Meet the IGSS Staff

Jeffrey Markham , Coordinator/English Instructor

The most basic thing I do as a teacher is to help realign students with the process of learning. For me, that means trying to undo all the negative associations students have with the classroom, with schoolwork, with all intellectual effort…

I stand by my long-held belief that humans are designed to love learning - that there is an excitement and pleasure built into the process of assimilating information, connecting ideas, expanding one's consciousness, and of resolving contradictions in one's beliefs. More than anything else, I believe it is my responsibility to help students get back to this orientation.

In a better world, every student would walk into the classroom excited to talk, to read, to take creative chances, and to think critically. Unfortunately, this isn't so; therefore, I must make it my priority to help them return to a world where learning is exciting, where thinking is fun, and where knowledge leads to personal and group empowerment.

Lindsay Arado , Coordinator/ Social Studies Instructor

I was born in Washington, DC, graduated from Georgetown University and then spent the next decade of my life doing things like: Americorps (twice), picking blueberries on an organic farm for a summer, backpacking throughout the west, serving in the Peace Corps, and having other fun adventures that did not apply to my degree. Teaching seemed like a natural fit; I earned my Master's in Education from Northwestern. I am also married and spend much of my free time with my two sons.

I served on the strategic plan committee from which IGSS emerged and was thrilled by the discussions we had about education and how to create a school that incorporates more autonomy and self-direction for students. We continue to have those same conversations, recognizing that IGSS is a work in progress and is shaped by all community members, especially our students. As a teacher in IGSS, I am challenged to think about teaching and learning in a very different manner, a process that is exciting (and sometimes painful).

Darrin Jeziorski , Art Instructor

The best way I can grow as an individual and educator is to place myself in environments that are uncomfortable or unfamiliar then start to assess, adapt and evolve based on those new experiences. IGSS is one of these spaces for me. This program fosters collaboration, emphasizes personal connections and challenges both students and staff finds authenticity in their work. Being part of this program for the last 9 years, has afforded me an opportunity to question where I have come from and where I want to be. In life and in my classroom, I seek embrace the inventive, the subjective, and the provocative.

Colby Vargas , Administrative Advisor

IGSS has been a wonderful, tumultuous ride, and a centerpiece of my career. The experience has transformed students and adults alike. I've been involved from the first, embryonic stages of our school-within-a-school, and am very proud of what IGSS has become. I've had the opportunity to work with New Trier's most innovative staff and most passionate students.

A little about me: I am from all over the Midwest, and as a result I am really good at waiting in lines and I always expect a potato with my meals. I am the fencing coach at New Trier, but I am also fairly obsessive about baseball. In my spare time, I like to write short stories that explore the darker sides of birthday parties and small animals. I have taught just about every Social Studies class in existence, and I have sponsored everything from Student Alliance to Ultimate Frisbee Club.

Mac Guy , English Instructor

Teaching in the IGSS program has been one of my favorite parts of working at New Trier. IGSS presents the unique opportunity to collaborate with such a creative group of teachers on a daily basis, and their collective energy has enlivened my teaching practice in all areas of my work at New Trier. I also love that IGSS emphasises collaboration between students and teachers. One of my goals as a teacher is that my students grow their confidence in their ability to read, interpret, and add their voice to the world around them. Working side by side with students as they develop those skills makes teaching deeply enriching for me.

In addition to being an IGSS English teacher, I am an adviser, and I am the Head Coach of the Girls Swimming and Diving Team. I have taught a variety of different "standard" English courses as well. I'm a parent of two very energetic boys, I play the drums and am learning to play guitar, and I like to run. I'm looking forward to a great school year!

Tom Lau , Art Instructor

I am a photographer and a teacher. I'm a 1.5th generation Chinese-American by way of Colombia, South America. When I was ten, my family immigrated to the United States and settled on the Southside of Chicago where I still live with my booknerd of a partner and perfectly imperfect child.

I photograph mostly with film cameras, and am drawn to spaces that are lonely and disquiet. I like exploring the emptiness of urban environments, and the grit and grime of abandonment; somewhere in those ambiences, I'm looking for hope, love, and optimism.

I strive to teach with love and humor. I would love it if my photography students turned their film in on time. My challenge to myself as a teacher is to encourage students to think critically, but with empathy, and to never accept contentment in their voice. My teaching style exemplifies and encourages failing and experimenting, and growing and learning in the rough moments.

I joined the IGSS program in 2018 and it has been as meaningful as it is challenging. I was able to witness passionate teaching and got to see what can happen when students are given agency over their own education. The IGSS program draws out the inherent compassion, empathy, and action that is embodied by so many in the IGSS community; a central expectation is that the learning and experiences goes from personal and local to the broader community and beyond. I am privileged and humbled to have been able to help facilitate this for many of our IGSS students this past year.