Mornings with MAC – Abel Edition

Get to know your Science Faculty with your weekly installment of Mornings with MAC!

Guest Post by Michael Codrington ’18Mornings with MAC logo

Welcome to yet another great installment of Mornings with MAC! This week, amidst AP season, I was able to sit and chat with Biology teacher Willa Abel. Ms. Abel is an instructor in biology and a movie extraordinaire (but more on that later 🙂 ). I talked with Ms. Abel right after her 6th period class and she has the pleasure of being the first person that I’ve interviewed that I had not personally met before.

FA 3185575 Abel, WillaMC: What do you teach at Andover?
WA: I’ve taught 3 courses in my time here. I teach primarily Bio 100 but I’ve taught Bio 500 and I’m teaching a senior elective right now.

MC: How long have you been working at Andover?
WA: This is my fifth year.

MC: Where did you go to College? What did you study?
WA: I went to Williams College as an undergrad and studied biology.

MC: What is your favorite thing about Andover?
WA: Ohhh, hm, I think the overwhelming sense of community, and well, for a lot of us we feel ambivalent about it sometimes it’s too intimate with students and teachers but it’s a fairly unique situation and we have fairly fantastic students. Sometimes we forget how abnormal we are, in a good way.

MC: If you weren’t studying/teaching biology, what other discipline would you be in?
WA: I am an amateurish writer, so I fantasize about writing a book. I love languages, and I speak German, so I fantasize about taking a sabbatical to teach German. History as well, there’s many topics that I can be excited about teaching like global topics and colonialism. I can imagine teaching a course like that… if someone would let me!

MC: What’s your favorite movie?
WA: ….

MC: ….
WA: hm?

MC: …
WA: Sorry, I haven’t seen many recently you’ll have to come back to me – Hahaha!

MC: It’s ok. What’s your favorite song out?
WA: I think it would have to… um… this may sound a little bit cliche, but I like Bob Dylan’s, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Alright”, it’s been one of my favorite songs for a while. Also, Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet” is easily one of my favorites.

MC: Do you consider yourself an easy or hard teacher?
WA: I guess you’ll have to ask my students, but I like to think that I am demanding in terms of I have a good number of assignment that people have to keep up with daily and there’s a good volume of work, I’m not particularly flexible. I try to make the tests a reflection of all of the incremental work they’ve been doing in the class. So, I don’t consider myself a particularly hard grader, but you’ll have to ask my students.

MC: What’s one thing that a lot of people don’t know about you?
WA: My international background. Before coming to Andover, I’ve lived in a lot of countries and taught in a lot of places. It’s very different than Andover. My previous lifestyle was very internationally involved and that would separate me from your typical teacher.

MC: Ok, here we go again… snapchat with Ms. abel
WA: Oh, no.

MC: What’s your favorite movie?
WA: It’s a movie that I watch over and over again but it’s a bit of a chick flick, so I won’t confess it. I love Victorian novels and their movie adaptations, so Jane Austen, George Eliot, that type of stuff. *Pulls out Laptop* I’m just gonna IMDB search real quick. I do actually like a lot of movies, I swear. Just oneee second. I would say, “To Kill a Mockingbird” might be my favorite. It’s hard I do have a lot of favorites I’m so sorry.

MC: It’s more than ok, thank you so much!
WA: Have a good one thank you!

For suggestions for further Mornings with MAC, or other inquires, email me at mcodrington@andover.edu!

Mornings with MAC – Artacho Edition

Get to Know Your Science Faculty with your Weekly Installment of Mornings with MAC!

GUEST POST BY MICHAEL CODRINGTON ’18Mornings with MAC logo

Last week on Mornings with MAC, I interviewed my former teacher and biology department chair, Leon Holley. This week, we’re sticking with teachers that I have had the pleasure of being taught by.

Carolina Artacho Guerra is in her second year as a teacher of robotics and physics. She has 3 sections of Physics 270 (including my 4th period one) and 1 section of Physics 400. In the fall, she taught robotics, a senior elective, and she took some time before class on Tuesday to sit and chat with me.

MC: What brought you here?FA 3688753 Artacho Guerra, Carolina
CA: Honestly, the students. When I came in, I was not sure about the fit and it was all new and I sat in Ms. Odden’s astronomy class but she wasn’t there because she was sick. Her students were there though and they showed me around and were super nice, they talked about their projects. We even went to the observatory and they were so welcoming and willing to talk about their projects and I just thought yeah this is it, this would be great.

MC: Where did you go to college? What did you study?
CA: I did my undergrad Bryn Mawr college a small all-women’s liberal arts college in..

MC: New York 
CA: Philadelphia

MC: Dang I was close – hahaha
CA: Hahahaha – points for effort close enough, but yeah I did my graduate work when I was working full time at the University of Connecticut. I majored in physics and bilingual science education.

MC: What is your favorite thing about Andover?
CA: The students. I think that’s why, I hope that’s why, we all enjoy teaching. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had to do. Seeing students grow from September to now is so rewarding. Day to day interactions with students and getting to know them and stuff, it’s just really fun. And Andover students just go above and beyond. They’re so willing to engage and trust me. It’s really fun and enjoying.

MC: If you weren’t studying/teaching physics, what other discipline would you be in?
CA: Ahhh I don’t even know. I’d say anything that requires lots of thinking and working.

MC: Like chess?
CA: What? Hahaha – chess?

MC: I didn’t know what the criteria was – I know feel like you weren’t thinking about chess – Hahahaha! 
CA: No, not chess. Umm oh… like.. maybe like, I did a bunch of theater work before kids. I did a lot of dance theater stuff just for fun. I really liked the techy aspect of it. Also computer programming, like programming, website design.

MC: What’s your favorite movie?
CA: Oh good lord that’s so hard… you guys always ask me this, like every term and I give you a different answer every time. So, anything by Hiromi Ozaki is always beautiful and has great storylines. Those new superhero movies are great. When I’m feeling feisty I love things like Hedwig and the Angry Inch, like I love the genre that challenges gender stereotypes. I’m a sucker for everything Disney even though as a feminist I find obvious problems with certain things.

MC: That’s fair – hahaha
CA: Yeah it’s a recurring thing – hahaha – does that answer your question?

MC: Yes. Do you consider yourself an easy or hard teacher?
CA: I guess it depends what you’re talking about. So, I’m pretty chill and relaxed about things you know, deadlines are not too important for me, I put a lot of faith in the fact that students are making good decisions and doing what they’re supposed to be doing. I understand that there’s a lot of things going on in your life. That being said, you can’t be disrespectful in my class. There’s a very clear line you know. I mean you would probably be better off asking my students about this.

MC: What’s one thing that a lot of people don’t know about you?
CA: When I was a high schooler, I was the shyest, quietest most reserved person. I had this very small group of nerdy quiet friends and that was fine, I had no problem with it, I’ve just become more outgoing and exuberant throughout the years.

MC: Have I been your best student ever? 
CA: Define best.Snapchat-1455432555

MC: Like number 1 ever, like if you had to rank me.
CA: Well, when we met for our midterm conference, you gave me very honest great answers and you come in and you’re goofy and playful but you engage and bring your whole persona to the class.

MC: Andover or Milton?
CA: Oh Andover, easily, I mean I’m here right.

MC: Thank you very much I’ll see you later.
CA: Did you do the homework?

MC: …. Bye Ms. Artacho!

Mornings with MAC – Holley Edition

Get to Know Your Science Faculty with your Weekly Installment of Mornings with MAC!

Guest Post by Michael Codrington ’18

Mornings with MAC logoGood morning loyal fans and new readers, this is Mornings with MAC. Last week, in our inaugural issue, we interviewed Mr. Jose Peralta, instructor in introductory biology and Bartlet house counselor. This week we’re sticking with biology, but transitioning to chair Leon Holley. This particular Morning with MAC was an opportunity for Mr. Holley and myself to reunite for the first time since February of 2015, when I took his class for two terms. It is safe to say that Holley missed me big time.

FA 3044617 Holley, LeonMC: What do you teach at Andover?
LH: I came to Andover in September of 1993. I teach Biology, Over the years, I’ve taught a variety of courses, but currently I’m teaching biology 500. I’ve taught biology 100 and various other types of courses… Since I’m the department chair, I pretty much fill in where there is possible disparity.

MC: How long have you been working at Andover?
LH: I came to Andover in September of 1993.

MC: What brought you here?
LH: I came to the Academy working in the (MS)^2 program over one of the summers. I came for a summer and it was my introduction to Andover. Once I saw the Academy and how amazing it was I was pretty much sold.

MC: Where did you go to College? What did you study?
LH: I went to Howard University in Washington D.C. I was a Zoology major. At Howard they split up Zoology and Botany and there’s not just 1 biology major.

MC: What is your favorite thing about Andover?
LH: I guess it’s the.. Wow there’s a lot of things, jeez. I think I would have to say it’s vision. Like there’s so many things that go on here, like the (MS)^2 program, we have the IRT program, you know the saying “Youth from Every Quarter”, that’s just one of the many things we work towards, you understand?

MC: Yeah
LH: It’s all the pieces and the outreach that the academy has. It always stood out that way.

MC: Do you have any advice for aspiring Science Teachers?
LH: If you’re a science teacher, then you have to continually re-educate yourself. Science is always changing, something that is finite for only short periods of time. Science is continually moving forward.

MC: I hear you’re a huge whale fan?
LH: Whales?

MC: Yeah so, like can you talk about it, I don’t know how to phrase that – hahaha
LH: Yeah, I do like whales. I was working in summer session and I got picked to Chaperone the whale watch and it was amazing. It was 26 species of whales, it’s just like tv they jump out the water.

MC: What?
LH: Yeah and we had this one humpback whale that ended up following us and was playing games with us and got underneath the boat. That was my whale introduction.

MC: What’s your favorite movie?
LH: Wow, that’s a hard one. Favorite movie… Well I’ll give you a recent one. It’s called The Arrival and it’s like a first contact with aliens and we’re trying to communicate with each other, it’s really well done and shows you how communication works when you don’t have anywhere to start. I like the human approach to trying to understand the language. You have to see it, I’m doing a bad job describing it.Snapchat-1451131681

MC: Do you consider yourself an easy or hard teacher?
LH: I’d think I’m in the middle. I’d hope that I have something to offer all types of students with all sorts of backgrounds and that they all learn and feel challenged.

MC: Was I the best student you ever had?
LH: What?

MC: Was I the best student you ever had?
LH: You? Absolutely.

MC: Hahaha! Thank you very much Mr. Holley.