School welcomes new staff members for 2014-15 year

Matthew Ross

The school has welcomed a total of 14 new staff members to the Redwood community this year, including an administrator, wellness director, and two counselors.

Ten teachers representing seven different departments joined the Redwood teaching staff: Nickolai Butkevich, David Minhondo, Marta Di Domizio, Amy Mastromonaco, Marissa Peck, Daniel Martin, Kendall Pope, Nicole Mortham, Byron Nelson, and Beth de Carion.

Candace Gulden and Ian Scott have joined the counseling staff, and Larry Pratt is a new Assistant Principal. Jessica Colvin has taken on a new position as Redwood’s first wellness director.

Marta Di Domizio helps a student in her seventh period science class. Di Domizio is originally from Italy.
Marta Di Domizio helps a student in her seventh period science class. Di Domizio is originally from Italy.

Colvin was hired by the Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) to create wellness centers at each of its schools, beginning with Redwood; the district plans to launch the center in the fall of 2015, according to Colvin.

The diverse collection of new teachers features multiple international backgrounds and experiences. Physical education teacher Byron Nelson spent a year studying at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, and social studies teacher David Minhondo carries dual citizenship in the United States and France.

Social studies teacher Nickolai Butkevich worked at a human rights organization for 12 years, after earning a Master of Arts in Russian Area Studies through Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Butkevich said he learned that resources such as technology are a critical part of teaching, and Redwood offers what other schools and communities are often unable to provide in this area.

Science teacher Marta Di Domizio studied at the University of Venice in Italy. She then worked at a green-tech startup in New Zealand for 10 years to gain experience in engineering. Di Domizio, like many of the other new teachers, has been most impressed with the high level of academic motivation at Redwood.

“It’s a very high-functioning school with very high-functioning, motivated students,” she said.

Beth de Carion, a resource teacher within the special education department, said that one significant difference between Redwood and other schools at which she has taught is the high expectations the teachers have for the students.

“The  culture of  the school is  more  driven,” de Carion said.

Some teachers are Bay Area natives, and many were educated in the area—numerous teachers attended University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, and University of California, Berkeley for both undergraduate and master’s degrees. Counselor Ian Scott grew up in Marin County, and science teacher Amy Mastromonaco attended Redwood before studying behavioral neuroscience at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

For many of the new teachers, the community support is an important and positive aspect of the school.

“I wanted a school that had a strong community,” Scott said. “The staff, students, and parents are all really supportive,” he said.

“The parents are involved, the administration is supportive, and the teachers collaborate and work together all for the good of the students,” English teacher Kendall  Pope said.