Just as the green leaves on the trees around campus change to hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, every new school year is marked with the inevitable changes that occur within our School community as well. When we kicked off the 2022-2023 academic year earlier this month, not only did we welcome dozens of new students to our community, but we also brought nine new teaching faculty into the fold. Joining our faculty team this year are Emma Oehl, Marco Weber, Andy and Kathryn Field, Yvonne and Mike Pledger, Melody Hopkins, Kyla Walsh, and Vanessa Wade. With so many new names, faces, and backgrounds, what better time than now to introduce our new team members!
While we always welcome an outstanding intern teacher from Germany every year, this year we are so lucky to have two, Emma Oehl and Marco Weber, joining our team! Ms. Oehl will be working in both the Junior and Senior Schools supporting our English Language Learners (ELL) while also enriching the lives of the girls on Upper Jodrey and helping with our volleyball programs. Ms. Oehl’s fellow countryman, Mr. Weber, will also be working with our ELL students while taking a leadership role in boys’ dorm and with our junior varsity boys soccer team.
Although some of the KES routines and landscape might seem new to Ms. Oehl and Mr. Weber, two more of our new teaching faculty, Ms. Kyla Walsh ‘15 and Ms. Melody Hopkins are a little more familiar with campus. Ms. Walsh, a lifer here at KES who graduated in 2015, will be teaching chemistry in the Senior School and starting her second year in dorm with the girls of Middle Jodrey. Ms. Hopkins, on the other hand, while not an alumna, did spend time as a teacher here from 1998-2005 and returns to the Senior English classroom. Before returning to KES Ms. Walsh completed her master’s degree in chemistry and worked as a chemist for a pharmaceutical company while Ms. Hopkins spent time at international schools in Southeast Asia.
Working alongside Ms. Walsh, Ms. Hopkins, and the other houseparents this year will be new Assistant Head of School, School Life, Vanessa Wade and new Director of Student Life and Wellness, Yvonne Pledger. Mrs. Pledger is joined by another new faculty member, her husband, Mike Pledger who will be teaching Senior School science and mentoring the boys of Buckle House. Prior to moving into Vair McLellan House, here on campus, Ms. Wade worked as the Academic Director at Holy Trinity School and in leadership roles at Havergal College in her home province of Ontario. Meanwhile, Yvonne, originally from St. John’s and Mike from South Africa, had stops in China, Montreal, and Labrador (where Yvonne was school principal and Mike a teacher at the same school) before settling into campus life here in Buckle House.
Rounding out our new faculty are another husband-and-wife duo, Andy and Kathryn Field. Andy, who hails from Halifax, will be teaching in our Senior School while coaching our Highlander girls basketball team and Kathryn, who claims Scotland as her home, will be teaching Pythagorean Theory to the bright young minds in the Junior School. Although new to the teaching faculty, Mr. and Mrs. Field have known KES from a different perspective over the years as their daughter Julia ‘23 has been an outstanding four-pillar star since her arrival in Grade 9. Both Andy and Kathryn spent many years at Aberdeen International School in Scotland where they held administrative and teaching positions prior to returning to Canada and eventually joining our team at KES.
Most of our students will get to know these new additions at the front of their classes or in their dorms, but there are a few little-known facts worth noting. Ms. Wade, for example, was once in a band and recorded an album! Mr. Pledger lived in Botswana for 12 years. Ms. Walsh is an amazing home chef and baker and the cupcakes she made for her Grade 9 English class are still talked about to this day! Ms. Hopkins grew up in a deaf household and so is quite comfortable communicating in sign language. Mrs. Pledger has spent time living and teaching in eight countries other than Canada! If that wasn’t enough, Mr. Field shared that he was once chased out of the water by a great white shark while surfing an outer rock reef in Nova Scotia, but Mrs. Field shared that despite her husband’s harrowing experience, she is now learning to surf herself! While sleepwalking one evening, Ms. Oehl accidently sat on a cactus – ouch! Finally, Mr. Weber is an avid swimmer who can hold his breath under water for more than two minutes!
While our new faculty come to us with diverse experiences, there has been a common theme to their early days on campus. One new faculty member remarked how “impressed [they] have been by the warmth and openness of the students and staff”, while another added that everyone on campus has been “so kind and eager to help others”. A final sentiment worth sharing was offered by yet another member of our team who said, “Everyone is welcomed with open arms and hearts – no matter their background or heritage. You feel like being part of a big family from day one on.”
Junior School Faculty
Basketball & Rugby Coach