and comparative grammar. Her study of Latin led to an interest in Rare Book Librarianship, and she worked in the Special Collections units of a number of libraries including the research branch of The New York Public Library in Manhattan. Raised in Seattle, she attended Hidden Valley Camp in the Cascade foothills, and during college years participated in summer abroad programs in England and in Poland. Most of her adult life has been spent in the Pacific Northwest, an exception being three years as Library Director in the village of Moravia, in upstate New York. Her interests include classical music (piano and voice), garden design, interior decorating, historic houses, archaeology of the Near East, the growth and structure of the English language, and cats.


Daniela Hall, Social Studies/History

Daniela comes to us from The Evergreen School in Shoreline, where she has been teaching social studies in 6th to 8th grades since 2007. She is beloved there for her fantastic energy, her high expectations with effective support, her creative projects, and her passion for teaching geography and current events. Daniela will be working at Explorer West part-time, teaching both sections of 6th grade social studies. What a perfect fit for our school community!

Howland, Jon

Jon Howland, Mathematics

BA International Relations, University of Puget Sound and MA in Teaching, City College of New York. Since moving home to the Pacific Northwest in 2011, Jon taught math with the Rainier Scholars Program for eight years. He joined the Explorer West team in 2013 and taught for five years before taking a year off to relocate to Vashon Island and kickstart the homesteading dream. A fondness for math education, a fascination with middle schoolers, and the conviction that Explorer West is a one-of-a-kind school brought him back for the 2019 school year. Jon eats low on the food chain and embraces what many have called the lowest form of humor — the pun! Laughs are good; groans are better!


Tara Kaine, Dean of Students & Drama

BA, Toronto University with a special focus on Drama Education and Washington Certified Teacher in Drama for grades K-12. Tara joins Explorer West in the Fall of 2017 after spending the last three years as the drama program coordinator, director, and teacher at Salmon Bay K-8 in Seattle. Tara is also the founder and director of Acting Out Literacy in Seattle where she designed the curriculum for theatre skills, literacy, and social and emotional development in alignment with meeting State and National standards. In addition, Tara has taught and directed at Seattle Children’s Theatre Summer Season and the Seattle Public Theatre’s Youth Program. She strives to create a caring community where students feel heard and are able to take risks to achieve excellence. Working with diverse populations and ages of students, with diverse needs, Tara has learned to prioritize students’ social and emotional development as part of all instruction. As part of community building, she uses a variety of teaching tools to model and deepen our understanding of equity and social justice. Once we have created that foundation together, students are able to thrive and shine in any subject they explore.


James King, Outdoor Education

BA, Antioch University and MAED IslandWood/Antioch University. (he/him/his) James is from Atlanta, Georgia, land in which the Muscogee/Creek tribe cared for millennia. James graduated Antioch University Seattle with a B.A. concentration in Urban Ecology, Leadership and Sustainable Business, Global and Social Justice (’17). He completed his MAED in Urban Environmental Education (’18) at IslandWood /Antioch University Seattle. James currently works on multiple environmental & outdoor recreational projects, facilitating the growth & awareness surrounding multicultural education, alongside government agencies, conferences, communities, schools, and now the filming industry. Professor of Environmental Science at Seattle Central University. James has been a member of the Explorer West community since 2016.

Matt Kostle

Matt Kostle, Outdoor Education Coordinator

BA, University of Northern Iowa. Matt has extensive experience leading outdoor excursions from ice climbing to canoe expeditions to wilderness first aid classes for kids and adults all around the U.S. He also works for Seattle's Parks Department as a Camp Long Challenge and Ropes Course Facilitator. Matt has led Explorer West's outdoor education program since 2015.

Moore, Kristin

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.

Anna Morin

Anna Morin, English

Anna Morin has been teaching English and Social Studies in secondary schools since 2003, most recently at Big Picture High School in Bellevue. Her teaching style is characterized by engaging, authentic projects, culturally relevant curriculum and instructional methods, and strong relationships. Anna will be teaching 7th and 8th grade English and will be an advisor. Anna looks forward to close collaboration with other teachers, and to get to know our students and families!

Social Studies Teacher Tim Owens

Tim Owens, Dean of Students & Social Studies/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

Sarah Robertson Palmer, Art

BA Art History, University of California at Santa Barbara; MA Art ED, Art of Education University; additional studies at The California College of Arts and The Pratt Fine Arts Center. Sarah has developed, taught, and administered art programs for over 30 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 celebration of the imagination.

Sarra Sharif

Sarra Sharif Doyle, Instrumental & Vocal Music

BM Music Education, University of Washington; MA Music & Music Education, Columbia University. Sarra joins Explorer West after eleven years of teaching choir and orchestra at Kirkland Middle School in the Lake Washington School District. In the classroom, Sarra strives to create a supportive community that emboldens students to take risks, build musical independence, and become leaders. She is excited to join a school where all students are encouraged to build their musical skills, sing, play, and perform together. Outside of school, Sarra directs the 5/6th grade choir at the Seattle Girls Choir and sings professionally with many leading Northwest arts organizations, including the Byrd Ensemble, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Tudor Choir. When she is not busy teaching & making music, Sarra enjoys gardening, cooking, walking, and hosting dinner parties for family and friends. She lives in West Seattle with her husband, Orrin, and their dogs, Percy and Annie.

Webber, Maripat

Maripat Webber, Latin

BA Latin/English, Dominican College and MA Classics, University of Hawaii, Graduate work in Classics and English, University of Washington. Maripat 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. Maripat joined the Explorer West 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. Maripat has raised, trained, and lived with Basenjis for 40 years. 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.