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, four new members of the faculty are joining RL as teachers, coaches and advisors.
Matt Phillips joins us as a Penn Fellow, teaching a section of English 12, as well as two levels of dramatics, and directing all three of our theater productions as Director of Dramatics. Most recently, Mr. Phillips served as a Teaching Fellow at Groton School, at which he taught two sections of sophomore English, helped support students through a program of writing tutorials, and aided in the direction and production of several dramatic productions. Mr. Phillips graduated from a famous boys’ school, Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia. His theater bug began there and blossomed during his four years at Georgetown. Mr. Phillips earned his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in English and Classics. A rare junior Phi Beta Kappa inductee, he received several prizes, among these the Regent’s Medal for outstanding achievement in the study of Classics and distinction for the best essay on any subject in the discipline of English. While Mr. Phillips was proficient in Latin, his passion and forte is Ancient Greek. As an undergraduate, Mr. Phillips acted in and directed a host of shows including Cabaret, The Rover, and J.B. At RL, in addition to directing the Senior Play, the Junior Play, and the musical, Mr. Phillips will teach and coach public speaking.
Jeff Ott comes to us from an array of education-related enterprises. Most recently, he served as a long-term substitute teacher at St. Mark’s School in Southborough. Before that, he was a senior behavioral designer for ideas42, a company intent on offering improving educational outcomes in various settings. Prior to that, Mr. Ott taught public speaking to students in Japan and developed an environmental science curriculum in Vietnam; that curriculum ended up being used by over 5,000 students. Mr. Ott also served for a year as a substitute teacher at Bromfield School in Harvard, MA, at which he taught environmental science and AP Psychology. An avid naturalist, Mr. Ott has worked for the National Museum of History in Washington, D.C., and has led numerous birding expeditions. Perhaps his most enduring project as a birder is on behalf of the Appledore Island enterprise in Maine, charged with recording migration patterns of 10,000 birds representative of seventy different species. A native of Chelmsford, MA, Mr. Ott enrolled in Belmont Hill School in ninth grade. He took the place by storm as a scholar and athlete. While a competitor in three seasons, he earned his most distinctive laurels in wrestling. Elected captain of that traditionally powerful team, he became one of the most decorated performers in that storied program’s history by earning four New England championships, as well as becoming the first national champion in Belmont Hill’s history. He was also named an All-American four times. Mr. Ott went on to Harvard College from which he graduated cum laude with concentrations in psychology and economics. At Harvard, he captained the wrestling team and was a four-time conference place winner, two-time academic All-American, and an NCAA qualifier. At RL, Mr. Ott will teach Introduction to Physical Science (IPS) to Class V boys, as well as AP Economics to seniors. He will also coach junior football and wrestling.
Karen Buitrago joins us this year as a Penn Fellow and as a member of the Modern Language Department. A Colombia native, Ms. Buitrago grew up in Maryland and attended Connecticut’s famous boarding school, Choate Rosemary Hall, for high school, after which she matriculated at the language beacon, Middlebury College. There she majored in French and Francophone Studies; she also studied art history on an immersion experience in Paris. Currently she is enrolled in Middlebury’s Master’s in Translation program. This time, Ms. Buitrago is concentrating on her native language, Spanish. Last year, Ms. Buitrago taught two levels of Spanish, supervised a dorm, and created several YouTube grammar videos to complement her 50-page grammar workbook—all at Worcester Academy. Now Ms. Buitrago joins us to pursue her graduate studies at Penn as well as to teach a section of French 1 and a section of Spanish 2, assist with debate, help coach junior tennis, and support RL’s social media presence.
Blake Sundel is a native of Northern Virginia, having attended Fork Union Military Academy in central Virginia. A well-established boys’ school, Fork Union offered Mr. Sundel countless opportunities to lead and achieve. Elected president of the student body, he excelled academically and as an athlete. Just last year, he was welcomed back as their commencement speaker. Mr. Sundel went on to Harvard College from which he graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s in history of art and architecture as well as history. All four years, he was a standout on the Harvard Swimming and Diving Team earning team champion distinction in 2014. Mr. Sundel also served as executive editor of The Harvard Crimson’s sports board, served as a teaching assistant in the Crimson Summer Academy, and as a Summer School proctor. For three years, Mr. Sundel taught English, government, world history, and African American studies to a range of boys at Belmont Hill. He also coached eighth grade soccer and the Middle School track and field team. Additionally, Mr. Sundel was active in admission work and spearheaded the creation of the Summit Scholars Program. This complemented his efforts on behalf of the Belmont Hill Diversity Committee. After a one-year hiatus in the consulting world, Mr. Sundel earned his MBA at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, at which he served as president of the honor committee. He heard the siren call of teaching, however, and headed back to the East Coast to teach at Washington, D.C.’s prestigious St. Albans School, again teaching English and history, as well as coaching the Middle School swimming and diving team to its most successful record in school history. He also led the essential Skip Grant Program, which provides support to traditionally underrepresented students at the school. Returning to Boston and working for the first time at RL, Mr. Sundel will teach sections of English 8, English 9, and English 10, and coach soccer and track and field. He will also be active as a member of our admission efforts.