Magistra Yancich returns to Pace to teach Latin and English. PHOTO: Pace Academy website

Alum Michelle Yancich returns to Pace this year after graduating in 2013 to teach both English and Latin in the upper school. While there have been many changes since they graduated, Magistra Yancich describes coming back as surreal because of how consistent the traditions have remained. “When I was walking into assembly on the first day of school I had this thought like, why am I not sitting in my assembly seat right now,” they said. Latin and English may seem like very different subjects but Magistra Yancich believes that they have similar parts that make them easier to teach concurrently. “Latin classes are like English classes, just with an extra layer on top,” they said. “You are still learning about literature, still discussing themes and literary devices, just in another language.” They are excited about interacting with students and getting to know more people throughout the school. “I am most excited about working with the students at Pace. The students here are so incredible.”

Dr. Wendy Kelly is teaching chemistry this year. PHOTO: Pace website

Dr. Wendy Kelly joins the Pace community this year as a chemistry teacher. Dr. Kelly comes to Pace after just being a chemistry teacher at Georgia Tech, where teaching is very impersonal unlike Pace. “I started to crave more time with students and get something closer to a one on one experience.” Dr. Kelly is very passionate about the subject of chemistry and wants to share this with her students. “I like learning about how the world works and sharing that with students,” she said. I know it is not going to be everyone’s favorite subject but I’m hoping that some can at least walk away with an appreciation that it touches our lives.” Dr. Kelly is excited to learn about and experience some Pace traditions like spirit week, and get to know members of the community better. “It seems like there is a strong sense of community here at the school and that was so incredibly appealing to me.” 

Mrs. Brandi Wheeler is teaching ninth grade English. PHOTO: Pace website

Mrs. Brandi Wheeler is new to Pace this year as a ninth grade English teacher. One of Mrs. Wheeler’s biggest passions is reading which makes her enjoy teaching English and sharing that enthusiasm with her students. “In terms of my skill set, I always find myself explaining things to people,” she said. “Even if it’s within my family, I’m the one who actually helps to break it down into steps that make sense to people.” Mrs. Wheeler is coming from teaching at a boarding school, and she is excited to transition to a day school schedule. “I am excited at Pace that I really get to focus mostly on my teaching,” she said. Mrs. Wheeler also loves watching sports and cannot wait to attend the fall football games and watching the theater productions this year. “I’m just so glad to be here, and excited to be able to be in person. I’m hoping I get to start seeing my students’ faces more!”

Helen Smith returns after a year away from Pace. PHOTO: Pace website

Ms. Helen Smith returns to Pace for her 49th year after taking a break last year for COVID-19 safety. Although she has taught history classes in the past, Ms. Smith is teaching comparative politics and leading Model UN this year. “Politics is the one thing that affects all of us,” she said. “The two subjects fit together because every year you have to change what you teach because you have to keep learning all the time.” During the time last year when she could not teach, Ms. Smith made the best of her time by taking online classes in interesting subjects like art history and travel. “Having all the time to read was wonderful,” she added. Ms. Smith is excited to interact with her students again after such a long break. “People seem so happy and enthusiastic and I hope that lasts!”

Mrs. Amanda Thornhill is teaching sophomore math and JV volleyball. PHOTO: Pace website

Mrs. Amanda Thornhill joins Pace this year as a math teacher as well as an assistant JV volleyball coach. Mrs. Thornhill is excited for the transition to Pace because of the freedom she is given when teaching her students. “I like the creativity that I get to have in my classroom because I’m not having to do the same thing on the same day as the teacher in the room next to me,” she said. She loves math because of the puzzle it takes to find the correct answer and how there are many ways to do so. “I love seeing all the ways that my students get to the final answer, because there are so many different ways to think about it,” she said. Mrs. Thornhill is also looking forward to working with such a high-level JV volleyball team and getting to watch their progress over the season. “I’m just kind of along for the ride and enjoying every second of it!”

Ms. Emily Stevens is returning to teach freshman history. PHOTO: Pace website

Ms. Emily Stevens is coming back to Pace after taking a one year break for COVID-19 safety. During the free time she gained last year when not teaching, Ms. Stevens rediscovered some activities she loves to do. “I started playing D & D again, after decades of not having played,” she said. “I was able to join my nephew and brother’s campaign on zoom and hang out with my family.” Also because of her enthusiasm for history, Ms. Stevens found the opportunity to sort through her family papers and history. “It was really fascinating to learn about my great grandparents and some of the seriously cool stuff they did,” she said. Ms. Stevens is very excited to be able to interact with students again and teach in a classroom setting. “I am really enjoying the energy in the classroom. The excitement that students have is something that I didn’t remember in its intensity.”

Mrs. Barbakow is excited to return to Pace this year. PHOTO: Pace website

Ms. Erica Barbakow returns to Pace this year after a two year break from having twins and for COVID-19 safety. Ms. Barbakow made the best of staying from school for another year and took the time she had to be with her family. “I certainly feel terrible about all the people that have suffered and died with COVID-19, but in some ways, the silver lining was getting to spend the extra time with my family,” she said. Ms. Barbakow has had to adjust to the hard task of teaching students in masks this year. “It makes it harder to connect with students and get to know their names when before I knew their names before they came in my door for the first day.” Her best advice for students starting the school year is to take a deep breath and give yourself some grace. “If we’ve learned anything from the last 18 months, it’s that we all need to be kinder to each other.”

Dr. Jason Brooks is teaching sophomore and senior English this year. PHOTO: Pace website

Dr. Jason Brooks is joining Pace this year as an English teacher. He recently moved to Atlanta over the summer and is excited to get into the rhythm of Pace. “One of the things that draws me to Pace is the level of responsibility the school expects of the students,” he said. “I think that this idea of teaching responsibility and then holding students to a standard relative to it is awesome.” Dr. Brooks is very passionate about teaching English and likes how he can learn  from what his students have to say. “Every time a student sees something that I hadn’t really thought about before, it’s really exciting for me,” he said. Dr. Brooks is excited to attend some of the sporting events at Pace and to experience traditions like Spirit Week. “I’m excited to get in the rhythm and to really be able to challenge students to the best of their abilities.”

Mrs. Millaway is the new psychology teacher and counselor this year. PHOTO: Pace website

Mrs. Ellye Millaway is joining the faculty this year as a counselor and psychology teacher. Mrs. Millaway likes counseling because of the problem solving aspect of it and the support she can provide to students. “I like to help them take their problem into their own hands and break it down to figure out a solution,” she said. Mrs. Millaway is looking forward to working with the students at Pace because of how dedicated they are to their work. “I’m most excited about working with very motivated students that are very passionate about learning,” she said. “All the students in my classes are asking good questions and really diving deep into the material, which has been great.” Mrs. Millaway is looking forward to taking her three-year-old son Carter to the football games this fall. “He loves watching football so I think that will be so fun!”

 

 

 

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