Whitman community welcomes 14 new teachers


With the start of the school year, Whitman welcomes 14 new teachers to the staff. Almost every academic department gained at least one new teacher this year. Twelve agreed to be photographed by The Black & White. Photos by Kurumi Sato. First row: Jenn Taylor, Chris Grindley, Joan Keller and Caitlyn Corey. Second row: Ana Maria Romera, Miriam Bellaire, Cody Therrien and Stacy Levy. Third Row: Jeff Heckert, David Fantegrossi, Chris Williams and Kathleen Mulholland.

By Zara Ali

With many teachers departing from Whitman last year and increasing enrollment in classes, 14 teachers have joined the staff this 2018-19 school year.


Chris Williams and Cody Therrien are both teaching AP Language and Composition along with other English classes. Both are teaching the AP Lang course for the first time.

Williams, who previously worked at Gaithersburg High School, has been teaching for 18 years.. He hopes to be a role model for students and help them reach their full potential.

“I was really inspired by my teachers when I was younger,” Williams said. “A lot of them helped me out when I was going through difficult times and that inspired me to be the same.”

Therrien has been teaching for 15 years in MCPS, mostly at Kennedy High School. Therrien studied journalism in college and went on to write for newspapers in New England, including the Portsmouth Herald and the Newburyport Daily News, before eventually changing his career path to teaching.

“I just fell in love with [teaching] and it was what I wanted to do when I woke up every morning,” Therrien said.


Miriam Bellaire and Kathleen Mulholland have joined the staff teaching Photo 2 and 3, as well as Ceramics and Foundations of Art, respectively.

After interning in the art department at an elementary school after college, Bellaire discovered her love for teaching. She taught at Kennedy High School for three years before going to graduate school. Bellaire plans on integrating more digital photography into classes.

“They hired me specifically because I have strong technical skill with Photoshop and Lightroom, and I like digital a lot,” Bellaire said.

Mulholland taught visual arts and all levels of ceramics at Magruder High School in Rockville for 23 years. She also served as the varsity field hockey coach for her entire tenure. Initially, Mulholland was unsure about pursuing a career in teaching, but eventually came back to the work she was most passionate about.

“My undergrad was research and critical writing for museum work and also fine arts, so when I graduated I worked with a big printing company,” Mulholland said.  “I missed the connection with teaching, so I decided to go back and finish up my masters and get into it.”


Honors World History teacher Jenn Taylor and government teacher Jeff Heckert are new additions to the social studies department. Taylor teaches part time at Whitman and spends the other half of her day at Walter Johnson.

Heckert has been working in Montgomery County for 20 years, 16 of which were at Watkins Mill High School. Outside of teaching, Heckert coached the varsity soccer team and considers himself a “sportsaholic.” Before getting the job, Heckert already had many close family friends at Whitman, including history teacher Gregory Herbert and department resource teacher Suzanne Johnson.

“I always had a passion for history. As a social studies teacher, it is neat to see the different curriculums because you learn about different types of history,” Heckert said. “Government is cool because you can tie it into current events happening in our landscape today.”


Algebra teacher Stacy Levy and precalculus teacher David Fantegrossi started at Whitman this year teaching different sections of previously overenrolled math classes to fill rising demand. Levy formerly taught Algebra 1 at Pyle Middle School, but has now shifted to teach on level Algebra 2 at Whitman.

Fantegrossi is teaching precalculus and Algebra 2. It will be Fantegrossi’s 19th year teaching, after six years at Montgomery Blair and 10 years at Paint Branch. Fantegrossi was inspired by his own high school experience to major in education in college, and subsequently ended up teaching math as well.

“As a kid, I was always pretty good at math. I understood it reasonably well, and for the most part I enjoyed doing it. So it was obvious to teach the [subject] I was good at.” Fantegrossi said.


In the science department, Joan Keller (‘02) is teaching biology and chemistry. In the engineering department, Caitlyn Corey has started teaching Introduction to Engineering Design and digital technology courses. Keller was originally interested in medicine in high school, but she ended up changing her career path after finding joy in teaching. Now, she teaches alongside teachers she had herself as a student, an experience she describes as “surreal.”

Corey started teaching at Whitman after spending the last four years at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. She studied mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and her experience being a T.A. in college inspired to be a teacher.


Personal fitness teacher Stacey Frederick joined the physical education department this year, though long term substitute Cheryl Hicks is teaching in Frederick’s place until November. Outside of teaching, Hicks has her own fitness company called Step N Sweat Fitness.

“It’s a fitness company that contracts with community centers in Montgomery and Prince George County, churches and schools,” Hicks said. “I started it in 1993, and I’ve been teaching for 35 years as an instructor.”


Chris Grindley has joined the staff as a paraeducator in the facilitative communications program and Theresa O’Leary is teaching in the School Community Based program. O’Leary mainly taught math and science for 15 years, most recently teaching at Pyle Middle School. At Whitman, O’Leary has been working with students with autism who communicate through typing.

“Most of the students who were in the special education program at Pyle moved here, so I moved with them,” O’Leary said.


Ana Maria Martin-Romera has joined the language department as a Spanish teacher. Romera is a Spanish native, originally receiving a teaching degree from Spain and teaching there for five years. For the last three years, Romera worked at Whitman as a long term substitute.

“When I was in Spain, I was teaching Spanish like a first language, and here I thought it would be appropriate to teach because I love my language, I love my culture, and I can transmit that to the students here and engage them in a lot of fun activities,” Romera said.