New Faculty Interviews

New Faculty Interviews

Eliott Herron

As we are com back from Winter Break, we are halfway through the year! And for five teacher, it is the close of their first trimester at Winchester Thurston. Whether they have taught you in your classes, or you have seen them in the hallways, they are a new part of our community and you might not know much about them. So, here is are paragraphs written about them from interviews asking about their childhood, job search, and life thus far at WT.


Madame Kotzin

Madame Kotzin has loved languages for her whole life, having learned Spanish, German, and French and participated in an international student’s organization. Along with her language learning, she loves to travel and stayed with a French family when she was 15. Travel became apart of her life from an early age, as she moved seven times to seven different states: Alabama, Ohio, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Florida, and New York State. In high school, she lived in Pittsburgh and went to school at Sacred Heart High School, which is now Oakland Catholic High School. She eventually ended up attending Plymouth State University in New Hampshire where she got a masters in education and foreign language. 

One of the jobs that Madame Kotzin had after college was working for Syracuse Language Systems that was created before apps were popular. She was the content writer, as well as a script writer. She soon realized that she wanted to spend more time in the classroom, and began working as a teacher. It was perfect for her to come to WT, because he had been wanting to return to Pittsburgh, as she believed there was so much more of the city to explore. Madame Kotzin said that she has had a wonderful experience at WT thus far and loves the flexibility in the classroom to do more project-based activities. If you haven’t gotten the chance to meet her, be sure to stop by her office and say hello!


Ms. Skinner

Ms. Skinner grew up one hour east of WT in Homer City, Pennsylvania. Ms. Skinner has always enjoyed math, and was inspired to be a high school math teacher after having an amazing teacher for AP Calc. But a hidden fact about Ms. Skinner is her hidden love and talent for Basketball. When she was a kid, she went to the carnival and won prizes from a basketball game. From then on, she was in love with the sport and would go on to play as a shooting guard on the Division 1 team at the University of Hartford. She was coached by Jennifer Rizzotti who was the assistant coach for the USA team, and is now a coach at George Washington University.

After graduating at the University of Hartford, Ms. Skinner realized that she wanted to continue basketball and her math studies. She attended Central Connecticut State University for grad school, where she was a full time intern in the athletics department for sports information. Ms. Skinner travelled with the division 1 teams and typed live stats. She also managed the social media handles, wrote game summaries, and did all of the video streaming. But her life of Basketball didn’t end after grad school, as she still plays and is even hoping to play in a league in Pittsburgh. She is happy to have moved to Pittsburgh saying, “There’s this kindness of the people of Pittsburgh that are nice to come home to.” Ms. Skinner believes that this kindness doesn’t skip WT-the closeness of the community and the kindness within it radiates to new members quickly.


Mrs. Mohn-Slate

Mrs. Mohn-Slate grew up north of Pittsburgh and even worked in WT’s middle school 15 years ago. Before working at WT for the first time, she worked at a bookstore and then at CMU as an academic advisor. She went to Colgate University for undergrad and went to Boston University for her masters in literature and creative writing. When Ms. Mohn-Slate got in to BU, she had thought she wanted to spend her life in Boston. But after living there for a couple years and spending half a year in Iona, Scotland, she realized there was no place she would rather be than in Pittsburgh. She loves how Pittsburgh is such a literary town that has a lot of different things happening all the time. She also loves how kind the people are, and enjoys attending poetry readings. She has loved working at WT because of the kindness and support that emulates from everyone in the community. 


Ms. McLaughlin

Ms. McLaughlin has had many interests like crocheting, bullet journaling, watching TV, reading, and especially being a guidance counselor. She went to college at the University of Toronto and got her masters at Pitt. But, she didn’t always want to be a guidance counselor. In high school she wanted to be a marine biologist but found that biology wasn’t her strength and began to consider public relations. She worked as a caseworker with the elderly and got a degree in social work and also spent time working with Amnesty International, volunteering with children with disabilities. Ms. McLaughlin started working with teens and found it to be the perfect fit. “I think there’s a lot of pressure on teens to figure out what they want to be, but it’s ok if you don’t know,” she said. She has found that helping people our age with getting through high school is her calling. She has enjoyed being at WT thus far, saying that she really appreciates working with us and the staff and faculty. Ms. McLaughlin wants everyone to know that she is here to create a safe space for students and faculty alike. 


Ms. Valdez

Ms. Valdez grew up in Santa Barbara, California. She has always had a love for reading and especially enjoyed mystery books as a child. Ms. Valdez has always loved school and now she gets to combine her interests at WT. She especially likes being at Winchester because being different is normal and celebrated. But her passions go beyond the classroom. She went to college at Princeton where she ran track. She has always had a passion for sports and played both basketball and baseball on all boys teams. She enjoys sports as a way to interact with people that you wouldn’t have gotten to meet otherwise. She has noticed a lot of pressure surrounding females in sports and is eager to switch isolation in all aspects of life in the classroom. Ms. Valdez believes that teachers have a responsibility to acknowledge minorities in each space and to empower everyone. She recently moved to Pittsburgh from Connecticut where she had been living for 8 years and loves that Pittsburgh is full of genuine and open people.