Upper School English teacher LESLIE DEPIETRO knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was a teenager. Beginning as a camp counselor in high school, Mrs. Depietro has always found working with kids to be her passion. Her favorite part of working with high schoolers is the entertaining interactions that she gets to have with students on a daily basis. “Students are some of the funniest people you could spend time with; the conversations we get to have in class, the variety of conversations, the daily experience of there always being something new.” Growing up with Harry Potter books, Mrs. Depietro’s drive to teach English stems from her love of reading. Her favorite aspect of teaching is getting to discuss books with her classes. Not only has she been looking forward to knowing her new students, but Mrs. Depietro is excited to be a part of the Pace community as a whole. “In looking around, Pace is one of the only private schools that has really put diversity, equity and inclusion at the forefront of their culture. That was the first thing that caught my eye because I feel like the world needs that more right now.” Mrs. Depietro is anticipating what the new school year will bring. “I’m thrilled to be here, and to get to know everyone more!”
Upper School math teacher LAURENTIU SEGA was born in Romania and later went on to earn his undergraduate degree at the University of Bucharest. From a young age, Dr. Sega has always had a love for mathematics. “I had phenomenal math teachers growing up, really great professors and humans, so I ended up loving math and thinking about how to teach it.” After earning his undergraduate degree, he received his Ph.D in mathematics at Purdue University. He has spent the majority of his teaching career working at the University level, specifically at Purdue, Harvard and Augusta university. Teaching high school students will definitely be a different experience for him, but he is excited for the new experience, and, “didn’t think twice,” he said.
Upper School computer science teacher ALEX ERMIDES is from upstate New York, where he taught middle school students. Describing his love for teaching, Mr. Ermides appreciates sharing his new findings with others. “I have always liked learning a lot. I’ve always just thought that if there’s a really cool narrative that can explain something I just think it’s really interesting, and I love sharing those narratives.” Along with teaching new material, his favorite part of class is when it finally clicks for a student. “I really like helping someone understand something. When you can see when they’re like ‘Oh, I get it!’, like you finally explain it, and they finally figure it out in their mind and they become excited about the thing that you really like teaching people about.” Mr. Ermides believes that computer science should be a welcoming environment for anyone who is thinking about joining. “I think anyone who is interested should take computer science. I don’t want anyone to be intimidated by it. I will make it accessible to everyone. It’s really useful if you want to be an artist, or a scientist, or an engineer or anything; using computers efficiently will help you become so much more productive. And it can be really fun. Take computer science!”
Upper School chorus teacher CHRIS BARBEE began teaching choir, voice and music theory at a non-profit music education organization in Birmingham, Alabama. After completing his Bachelor’s degree, he traveled to Latvia where he sang in competitive groups and worked with other community choirs. He then went on to work with students in the Tiger Glee Club at LSU while earning his master’s degree. Mr. Barbee is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Pace community. “I wanted to work with highly motivated students who always want to progress and grow while being part of an active and vibrant arts program as I work to help build an active and competitive choral program,” he said. “I hope to help carry forward and grow the tradition of excellence already set in place by seeking out more opportunities to challenge ourselves as musicians via progressively more exciting and interesting choral music.”
This year the pace community also welcomes Upper School Spanish teacher Jenna Dwyer. Mrs. Dwyer is from Montgomery, Alabama, but she has lived in Atlanta for a couple years. She received her bachelor’s degree from Auburn and earned her masters at the University of Georgia. Prior to this year, she was a part of the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship program and taught at Holy Spirit. She was inspired to become a teacher because of her mom. “My mom wasn’t a teacher, but she was good at teaching me things. So I think I learned a lot from her and I just love helping other people understand things” said Mrs. Dwyer. When she teaches, she wants her students to trust her, and she said, “I want them to feel like I would be a good person to talk it through with.” If she is not in the classroom, she might be found baking or hanging out with her cat. Mrs. Dwyer said, “I’m happy to be here and I’m looking forward to the year.”
Upper School history teacher Gary Nelson is originally from the Alabama coast. Mr. Nelson has always loved school. “I always knew I wanted to teach. I think that I just loved my teachers and wanted to have a similar impact on people” said Mr. Nelson. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history at Huntingdon College and then went on to get his master’s from Auburn University. He is excited for his new role in the upper school along with coaching the football team. He hopes to build strong relationships with his students and to inspire them to work hard in and outside the classroom. “I want to be a relationship builder here. I hope to be someone who can get to know our students, and just remind them to work on becoming our best selves.” When he is not at Pace, he loves to read dystopian fiction and exploring nature trails.
Upper School ceramics teacher Ty Nicholson looks forward to being a part of the pace community. He grew up in Southern California, and then he went into the Army for four years. Afterwards, he studied studio arts at the University of West Florida. Outside of the studio, he enjoys spending time with his family, cooking and crossword puzzles. When he took his first ceramics class, he said, “Immediately, there was a connection between myself and the material. It was above and beyond everything that I’ve ever experienced in art.” After earning his bachelor’s, he received his master’s at Georgia State University. His work has been in many different exhibits such as the LH Gallery in Oregon. Some of the projects he has worked on in Atlanta include the Rosa Parks sculpture near Georgia Tech and the Martin Luther King sculpture at the Capitol. Also, prior to Pace he taught at North Atlanta High School. “Having this creative outlet is such a beneficial way to express yourself visually” said Mr. Nicholson. In particular, he loves the moment where everything clicks for the student and when they are proud of the work they have created. He said, “I’m happy to be a part of the Pace family and hope to pass forward to my students the confidence to believe in themselves.”
Upper School English teacher Hope Rogers is thrilled to be at Pace. She is from Lilburn, Georgia, and received her bachelor’s degree from University of Georgia. After she went on to earn her doctorate at Princeton University. In her spare time, Ms. Rogers likes to play with her dog and bake. Ms. Rogers always loved English from a young age. She said, “I loved when a teacher would talk about books and bring up all of these details I never noticed. I really wanted to be able to do that for students of my own.” When talking about her goal as an English teacher, she said, “I really want to empower students to be part of that conversation about literature. I want them to articulate those ideas and make their own arguments.”