New Teachers Pt. 2!

Believe it or not, Hawken has wholeheartedly welcomed 17 new faculty and staff to the Upper School this year. Because of this, one article simply is not enough to magnify the roles of all of the new people joining us at the Upper School, so here is another article providing a synopsis of several other new members of our community.

Ashley Poklar - Dr. Poklar is joining the Hawken community this year as our new school psychologist. She first learned about Hawken from a family friend as they talked about teenage stress, and one of her first impressions of the school is that adults at Hawken truly want to help teenagers. Her goal is to “support the whole school, not just the individual.” Dr. Poklar has worked for a private practice, local agencies, outpatient therapy, special education and at the Cuyahoga Juvenile Detention Center. Her goal at Hawken is to make sure every student “leaves school feeling supported, and maybe picks up some coping skills along the way.” She has always felt that teenagers have valid ideas, yet are not taken seriously. She wants to help change this narrative and help teenagers express their true voices.

Brad Large - Mr. Large is Hawken’s new Head of Flexible Tuition, and is also the new Associate Head of Admissions for the Upper School. He has worked in education for over 10 years, having previously worked at international, regional, boarding, and day schools. He appreciates the tight knit community at Hawken, even given our ever-increasing size in past years. He has noticed and appreciates that everything is “designed around the students.” Mr. Large feels strongly that his transition into Hawken was made easy by the kind and welcoming nature of faculty & students. He is excited to see the impact Hawken students make in the future, and he believes that “the world can benefit from more Hawken graduates.”

Igho Oraka - Ms. Oraka comes to Hawken from Washington, DC, and has joined the College Counseling office as the new Assistant Head of College Counseling. She is excited for the opportunity to be at Hawken because of the “access to creative equitable spaces” as she strives to make sure that everyone’s story is told in an authentic way. She comes from Georgetown Day School in Washington, where she was part of the admissions team. She notices the difference in stress levels between middle school and high school students, and she hopes to pop the “stress bubble” that has become incorporated into high schools around the world. She is excited to be in a place where there is an “ability for students to feel free to question people in places of authority.” You can find Ms. Oraka in the College Office busy helping anxious seniors through the college process.

Lauren Butler - To Ms. Butler, sports are critical for “building character, teamwork, and leadership” and she wants to help students incorporate sports into their everyday lives. Ms. Butler has had no shortage of athletics in her own life; she played five sports in high school, ran track for four years and played volleyball for one year in college, and still plays recreational volleyball a few times a week. After college, Ms. Butler translated her love of sports into becoming an Athletic Director. She started working in the athletic departments at Carnegie Mellon and Case Western Reserve University before realizing she wanted to work with high school students. For 3 years, she worked with high school students at Euclid High School, and now Hawken warmly welcomes her as our new Interim Associate Athletic Director.

Janae Peters - After 14 years away from her hometown, Janae Peters finally returns to Cleveland to join the Hawken community as the newest entrepreneurship teacher. She is also member of the founding Mastery School design team. Ms. Peters is drawn to social entrepreneurship, which is the entrepreneurial technique of problem solving in the social and environmental context surrounding a company/organizations existence, and has applied aspects of it to the Hawken entrepreneurship class. She believes the entrepreneurship class “requires a level of interest and connection” because of the extended time the class meets, and she loves the excitement of the students in it. This year she hopes to get more involved in the community and meet more students besides those in her class. Before Hawken, Ms. Peters worked at Indian Springs School in Birmingham, Alabama, and Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts. 

Justin Cook, one of the newest members of the Entrepreneurship team, and Tim Hable, our new head swimming coach, could not be reached for an interview.

Welcome to some of the newest members of the Hawken community!


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