Natasha Capell-  Faculty, Science

Natasha Capell joins Academy High after almost a decade teaching high school biology in downstate Illinois.  She earned a first class honors bachelor’s degree in biology from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. Since then, she has also earned a M.S. in biology from the University of North Texas, an M.S. in the teaching of biological sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Capell will graduate from Illinois with her Ed.M. at the end of this semester.  Before she discovered her enthusiasm and drive for teaching, Mrs. Capell worked for three years as a researcher at the University of Illinois where she studied limb regeneration in amphibians.  In her position at Academy High, Mrs. Capell exposes her students to both lab and field research, where students get firsthand research experience working with faculty and graduate students from the University of Illinois.

While earning her graduate degree in Texas, Capell met her husband, who is a computational biologist at the University of Illinois.  Together they have a daughter and a houseful of pets.  When not in school, Capell likes to spend time with her family and enjoys running.

Jordan Conerty- Faculty, Social Studies

Mr. Conerty teaches interdisciplinary academic core social studies courses at Academy High, including Big History, U.S. History, Global Studies, and Environmental Studies. His primary goals as a teacher are to give students ownership over what they learn and how they learn, and to use the content of his courses to enrich student’s transferable skills. Mr. Conerty also oversees the Career Exploration (CE) program and leads the Academy High Parent Reading Group.

Before coming to Academy High, Mr. Conerty served as a grant program administrator and taught in the religion and sociology departments at Maryville College in Tennessee. Prior to that he taught philosophy and geography at the Taft School and served as a teaching fellow in the history and economics departments at Yale University in Connecticut. While an undergraduate and graduate student, Mr. Conerty also led high adventure programming for the Boy Scouts of America at the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base in the Florida Keys.

Mr. Conerty earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religion, Political Science, and Geography from Augustana College (IL), a Master of Divinity from Yale University, and a Certificate in Educational Leadership & Ministry from Berkeley Divinity School. He is pursuing his Doctor of Education in Educational Administration & Leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Mr. Conerty, originally from Woodstock, Illinois, lives in Mahomet, where he lives with his wife and their two dogs. Besides teaching Mr. Conerty enjoys hiking anywhere he can, cycling, reading books that make him feel uncomfortable, taking in live music, training for half marathons, and serving on the founding Board of Directors for the Bluestem Hall Nature School in Urbana.

Dr. Gordon Brown –  Faculty, English and Writing

Dr. Gordon Brown earned his Ph.D. in education in 2018. Gordon has been teaching for more than 20 years, mostly in impoverished communities, from rural upstate NY, to urban Washington DC, to the mountains of Panama. In that time he has taught elementary through university level courses, mostly in English and ESL. From 2016 to 2020 he taught emergent literacy to English Learners, as well as the IB Theory of Knowledge course at Mt. Vernon High School in Fairfax VA. While in Panama, Dr. Brown created and implemented the first Professional Development School in the country. His experiences in urban schools in the U.S. and an orphanage in Panama fostered an affinity for accessing neglected human potential. To this end, Gordon is a founding director of the nonprofit A Place to Stand, Inc., which develops and implements sustainable solutions for hunger and homelessness. His research interests include curriculum integration, English Learners, teacher education, creativity, the arts, international education, motivation, narrative inquiry, grounded theory, sustainable ecology, and poverty. Dr. Brown looks forward to contributing to the progressive vision of Academy High as the English teacher for the 2020-2021 school year. Gordon enjoys spending time with his wife and children, playing guitar, and traveling.

Eileen Chen- Faculty, Mandarin

Eileen Chen has a passion for learning about diverse cultures and new languages.  Chen has an even greater enthusiasm for teaching and sharing her love of language and culture with her students.  Her native language is Mandarin, however she also speaks English and Japanese.  Chen earned her B.A. from Tamkang University in Taiwan and went on to obtain a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification from the University of California, Irvine.  A year later, she obtained her M.S. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Nazareth College in Rochester, New York.  Chen then proceeded to earn a Certification of Advanced Study and her Master’s in Human Resource Education from the University of Illinois.

Between earning her degrees, Chen taught English as a Foreign Language in Taiwan and Chinese to students in New York and Illinois.  While working as an educator in Illinois, Chen was the recipient of two Excellent Teacher Awards from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.  Prior to becoming a faculty member at Academy High, Chen also tutored and worked as a part time Mandarin teacher.  When Chen is not practicing her love of language, culture, and teaching, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family

Cristina Flores- Faculty, Spanish

Cristina Flores has a passion for sharing the Spanish language, as well as the culture of Spanish-speaking countries. She joins the Academy High faculty after more than 17 years of teaching/tutoring Spanish for K- 12th grade, as well as adults. Teaching is a career that found Flores, in a sense. Flores has always had a passion for learning and helping others to learn, so it seemed inevitable that she would be doing what she loves most. She holds a B.A. in Management Information Systems, and certifications in Project Management and Business Process Reengineering.

Ms. Flores lives in Champaign with her husband and two children. In addition to spending time with her family, she volunteers on various social and justice committees, teaches at a homeschool co-op, and is a board member of a local healthcare community center.

Yang Song- Faculty, Mathematics

Mr. Song teaches common core math classes, AP Calculus, as well as the math league module. Before joining Academy High, Song taught a range of classes at the University of Illinois including the calculus series and finite mathematics. Song earned a B.S. in Mathematics with a minor in art history and an M.S. in Mathematics, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Song has a great passion for math and teaching math, especially in geometry. He strives to strengthen students’ skills in computation and visualization, and cultivate creativity in problem-solving by integrating knowledge from both geometry and algebra. He aims to engage students to think creatively by applying their skills in real-world applications and problem-solving. Mr. Song’s teaching earned him the title of “Teacher Ranked as Excellent” at the University of Illinois many times, as well as the Brahana TA Instructional Award in 2018.

Besides teaching, Mr. Song enjoys cycling across the flat land of Illinois. He is also very interested in aviation.