Faculty & Staff Updates

Annie Wright Schools' faculty and staff commit themselves to students and their families, providing and supporting our exceptional programs and inspiring a lifelong love of learning.


Quinci Adams, Marketing & Communications Manager
After earning a bachelor's degree in Sociology from Goucher College in Baltimore, MD, Quinci returned to her hometown of Tacoma, serving as an administrator and Summer Program Director at Harbor Montessori School in Gig Harbor for five years. She brings her passion for independent education and her love of storytelling to AWS, where she attended from Grades 2-8
Lillian Austin, Marketing Designer
After earning a degree in Graphic Design from the Art Institute of Seattle, Lillian worked for several local companies, a government agency, independently, and, until recently, for Saint Martin's University in Lacey, Washington. Lillian believes that there is a creative genius in all of us and enjoys bringing that out in each individual. One of her favorite books is, "Orbiting the Giant Hairball," which explores how to "rise to orbit" to the mode of dreaming, daring and going above and beyond the rubber-stamp confines of the administrative mind-set.
Lyndsey Casey, Kindergarten Teaching Assistant
After earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology and K-8 teaching certificate from the University of Washington, Lyndsey taught at Gig Harbor Academy as a Kindergarten Assistant and Hosanna Christian School as a Third and Fourth Grade Teacher. Lyndsey was also an Adoption Program Analyst at Agape Adoptions. She believes in creating a caring classroom, nurturing curiosity, and inspiring a love of learning throughout life.
Deena Cummings, Kindergarten Teaching Assistant
After many years working as a teacher assistant in Texas, Deena Cummings moved to Washington where she worked for the Peninsula School District in a multi-aged STEAM school. There, she worked with students individually and in small groups to help with letter recognition and reading fluency. Deena loves helping kids become better readers.
Heather Curl, Upper Schools Social Studies Teacher
After earning her BA / Teaching Certificate in History from Haverford College and teaching middle school English in Philadelphia, Heather returned to school for graduate work. She earned her MSEd and EdD in Teaching, Learning and Curriculum from the University of Pennsylvania and then taught in the Education Program at Bryn Mawr College. Most recently, she taught at the master's and doctoral levels for Antioch University in Seattle and - across age levels - believes that teachers learn just as much from their students as their students learn from them! Dr. Curl has published in the fields of social class, student voice and change and her forthcoming book The “Culture Shock” of Social Mobility: Complications and Costs of the American Dream will be available in 2023.
David Firestein, Middle School Math & Theater Teacher
After earning his BA and teaching credential from Brandeis University, David spent sixteen years teaching in the Bay Area. Mr. Fire believes that learning must be rooted in joy in order for it to extend beyond the classroom. His passions outside of school include music, film, theater, and community empowerment, and he can say the alphabet backward faster than you can say it forward.
Ben Foutz, Upper Schools English Teacher
Ben earned his BA in English Literature and master’s in Teaching from the University of Washington before teaching in Tacoma Public Schools for nine years. Having taught multiple IB DP courses, including Language A and Theory of Knowledge, Ben’s primary objective as a teacher is to continuously develop his students’ inquiry skills. When he’s not working, Ben is likely teaming with his wife to wrangle their two young children through a gauntlet of activities that create as many memories as they do messes.
Heidi Gillmore, Middle School Counselor
After earning her master’s degree in Professional School Counseling from Minnesota State University, Heidi worked as a middle school counselor in Northern Virginia for 4 years. During her first years as a school counselors she enjoyed working with middle school students to develop their social emotional and personal skills, teaching development courses to all middle school students, and participating in many school sponsored events. Heidi hopes to continue working with and alongside her new student body at Annie Wright!
John Haymond, Upper Schools Social Studies teacher
After earning a BA in History and English Literature at the University of Minnesota Duluth, John obtained his master's degree in History at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, before teaching history in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. John is passionate about helping students engage with history in ways that will inspire them to a lifelong appreciation of the subject. An award-winning historian and widely published author in both the US and Great Britain, John is also an avid kayaker, hiker, and traveler with a weakness for ruined castles and old bookshops.
Evan Hildebrand, Learning Support Specialist
After earning his BFA in Theatre from Pacific Lutheran University, Evan began working throughout the professional theatre community in Seattle in various roles. The one he found most fulfilling was as a Teaching Artist with Village Theatre. He then decided to pursue his master's in Teaching from Seattle University, where he graduated in 2018. The first four years of his teaching career were spent as an English and Theatre Teacher at Spanaway Lake High School. Outside of school, Evan is an avid reader and yoga practitioner!
Ryan Johnson, Upper Schools Science Teacher
After earning a BS in Biology from Bowdoin College, Ryan spent two months hiking in the wilderness of Idaho and Montana. He has spent the last 15 years teaching biology, coaching track and cross country and guiding outdoor education trips in a local independent school. He cares for the environment and applies his love of the outdoors to understanding the complex and intricate relationships that connect every living thing together. He enjoys that biology is messy and complicated, and strives to make environmental justice part of his everyday curriculum.
Robert Kearns, Dorm Parent
Robert earned his master's in Education School Counseling from the University of Southern California. He has been a coach and mentor for middle- and high school-aged students for the last 8 years. Robert believes in inspiring the youth he works with to achieve their goals. He is educated in a strength-based approach to counseling and sees the best in each person he works with.
Katie Miller, Middle School Math Teacher
After earning her bachelor's degree in Math and Economics from St. Lawrence University and a master's degree in Education from the University of Connecticut, Katie has spent the last 9 years teaching in independent schools where she also served as a coach, grade level Dean, and Director of Experiential Education. Katie loves showing students how they can use their mathematical thinking to solve real world problems.
Jillian Nettels, Lower School Art Teacher
After earning a bachelor's degree in Studio Art and History of Art and Architecture from the University of Pittsburgh and a Masters degree of Art Education from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Jillian taught in various private studio centers and public schools in Pittsburgh before teaching in Tacoma and Bethel school districts for the past 15 years. Jillian believes in student choice and voice in their art making and supports young artists with the “Teaching for Artistic Behaviors” pedagogy.
Kelsey Osborne, Grade 4 Teacher
After earning her bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Linfield College, Kelsey taught third through fifth grade for 7 years. Kelsey promotes a positive and inclusive classroom environment where everyone learns from each other. She is an alum from Annie Wright Schools, attending Kindergarten through Grade 8, and is looking forward to rejoining the community.
Leon Phillips, Upper School Math Teacher
After earning a degree in Mathematics with Business Studies at the University of Warwick, Leon went on to teach in Chicago before moving to Tacoma and embarking on a brief 24 year stint as a Middle and Upper School teacher at the same independent school. His passions include riddles, magic, escape rooms, games, and chocolate, and he attempts to bring all of them into his lessons at some point (along with a healthy dose of laughter!).
Lauren Taber, Grades 1 and 2 Classroom Assistant and After School Arts Specialist
After earning her BA in visual arts and education from the University of Puget Sound, Lauren was hired at Annie Wright Schools as an arts instructor and assistant for Summer@Annie Wright. This fall, Lauren joins AWS in a full time position. Lauren specializes in painting as her main artistic medium, but enjoys the arts in all its forms. She believes creativity can be found in all disciplines. In her free time, she likes to walk her best dog friend, a chiweenie named Ginny.
Betsy Thornewood, Upper Schools Social Studies Teacher
After earning a master's degree in History from Brandeis University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Lewis and Clark University, Betsy spent the next seven years teaching various courses, including IB History and Theory of Knowledge, at Sunset High School in Beaverton, Oregon. Betsy believes that all students should see themselves not just as students of history but as makers of history and strives to make sure students see themselves reflected in the curriculum she teaches. Outside the classroom, Betsy is a board game geek with Settlers of Catan and Warhammer ranking among her top favorites.
Carie Ward, Grade 6 Humanities Teacher
After attaining a bachelor's degree in Ecology and a master's degree in Education from Smith College, Carie taught Grades 3 - 5, supported diversity work, and led experiential learning and outdoor education trips at the same independent school for 22 years. She is passionate about learning alongside young people as they develop as community members and consider perspectives in history and literature. An adventurer at heart, Carie especially loves exploring the outdoors with students.
Ben Woolley, Upper Schools Math Teacher
Growing up in the UK, Ben earned a master's degree in Mathematical Sciences from Oxford University and then master's degrees in Veterinary Medicine and Epidemiology from Cambridge University. After working as a veterinarian for ten years, he returned to mathematics, teaching first at Bedford School and then at the Stephen Perse Foundation. Moving to the US in 2018, he settled in independent schools in Tacoma. When not teaching, Ben spends his time writing math textbooks and playing card and board games.
Zack Zielinski, Grade 2 Teacher
After earning a bachelor's degree in Education from Central Washington University, Zack gained three years of experience teaching fifth grade for Tacoma Public Schools. He then moved to Thailand where he taught Grade 4 in an international PYP school for four years. Zack focuses on building positive relationships within his community and is committed to developing his students' ability to work as part of team. After serving as a maternity leave substitute during the 21-22 school year, Zack is joining AWS in a full time role for 2022-2023.

Faculty and Staff Shifts

We are thrilled to fill several positions with returning faculty members.

Lower School Positions
  • Current Teaching Assistant Annabel Fernandez will become a PS Classroom teacher.
  • Current Kindergarten Teaching Assistant Holly Gilbert will become a Grade 1 teacher.
  • Current Grade 4 teacher Ariel Glavick will become a Grade 1 teacher.
  • Current Preschool 3-4 Teacher & Wrap-Around Program Coordinator Adrienne Peterson will become Early Childhood Director
Upper School Positions
  • Current Upper School for Boys Social Studies teacher Andres Eguiguren will become a full-time Dorm Parent.

Faculty & Staff News

See current employment opportunities here.

July 2022: Learn about the 2021-22 recipients of the Bev Brown Excellence in Teaching and L.T. Murray Family Chair for Excellence here.

August 2021: Joy Phelps, Lower School Admissions Director, retired at the end of August. Joy has served 45 incredible years at Annie Wright, teaching and leading in the Middle School, serving Lower and Middle School families in admissions, and providing a warm welcome to all. 

July 2021: Learn about the 20-21 recipients of the Bev Brown Excellence in Teaching Award here

June 2021: Chris Spivey has been named Nisqually League Girls Basketball Coach of the Year. Learn more

May & March 2021: Nate Jones has been named Nisqually League Tennis Coach of the Year...twice! Once in March for boys tennis and then again in May for girls tennis. Learn more.

April 6, 2021: Director of Upper School for Girls Eireann Corrigan publishes her eighth book. Learn more

February 24, 2021: AWSPA launches Endeavor Grants program to fund faculty & staff learning. Learn more

February 18, 2021: Annie Katica Green has been appointed to serve in the new Director of Arts role, starting July 1, 2021. Learn more

January 13, 2021: Jeremy Stubbs has been appointed Director of Upper School for Boys, starting July 1, 2021.  Learn more.

December 18, 2020: Alicia Mathurin has been selected to receive the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Lifetime Service Award by Tacoma’s City Events and Recognitions Committee. Learn more.


Annie Wright Schools
827 North Tacoma Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98403

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Founded in Tacoma, Washington, in 1884, Annie Wright Schools serve students from age three through high school. Annie Wright Lower and Middle Schools offer coed programs in Preschool through Grade 8, while separate Upper Schools for girls and boys offer day and boarding options in Grades 9 through 12. Annie Wright is proud to be an International Baccalaureate World School.