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The Current

The student news site of Watkins Mill High School

The Current

The student news site of Watkins Mill High School

The Current

Watkins Mill welcomes new staff

Michelle Batres
The Current welcomes the new staff who are excited to join our community.

As the new school year comes into play, Watkins Mill High School welcomes new staff members to ensure the school’s goal of serving its students for the 2023-2024 school year.

There are additions in almost every department, including athletics, Career and Technical Education, math, art, English Language Development (ELD), special education, English, and world language. Here are the new staff members:

Keri Foreman

Keri is ready to serve WMHS Student Athletes regarding any injuries. (Keri Foreman)

Keri Foreman is the new Athletic Trainer appointed to WMHS to treat injured student-athletes. She’s excited about being a full-time staff at one school with stability. She has been an Athletic Trainer for 21 years. She is looking forward to getting to know the athletes that visit her. Fun fact: she’s a big reader.

Mandy Carbonaro

Certified Clinical Medical Assistant teacher Mandy Carbonaro is excited to begin the year. (Obehi Eromosele)

Mandy Carbonaro is the CCMA and Foundation in Medical Sciences teacher as well as the internship coordinator. She was a math teacher for 24 years and simultaneously a pharmacy technician. Her goal is to see all her students graduate and pass their certification exam, growing to achieve their dreams. Fun fact: she was in a Giant commercial at 17 years old and continued doing ads for five years.

Rachel Eskow

Rachel Carlson Eskow is ready to help her students develop in any way possible. (Obehi Eromosele)

Rachel Eskow is an ELD teacher teaching every grade. She taught in Prince George’s County for seven and a half years. Her goal this year is to become acclimated to Montgomery County Public Schools and build good relationships with coworkers and students. Fun fact: she is a vegetarian and loves to sing.

Grace Uttal

Art teacher Grace Uttal is ready to engage herself with the school. (Obehi Eromosele)

Grace Uttal is an art studio teacher. She previously taught at Richard Montgomery High School and Odessa Shannon Middle School. She has been teaching for seven years. Fun fact: she’s adopted and is still in contact with her birth parents. Her goal is to find her rhythm and for people to find rhythm with her.

Saud Al-Kawas

Saud Al-Kawas is prepared to give help wherever needed with a cheerful smile. (Obehi Eromosele)

Saud Al-Kawas teaches Algebra 1 and geometry which consists of mostly freshmen and sophomores. She moved here from Boston for the job! She is very dedicated and happy where she’s at. Fun fact: she loves Georgetown basketball. She wants to know the community better and be helpful to her students.

Kyle Jacobs

Kyle Jacobs, new to the math department, is excited to be teaching high school. (Obehi Eromosele)

Kyle Jacobs teaches Algebra 1 and 2. He has been teaching for 12 years. He taught for two years at Forest Oak Middle School and at Howard County High School.  He coaches sports, and his goal is to improve his Spanish. Fun Fact: before teaching, he was a golf pro.

Judith Kontaxis 

Judith Kontaxis looks forward to helping students express themselves. (Judith Kontaxis)

Judith Kontaxis is an ELD teacher engaging with all grade levels. This is her third teaching job. She was born in upper Michigan and is all about culture. Fun fact: she lived in France and Spain. Her goal is to help students express themselves through writing and speaking.

Kheda Garchakanova

ELD teacher Kheda Garchakhanova is ready to help her students get better. (Kheda Garchakhanova)

Kheda Garchakhanova is an ELD teacher teaching 11th grade. She taught at Springbrook HS in Silver Spring for four years. Before that, she taught English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in a Russian village. She moved to the U.S. in 2016 to become a teacher here and make her dreams come true. Something interesting about her is that she has a memory box where she puts small things/items that remind her of people and events. She keeps memories of people she has known throughout her life. Fun fact: she is an official publisher. Her study book will come out in New York in the summer of 2024. She likes to read and write. Her goal is to improve her students’ language.

Ms. Kirsten Highsmith or Ms.H

Kirsten Highsmith hopes to inspire students with a positive mindset. (Obehi Eromosele)

Kirsten Highsmith is an Honors English 9th and 10th grade teacher. Last year she taught 9th grade Honors English at Montgomery Blair HS. Before that, she was an elementary school teacher in South Korea for two years. Fun fact: she has been to nine countries so far. She is a huge anime and manga fan and loves to talk about new shows. She hopes to enjoy and reflect on her time working with students, inspiring them to have more of a positive mindset and confidence when it comes to reading and writing.

Ashley Torkornoo
Ashley Torkornoo is ready to help students achieve their writing goals. (Ashley Torkornoo)
Ashley Torkornoo is the English composition assistant. She taught at Silver Spring International Middle School and Daly Elementary School. She is also the majorette coach at Clarksburg High School. She loves to dance. She danced during high school and college so having the opportunity to coach brings her immense joy. Fun fact: she has a passion for music and loves going to concerts in her free time.
“From Kendrick Lamar to SZA to Lana Del Rey, I’ve been lucky enough to see them all perform. And if they [students] ever wanted to stop by the writing center to chat about music, I’d be more than happy to,” Torkornoo said.
Her career goal is to guide students in their writing journey, help them improve their composition skills, and encourage them to put their work out there for others to read.
Patrick Gaegler
History teacher Patrick Gaegler is thrilled to be here. (Obehi Eromosele)
Patrick Gaegler teaches NSL Government, U.S. history, and academic intervention. He previously taught at Hallie Wells Middle School in the county for a few years before making the switch to high school. Since then, he has been the girls basketball coach for the past two years. Fun fact: he runs a lot. He ran two marathons, with his third happening in November.
“I used to never like school and it wasn’t until my later years in high school I started to see the value in education,” Gaegler said. He hopes to continue to grow professionally and be an advocate for his students to help instill a love for learning.
Adam Gawlinski
Adam Gawlinski is a special education teacher happy doing his job. (Adam Gawlinski)
Adam Gawlinski is an English, resource, and college literature in the autism resource program teacher. This is his eleventh year teaching and tenth year teaching in MCPS. Before joining MCPS, he was an elementary and special education teacher in Wales, Alaska. During his first seven years at MCPS, he taught at Albert Einstein in various special education programs. After Einstein, he went to Springbrook High School for two years, where he taught in the Learning For Independence and School Community Based programs. Fun fact: while he was in Alaska, he was able to walk out to the edge of the sea ice, and he was the first person on both sides of his family to attend college. “I want to help students build a love for whatever they are doing,” Gawlinski said.
Jasmine Harrison
Jasmine Harrison expresses joy as she does in the classroom. (Jasmine Harrison)
Jasmine Harrison teaches Algebra 1 and 2. Last year, she taught at Gaithersburg Middle School. Before that, she taught for five years in Portsmouth, Virginia. Fun fact: she used to want to be a singer, but now she only sings for fun.
She failed math class in college but here she is now. “I hope to create lasting relationships. I’ve only taught middle school, mostly eighth grade, and once the year is over, I never see them again but this time, it’ll be different,” Harrison said.
Gilma Chavez
Gilma Chavez is happy to be here helping everyone she can. (Gilma Chavez)

Gilma Chavez teaches Spanish for Spanish speakers 2, 3, and AP Spanish. She was a teaching assistant at the University of San Juan, Argentina, and helps the English Department now. Fun fact: she likes to play with her cats and dog. “I am very patient and open-minded so students can trust me. My goal is to help everyone in my classroom succeed,” Gilma said.

Gloria Howe

Gloria Howe is very excited to work with her new students this year. (Gloria Howe)

Gloria Howe teaches English 11 for the English Emergent Learners Department. Before transitioning into this new position, she taught other classes here at Watkins Mill High School during the 2022-2023 school year. Though, before WMHS, she taught middle school English Language Arts in New York.

Fun fact: she is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated initiated at a Historically Black College, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. She is also a published author and worked as a newspaper reporter in Washington D.C. and New York. Her goal this year is to encourage her students to read more independently and have fun writing creatively.

These new staff are an excellent addition to Watkins Mill hoping to encourage their students to be better than they are now.

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About the Contributor
Obehi Eromosele
Obehi Eromosele, Editor-in-Chief
Obehi is an International Baccalaureate Career Program senior at Watkins Mill High School and Co-Editor-in-Chief for The Current. Obehi loves reading books, spending time with friends and family, watching television, and listening to variations of music. She is the WM Minds Matter club president and Vice President of the Minority Scholars Program (MSP). Obehi is also a co-captain and plays defense on her Varsity field hockey team. She plans to attend a four-year university to pursue a degree in finance/business.
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