Jenny Billings: STEAM and ROV
Ms. Billings has worked at Kirby School off and on since 2005, serving as a sixth grade homeroom, Earth Science, Mathematics, and Studies Skills teacher. Before Kirby, Ms. Billings devoted her career to outdoor and wilderness education. She served as a Naturalist for the Exploring New Horizons Outdoor School, as Program Director for VISIONS Service Adventures, and as a ski instructor for folks with disabilities at Environmental Traveling Companions. She spearheaded student expeditions in the British Virgin Islands, Hawaii, and the Boundary Waters in Minnesota, and also led a service learning program in a native village in Alaska. Her STEAM and ROV classes and clubs are extremely popular and fuel imagination, curiosity, and a love of the sciences.
Erik Perkins: Ultimate Frisbee
Mr. Perkins received his Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering with a focus on computer networks. While in graduate school he served as an IT administrator, during which time his academic interests included network routing, genetic algorithms, probability, and distributed computer simulations. Mr. Perkins has worked as a hardware designer, software programmer, computer network engineer, and speech recognition consultant. Some of his accomplishments include a patent for improved motion detection, an internship at XEROX PARC, and over twenty years of ultimate frisbee as a player and coach. Mr. Perkins’ current hobbies include chess, ultimate frisbee, disc golf, physics, acoustic guitar, and spending time with his wife and kids. He has served as Kirby School's Ultimate Frisbee Coach for over 15 years.
Melissa Fiegel: Creative Writing Workshop
Ms. Fiegel, awarded Teacher of the Year in 2019 by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Alliance of Black School Educators, joins Kirby School this fall for a full year as English teacher (English 9, Banned Books, Comics and Graphic Novels), providing long-term coverage for Jessa Kirk’s planned family leave. With a CA Single Subject Teaching Credential and over 5 years of middle and high school classroom teaching experience as well as extensive training in reading intervention, trauma-sensitive care in education, culturally responsive training as well as mental health coursework, Ms. Fiegel is committed to creating a positive learning environment for all students. She earned her BA in Education and Youth Studies and Literary Studies from Beloit College.
Tuesday Soetaert: Creative Discovery Studio Arts
Ms. Soetaert joined the Kirby faculty in 2012 after teaching art for several years in public and independent schools from Santa Cruz to Salinas, including The Children’s Art Center, Calabasas Elementary, San Benancio Middle School, and Tierra Pacifica. She received a B.A. in Art from UCSC and holds two credentials in K-12 education. While raising her three children, she facilitated various creative school projects including collaborative mosaics, community garden activities, and public artwork displays. Ms. Soetaert’s interests in drawing, painting, mixed media, and printmaking (and Bay Area museums, arts, and culture) continually spark ideas for her curriculum.
Chris Jackson: Algebra Skills and Fundamentals
Mr. Jackson is a beloved math teacher at Kirby School who has inspired many a student to pursue mathematics. He has served as a teaching assistant in a number of math classes at UCSC, receiving glowing student reviews. He was also the lecturer for several classes at UCSC upon graduating and taught at two high schools in the Los Angeles Area. Mr. Jackson completed his M.A. in Mathematics at UCSC in 2012; he received his B.A. in Mathematics and Economics from UCLA. He joined Kirby School after graduation.