The Chefs

The SCCS Omelette is the product of the Media Writing Class for the first semester of the 2011-2012 school year comprised of Ximena Fagan, Andrea Gutierrez, Lucia Landivar, Nicolas Handal, Sebastian Vedia, Manuel Saavedra, Nicolas Aguirre, and Fernando Monasterio. Instructor and Blogmaster: David Boldt. (Address all complaints and suggestions to To read more items on the "Omelette," including profiles of new teachers and staff, Middle School Medieval Day, and much, much more, go to

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Teachers, Staff in the Upper School

Just “Do It,” says New Dean of Students

     Dean of Students Kenneth Davis believes a school needs at least two things. The first is good educators. He knows this because having wonderful teachers was what motivated him to pursue a career in education. The second is a sense of urgency about education. His favorite quote is “Whenever you feel the urge to procrastinate, just put it off.”

      Cleveland, Ohio, was the place where the now very energetic and approachable Davis was born, but Ohio is not the only place he calls home. Davis lived 13 years in Guatemala, met his wife there, and their daughter was born there. The Davises also spent three years in Caracas, Venezuela, and, expect to be many years in Santa Cruz, so Davis considers those two places home now too.  “I’ve got thousands of homes”, states Dean Davis, while cheerfully greeting students arriving to school at the front gate.

      Guatemala was a life-changing country for him, and when he thinks about his time there he simply grins.  “My best experience was meeting my wife, and having my family there. Another big thing was Destination Imagination, .the international program he was working with in addition to teaching at an international school.
In Destination Imagination Davis helped students working as teams to solve problems in creative ways as part of a competition in subjects ranging from theater to mechanical engineering.  Starting off as a coach in the program, he then became a judge, and finally a member of the Board of Directors.

       Later, when he was athletic director in the Colegio Internacional de Caracas, his most unforgettable moment came when his high school girls made it to the finals in the league they competed in. These are all experiences that make Kenneth Davis looking forward to some fantastic memories in SCCS, where he will find that we have some outstanding teams as well.

      Kenneth Davis started quite young, getting his first teaching job in 1996 right after graduating from Ohio State University in 1995. but has fifteen years of experience that got him to where he is now.  Davis has also received a M.Ed from Framingham State College, and an administrative and supervision certificate from Johns Hopkins University. He has high goals and expects some day to become a school director.

       “Whatever job I do, if it’s administrator, or director, or whatever it is, I still want to teach,” Davis says between the “good mornings” and waves to parents and students entering the school gates. And he will be doing that here. It is safe to say that the seventh grade technology class at SCCS will in safe hands since. Davis is teaching it.

      Sports and technology are a big part of Davis’ life. Cross-country and long distance running were his sports in high school. In college he was captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team, and still enjoys keeping fit.

      Davis is also very much attracted to technology, and taught a masters level technology course in Guatemala, as well as web page and design courses for advanced students. At SCCS he is planning to introduce more wireless technology so students can be able to bring their laptops to class

      As Dean of Students, Davis expects students to embrace the new rules on the school about tardiness, cell phones, and uniforms in order to have a good learning atmosphere.  Davis expects parents to support their children in rising to the new challenges their teachers will place before them. “I like parents who get involved”, stresses Davis.

       The SCCS campus is a place where Kenneth says he feels accepted. He is fond of the school’s clean and open look. . The students remind him of the school in Guatemala he used to work in.  He claims that the staff has been “awesome” to him, clearly having already picked up secondary principal Nicolaas Mostert’s favorite word.

      As a parting message, our new Dean of Students said with a wide smile; “I just want to thank SCCS for welcoming me and my family, I know I will have a great time working here.”
-- Lucia Landivar

Applying Lessons Learned in Barcelona    
      Jason Hershberger, the current head of the English department and 10th and 11h grade English teacher, arrived at Santa Cruz Cooperative School in August after several years of teaching in the Benjamin Franklin International School in Barcelona, Spain, and with great expectations that he can improve the learning levels of English here.

     Hershberger, 38, was born in Akron n Ohio, and graduated from   Miami University in Ohio, where he studied English literature and political science. . Afterward, he moved to Oregon and studied medieval literature at Portland State University. But he says he found that this was more of an expensive hobby rather than a real preparation for life, and so he only studied it for a year. Later on he decided to move to Barcelona, Spain, and obtained a certificate to teach English as a second language.

     For a year, Jason Hershberger tutored adults and children in English and also was a frequent substitute at the Benjamin Franklin International School. After a year of substituting in many subjects, the school offered him a job in the English department. That was when he earned a certificate to become an international teacher from Cambridge University.

     He prepared students in their freshman and sophomore years for the International Baccalaureate program that they would enter in junior and senior year. This IB program is a demanding secondary curriculum that many international schools are offering in an effort to establish a common standard. At the school he met the women who would become his wife, who was also a teacher. After eight years of teaching in Barcelona, they were offered jobs in Santa Cruz and accepted the new challenge.

      There were two main reasons that Mr. Hershberger became a teacher, one professional and one personal. He likes having a vibrant life that allows him to travel and learn about new things and places. Being a teacher has also permitted him to practice his favorite hobbies like reading and writing. With his traveling across Europe, Hershberger has gained new interest in cooking and enjoying appetizing food. He has also been learning Spanish in Barcelona, which has made his move to Santa Cruz easier. He remains a fan of the Spanish soccer team, Barcelona, but also enjoys watching and practicing many sports.

     His main goal as the head of the English department in elementary through high school is to require more reading and writing from all the students, and to raise the standards of achievement in these areas. To be able to change the student’s way of thinking and learning, he recommends that students always remember that “you will achieve whatever you put your heart and mind into.” Never question yourself, he advises, and don’t simply hope to get good grades, but earn them, by working hard and exercising responsibility.  
-- Ximena Fagan 

New ways of viewing history

      Gregory Johnson is an American history teacher who enjoys teaching people his ideas about why the world is the way it is today because of past events.

      Johnson is the new history teacher of Santa Cruz Cooperative School who arrived this month to replace Michael Moore. He was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and he describes himself as an outgoing, energetic person who loves being outdoors performing new activities.

       After studying Social Science and education at Eastern Illinois University, he moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, a mountain town, where he learned how to snowboard. There, he lived for four years while teaching at Hayden Secondary School.

      After his time in Colorado, he was excited about getting the chance to experience new adventures in new countries. One of the things that attracted him to teach here was that Bolivia had a culture completely different from what he was accustomed to. He also liked the idea of learning Spanish, something he had always wanted to do.

      Before coming to Santa Cruz, he imagined a city with not many activities to do, and with a small population, but once he arrived he realized our city was much busier than he thought it was. Crowded streets and heavy traffic were two things he hadn’t expected to find here.

       Johnson has several goals he is planning to accomplish here. First of all -- as any serious, professional teacher would -- he wants to engage with our students. Beyond that, he wants them to appreciate different points of view in history, and to understand how different experiences lead to different outrcomes. For example, he is planning in AP US History class to contrast the differences between the effect of English colonization on the present-day United States with the effect of Spanish colonization on contemporary South America.

      Also, he is planning to become active in other school activities. At Hayden School, Mr. Johnson was the school’s volleyball coach and would like to assist our teams in that sport if he can.

      For him, there are many satisfying moments in teaching and the one he most enjoys is when the students shout, “Ahhh!” after realizing some important new insight.  At the same time, he considers that lack of respect is unacceptable in his classroom environment.

      All in all, Mr. Johnson is looking forward to have a wonderful school year -- and to speak Spanish by the end of it.

      --Manuel Saavedra  

Blending technology and literature

      Lukus Brody, 26, is the new teacher at SCCS for 12th grade English, drama, and the AP English courses.  He is from Mankato, Minnesota, where he grew up as the youngest of four children. He has two brothers and a sister.

       Brody graduated from Minnesota State University in Mankato and as a student taught  English 7, English 9, American Literature, World Literature, Media Literacy, and English as a second language (ESL) for adults at schools in small towns in and near near Mankato including Lake Crystal and St. Clair

      He came to Bolivia because of what he viewed as a great opportunity to teach at SCCS and to see more of the world. . His only travel outside the US before arriving here had been a trip across the border to Canada. He is looking forward to seeing this country and learning more about Bolivian culture.

      Brody also wanted to try living in a warmer climate. He says, “The winters in Minnesota are absolutely terrible and I will not miss them.”

     The main thing that influenced him the decision to become a teacher is his passion for language arts, and he enjoys being able to instill that same passion in his students.

     Brody says his strengths are listening, being flexibility and being able to use technology. Listening is one of his strengths because it’s a topic he studied in depth in his communication courses during college, and it’s a skill he works hard at improving every day. He thinks listening is an important skill for teachers to possess because one of the first things a teacher needs to be able to do is understand their students.

      He feels he adapts well to various situations, and is always prepared to adjust his plans when needed. The need to be flexible was one of the first things he learned when he started teaching.

      He considers himself tech savvy, and is particularly skilled at integrating technology into the classroom. He has created websites, virtual tours and other internet content for classroom use.

     Brody believes he was selected for the job at SCCS because he seemed more apt to incorporate multi-media technology into the classroom than other candidates because of his broad experience with communication and media. In addition to majoring in literature,  he had a minor in film studies and studied both mass communications and speech. With him as the teacher, English class will consist of more than just studying written words on a page.

     When Lukus is not teaching he spends most of his  time reading and writing. Film continues to be one of his main interests. He enjoys reading about movies, writing about movies, and, naturally, watching movies. He was the secretary and treasurer of his university’s film club, and  has both attended and organized film festivals. , He also enjoys being outside, playing basketball, and he recently discovered a new interest in volleyball.

     And he also enjoys trying all the delicious food in Santa Cruz.

-- Nicolas Handal

New Biology Teacher Has a Secret

     To the students walking into Katie Hansen’s biology or chemistry classes, she might seem to be your usual friendly, outgoing intelligent young science teacher.
     But then they don-t know what she has tattooed on one of her feet.

     SCCS students, of course, may think they are accustomed to science teachers with tattoos after being taught by Hansen’s predecessor, Lisa Yemma, who had a lot of them. But Hansen’s tattoo is less noticeable and a little different. She has the DNA double-helix pattern tattooed on her right foot.

      “I got it done when I was 18,” Hansen says, “and it was meant to symbolize how I use science to explain and understand the world around me.”

     Moreover, Hansen has had some other surprising experiences, including being given a special award for students who excel both on the playing field, where she was a star in cross-country running and skiing,  and in the classroom. And she used to be a cook in a restaurant specializing in delicious crepes. .

      But we are getting ahead of our story. Let’s go back to the beginning, though even that part is not as simple as you might expect.

     Though Hansen was born in Georgia and lived there for the first three years of her life, she considers Oregon in the northwestern part of the United States her home. That’s where her whole family lives today, and she says she doesn’t know how she’ll get along so far away from her parents, her two sisters and a brother, and her beloved nephews.

      She also misses biking in Portland, which is known for its many scenic bike trails, and the excellent coffee she used to drink there. But she’s been away from home before. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, which is on the opposite side of the continnt from Portland, and her most recent job before coming to Santa Cruz was teaching biology to freshmen at that school.

     SCCS is very different from her high school, San Barlow High in Portland, which had more than 2000  students,  clearly a lot more than this school.  Hansen was an outstanding cross-country runner at San Barlow, captain of the team, and winner of “most valuable player” and “most inspirational awards.

      When she went to university she became a much bigger star, She won, or placed near the top, in many important races and in 2008 she received the award as female “Student- Athlete of the Year” at the university. She also kept her grades up and was named an “academic All-American,” an honor bestowed by a national organization on students who are outstanding scholar-athletes,  

       In high school, Hansen had also been on the ski team, which was coached by her father, Scott Hansen. An episode from that time in her life may say a lot about her. In one race she broke her foot in the middle of it but kept going on until she crossed the finish line and became aware of the enormous bump on her foot.

      This injury kept her from running for several months, but after she was allowed to continue running she practiced harder than ever.
    Hansen has already made her presence felt in the runners world of Santa Cruz by placing second in the womens division of the Fourth Annual Carrera Cemento Warnes 10K Sept. 11.  

     SCCS is very lucky to have such a multi-talented person on our staff – tattooed or not.  

-- Andrea Gutierrez 

World Renowned Bolivian artist here 

    A world-reknowned artist and poet whose work has been exhibited in nearly a hundred shows  in museums and galleries in Europe, North America, and almost every art gallery in Bolivia. has joined the SCCS faculty to teach art.

     Julio Luis Muñoz Eyzaguirre, replaces Olivia Mercado, who is now teaching in Vietnam. In addition to his artistic fame, Muñoz already had a close connection to SCCS in that he is the father-in-law of Upper School math teacher Joe Kirkey.    

     Born in La Paz in 1947, he was interested in art from an early age, took lessons from artist Hans Lein, and had his first exhibition when he was five-years-old. After finishing high school he enrolled in the faculty of architecture at University Mayor San Andrés in La Paz, where he also studied urbanism and fine art. He took classes as well at the Superior Academy of Fine Art.

     He studied easel painting with the Bolivian master Gil Imaná Garrón and with the Austrian master, Hans Blindhuber, as well as with other masters in other specialized fields. His work shows a versatile talent and his work seems unique, independent of any any contemporary trends in Art. His very personal style shows a high degree of technical skill.

      He travelled in the United States and later settled in Vienna, Austria, where he has lived and worked for much of the time in recent years, He is a constant and  central figure on the Bolivian cultural scene where he is regarded as among the most creative active artists. .

       He has published, in addition to technical and scientific works, eleven works of poetry and two others with reproductions and descriptions of this drawings and paintings.In some of his works he uses the pen name Leo Mitra Exyz.

      He has already finished several other works of literature; among them an illustrated book of poetry and a book with aphorisms related to Art, for a bilingual edition in  Spanish and German.

      In addition to his art and books, Muñoz has been a university professor and has been  responsible for running both private and cultural institutions, nationally and internationally. The majority of his work today can be found in private collections in America and in Europe.

-- Fernando Monasterio

 A Musician from Montana

     Blake Panting, 31 years old, is the new SCCS music teacher, replacing Mr. Edward Wolfe. Mr. Panting worked as a music teacher in Arizona State University  and in the Los Lunas, New Mexico, public schools before arriving here.

     Panting was born and raised in a small town in Montana, which he describes as a calm place where people work on farms taking care of their crops and cattle. The population was about 5,000 people, so everybody knew everybody, nobody locked their doors, and he was friendly with almost everybody around there. 

     Panting arrived in Bolivia because he wanted a new challenge, and to experience life outside the United States, and SCCS was the first one to offer him a job after applying all over the world (around 40 countries). Before coming to Bolivia, Panting expected it to be poor, with a weak infrastructure, but after researching about Santa Cruz, he knew it was a big city.

     Before arriving, he expected Santa Cruz to be diverse, with a high class society very different from the low. When he arrived, he saw that was very true. He was surprised by the large amount of garbage he sees almost everywhere. However, he likes the food here, and that there is a variety of “cool stuff” to do and see.

     Panting chose music as a career when he went to college. Initially he wasn’t sure what to study, but he had a background in music. His mother taught piano and he learned to play at an early age. In elementary school he played drums in the band, and added other instrument, including the marimba, during hgh school. But he  chose music teaching more or less at random, and then after a few semesters he realized he enjoyed his career and would like stick to it for the rest of his life.

      His biggest challenges this year are improving the facilities for rehearsing and performing, managing his inventory of music and instruments, and dealing with a complex schedule for classes and instruction. Another challenge is getting used to the humidity, which he isn’t used to, and suffers from.

      Mr. Panting considers himself a laid-back guy, but with limits. This means that if you stay with his rules, everything will be all right. During his free time, he likes to listen to music (particularly  jazz, to play some golf, and to relax. So far, he’s enjoying his time here.
-- Nicolas Aguirre