New Faculty Bring Wealth of Experience and Energy

New+Faculty+Bring+Wealth+of+Experience+and+Energy

Sarah Warren ~
Assistant Director

This year, the Upper School is welcoming a new Assistant Director, Sarah Warren. As she enters her 13th year working in education, Warren recalls what made her decide on teaching in the first place, stating, “I remember there was a short stem where I thought I wanted to be a doctor, then I realized I was both not very good at science, if I’m being honest, and I started thinking back, as a child, my dad had this huge marker board in his office and my play was playing with the marker board and setting up the class and pretending to be a teacher.” Warren taught at the collegiate level before deciding to work more with high school students, something she enjoys greatly. Warren notes that Blake’s commitment to its values is what drew her in to the school, she says, “As I was looking at particular schools  I really appreciated the values that Blake espoused…Some schools, when you read their website and then go to interview, the school doesn’t talk about their values in the interview. Particularly things around diversity and equity were really important to me and I wanted to see that not just the token one question was asked, but that it actually came through in multiple places. So I was impressed by that.” Overall, Warren is excited to launch into the school year, and settle into her new position.

 

Natalia Romero ~
Choir Director

Natalia Romero, the new choir director of the upper school has been teaching for eight years. Beginning her career in education at Saint Olaf, Romero recalls her first experience teaching high school choir, saying, “I got to teach high school choir and I loved it, I mean I loved the teachers, I loved how creative and bright and sassy and dramatic, I don’t know I just loved it and I remember looking around like oh my god this is what I want to do the rest of my life.” Coming from Saint Paul schools, Romero states that her attraction to Blake was largely due to its strong sense of community. “Everybody is connected in some way… I’m from Colombia, I’m an immigrant and my family is from Texas and I moved to Minnesota by myself, I didn’t know anyone, I started from scratch and so the thought of coming to a school that is not only an upper school community but just a community of people that are there to help students and serve the community and are thinking critically about who we are and how we want to live in the world is really exciting to me”. Apart from her new position, Romero shares that she is the host of Stage, a television show on PBS that aired this summer. The show is focused around music in Minnesota, each episode taking place in a different venue. Altogether, Romero is very excited to begin her time at Blake and sing with her new choir students.

 

Ilah Raleigh ~
Director of Arts

 

Ilah Raleigh, the new Director of Visual and Performing Arts, loves salsa dancing and watching Only Murderers in the Building. Her first job involved teaching as a mother’s helper for babies as an eight year old, then from there, she became a babysitter, and later on a nanny. Once Raleigh began to have her own kids, she started teaching in schools. Raleigh’s inspiration to become an educator all started with her own teacher who taught an important lesson consisting of: “Everybody who is an artist is also a teacher, and you just have to accept that that’s part of the job.” Raleigh is excited for the new school year and was drawn in by the “wonderful reputation among educators because of the quality of education.” She is also looking forward to getting involved with the art programs in all three campuses. Raleigh mentions that her favorite part of the first day of school is the “Fashion Parade”, because everyone wears clothing that expresses their image and gives a first impression of people.

 

Daniel Willms ~
Math Teacher

Daniel Willms, math teacher, has had a very unique path to teaching in Minnesota. He started off teaching at Lincoln Park High School in the Chicago Public School system. Then he taught at an international boarding school in New Mexico before teaching at an international school in Muscat, Oman. He’s excited to try a different curriculum as “the last school I was at was an IB school, a full IB school, so from the primary years up to the diploma program. Before that was also IB, and before that was IB sort of combined with the Illinois State Curriculum, so it’s been a little while. I haven’t done a pure geometry course in quite a while, but I’m excited to have the opportunity to do that.” Willms’ decision to return to Minnesota was an easy one. “I grew up in St. Paul, so it’s sort of like coming home. I still have lots of family here; you know, after the pandemic and everything that was going [on] we wanted to come back and be close to family again and Blake was a great opportunity to do that.”