Meet the Upper School Team
Whether she’s face-to-face with students or peers, Cara Henderson counts as her highest calling the role of learning facilitator. “Teachers are charged with harnessing our students’ natural curiosity and channeling it as we guide them through the inquiry process,” she says. “I truly believe that learning is most meaningful when contextualized within real-life experiences.”
As head of curriculum and instruction and interim head for our new Upper School, Angela Flowers brings nearly 20 years of teaching and education administration experience to St. Francis—along with a dedication to working hand in hand to shape our foundational high school program.
Relevance. John Madden will tell you this is the heart of education. “If students cannot perceive how the information we are discussing applies to their life, they have very little reason to incorporate that knowledge into their long-term memory,” the veteran educator asserts. “The learning experience has to be engaging—not just of interest to the student but also intellectually stimulating.”
The daughter of two math professors, Cara Matzen was reared with “an appreciation for mathematical reasoning and analysis—along with math jokes and fun, brain-bending paradoxes.” Ms. Matzen contends that math and fun do, indeed, make for the happiest of playmates. Hers is a student-centered, discussion-based classroom that nurtures confidence in tackling complexity in math—and life—in creative and satisfying ways.
T. Riley took his first swing in education while still a graduate student at the University of Houston. The former Division I baseball player and team captain showed his trademark drive as he worked his way up to assistant athletic director in the school’s athletics department, scoring valuable experience in administration, as well as event and facilities management. A calling for a “closer connection” to students led to a teaching and coaching role at nearby St. John’s School, where his 12 years there included posts as assistant athletic director, head baseball coach, and PE teacher to students in Lower through Upper School.
This relatable adviser is the guiding light set to illuminate the path to higher education for our Upper School students. Steven Scales joined St. Francis in 2017 with nearly a decade of college counseling experience.
After a successful career launch in the business world, including roles in trade floor management and fulfillment in New York financial firms, Shai Zacaraev got the call from a friend that would turn his job and life goals upside down. His friend insisted he apply to teach computer science at the Packer Collegiate Institute, a pre-K–12 independent school in Brooklyn. “He said it was exactly the role I was meant to do,” recalls Mr. Zacaraev. The fortuitous advice led to six years at Packer, where he taught programming to students in grades 6–12; designed a new freshman computer curriculum; chaired an accreditation computer science committee; served as Middle and Upper School technology coordinator; and found his true calling.