What to know about your new teachers

Oct 15, 2019 | Features


riel Balter: Ninth Grade English teacher Balter grew up in New York City and later went to graduate school at Tufts University, where she earned her doctorate in English and American Literature. Some of her hobbies are reading and writing. She also loves traveling, spending time with her family, and athletic activities.

What was your favorite part of the recent summer break?

We traveled to Iceland and Denmark, and that was fantastic. Mostly we were on the west coast of Iceland, mainly Reykjavík and areas near there, so we were in both city and countryside.

Do you have a goal for this year?

I want to understand and learn more about the Nueva culture as well as inspire students to be enthusiastic about reading and writing.

What has surprised you since you have joined the Nueva community?

I have been pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm and engagement of students—I heard good things about Nueva, but this exceeded my expectations.


oy Gao: Research Librarian Gao grew up in Nanjing, China, and she was in the process of moving to California when she heard about Nueva and decided to apply. She enjoys taking long walks in nature and is exploring different trails in California. She also likes shopping and is learning to cook.


Favorite book and TV show?

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; I used the book at first as a way to learn and improve my English, and then I fell in love with Jane Austen. A favorite TV series is “Seinfeld,” which was the first sitcom that I followed after I moved to the U.S., and it’s a very funny show.


What’s one of your hidden talents?

From this move across the country, I realized that I’m actually very good at organizing and very good at cleaning up. That’s a newfound talent.


Do you have a guilty pleasure? 

I read tabloids and People magazine; I guess it’s a guilty pleasure! I like shopping; that’s a guilty pleasure, too. 

Andrew Alexander: Math 3 teacher Alexander was born in Palo Alto, but he moved to Ithaca, New York. His parents worked at Cornell University, and he mainly grew up there, though he did go to elementary school for a year in Japan. He loves reading and writing as well as running, climbing, biking, and other outdoor activities.

Favorite part of your summer this year?

My favorite part was driving 3,500 miles from New York to California, which I did over the course of about 10 days. I did a lot of adventuring along the way, which was fun. It was my seventh cross-country road trip since college.

What are some of your favorite books?

The Brothers Karamazov and T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets are some of my favorites. In terms of contemporary books, I like The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean—a beautiful poetic book about love and family set in Montana—and then finally The Places in Between, which is a travel memoir by Rory Stewart who walked by himself across the mountains of central Afghanistan in the winter right after the U.S. invaded.

Do you have a goal for this year?

Just in general, it’s my first year at Nueva, so I would like to join the school and acclimatize.

Jasmin Miller: Ninth/10th Grade English

Miller grew up in San Diego and later went to UC Berkeley for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She loves spending time with her two-year-old son as well as going on family outings. She also likes running and is currently training to run a 10k.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I like to sing. I have never been part of a formal singing group though.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Probably watching rom-coms—my husband doesn’t like them very much, so it’s whenever I’m on a trip by myself that I’m usually able to watch one.

What song do you have on repeat lately?

Something that recently got stuck in my head is an old song, I think it’s from the 1970s, by an artist named Stephen Stills called “Love the One You’re With.” It’s pretty catchy, so if you’ve never heard it, I recommend giving it a listen!

Allison Alberts: 9th/12th Grade English

Alberts grew up in Virginia. She taught for a long time in New York, and later at an all-girls school in Connecticut. This summer, Allison and her children moved to San Francisco. She loves exploring the city, reading, and trying new and exciting foods with her kids.

Who is someone that inspires you?

Someone who inspires me is my teaching mentor, who I think about almost everyday. He taught me how to be a teacher and every time I plan something or think about what to do in class, I have his voice in my head coaching me through.

Favorite part of your summer?

I felt like I had two summers because I spent half of it in New York and half of it here. My favorite part was reuniting with my family after being apart for so long.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Chipwiches. I can never say no to a chipwich. (A chipwich is an ice cream sandwich made of ice cream between two chocolate chip cookies and rolled in chocolate chips.)

Paul Hauser: Chemistry & Biology

Hauser was born in Colorado, but grew up in Newport News, VA. Paul came to California in 2004 to study at UC Berkeley. He has two young kids and loves spending time with them. He also enjoys cycling, traveling, cooking, gardening, and going to art museums.

What’s a goal you have for this year?

I have many goals, but all of them center around learning as much as I can about the Nueva community and what makes it so unique and what inspires the people. A secondary goal is that I really want to do some project in the I-Lab.

Favorite place you have traveled to?

I’d have to say Morocco. I went there when I was in graduate school—pre-kids.

Is there anything that has surprised you since you joined the Nueva community?

The different expressions of creativity are really cool among the students, whether that’s artistic creativity, creative problem solving, or creative ways of argumentation and structural thinking.

Amber Carpenter: 10th/11th Grade English

Carpenter is originally from Chicago, but she grew up near the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. She has been teaching for the last 10 years, and has a Master of Fine Arts degree. She is passionate about writing, especially poetry and nonfiction.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

I love going fast—being on a waverunner or a jetski in the middle of the lake, and just going for it. I like the thrill and speed of things.

Who is someone that inspires you?

Jenny Boully, who was my professor and thesis advisor during my MFA program at Columbia College Chicago. She has written several works, both poetry and prose, and I aspire to have the dedication that she puts into her work, both as an educator and a writer.

Any artists you’ve been listening to lately?

Brandi Carlile—her concert is coming up in Berkeley and my wife and I have seen her quite a few times. She has an album called “By The Way, I Forgive You” which I have been listening to lately.

Kevin Quinn: Ninth/11th/12th Grade English

Quinn grew up in Michigan, and came to Nueva after working with Claire Yeo and Allen Frost in Hong Kong. Kevin enjoys reading and writing (currently finishing a novel) as well as playing tennis.

Do you have a hidden talent?

Hidden to some, perhaps, is that I’m a singer. I spent a lot of time in high school and college singing and I still do when I can, though I don’t sing as often as I used to.

Artists you have been listening to lately?

I have on constant rotation artists like Lizzo, James Blake, and Mozes Sumney.

Who is someone that inspires you?

My former head of English in Hong Kong, Hellen Parker. She is super intelligent, knows how to assemble a good team of people, and also has a very inspiring way of living her life—to enjoy life and not to deny yourself things. In a word, she’s awesome.

Rebecca Alaly: Calculus & Multivariable Calculus

Alaly grew up in Saint Louis. During college, she developed interests in dance, art, math, and teaching. She taught in New York for 10 years as a private tutor before she decided that she wanted to teach within a school environment. She enjoys dancing, music, yoga, and going to museums or art openings at galleries.

What are your hobbies and what do you like to do in your free time?

I do a few different types of dance that are very expressive—more contemporary dancing or concert dance. Another big hobby of mine is playing the fiddle in a folk-rock band. It’s one that I founded with my friends, and we play open mics or house parties. We’re recording our first album right now.

Artist you’ve been listening to lately?

I have been obsessed with Lizzo lately, and I really love her messages of body positivity and self-acceptance. That’s kind of my power music when I’m on the way to school getting myself ready for the day!

Who is someone that inspires you?

I’m very inspired by Anna Halpbirn, who is 99 years old now and has been choreographing and teaching dance since she was in her twenties. She was really the first person in the West to start using contemporary and modern dance for the purpose of healing and self expression. Sometimes I take a dance class with her and being in a room with someone who has been teaching people and helping them grow for so many decades is incredibly inspiring.

Qiao Liu: Math 3 & Calculus

Liu grew up in Tianjin, a city near Beijing. She came to California with her parents during middle school, went to high school in San Francisco, and then went to UC Berkeley for college. She likes trying new foods in different restaurants, cooking, and traveling.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

My guilty pleasure is fried chicken and milk tea. If I feel very stressed, really tired, or there is something I’m upset about, I go get fried chicken and that makes me feel so happy. Milk tea also makes me happy.

Music you’ve been listening to lately?

Lately, nothing in particular, but I really like Taylor Swift. I like how she changed over time and became a really talented woman.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I used to dance; I did Chinese traditional dance and I also did ballet for five or six years, but I stopped when I came here. I tried playing drums, and I’m still learning.

Bronimir “Bron” Adler-Ivansbrook: Calculus & Advanced Mechanics

Adler-Ivansbrook was born in New York and grew up in the East Coast. During middle school, he and his family drove across the country and ended up in Point Reyes, where he developed his appreciation for the environment and conservation. He enjoys reading and outdoor activities.

What do you like to do in your free time?

When I have free time, I love to go running and play ultimate frisbee. I also really like playing the flute and I read something everyday. I like to read fiction and nonfiction, so I usually end my day with a cup of tea and a good book. I am also an avid backpacker and mushroom forager. 

What is your favorite backpacking trip that you’ve been on?

The summer before my senior year of high school I did a National Outdoor Leadership School course. I went on a month-long backpacking trip to the Wind River Range—a gorgeous mountain range in Wyoming with rivers and lakes everywhere—and I was completely isolated when I was there.

Favorite book, movie, and TV show?

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is a phenomenal fantasy read. I’ve read it two or three times now, and everytime I go back to it I get something totally different out of it. It ties physics and religion in such a wonderful way and it’s also pretty dark, and I like that.

I’ve seen “Ratatouille” upward of 50 times—every time I got sick in high school and had to stay home I would probably watch it. I could almost quote the whole thing from start to finish. 

“Babylon 5” is a science fiction show from the 1990s and it’s just the most amazing science fiction grand epic.

Susan Seeley: Math 1 & Math 2

Seeley grew up in New Jersey and always knew that she wanted to teach. In college, she double majored in math and physics, and became a high-school math teacher for 27 years. She enjoys walking, cooking, spending time with her kids, and theatre.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Chocolate. My favorite kind right now is classic peanut M&Ms.

Who is someone that inspires you?

Danielle Dell is someone who inspires me. I’ve known her for a long time—I interviewed her for a job around 18 years ago. We’ve been colleagues and friends since then, and what inspires me is her moral compass and her focus.

What is a goal you have for this year?

As a teacher, I want to support students in reaching their full potential.