Rahel Wondwossen '01
"I owe a great deal of my personal and academic development to Brimmer and May, and most importantly amongst them a sense of adventure and the ability to try new things within a supportive community."
Rahel Wondwossen, Brimmer and May Class of 2001
B.A. from Bates College, M.S. from Pace University, and
M.A. from Teachers College at Columbia University
Former High School Principal, New Orleans College Prep Charter School
Rahel visited Brimmer in September, 2016, to observe classes and meet with faculty and administrators.
Head of School Judy Guild commented on Rahel, "Listening to the work Rahel is doing with urban high school students inspired me. She believes in making our schools a better place for our country's youth, and she stands behind the belief that best classroom practices can make a difference in their success. We need our schools filled with leaders like Rahel."
My family and I were all born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. When I was six, my mother came to the United States for work and school. I began to attend Brimmer and May upon my arrival in this country and graduated in 2001. I owe a great deal of my personal and academic development to Brimmer and May, and most importantly amongst them a sense of adventure and the ability to try new things within a supportive community.
Through Brimmer, I had the opportunity to travel to Alaska with Windsor Mountain Camp and that experience has continued to instill in me a sense of adventure and a willingness to try new things. These same values were a huge part of why I was able to pick up my life in NYC and move to New Orleans to start a charter school. Through Brimmer, I was also able to travel to Peru for Winterim. This trip served as inspiration for my later travels to South America and my college minor in Spanish. My first years at the Upper School were the formative years of Winterim, where the trip to Peru was the first major international trip that the School had run in some time. Other Winterim offerings started small. I remember trying desperately to get into a cake-decorating class (it was full), and so instead I had to attend a series of local college trips (which was probably for the best). Those small beginnings have now grown to include such a diverse and comprehensive experience for students that it is amazing. I am always jealous and deeply impressed that the program has now grown to include African countries, service trips, and many more opportunities for students to expand their horizons.
I was fortunate enough to have had the experiences of Winterim and other travel opportunities at Brimmer that have now become central to the programming and offerings I provide for my own students. We were able to host my former U.S. History teacher, Mr. Barker-Hook, and his Winterim students at my high school here in New Orleans. It was amazing to see two groups of high school students, who on the surface have very little in common, be able to find so much common ground and learn about each other’s lives. This is at the heart of what a Winterim experience can provide. I am so passionate about it that I have developed a similar program at our school. The last three days of the year are spent in workshop sessions where students self-select into a program. Some of our students will be going on road trip adventures in the South to see colleges, others will stay behind to take improv classes, cooking 101, Latin food and culture, and many more workshops designed to broaden their experiences. I have learned firsthand from Winterim how formative this experience can be and look forward to affording the same experiences to our students.