Ransom Everglades announced the creation of three integrated academic departments – STEM, Humanities and World Languages & Global Studies – designed to amplify opportunities for interdisciplinary and collaborative learning in 2019-20 and beyond.
Dr. Doug Heller ’80 assumed the helm of the STEM department as chair; Jen Nero became Humanities chair; and Dr. James Monk, chair of World Languages & Global Studies. The individual academic disciplines will be overseen by department coordinators: Dr. Henry Stavisky ’85 in math; Jay Salon in science; Dr. Corinne Rhyner in English; and Dr. Jonathan Scholl, history and social sciences.
“This ‘three-legged stool’ is emblematic of the approach guiding our work on both campuses,” Head of School Penny Townsend said. “We are on a constant quest to improve opportunities for collaboration, creativity and connection to ensure our students are fully prepared for the challenges they will face in college and after. The combined talents and vision of Dr. Heller, Ms. Nero, Dr. Monk will take our brand of scholarship to an even higher level.”
The restructuring represents a facet of the school’s overarching REinventing Excellence campaign. That $75 million campaign has been the driving force for a revitalization of the upper school campus and all of the school’s programs.
The department leaders will lead their colleagues in connecting the disciplines through projects, courses and co-curricular work. RE’s faculty will continue to provide a rigorous liberal arts education rooted in experiential learning, problem-solving, and service while also pushing students to innovate, create, and think outside the box.
“Universities are increasingly creating curriculum based on interdisciplinary and integrated studies, and thought leaders like TED and Singularity University are emphasizing the importance of thinking broadly and collaboratively,” said Dr. John A. King, Jr., Associate Head of School. “It is also incumbent upon the faculty at RE to prepare students to contribute to a world that places such a high value on the ability to connect and synthesize diverse ideas.”
The school’s signature world languages curriculum begins with an intensive study of Spanish in the middle school; Monk and his department members will continue to fine-tune that program while further developing the RE Seal of Biliteracy. That seal will recognize students who have earned proficiency in at least two languages, and who have surpassed the standards established by the State of Florida and the Miami Dade County Public Schools.
Heller arrived to Ransom Everglades in 2016 from the University of Miami, where he had served as a senior lecturer for more than a decade teaching chemistry, organic chemistry and biochemistry while co-authoring the textbook Visualizing Everyday Chemistry (2015). Prior to that, he served as program manager of the International Forensic Institute at Florida International University. He earned his BA in chemistry at the University of Kansas; and his MBA in finance and economics, and MS and PhD in organic chemistry, at the University of Chicago
Nero has been at Ransom Everglades since 1997, teaching a range of courses including World Civilizations, AP U.S. History, AP Macroeconomics/Microeconomics and Global Studies and Entrepreneurship, a course she co-developed in 2016. Nero launched the RE Business Challenge which has evolved into a regional independent school competition, and served as founding sponsor of the school’s microfinance club, LEAP. She is leading the school’s Southern Association of Independent School’s reaccreditation process after having served as co-chair of the curriculum committee for the last accreditation. Prior to becoming Humanities Department chair, she served as chair of the History and Social Sciences Department for 14 years. She earned her MA in political science at Marquette and BA in political science at Providence College.
Monk returned to RE in 2019 after having served as world languages department chair at the school from 2005-07. During his 12-year hiatus from Ransom Everglades, Monk worked on curriculum and assessment at the College Board, International Baccalaureate and American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. At the College Board, he oversaw the redesign of AP exams in Spanish, French and Italian. At International Baccalaureate in The Hague, Netherlands, he oversaw curriculum, assessment and professional development. At ACTFL, Monk designed new proficiency assessments and supervised the work of more than 2,000 examiners across the country. Monk earned his BA at Wabash College, his MA in Spanish and PhD in Romance Languages from the University of Pennsylvania. He speaks English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch and German.