From top, by row, left to right: Abby Nathan, Ho-Duong Nguyen, Scott Poponyak, Anne Romeo, Nickie Schmitz, Julie Sponsler, Sophie Stypeck, Wendy Tan, Kala Terselic, Robert Thom, LeRoy Robert Timblin, Heidi-Marie Wiggins, and Jingjing Xie.
Meet UPrep’s New Faculty and Staff
Learn about our newest community members
This fall, we are excited to welcome new faculty and staff members to the UPrep community. The knowledge and enthusiasm they bring to our school are impressive. Below, we share a bit of their stories with you.
Abby Nathan (she/they), Upper School Theatre and Musical Theatre Teacher, previously taught drama at Lake Washington Girls Middle School. She’s also acted professionally in the Seattle area. She earned her B.F.A. in performance at Central Washington University and is currently earning her master’s in theatre production and education at Central Washington University. When you meet her, ask her about all things theatre, LGBTQ+, and spooky!
Ho-Duong Nguyen (pronounced as Ho-yOOng Ng’win), Development Database Manager, brings more than seven years of database administration experience to her position at UPrep. Before discovering her passion for working in tech, she earned a B.A. in early childhood and family studies from the University of Washington and a B.A. in psychology from Pacific Lutheran University. When you meet her, ask her about her trip to Tibet and camping at the base camp of Mount Everest.
Scott Poponyak, Director of Integrated Learning, brings more than 15 years of experience working in education to his role at UPrep. Previously, he was assistant head of school for academics at Saint Joseph Prep High School in Boston, director of the Academic Enrichment Center at Saint Joseph Prep High School, and the middle school director at Springer School and Center, the leader in the Cincinnati area in educating children with language-based learning differences and other neurodiverse profiles. He earned his B.A. in history at California Polytechnic University and his master’s in education, special education, at the Graduate School of Education, California Polytechnic University. When you meet him, ask him about living and teaching in Prague.
Anne Romeo, Middle School Math Teacher, brings more than 30 years of experience in teaching math to her role at UPrep. She has taught math in the Coeur D’Alene School District, Santa Fe Public Schools, and in the La Marque Independent School District in Texas. She earned B.A.s in applied mathematical sciences and secondary education at Texas A&M University. When you meet her, ask her about how she likes Seattle.
Nickie Schmitz, Upper School Math Teacher, brings more than five years of teaching experience to her role at UPrep. She previously taught math at the Open Window School (Bellevue), Memorial High School (Houston, TX), and Bowie High School (Austin, TX). She earned her B.S. in mathematics and teaching at The University of Texas at Austin. When you meet her, ask her about the US Women’s national soccer team.
Julie Sponsler, Controller, brings more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit finance and operations, including 10 years in independent schools. She previously worked at the Seattle International Foundation and at the Giddens School (Seattle). She earned a B.A. in speech communications at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a master’s in nonprofit management at Columbia College. When you meet her, ask her about making rhubarb and fruit wines.
Sophie Stypeck, Middle School Science Teacher, previously was a co-teacher in a 6th grade science classroom at Jane Addams Middle School (Seattle). She has also been an instructional assistant at Lincoln High School (Seattle) and a teaching aide at The Robinson Center for Young Learners (Seattle). She earned her B.S. in biology from the University of Maryland, College Park, and her master’s in teaching, secondary science, from the Washington Governors University. When you meet her, ask her about where to get the best soft serve in Seattle.
Wendy Tan, Mandarin Chinese Long-Term Substitute Teacher, brings more than 20 years of experience teaching Mandarin Chinese to her role at UPrep. She previously served as a Mandarin Chinese long-term substitute at Lakeside School (Seattle) and The Bush School (Seattle), as a Mandarin and Cantonese instructor, interpreter, and translator at University Language Center (Seattle), and a Chinese teacher at University Child Development School (Seattle). She earned her B.S. in business administration at Winona State University in Minnesota and a B.S. in management information system at Metropolitan State University in Minnesota. When you meet her, ask her about her recent travel, her favorite country that she has visited, and hiking in the Pacific Northwest.
Kala Terselic, Long-term Substitute Teacher, taught the Astronomy and Engineering classes at UPrep last year and is returning to teach this year’s Physics and Calculus I classes. She previously worked as both a computer science and astronomy undergraduate course assistant at the University of Illinois, was self-employed as a math and science tutor for students in grades 6th–12th, and volunteered for Worldwide Youth in science and engineering. She earned her two B.A.s in physics and astronomy at the University of Illinois. When you meet them, ask about their color guard career in the Marching Illini and working as a scare actor during the Spooky Month.
Robert Thom, Director of Facilities, brings more than 10 years of experience in facilities management to his role at UPrep. Previously, he was the director of facilities at the Seattle Tennis Club. He also served as the assistant club manager and food and beverage director at the Seattle Tennis Club. Robert also works as a high school volleyball official and youth soccer referee. When you meet him, ask him about meeting Prince.
Leroy Robert Timblin, Technical Theatre Teacher and Theatre Manager, brings more than 15 years of experience as a teacher and a facility manager to his role at UPrep. He has previously served as production facilities director at Scottsdale Community College (Arizona) and a facility manager at Glendale Community College (Arizona). Leroy has taught a variety of theatre classes at Scottsdale Community College, Rancho Solano Preparatory School (Scottsdale), the Tesseract School (Phoenix), and Glendale Community College. He earned his B.A. in theatre (with an emphasis in technical theatre) and biblical literature at Taylor University, and his master’s in in business administration (with a focus in education) at Southern New Hampshire University. When you meet him, ask him about what he is growing in his garden.
Heidi-Marie Wiggins, Middle School English Teacher, brings more than 10 years of teaching experience to her role at UPrep. She previously served as a lead humanities teacher and advisor at Billings Middle School (Seattle) and a middle and high school teacher and coach at Northwest School (Seattle). She earned B.A.’s in German and art practice (with a focus in painting) at the University of California, Berkeley, a master’s in Germanics at the University of Washington, and a master’s in teaching at Seattle Pacific University. When you meet her, ask her about playing and coaching Ultimate Frisbee internationally, her next climbing objective, or the 10 books she’s currently reading simultaneously.
Jingjing Xie, Mandarin Chinese Teacher, was a long-term substitute Mandarin Chinese teacher at UPrep last year. She brings seven years of teaching experience to her role at UPrep. She previously served as a Chinese teacher at International Montessori Academy in Bellevue and an ESL Instructor at Massachusetts International Academy in Boston. She earned her B.A. in English language and literature at Shanghai International Studies University, and her master’s in education in learning, teaching, and educational transformation at the University of Massachusetts. When you meet her, ask her about her favorite sport and her passion for trying new foods in Seattle.