Welcome, New Faculty
Part of Roxbury Latin’s continuity is that we are always welcoming new people to our ranks—students, faculty, and staff. This year, five new members of the faculty will join RL as teachers and administrators, coaches and advisors.
Jackie Salas first left her native Guam to come to Massachusetts when she arrived as a first-year student at Regis College. She made the most of this opportunity by excelling in her dual major—chemistry and international relations—earning magna cum laude honors at graduation. Drawn to Regis by its commitment to service, Ms. Salas was impressively involved in all sorts of service initiatives. She followed her Regis experience by earning a master’s degree in science education at the University of Notre Dame. A versatile science teacher with training in STEM approaches, Ms. Salas has brought her talent and passion to a range of educational settings, from working on social justice curricula in Minnesota, to teaching middle school math and science at a Georgia parochial school, to serving on the clinical faculty of her graduate program. Finally, she joined the faculty of Xaverian Brothers in Westwood. There she taught chemistry, physical science, robotics, and earth science to a range of age groups. Her supervisor there was Roxbury Latin’s own Dr. Bryan Dunn whom she succeeded as science department chair. In that role she was involved with curriculum design, professional development, and advocating for programs concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion. At RL, Ms. Salas will teach Honors Chemistry, IPS for Class V boys, and math. She will also serve as Assistant Director of Community and Culture and assist with the coaching of VEX robotics.
Matt McDonald ’85 returns to RL as Director of Admission. A respected and well-liked member of the Class of 1985, Mr. McDonald enjoyed a noteworthy six-year career complementing his academic achievements with participation as captain of the varsity soccer team (elected to the state All-Star team his senior year); as his class’s representative on the Disciplinary Committee; as business manager of the Yearbook; and as a singer in and officer of the Glee Club. Mr. McDonald went on to Dartmouth College where he earned a degree in government and participated as a member of the soccer program. After stints as a paralegal, sales rep, and marketing executive, he heard the siren call of schools and was appointed to the faculty and administration of Buckingham, Browne and Nichols in Cambridge. During his eleven years there, he served as Associate Director of Admission and Assistant Director of Financial Aid with responsibilities for charting strategic objectives, designing programs, and assessing and enrolling candidates. Mr. McDonald also taught world history to freshmen, served as assistant boys’ varsity soccer coach, and advised students. In 2015, he was recruited to Choate Rosemary Hall School, a distinguished Connecticut boarding school of 870 students. There he served as Director of Financial Aid ($13.5 million budget allocated to 33% of the school’s students), and Associate Director of Admission. He was instrumental in designing new data systems, developed a new assessment program, trained scores of faculty interviewers and file readers, and himself interviewed 125 students per year. At Choate, Mr. McDonald also served as assistant coach of the varsity soccer team. At RL, he played first for Chuck Farrington and then Bill Blood and Paul Sugg. He returned after college to serve as Mr. Sugg’s assistant for two years. He will now lead the whole soccer program serving as head varsity coach.
Brian Purnell joins Roxbury Latin second semester as this year’s Smith Scholar in Residence and to teach a first-time elective “The History of the Civil Rights Movement.” Dr. Purnell is the Geoffrey Canada Professor of Africana Studies and History at Bowdoin College at which he has been teaching for the past eleven years. A native New Yorker, Dr. Purnell attended Xavier High School, a Jesuit boys’ school, followed by his undergraduate years at Fordham and then his doctoral work at NYU. Just to stay within the boroughs, Dr. Purnell’s first teaching job was on the faculty at Fordham. Last year, Dr. Purnell gave a fascinating Hall presentation to RL students and faculty. He is considered a giant in the field of race and civil rights history, and we are fortunate, indeed, to have him teach this elective and our boys.
Taylor Fitzgerald, a member of this year’s Penn Fellows class, will teach in the History Department and be mentored by Mr. Tim Kelly. Mr. Fitzgerald is a decorated scholar athlete. Like a handful of our boys, he spent his elementary school years at St. John’s in Wellesley, and then he matriculated at Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood where he dazzled as a three-sport athlete—football, basketball, and track and field. Mr. Fitzgerald went on to Williams College at which he majored in political science and anthropology. During each of his four years there, he was named All-American in track and field: one as an individual, the other three as a relay member for the 4×400. At Williams, Mr. Fitzgerald also participated on the step team, started a hip-hop group, and interned at a local farm. Since graduating, he has had various jobs, but principally has worked for Comella’s Restaurants, learning every feature of their operations and rising to management responsibility. He also served as a coach at his Alma Mater. Two of his teachers and coaches at Xaverian were Mr. Chris Heaton and Dr. Bryan Dunn. In part, thanks to their model and urging, he applied for the Fellows Program and we are delighted that, in addition to his teaching, Mr. Fitzgerald will be assisting with varsity football, freshman basketball, and track and field.
Michael Beam ’10 joins us as one of this year’s Penn Fellows teaching in the English Department (Classes VI and V) with Mr. Josh Cervas as his mentor. A graduate of the RL Class of 2010, Mr. Beam made lasting, positive impressions on many of us during his schoolboy days and for the breadth of his stellar contributions. He was a celebrated performer in a range of Smith Theater productions, but also a standout in the Latonics, and even a prize-winning orator in Greek on Exelauno Day. An especially versatile writer, Mr. Beam served on the Tripod staff, and earned plaudits for his debating and public speaking. He was selected as the Hennessy Scholar at Eton during his gap year and he earned the friendships of countless teachers and scholars there, as well. Finally, Mr. Beam landed at California’s Pomona College where he majored in Classics, sang in various choral groups—formal and a cappella—and earned his election to Phi Beta Kappa. Since his Pomona graduation, Mike has enjoyed a variety of experiences including as an author’s research assistant, a film script developer, wine salesman, and tutor extraordinaire. He has also helped lead campers at his own camp, Camp Timanous in Raymond, Maine, for eight years as a head counselor. Blessedly, Mr. Beam was available last August when Roxbury Latin needed teaching assistants to help lead and monitor classes throughout various hybrid learning phases. This year Mr. Beam takes on the stimulating, challenging duties associated with the Fellows Program in which, along with his teaching, he will serve as learning skills coach for those who need it, and assistant moderator of the Tripod.