Our Humanities Teachers
Adam Gilman - Humanities Teacher
Adam Gilman is relocating to Baxter from Preparatory Charter High School in Philadelphia, where he has taught ninth-grade world history, tenth-grade U.S. history and twelfth-grade government and global studies (and a little algebra, too), and where he piloted an AP U.S. Government Club, coached the chess team and co-founded the Prep Charter Reading Task Force to improve reading comprehension and foster a pro-reading school culture.
His classes focus on real-world issues, connecting the skills of the historian— focused inquiry, research, analysis, problem solving, and writing—to contemporary challenges. Through a variety of collaborative projects, his students pose questions and seek solutions to challenges such as providing clean drinking water and food to the world’s growing population, dealing with the impact of wide-scale immigration in the developed world, revamping failed development strategies, providing economic and social justice to the world’s most disadvantaged populations, and maintaining a fair and equitable historical narrative in the age of big data and entertainment media.
Mr. Gilman says, “I have always been a firm believer in democratic learning and project-based inquiry, and I look forward to expanding these types of collaborative assignments into co-designed semester- or year-long projects at Baxter. The vision of Baxter Academy is not only one of collaborative learning, but of collaborative teaching as well, which is one of its most exciting features from my perspective. I can’t wait to start co-planning and co-teaching with my colleagues from across the disciplines.”
Mr. Gilman has a B.A. in history and an M.A. in African Studies, both from UCLA.
Fun facts about Mr. Gilman: He’s been to thirty countries (and counting). He taught himself chess, drums, and guitar, and he has also recently learned to love running. He once worked as a rare-book supervisor, and he collects both books and LPs.
Breanne Lucy - Humanities Teacher
Ms. Lucy is a proud alumna of Barnard College in New York City, where she earned a bachelor's degree in English/American literature and a minor in German (she still likes to brush up on Deutsch). Ms. Lucy received her M.S.Ed from the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education.
Before Baxter, she was a founding humanities teacher at the LINC, a project and technology focused public high school in the School District of Philadelphia. At the LINC, she worked with her technology, history, and art colleagues to create an interdisciplinary curriculum, including a "dystopian worlds" project that culminated in a student-created dystopian film festival. She also developed an expeditionary learning curriculum where students worked with non-profits, museums, artists, and legal scholars throughout the city to study the U.S prison system.
Ms. Lucy loves helping students overcome challenges and develop new skills. She's impressed with the diverse talents and perspectives Baxter students bring to the table, and is grateful to work with smart, innovative colleagues.
Fun facts: Ms. Lucy never, ever forgets a face and is probably a super-recognizer. She acted in outdoor Shakespeare productions with casts of 100+ students during college. She can sometimes get Bingos in Scrabble. You might see her going on runs during lunch break or before staff meeting.
Kelly Orr - Humanities Teacher
Kelly earned her Bachelor's degree from Bowdoin college in Art History and Spanish and to this day uses her PMA membership as often as she can. Kelly began her career at North Yarmouth Academy, teaching philosophy and ancient history to ninth graders, as well as coordinating the outdoor education program. She spent two years teaching humanities at Harpswell Coastal Academy in the expeditionary model, where she fell in love with authentic learning experiences and interdisciplinary projects. She is looking forward to her second year at Baxter, splitting her time between the Summit Experience and the Engineering Pathway, as well as heading up Baxter's budding Restorative Justice program.
Fun facts about Kelly: she is an avid triathlete, whitewater canoeist, distance swimmer, canner and pickler, and napper. She has traveled around the world, speaks fluent Spanish and a bit of Aymara, and hopes to someday ski in Japan and bike her way through Cambodia. Last year, Kelly led her advisory to eternal glory during the spirit week competition and has spent the summer scheming how to repeat the performance.
Sam Scogin - Humanities Teacher
Mr. Scogin has a bachelor’s degree in American studies and literature from Marlboro College and a master’s in education from Goddard College. For the past two years he’s been team-teaching honors courses at Maine Central Institute using a project- based model that integrates history and English.
A strong interest in anthropology has led him to build projects around cultural artifacts that reveal something about the society that created it. In one project, he and his students worked on an ethnography of the United States in the 1950s using artifacts such as TV dinners and early video games.
Mr. Scogin says: “I see my job as a humanities teacher as one where I strive to create a balance between an open doorway to the outside world and a safe space where students can gain perspective on that world. From this vantage point, we gain the ability to see the interconnectedness of the human experience, especially how technology changes that experience. We can weigh technological advancement and the role it plays in changing our society. Science, technology, math, and engineering depend on the humanities just as much as the humanities depend on STEM subjects for further inspiration. My teaching asks the questions that binds these disparate subjects together and provides the context to move forward with whatever the human experience will be.”
At MCI, Mr. Scogin advised the school’s faculty about using technology in the classroom and was a dorm parent to international students. He advised the Model United Nations and coached the soccer, cross country, and rifle teams.
Fun facts about Mr. Scogin: He spends at least one week a year alone in the backcountry and so he’s hiked almost all of the Appalachian Trail. He wants to paddle the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and would love to fly fish in Mongolia. He is an amateur woodworker, a hobby diesel mechanic and grease-car conversion specialist, and an organic gardener. He hates mayonnaise and is learning how to be a sushi chef.
Aleah Starr - Humanities Teacher
Ms. Starr has spent the past three years teaching English to 9th and 10th graders at Boston Preparatory Charter Public School. While at Boston Prep, she advised the student mentoring club, partnered with WriteBoston to improve student composition, got 30 seconds of playing time in the student vs staff basketball game, and served as the 9th grade Grade Level leader. She is teaching ninth-grade Humanities this year at Baxter.
Ms. Starr graduated from Colby College with a B.A. in English and Education, and received a Masters in Effective Teaching from the Charles Sposato Graduate School of Education. Prior to receiving her Masters, Ms. Starr worked at a middle school in inner-city Boston as a Teacher resident in the Match Teachers' Residency program. While, at Colby, Ms. Starr was a peer writing tutor at the Farnham Writers’ Center and a mentor and program coordinator for Colby Cares about Kids.
Ms. Starr is excited to learn from her students and co-workers at Baxter. She says; "I am continually impressed by students' ability to drive their own learning and love the natural curiosity they bring to the classroom."
Fun Fact: Ms. Starr grew up in the smallest U.S. state capital which also happens to be the only one without a McDonald's. She loves manatees and is a master parallel parker. She can guess people's Meyers Briggs profiles on the first try.
Katelyn Virmalo - Humanities Teacher
Ms. Virmalo is highly experienced in achieving remarkable results from challenging classroom circumstances. Until 2009, she was head of the English department at the Bushwick School for Social Justice in Brooklyn, New York, where she used creative writing, role-playing, and close relationships to provide unique learning opportunities—even for students who often spoke English as a second language. She received the Most Dedicated Teacher and the Most Creative Teacher awards while there.
Most recently, she has empowered incarcerated youth at Long Creek Youth Development Center to express themselves through murals, poetry slams, community gardens, and a school newspaper. She has volunteered her time and talent to The Telling Room and Blunt Youth Radio.
She has an undergraduate degree from Radford University, and an MS in Education from Queens College, Queens, New York. Between degrees, she lived in Bangkok, Thailand for two years, teaching at The American School of Bangkok and mentoring youth through arts and athletics programs.
As an English teacher, Ms. Virmalo’s goals are to strengthen communication skills—reading, writing, listening, and speaking—that will apply to any path her students choose. She facilitates critical thinking. Her favorite part of high school English is celebrating student work with literary publications.
Ms. Virmalo says, “I am thrilled to be a member of Baxter Academy where talented educators collaborate with students, parents, and the community to build a school where learning is innovative, meaningful, and relevant to our ever- evolving world. My work with diverse populations, from at-risk youth to international students, has demonstrated that everyone learns differently. Baxter Academy is a school where all learners will be challenged and engaged.”
Fun facts about Ms. Virmalo: She is a traveler, reader, baker, seamstress, yogi, and mother. She has taken class with the Croatian National Ballet and walked the Great Wall. She uses the Oxford comma.
Alex Waters - Humanities Teacher
Alex Waters comes to Baxter Academy from Park City Prep Charter School in Bridgeport, CT. At Park City Prep, Mr. Waters taught 7th grade social studies covering the medieval world in Europe, Africa, China, Japan, and Mesoamerica. In addition to teaching social studies, Mr. Waters has taught a number of semester-long elective courses on topics ranging from the history of Bridgeport to an introduction to the stock market.
Mr. Waters grew up in Union City, CA (in the San Francisco Bay Area) and came East to attend Dartmouth College. Upon graduating with a B.A. (double major in Government and Anthropology), Mr. Waters moved to Stamford, CT to begin what would eventually become a 14-year career as a commodities trader. In his role as a trader of electricity and natural gas, Mr. Waters developed a fascination with the intersections of business, natural resources, and public policy.
Upon leaving the trading industry, Mr. Waters earned his M.A.T in secondary education from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT.
Mr. Waters’ teaching emphasizes the interconnectedness of academic disciplines, and the power of each student to make an impact in the world. With an inquiry focus, Mr. Waters’ students use research, data analysis, writing, discussions, and debates to develop real-world solutions to real-world challenges.
Mr. Waters says, “It is said that no man is an island. In the same vein, no field of study exists in a vacuum. Reading literature without historical context robs books of their meaning. Studying history without understanding economics fundamentally misleads the student. Forging ahead in science and technology with no ethical framework creates moral hazards. The world is nuanced, interconnected, and complex. That complexity is precisely what makes it so fascinating. I strive to help my students see this complexity for what it is; an amazing story, of which they are an integral part.”
Fun facts about Mr. Waters: He was a high school debater and a college rugby player. He has lived in 6 states (PA, OR, CA, NH, CT, ME) and 2 countries (Switzerland being the other one), and has a lifetime goal of visiting every US national park. Mr. Waters plans to learn to snowboard this winter, with possibly disastrous results. Mr. Waters lives in Portland with his wife and their two daughters.