Farewell to Our Departing Teaching Faculty

Of the departing faculty this year, several have been with The Northwest School for decades, and others are retiring after lengthy teaching careers.

John Baldwin

After 30 years of teaching, five of which he spent here at The Northwest School, Math Department Chair John Baldwin is retiring. He and his wife, Kate, recently bought a “beat up” house in Bend, Oregon, and plan to swing hammers, visit with Bend friends, and occasionally travel north to Seattle to visit family. John’s choice to settle down on his home turf of the United States comes after many years of global travel and teaching. He started with the Peace Corps in Ghana and West Africa, then taught at an International School in Italy, came back to New Jersey to spend several years at Princeton Day School, and in 2015, went to teach for a year in Taiwan at the Taipei American School. John is happy that he spent his last few years of teaching here at The Northwest School. With characteristic brevity, he says, “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here.”

Laura Ferri

Laura has been teaching and mentoring Northwest School students for 28 years, all the while writing original plays, adapting others, and directing enumerable sophisticated and powerful productions for both Upper and Middle School casts. Among the many standout performances guided by her hand are the Upper School’s 2008 production of House of Spirits, which Laura adapted from the novel by Isobel Allende, and this year’s original Middle School Advanced Theatre play, The Fourth Green Field, about “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland stemming from over 800 years of contentions English and Irish conflict.

Laura’s departure from her teaching role will allow her more time to work on a plethora of grant-funded theatre projects, including working with the blind and low-vision community on a play featuring both sighted and blind actors; and working with the Alchemist Theatre Company on a play about how immigrant experience morphs when they come to America.

Melody Haff

Since Melody began teaching at Northwest in 1999, more than a thousand ESL students from all over the world have come through her grammar, literature, and writing classes. She has helped students from Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, China, Mexico, and many other countries successfully transition into confident and conversant English speakers. One of her most memorable moments over the last two decades happened on a grade level trip to Hurricane Ridge in 2001. She stumbled on a rock, broke her leg, and had to be carried down the mountain on a gurney by the Forest Search and Rescue team. It took several hours but they made sure to lift her up so she could enjoy the view.

Michelle Kowals

Michelle moved back to the United States from Spain in 1992 and dedicated the next 27 years of her life teaching Spanish to students at The Northwest School as well as raising her daughter. Initially hired as both an ESL and Spanish teacher, Michelle has ushered hundreds of students from the beginning steps of speaking a second language to the thrill of conversing in Spanish with host families on the trips to Spain and El Salvador. Beginning this summer, Michelle will be pursuing professional opportunities that will bring passion to her life, one of which is to start a tutoring business, and another, to volunteer at KCBS 91.3, the public radio station serving the Seattle-Tacoma region. In her words, “I will start saying yes to the things I’ve always wanted to do.”

Adina Meyer

After 30 years of teaching Humanities at The Northwest School, Adina is taking what she calls a “50s gap year” to embrace her passion for experiencing new people, cultures, and locations. She and her husband will go on an-around-the-world trip, starting in London and stopping in more than 20 places, including cities such as Edinburgh, Paris, Biarritz, Barcelona, Sicily, Ferrara, and Dubai. They’ll also explore countries such as New Zealand, Viet Nam, Vanuatu Island, Ethiopia, Egypt, Greece, Morocco, and Turkey. Upon her return to Seattle, Adina plans to dive into a new career: In fall 2020, she will become a student again, pursuing a Master's of Divinity at Seattle University.

Other departing teaching faculty include: Yaqi Bick, Mark Burton, Sarah Eklund, Suzanne Fox, Bradley Horst, Molly Mac, Daren Salter, Jeremy Scheuer, Susan Sutton, Nico Tower, Randy Wanless, Elliot Weeks, Hannah Wertzberger, and Mimi Yang.