New Faculty/Staff Voices

Get to know some of our new faculty and staff members!


Jubin Kwon

Director of Marketing and Communications


Christine Duffy

What is your role?

I am one of the first grade teachers. I teach Math, Writing, and Fundations this year since we are departmentalized by certain subjects.

What made you want to be a teacher?

I've always wanted to be a teacher ever since I could remember. However, my love for teaching was solidified once I was a student at Agnes Irwin because the relationships I had with my teachers were genuine and allowed me to understand the importance of a "caring" teacher in a young girl's life. I hope to have those mentoring relationships with the girls in my class and for classes to come!

Tell us about something you're working on with your students, and what interests/excites you about it.

My students and I are currently working on finding the "unknown partner" in addition and subtraction sentences. The exciting part about this is seeing the "A-ha" moment occur in the classroom when they understand the relationship between addition and subtraction!

What's a fun fact about you that we might not know? 

 I lived in France for 6 months during college and traveled to over 10 countries while studying abroad! 

What's your favorite moment or part of being at AIS thus far? 

My favorite part so far is getting to reintegrate into the Irwins community from a different angle this time. The faculty/staff and students have made me feel so welcome! 


Whitney Gambrill

What is your role?

I teach seventh grade English.  

What made you want to be a teacher?

I have always wanted to be a teacher because I love working with children. I wanted to dedicate my life to supporting all students, especially students who don't appear to be struggling. I wanted to position myself into a role where I could provide a sense of stability, security, and confidence for those students who don't have that at home. 

Tell us about something you're working on with your students, and what interests/excites you about it.

All year, my students and I have been working on analyzing the bigger picture of our texts. What is the author implying by making that word choice? What are they saying about society as a whole? What is the message you are getting about technology? Engaging my students in conversations that ask bigger, more abstract questions forces them to think about universal themes such as culture, identity, autonomy, and freedom. What excites me about this is that this is helping them form their critical thinking skills. I hope to instill in my students the need to ask the questions, why and how? The analysis and evaluation skills I am trying to teach my students will be skills they will use throughout their lives, and they apply to all areas of their lives. I get excited about positioning my students into a place where they can appreciate art and life on multiple levels, to experience it to the fullest. 

What's a fun fact about you that we might not know? 

A fun fact about me that you wouldn't know is that in my 20s I worked in Hollywood in production. I even made it as far as working on a Nickelodeon television show on the Paramount studios lot for the second season of The Thundermans.


Will Harasta

What is your role?

I teach 7th Grade Social Studies (Cultures Connect) and 9th Grade Global History.

What made you want to be a teacher?

I have always liked history and geography, but traveling abroad made me interested in the cultural aspect of everything, and how history and geography come together to explain the way that people act, and how the world works. I think everyone is looking for answers to questions in life, and school is one of the few places where you can have the opportunity to ask these questions, and have fun while doing so.

Tell us about something you're working on with your students, and what interests/excites you about it. 

In 7th grade we are working on a build your own country project. It is fun to see students use their imagination, while also combining some of the aspects of civilization building that we have learned in class.

What's a fun fact about you that we might not know?

I lived in China and Cambodia for a few years, and taught history there. I try to create interest and curiosity for far off places in my classes. I believe that there is no greater lesson that can be taught than seeing a different side of the world, and then having your mind try and make sense of it.

What's your favorite moment or part of being at AIS thus far? 

I would say the respectfulness that students share towards each other, and their willingness to learn.


Noelle Harmon

What is your role?

I'm the LS science teacher (along with Julie Haines).

What made you want to be a teacher?

I was originally a journalist, but I did a lot of community work for grassroots organizations while living and working in Washington D.C. During that time frame I mentored and taught teens. They were very receptive to my teaching style, and I soon realized that being a resource for learning brought me a lot of fulfillment. After working in New York for a short bit as a reporter, I returned to Philadelphia and eventually got into education. I was especially fascinated with the young brain, and how toddlers learned, so I went into early childhood education.

Tell us about something you're working on with your students, and what interests/excites you about it. 

I'm excited about teaching my students about the landforms of the earth. The earth is so majestical, and some of the visual images of it's canyons and waterfalls leave you in awe. Nothing makes me happier than hearing a child say "I want to explore that!" after showing them what the world has to offer. I plan to have the girls make islands out of clay, composed of their own landform ideas. This is a great opportunity for them to get creative and messy, and interject some science into it.  

What's a fun fact about you that we might not know?

I love poetry. One of my favorite poets is Walt Whitman. I actually got into poetry here at AIS. I took a poetry class with Mrs. Hough and became heavily engrossed in the craft. In college, I even made my own poetry book full of poems I wrote in my teenage years. I also love to crochet and knit scarves; another activity I got while being at AIS. 

What's your favorite moment or part of being at AIS thus far? 

I love the sense of community here at AIS. The environment feels homey, and the teachers really support one another in providing the best for the girls. Giving the girls what they need is the focus, and there's such pride in providing them wonderful experiences through learning. I feel everyone plays a very special role which helps the whole wheel move. Inclusion has been a huge part of the dialogue, which is something else I value. 


Joe Hurford

What is your role?

I'm an Upper School Math Teacher (Geometry, Alg 2 Acc, Precalc Acc).

What made you want to be a teacher?

I discovered that I wanted to work with teenagers when working at a summer camp. I realized how much fun it is and the impact that I could make at such an important stage of life.

Tell us about something you're working on with your students, and what interests/excites you about it. 

Due to the circumstances I'm experimenting with some different forms of assessment. The idea is to have a much more open-ended style of question which allows for each student to demonstrate their ability to explain what they know and show their depth of their understanding. I'm excited to see how creative the students get and to see if it gives an opportunity to students who don't necessarily thrive with more traditional forms of assessment.

What's a fun fact about you that we might not know?

I was born in the UK. I moved to the US just over 5 years ago. I'm a big soccer fan (Manchester United) but have also become a big Eagles fan (even though they're terrible right now).

What's your favorite moment or part of being at AIS thus far? 

I'd say the students. They've been so friendly and positive, despite the challenging circumstances. They've also been super patient and understanding if there have been technical issues.


Jubin Kwon

What is your role?

I'm the Director of Marketing and Communications at The Agnes Irwin School. As director, I am responsible for creating, implementing, and assessing the school's communications, marketing, and public relations strategies. I see my role as amplifying and spotlighting what has made AIS a preeminent PreK-12 all girls’ school on Philadelphia’s main line for over 150 years.

What made you want to be a marketing professional?

The opportunity to think creatively within the context of an educational setting interests and motivates me. I enjoy building bridges between teams and bringing a different point of view that helps to stitch together what we're all working on, within the context of our school's mission and brand.

Tell us about something you're working on with your students, and what interests/excites you about it. 

I started my role during the last weeks of planning for our "Making Her-Story" event, which featured a glittering array of star-power-packing panelists. The Marketing and Communications team helped to drive nearly 1,300 signups for the event, and the event itself was a huge success. Encouraging our students and alumnae to learn from and be inspired by Billie Jean King, Tory Burch '84 and Neveen Mahmoud '07 is not just a one-time event — we'll be thinking of ways to retell and redeploy the energy and reactions from the event to our community and our region at large.

What's a fun fact about you that we might not know?

I had a lot of range in my own independent school days! During high school, I played football, rowed crew, played in the orchestra, and was in our winter musical (2x)!

What's your favorite moment or part of being at AIS thus far? 

Seeing for myself and beginning to understand what makes the AIS community so tight-knit and supportive. I'm appreciative of the opportunity to join a school that is so dedicated to its mission and purpose. I'm looking forward to getting to know more of you better, and I thank everyone who has already been helpful to me for their support.

Clare Mahoney

What is your role?

I am a classroom assistant and one of the Lower School virtual coaches. I help guide and assist all the remote learners through their daily online classes, and I support the teachers in any way I can!

What made you want to become a classroom assistant?

After I got my MFA, I worked as a teaching artist at a school in the Bronx, NY. I mainly taught Shakespeare but that is when I really fell in love with teaching and working in schools. When the pandemic hit and all theaters shut down I knew this was the perfect moment to gain more experience and lean into my passion for education.

What's the most rewarding thing about being in the classroom with students?

I think the most rewarding thing kind of ties into my favorite moment. Getting to spend time with these young girls who see the world through young and excited eyes has been the best thing to happen to me in 2020. Every day I am reminded of the simple joys and excitement in life that I (as an adult) often overlook. In a time that is so uncertain, one thing that has been a constant for me is the magic that AIS girls find in each and every day.

What's a fun fact about you that we might not know? 

I have my MFA in acting from Columbia University and spent about 8 years working as an actor and teaching artist in Philly and New York. I've acted at local theaters like People's Light, the Walnut Street Theater, and the Arden Theater. I love bringing my theatrical side into the classroom!

What's your favorite moment or part of being at AIS thus far? 

I'd have to say my favorite moment so far was the first snow just a few days ago. I have a first grade lunch duty and the sheer joy and excitement something as simple as snow brought the girls made me really take pause. They were so excited that they even chose to bundle up and eat their lunch outside! Their cheer was contagious and it felt like a truly special shared moment.


Paolo Morales

What is your role?

I teach three sections of Photography and the Artist as Entrepreneur in the Upper School.

Tell us about something you're working on with your students, and what interests/excites you about it.

In Photography, the students have recently embarked on differentiating between the process of making a photograph versus taking a photograph. The students debated the difference through analyzing work by other artists and will also produce their own photographs for critique. While the act of clicking a shutter on the camera is the same, the difference is in how the photographer is active versus reactive to a moment. In terms of outcomes, I hope the students discover some of the differences between the process and the final product in photography. The assignment excites me as a teacher because it allows the girls to feel emboldened to take charge of what and how they produce photographs.

What's a fun fact about you that we might not know? 

During quarantine, I started running laps on a track, and I went from an approximately 7-minute mile to a 6-minute mile, which is about as fast as I was when I was a high school student! 

What's your favorite moment or part of being at AIS thus far? 

Meeting the students for the first time after two weeks of remote learning was definitely the highlight of my new job. I love teaching, working with students, and seeing them progress as photographers and artists, so having the opportunity to teach in person during this unusual time has been a privilege. I also will say that my new colleagues have been spectacular. Even though most meetings happen on Zoom, I feel supported by my department members and colleagues across the school. 


Colbert Root

What is your role?

I'm an Upper School English teacher, working with 9s and 11s this year.

What made you want to be a teacher?

I ended up becoming a teacher because of a couple experiences. One was the connection I felt with the educational community at Rockhurst University, where I did my undergraduate work. It was a small school, so I had the chance to develop strong relationships with faculty and pursue many activities across campus. My experience at Rockhurst inspired me to pursue an advanced degree in English at Temple University, which in turn gave me my first teaching opportunity. Teaching turned out to be a kind of work that I have enjoyed and derived more meaning from than anything else I have ever done. It really is hard for me to imagine doing anything else.

Tell us about something you're working on with your students, and what interests/excites you about it.

In the 9th grade, we are working on Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which is a kind of scary story. We are practicing careful reading to ensure we have a good grasp of what the novel is presenting, and we are relating what we find there to both scary stories in general as well as a couple other stories by Jackson we have read. Our goal at the moment is to understand each text we read as a unique contribution to the ongoing conversation literature provides. It is exciting to teach authors like Shirley Jackson because the students are always eager to know what comes next, and she challenges us to think about the world in ever more unexpected ways.

What's a fun fact about you that we might not know? 

I grew up in a couple very small towns in western Missouri. The first I lived in until junior high is called Napoleon. We then moved to Wellington, which is about 10 minutes away. Between these two towns is a very small community (like just a few houses without a post office) called Waterloo.


Dallas Walters

What is your role?

My role is security/maintenance.

What made you want to move into the realm of safety and security?

I have always enjoyed helping other people. I have been a volunteer firefighter for 39 years in the town where I grew up and still live.

What's the most rewarding thing about your role as a security professional?

The most rewarding part of being a security office is being able to provide a sense of safety to people.

What's a fun fact about you that we might not know? 

Fun fact about me is that I worked at Walt Disney World as a security officer and I have 10 wonderful grandchildren.

What's your favorite moment of being at AIS thus far?

My favorite moment at AIS is the final day of Spirit Week at the Upper School, watching the wing-eating contest, and being a judge of the dance contest.