Meet the IGSS Staff

Jeffrey Markham , Coordinator/English Instructor

William Blake described "the desire of raising other men into a perception of the infinite…" and at the moment, this sentiment is at the heart of why I teach. The environment of IGSS, with its fluid use of time, its emphasis on community, and its method of self-directed learning is wonderful for exploring what Blake is talking about-the infinite in what is to be learned, the infinite in each other, and the infinite in ourselves. A few lines later, Blake asks, "Is he honest who resists his genius or conscience only for the sake of present ease or gratification?" It is my conviction that a perception of the infinite allows us to value our honesty and our genius more than anything else as we learn to make lives for ourselves and to make the world a livable place for everyone else.

I was born and raised in New York, graduated from Hampshire College, focused on music throughout my 20's and then went to the University of Chicago for an MAT/English degree. 2016-17 marks my 23rd year at New Trier. I live in the district, so two of my kids have already graduated from NT (and were in IGSS!), and my youngest is a sophomore here. My lovely wife is a teacher, a writer, and the center of our household. Our life together is a never-ending series of surprises as the five of us together explore the infinite through each other's eyes.

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).

Mac Guy , English Instructor

I am a New Trier grad, adviser, sophomore English teacher, and the head coach of the Girls Swimming and Diving team. I believe in the power of hard work, in the importance of honest, clear communication in building relationships with others, and I believe that one's identity is strengthened by testing it against new ideas through observation, reading, and discussion. I am unsure as to whether I am in control of my own destiny or whether I am a fleshy automaton whose actions are the result of a complex combination of interactions between my environment and controlled chemical impulses. I believe in the subjective nature of all things. I play the drums. I play water polo.

My interest in IGSS stems from my belief that learning is something borne of curiosity and a will to deviate from the comfort of previous experience. I am at my happiest when my students are teaching me something.

Darrin Jeziorski , Art Instructor

Why am I here? I am here for the collaboration, the connections, and for the challenge. For me, the best way to learn/grow is to place myself in a new environment and to be uncomfortable. In joining the IGSS program 5 years ago, it afforded me an opportunity to question where I have come from and where I want to go as an educator. In life and in my classroom, I embrace the inventive, the subjective, and the provocative.

Who am I? I am an artist, a parent, a lover and a fighter. I grew up in Chicago and graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before I moved east to get my Masters of Fine Arts degree from SUNY New Paltz. In addition to my teaching, I have worked as a tattoo artist in some capacity for the past 20 years. I have three creative kids and my wife of 14 years has great attention to detail as a result of her time in the US Coast Guard and studying at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley. Since returning from a Fulbright in England 7 years ago, I have found inspiration and balance through training and competing in the martial arts.

Josie Elbert , Science Instructor
847- 784-7711

For the past two years, IGSS has provided one of the most dynamic, supportive, and exciting learning environments that I've ever experienced in my eighteen years as a professional in the field of education. I feel so fortunate to be a part of a community committed to integration, reflection, transformation, and action. It is a place providing opportunities to make sense of our world and our selves; a place to risk, question, become, and grow.

My first risks, however, occurred on ten acres of fertile Iowa topsoil. It is there I built forts, ate peas out of the garden, and scraped my knees playing little league. I grew up outside. This foundation fostered a strong sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural forces shaping planet Earth. I've been learning and teaching about the science behind these forces ever since. With a keen sense of humor, the universe has provided ample opportunity to make these 'forces' real and tangible. From rafting on the Colorado River, swimming in fresh water caves, and riding my bike between Minneapolis and Chicago, to camping with my wife and two children, there is always something to learn. So, I'll pour a cup of coffee, give my dog a scratch, and stay grounded by daily life - the best teacher I know.

Colby Vargas , Social Studies Instructor

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.