A new school year comes with new classes, new students, and new teachers, and unless you are in their class, you may never get to discover the new teachers’ interesting qualities or what motivates them to teach at Pace.

Graduating from Pace in 2005, Mrs. Jenni Coale (yes, Mr. Coale’s wife) never thought she would be back here teaching an AP Art History class. Though she enjoyed the class at Pace, majored in art history and graduated a semester early from The University of Virginia, Mrs. Coale pursued a career in the culinary arts. She returned to Pace in 2011 as Associate Director of Middle School and Upper School Admissions, later accepting the teaching job from Mr. Hornor, her former art history teacher. As a food expert, Mrs. Coale likes to travel, sampling exotic foods with Mr. Coale wherever they go, including Guinea pig, alpaca, and sea urchin. If she were a fruit, Mrs. Coale claimed that she would be a blackberry, “the perfect combination of sweet and tart.”

Mr. Knott, a widely renowned potter and our new ceramics teacher, started his pottery career with a risky decision. Realizing that working for the state of Georgia was not very fulfilling, Mr. Knott decided to pursue a full time career in ceramics, making appearances at art festivals such as the Dogwood festival, selling online, and promoting his own work. Though most might assume that he lost his finger in some sort of pottery disaster, Mr. Knott actually parted with it while “exploring” the blender at the inquisitive age of two. Being the daredevil he is and pursuing his fishing hobby, he worked on a Japanese fishing boat for four months and was forced to eat the still beating heart of the first albacore caught as per the tradition. When asked about his fondness for museums Mr. Knott revealed, “Art museums are not for me. They’re too boring. That’s probably not a good thing for an art teacher to say, is it?”

Ms. Barbakow, the newest edition to our English department, was previously an English teacher and dean at Holy Innocents.’ During her college years at U.G.A., Ms. Barbakow spent a semester in Italy, reading Shakespeare plays at the places where they were set. Some of her other favorite destinations include St. Petersburg, Russia and Istanbul, Turkey. She is an only child and unmarried; however, her children’s names are already picked out: Charles, “Charlie” for a boy, and Spencer for a girl. It is rumored that Ms. Barbakow resembles Holly Marie Combs, Aria’s mom from “Pretty Little Liars,” who ironically is also an English teacher. But, in a movie of her life, Ms. Barbakow would want her role to be played by Anne Hathaway.

After taking a five year hiatus from the Academy, Mrs. Wilhelmsen, a ninth grade geometry teacher and 11th grade pre-calculus teacher, returns bringing a rejuvenated enthusiasm to her math classes. Previously at Pace for 12 years, she took a break to spend time with her now five-year-old twin boys (Eric and Spencer), also getting a chance to spend more time doing the things she loves: reading, hiking, and spoiling her pets. Mrs. Wilhelmsen was the dean of the classes of 2003 and 2007 as well as the recipient of the Kessler Award for Teaching in 2006. Mrs. Wilhelmsen knew she wanted to be a teacher from a young age, as both of her parents were private school teachers; the math part came later.

By Shaista Dhanesar, Opinion Editor ’14

Pictured left to right are teachers Krista Wilhelmsen, Erica Barbakow, Mark Knott, and Jenni Coale.


Get the discussion going! Leave a comment or reply below.