The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

2024 Edition: Departing Menlo Faculty Members

This collection of stories is an online extension and reproduction of the Coat of Arms 50.5 print edition. This package includes the original articles from the 50.5 News section and a few additional stories that highlight the careers and impact of departing Menlo faculty.

Marc Allard

Science teacher Marc Allard smiles in class. Photo courtesy of Pete Zivkov on Menlo Flickr

After 17 years working in Menlo’s science department, Marc Allard has decided to leave the school. Allard initially joined Menlo through an internship program and eventually transferred to a full-time position. Over the years, he has been the Science Department Chair, introduced new courses in the Whitaker Lab and taught classes like physics and advised robotics.

Allard said that it’s time for him to move on. “I would say that over the past ten years or so, the school has kind of been starting to go on a different path than my path, and so I think we’re now just pretty far apart,” he said. After Menlo, Allard’s plans are still undetermined; however, he hopes to continue teaching and is also looking for potential administrative opportunities.

Allard’s proudest accomplishments at Menlo have been the new electives he has developed, which include Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Design and Architecture and Applied Entrepreneurship. “It’s satisfying to me to see that kids are so interested in those classes,” Allard said.

In addition to his work in the science department, Allard has served as the faculty advisor to the Asian Affinity Alliance. “It’s great that we are providing a space for […] Asian-identifying kids, […] and I think that’s so important for the students,” he said.

Allard is grateful for the friendships he has formed with his colleagues during his time at Menlo. “I’ve just met a lot of great teachers here,” Allard said. “I’ll stay in touch with them for sure.”

Katina Ballantyne

History teacher Katina Ballantyne helps a student during tutorial. Staff photo: Geoffrey Franc

History teacher Katina Ballantyne will be leaving Menlo after four years at the school. Ballantyne has taught Modern World History and U.S. History, as well as the Criminal Justice elective. She is also the faculty advisor for the Fashion Club and the Middle Eastern and North African affinity group.

While Ballantyne began her teaching career as a long-term substitute teacher in Austin, Texas, she also taught in Waiʻanae, Hawaii as well as East San Jose before her arrival at Menlo.

Ballantyne loves teaching and sees it as an integral part of her identity, but will be taking a break from being an educator to give her and her partner more flexibility to support their family and start one of their own.

She said this includes spending time with and helping her aunt who had a bad fall in 2023. “My godmother — my aunt — she left Lebanon to come to the United States to help take care of me, and […] she’s always been someone really reliable and present and loving,” she said. “[My partner and I] came to the decision that we would like to be more proactive and more helpful.”

Ballantyne has enjoyed spending time with her advocacy, and a favorite memory is of the junior retreat earlier in the 2023-24 school year. “I just felt like we were all really happy to be together again,” she said. “And it was just very clear to me [that] there is a really strong bond here between me and the students in my advocacy and also between them.”

Ballantyne will also miss the connections she has formed with students during class activities and who she has taught for multiple years. “[There are] so many students that I can think of that were really enthusiastic [doing in-class simulations],” she said. “It’s really special to get to build really strong bonds with students, [especially] when you’ve gotten to teach them so many times.”

Timothy Morris

Math teacher Tim Morris makes coffee in his office during tutorial. Staff photo: Jacob Reich

After two years at Menlo, math teacher Timothy Morris will leave at the end of the school year.

Last year, Morris started at Menlo providing math support in the learning center and filling in for a teacher who was on maternity leave. This year, Morris teaches AP Calculus BC and Pre-Calculus and appreciates the interactive classroom dynamic at Menlo.

He has also enjoyed watching his students in out-of-school activities. “I’ve been really impressed with the plays and things like that that I’ve attended — they were really fun,” Morris said.

Morris received his doctorate in applied mathematics at the University of Colorado Denver and his master’s in bioinformatics at Northeastern University. Before his position at Menlo, Morris taught math at California State University, Sacramento and science at a middle school in the Boston area.

Morris left Sac State in 2016 because his wife got a job opportunity in Boston. In 2022, when his wife got another job opportunity — this time in California — he moved back to the Golden State. He will be leaving Menlo to return to Boston because his wife found another opportunity there.

Next year, Morris plans to either return to the middle school he previously worked at or teach at a high school or college in the Boston area.

Lena Pressesky

English teacher Lena Pressesky holds a muffin and coffee at Menlo Gives Day in 2019. Photo courtesy of Pete Zivkov on Menlo Flickr

This spring, English teacher Lena Pressesky will complete her fifth and final year of teaching English at Menlo. Pressesky and her partner are ready to own property but are unable to do so near campus. She is looking for a job — possibly in educational technology — that would allow her to work remotely, giving her the flexibility she needs to find a home. Pressesky plans to return to the classroom once she puts her roots down.

Pressesky gained her first experience as an educator playing teacher with her younger sister and stuffed animals. “When I was a kid, [teaching] always was something I wanted to do. […] It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I started thinking more seriously about what might be a good career for me long-term,”
she said.

Pressesky began teaching at Menlo the fall of 2019 after leaving her first official teaching position at Menlo-Atherton High School. “I wanted to see what else was out there, because M-A was all I knew at that point,” she said.

After her interview at Menlo, Pressesky knew she had found the right fit. “Menlo had a lot to offer in terms of not only being a great place to work, but just being able to kind of give me new growth as a teacher,” she said.

Initially, she taught English 1 and English 2 but transitioned to teaching English 2 and AP Literature in the fall of 2022. Pressesky has found unique benefits in all three positions. “I’ve really loved my experience, especially with the English 2 team, since I’ve been on that one for five years now,” she said.

However, teaching AP Literature has offered Pressesky more freedom. “At the same time, I was really ready to have a class that was, like, just my own and just be able to kind of make decisions about that,” she said.

The students’ spirit and curiosity are one of Pressesky’s favorite aspects of teaching at Menlo. “It changes your experience as a teacher, when the students, for the most part, really want to be there,” Pressesky said.

Looking back on her time at Menlo, Pressesky has most enjoyed bringing fun into the classroom. “My favorite memories inherently involve creativity, movement, and a fair bit of weirdness,” she wrote in an email to The Coat of Arms. She fondly recalls watching her students’ innovative performances of “Macbeth” and reading their deleted scenes from “The Great Gatsby” and “The Scarlet Letter.”

As she concludes her last year teaching at Menlo, Pressesky hopes she will leave a mark on the school’s culture surrounding grades.

“I want my students to know that they are loved and respected regardless of the grades that they get,” she said. “When I think about my impact, I think just being another adult on campus [..] who’s combating that narrative of ‘you have to be perfect.’”

Bill Silver

Chief Financial Officer Bill Silver attends a retirement party in 2017. Photo courtesy of Pete Zivkov on Menlo Flickr

The Menlo community will soon bid farewell to Chief Financial Officer Bill Silver after 20 years of dedicated service at the school. After wrapping up the 2023-24 school year, Silver plans to retire and continue guiding tours of Oracle Park, indulging in his love for the Giants. 

Silver started working in education in 2001 after a long career in the corporate sector, first managing the finances at Oak Ridge High School, where his kids were enrolled. In 2004, he arrived at Menlo, which coincided with a period of significant growth and development for the school, with major construction projects underway. “I didn’t think I’d be here this long,” he said. “[When I got here,] we were just adding onto the Upper School buildings.”

As Menlo’s CFO, Silver assumed ample financial responsibility during this period of expansion. “My job was to manage the finances of the school while we were spending tens of millions […] and make sure that we didn’t run out of money while we were doing that,” he said. 

In addition to overseeing construction projects, Silver played a key role in the annual budgeting process. “We’ve run a modest surplus every year, and put money aside in our reserves, for rainy days,” he said. 

Silver already has plans in place for his next role. “I’m a tour guide at Oracle Park, an employee of the Giants,” he said. “I get to walk around the ballpark […] talking about the Giants and that beautiful ballpark.”

As he looks back on his tenure at Menlo, Silver appreciates the work that he and the administration have accomplished. “We want to continue to deliver a good education […] to all the kids here,” he said. “And I think we do a very good job.”

Adam Whistler

Math teacher Adam Whistler helps sophomore Victoria Harding Bradley during tutorial. Staff photo: Sienna Lew

The end of the 2023-24 academic year also marks the end of math teacher Adam Whistler’s time at Menlo. After initially joining Menlo’s staff as a JV boys lacrosse coach in 2014, Whistler was hired as the first Learning Center Coordinator the following year. In 2018, Whistler left to receive his master’s degree from UC Berkeley and returned as an emergency substitute in 2020. Since 2021, he has worked full-time as a math teacher, teaching Analytical Geometry and Algebra in addition to Algebra 2 with Trigonometry.

Though Whistler currently has no plans set in stone for his future after Menlo, he knows it will still involve education or teaching. “[It’s] totally up in the air right now,” he said. “I’ve got some applications out to other schools that are closer to home, and tutoring is also an option.”

His main reason for departure is because of his commute. Living in Oakland while driving to and from Menlo every day is extremely difficult, and he sometimes spends 15 hours a week just in the car commuting. Whistler is hoping to convert his time spent commuting to time with his family and 18-month-old daughter. “It’s a lot of time that I don’t think is well-spent,” he said. “It’s really looking at those 15 hours a week, which is two-thirds of a day. They matter.” 

A change in environment will bring him both this newfound family time and also time for himself. “It gives the way for other [health] things, like working out and eating healthier,” Whistler said. “The less time you have, the more stress you add to your life.”

Whistler added that his Menlo experience has given him many fond memories as a coach and teacher, and has also allowed him to grow as an educator. He thinks he will most miss the Menlo community and the worthwhile connections he’s made here. “Teachers and kids form really close relationships […] and there’s also a lot of relationships between colleagues that I like and are really close,” Whistler said. “There’s lots of relationships that you build here that make it really hard to leave.”

 

 

 

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About the Contributors
Malia Chen
Malia Chen, Assistant Social Media & Marketing Director
Miki Kimura
Miki Kimura, Head Copy Editor

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 2

Favorite aspect of journalism: Learning new things about the Menlo community through interviews

Interests outside of school: art, music, anime, reading, writing, spending time with friends and family

Class of 2025

Jacob Reich
Jacob Reich, Online Editor
 

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 3

Favorite aspect of journalism: My favorite aspect of being on the Coat of Arms staff is the opportunity to conduct interviews where I get to meet and learn about new people.

Interests outside of school: I enjoy sports, games (board & video), and politics.

Class of 2025

Tatum Herrin
Tatum Herrin, Editor in Chief
 

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 4

Favorite aspect of journalism: Designing pages

Interests outside of school: Mock trial and lacrosse

Class of 2024

Riko Karachiwala
Riko Karachiwala, Staff Writer
Sienna Lew
Sienna Lew, Opinions Editor

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 2

Favorite aspect of journalism: discovering new things about our diverse community through the stories I pursue

Interests outside of school: poetry and creative writing, running, listening to music, hanging out with friends and family, mock trial

Class of 2026

 
Geoffrey Franc
Geoffrey Franc, Co-Editor-in-Chief
 

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 3

Favorite aspect of journalism: Telling people's stories and learning about the world through them.

Interests outside of school: history, running, and Mock Trial

Class of 2025

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