Thaden School adds to faculty with local artist

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,527 views 

Thaden School in Bentonville will open this fall, and the private school located in the Market District downtown has announced in the past few months the hiring of a director of campus life and several founding faculty members, in addition to the expansion of its Board of Directors.

The school most recently hired local professional artist Sarah Mattingly-Benson of Rogers as a studio arts faculty member.

Originally from central Arkansas, Mattingly-Benson has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with a concentration in painting from University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

During her career, Mattingly-Benson’s work has been selected for many juried exhibitions including the Arkansas Small Works on Paper Exhibit and the Delta Exhibition, one of the leading contemporary juried exhibitions of the South. Her works are in collections throughout Arkansas.

From 2013 to 2014, Mattingly-Benson served as a Volunteer in Service to America for AmeriCorps in Alaska, where she brought youth wellness promotion programs to small villages. The following year, she worked with AmeriCorps in Northwest Arkansas.

Other recent hires include Marcus Chang, associate head of school and director of campus life. He oversee the development of Thaden’s co-curricular programs, including athletics and community engagement. Originally from San Francisco, Chang comes to Thaden from The Bishop’s School in Southern California, where he served as the first director of diversity and community life. Chang has 26 years’ experience working in independent schools, according to a Thaden press release.

History teacher Dr. Jennifer Marien joined Thaden from the Blake School in Minneapolis, where she worked as social studies department chair for grades PreK-12.

Originally from Kansas City, Marien spent a year teaching American school in Japan and two years in the U.S. Peace Corps in southeastern Poland.

Marien holds an undergraduate degree in history from Yale University, where she was a three-season varsity athlete, and a doctorate in education from Harvard University, according to Thaden.

Hallie Balcomb, mathematics teacher, most recently worked as an algebra and calculus teacher at Saint James School in Maryland. Raised on a dairy farm in Maine, Balcomb holds an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Bates College.

World languages teacher Robert Conn has seven years’ experience teaching Latin and history. He most recently worked at Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy in Bentonville and St. John’s Episcopal Parish Day School in Tampa, Fla.

A native of Michigan, Conn holds an undergraduate degree in history from Harding University and a master’s degree in classical archaeology from Florida State University. He is now pursuing a doctorate in classical civilizations from the University of Florida, according to Thaden.

Muhammad Ramadan has been hired as a history and education technology teacher. He was previously a member of Berkeley Preparatory School’s Upper Division History and Religious Studies Department in Florida, where he helped implement a new world history curriculum and oversaw the adoption of new classroom technology. Before that, Ramadan taught The Bishop’s School in Southern California and The Blake School in Minneapolis.

He is originally from Minneapolis and holds an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s degree in social studies education from the University of Minnesota.

The independent Thaden School will open with grades 7 and 9 in the fall and then grow incrementally over the next few years to serve students in grades 6 through 12. It’s “signature” programs are “wheels,” “reels” and “meals,” cycling, film and culinary.

Thaden has also added four members to its board of directors since December 2016. They include Ben Hasan, senior vice president and chief culture, diversity and inclusion officer at Wal-Mart Stores; Paige Smith Jernigan, former investment banker and trustee for The American School in London and Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Mass.; Shari Steiger, lifelong educator and former teacher for Bentonville Public Schools; and Ana Aguayo, development officer, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.