Dr. Darren Pascavage- Head of School and Faculty, Mathematics
Founding Head of School, Dr. Darren Pascavage, joins Academy High with a wealth of experience in leading Independent Schools. He served as Headmaster of Valwood School in Valdosta, Georgia. Prior to that appointment, he served as Founding Headmaster of Eastminster School in Conyers, Georgia; as Executive Director of Escuela Internacional Sampedrana in San Pedro Sula, Honduras; as Headmaster and Vice-President for Academic Affairs of Holy Spirit Preparatory School in Atlanta, Georgia; and as School Director of Victory Charter School in East Point, Georgia.
In 2003, Pascavage was selected as a National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) E.E. Ford Fellow; in 2010 was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS); and in 2015 was elected as a member of the Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) Board of Directors.
Dr. Pascavage serves as Math faculty for Academy High’s inaugural school year. He began his career as a science and mathematics teacher, and taught in several schools as he began his work in administration. Dr, Pascavage was a six-time recipient the of STAR Teacher designation in the state of Georgia. His independent school teaching experience has included AP Calculus, AP Statistics, AP Physics, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Physical Science, Astronomy, Philosophy, Computer Science, Mythology, and Latin. Furthermore, he has served as a class advisor, student government advisor, club sponsor and has coached soccer and basketball.
Pascavage earned his B.S. in Physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology, his M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from the University of Georgia, and his Ph.D. in Social Foundations of Education from Georgia State University. Since 2001, Pascavage has taught in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at Georgia State University, teaching graduate courses in educational research methods and quantitative analysis.
“Dr. P.” (as he is affectionately known) and his wife, Andrea, reside in Urbana with their two children. He is also proud of his two daughters, who attend university in Georgia.
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 Big History, U.S. History, Global Studies, and Environmental Humanities as core courses at Academy High, and has taught numerous module courses including Environmental Ethics, The National Parks, The Great Lakes, The Space Race, and Endurance Training.
Before coming to Academy High, Mr. Conerty taught in the religion and sociology departments at Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee. Prior to that he taught philosophy and geography at the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut and served as a graduate teaching fellow in the history and economics departments at Yale University in New Haven, 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 in Rock Island, Illinois and a Master of Divinity from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.
Mr. Conerty, originally from Woodstock, Illinois, lives in Mahomet, Illinois, where he lives with his wife and their two dogs. Besides teaching Mr. Conerty enjoys hiking anywhere he can, reading books that make him feel uncomfortable, taking in live music, training for half marathons, and exploring Champaign County.
Olivia Tasch- Faculty, English
Mrs. Tasch joins us following a successful tenure at St. Thomas More Catholic High School in Champaign, where she taught World Literature, American Literature, Rhetoric/Argumentation and British Literature in addition to serving as the Yearbook Advisor. Prior to that, she served as a Writing Intern at Millikin University in Decatur, where she co-taught Critical Writing and Research with a Millikin faculty member.
Mrs. Tasch spent the summer of 2012 as an English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher at Northeast Normal University in Changchun, China where she designed and taught English as a Second Language lessons to middle school students.
In addition, she has served as an ACT Course Instructor for English and Reading for several years. She is a practicing musician and a Founding Board Member of C-U Girls Rock!, a local non-profit whose mission is to empower girls and women using the tools of music education to foster self-esteem and confidence.
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
Rachel Reon- Faculty, Qualitative Foundations
Rachel Reon has a passion for helping equip students with the skills to critically evaluate and create arguments so that they can advocate for the causes that they care about throughout their lives. Mrs. Reon graduated from Baylor University (Waco, TX) with a degree in Communication in 2016 and a Master’s in Communication with a focus in rhetoric from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2018. She is currently a part-time faculty member at Parkland College, where she teaches Public Speaking and is a staff member in the Presentation Center, which provides assistance to students who are working on assignments with public speaking components. Additionally, she is an editor for a faith and culture website. In her position at Academy High, Reon works with 9th graders to develop critical thinking, argumentation, and communication skills that are the foundation for later coursework and college.
Dr. Young Kim- Faculty, Music
Dr. Young Kim joins Academy High as the faculty member of Music. His first courses at Academy High are Introduction to Music Recording and Production and Survey of Non-Western Music. Kim holds an M.A. and D.M.A. in Jazz Guitar Performance, with a minor in Music Composition and Theory, from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He also studied music at the Seoul Jazz Academy in Seoul, Korea, and at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. Kim is currently an adjunct faculty member at Parkland College in Champaign, IL, teaching general education music classes and guitar as well as directing the Parkland Guitar Ensemble. He plays guitar in an eclectic local quartet, The Jaybirds, and the Community Center for the Arts jazz big band.
Dr. Kim lives in Champaign with his wife and daughter. In addition to spending time with his family, he enjoys playing and teaching tennis as an instructor at the Champaign Park District.
Olivia Tasch- Assistant to the Head of School
In addition to serving as English Faculty, Ms. Tasch will be working as Assistant to the Head of School. She plays an integral role in the day-to-day goings on of both the faculty and the student body, and is the first line of communication representing Academy High. She can be reached at email@example.com.