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The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

Fresh faces, new staff bring passion, excitement

Photo courtesy Sophie Ehrlich
Social studies teacher Sophie Ehrlich (left) graduated from Wootton in 2017. She currently teaches honors U.S. history and said she is excited to be back.

Students are back in the building, ready for a fresh new year of learning. This year, the school welcomes nine new teachers and administrators. These teachers bring experience, excitement for school activities and passion for learning across all subjects.

Gavin Kramer – science
Gavin Kramer is in his sixth year of teaching. He started his career at Wheaton, where he taught for three years before moving to Boston, where he taught at charter schools for two years, before coming here. He is currently teaching physics and is the adviser of the robotics club.

Kramer graduated from Wootton in 2011 and hasn’t seen much change in the school since he left. “It’s very surreal. I took physics in the same room that I’m teaching in, and I was hired by my old physics teacher, [Mike] Thompson. So it’s very strange coming back in the position now as the one in the front of the room. But at the same time, it feels like a homecoming and it’s fun,” Kramer said.

Sophie Ehrlich – social studies
Sophie Ehrlich is beginning her second year of teaching and teaches the Honors U.S. History course. Last year, she served as a long-term substitute at Hoover Middle School. Ehrlich graduated from Wootton in 2017 and was involved in the drama department. She hopes to work with theater in the future but wants to focus solely on teaching in her first year back at the school.

Bringing energy and passion for U.S. government and history, Ehrlich looks forward to challenging her students to reach their full potential. She also places a high value on students’ mental health and well-being. “I want all students to know that school is not everything, that it is important to have a life outside of school and your grades do not determine anything,” Ehrlich said.

Margaret Broe – acting assistant principal
Although this isn’t her first year at the school, Margaret Broe enters a new position as acting assistant principal this year. Previously she served as the personal finance teacher and internship coordinator.

Broe started her career in Montgomery County in 1989, where she worked in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program for 25 years before becoming a consulting teacher. In this role, she provided new or underperforming teachers in MCPS with support and advice. Broe has worked at Rock Creek Valley and Flower Valley Elementary schools, as well as Rockville High School, before coming there.

Over the past two years, Broe has been the class sponsor for the Class of 2025, as well as a club sponsor for DECA and other clubs. “I was really impressed with how the students here want to get involved. These are amazing kids. It restores your faith in humanity, and it’s like, I think we might be OK if these kids take over someday,” Broe said.

Mimi Ridge – math
Mimi Ridge brings 29 years of math teaching experience, with 23 years in MCPS. Previously, she taught at Westland and Hoover Middle Schools. She is working with freshmen and sophomores this year, teaching Honors Geometry and Algebra 2.

Ridge has a special connection to the school, as her husband played football here. She looks forward to attending football games and other school events with him to show her school pride. “(I) love Wootton. All the students have been so supportive and nice to me. It’s been very warm and welcoming so far,” Ridge said.

Jose Albertini – world languages
Jose Albertini is in his second year of teaching, and this year he is teaching the Spanish 3 and Spanish 5 classes. Albertini is a native Spanish speaker, as he was born and raised in Cuba, before coming to the U.S.. He views this as an advantage to helping students learn more about Spanish culture.

Albertini comes to us from Walter Johnson, where he took part in the PTSA and other school activities. He looks to continue his involvement in school athletics, culture, and community. “Walter Johnson was a very big school. About 3,000 students. I find the size of Wootton to be perfect for the staff and the students. I think there’s a level of intimacy that you can achieve in the classroom, which is very difficult at a larger school,” Albertini said.

Eileen Gardner – asst. school administrator
Eileen Gardner has been a teacher for 10 years. She started her teaching career as a media specialist in Howard County then in MCPS at Drew Elementary and Paint Branch. This year is her first year as an administrator. Prior to becoming a teacher, Gardner worked in human resources, but after having kids, decided to switch her career to something that aligned better with her family schedule. “I’m excited this school year to build relationships with students, help the instructional program in the school and be a resource for families and staff. I want to make sure that when I’m here every day, I’m doing my best to help students do their best,” Gardner said.

David Fantegrossi – math
David Fantegrossi teaches Honors Statistics and Calculus with Applications. Entering his 24th year of teaching, he brings a wealth of experience. Fantegrossi started his teaching career at Woodrow Wilson High School in D.C., before teaching at Montgomery Blair, Paint Branch and then Whitman. “Every time I change schools, the exciting part is just the chance to reevaluate what I do and reinvent my approach to the profession. I would say that is what I’m most excited about, trying new things. I’m teaching courses that I haven’t taught in a long time, so I’m investigating some new ideas,” Fantegrossi said.

Philip McTimoney – CTE
Philip McTimoney teaches the AP computer science principles and Programming 1 courses. For over 40 years he’s been programming and working with computers, and looks forward to transferring his passion to his students. “I’ve had no bad experiences with any student, and I love the spirit in the school, so it’s just been wonderful. The team I’m working with and the administrators that I briefly got to meet, I think it’s all been a very positive experience so far,” McTimoney said.

Casey Hopkins – social studies
Casey Hopkins is in her first year of teaching, as she takes on the Honors Modern World course. Previously, she served as a student teacher at Northwood. “I’m enjoying getting to know the students. Still trying to learn their names, but they’re fun to talk to,” Hopkins said.

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Kate Hawley, editor-in-chief
Kate Hawley is an Editor-in-Chief in her fourth year on Common Sense. She enjoys playing soccer, baking, and spending time with friends. She hopes that you enjoy Common Sense as much as she enjoys writing for it.
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