New teachers join Nation Ford High School for the 2022-2023 school year
Eden Mcdowell joined the Nation Ford family this fall as a new special education teacher.
However, this is not her first time teaching; she has been in this field for six years. Mcdowell is specialized in teaching special needs students how to support themselves in their everyday life and daily activities that they will need as they grow into adults.
“I was a peer tutor in high school with the special needs students and fell in love with the population and the classroom environments,” she said.
Mrs. Mcdowell was born and raised in Louisville, Ky. She attended the University of Kentucky, then she moved to Charleston and lived there for five years. Then finally ended up in Charlotte with her spouse, who had lived in Charlotte all his life.
At the moment Mrs. Mcdowell has no children, but she has a dog named Sampson. Most of her family is still in Kentucky, and her brothers, who are in the Navy, are stationed in Norfolk, VA.
Growing up Mrs. Mcdowell was a competitive gymnast up until her freshman year of high school, but then turned to high school and all-star cheerleading. She was on the Varsity cheerleading team and class president for all four years of high school.
You can find Steven Sells’ room on B511 where he teaches Modern World History honors and AP Euro. Although Sells is new at Nation Ford, he is not new to teaching as he’s been doing it for 9 years and counting. Students in the virtual academy might already know Sells, as he taught in the Virtual Academy before coming to NFHS
Sells has already been making a positive impact on students.
“I like him as a person, he is super nice and is always kind,” Strahinja Mosic (‘25)
Being in a new school for the first time can be daunting,Sells says he loves it!
“It’s very different from being in the virtual academy for so long, but I enjoy it here, I love being able to teach face to face,” he said.
Sells was born in Greenville, SC but has lived all over the U.S. – Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina and ended up by chance here in Fort Mill.
Before teaching, Sells was a corporate trainer, and it felt like second nature to him to teach people. The only problem was he didn’t feel like he was making a difference then. So, he decided to become a teacher and has loved it ever since.
Fresh out of college, Bailli Boyd graduated from Winthrop University with a Bachelor’s in English and Master’s in Secondary Education last spring and is now teaching English II Honors at Nation Ford Highschool.
Although born in North Carolina, Boyd grew up in Virginia Beach, She loves to spend time with her pets, a golden retriever named Dozer and her fish Swim Shady, and she loves to watch “Law & Order”.
“I didn’t have a good time in high school,” Ms. Boyd said. “My teachers didn’t believe in my ability.” That is why she will always encourage and try to motivate students, giving every kid a chance to learn and succeed, she says.
Otherwise, she speaks of her highschool experience positively, having spent a lot of time in book club. “I wasn’t very active, but I always did book club.”
These days loves to spend her free time reading and swimming.
She’s passionate about her students and teaching literature and writing.
“I want to be a safe space and I try to be relaxed, but I have really high expectations for my students. I want them to succeed,” Ms. Boyd said. “I’ve had a very good year so far and I’m excited to continue teaching here.”
Nikki Bartell returns to Nation Ford after online teaching for a year.
“I couldn’t be happier to be back teaching my students face to face,” Bartell said.
“I love cooking, traveling, and spending time with my girls.” Bartell said.
Bartell teaches all levels of English, and used to teach ESL at nation ford high school for 16 years before covid hit.
“I was very involved in volleyball, yearbook and competitive horseback riding in highschool. ” Says Bartell.
“I always wanted to be that kind of teacher that students that don’t like school need.” Bartell said.
Bartell moved to Fort Mill from Beaufort SC, because her husband, Brandon got a job in Charlotte.
“In Beaufort my childhood was filled with land, horses, boats and four wheelers.” “I had a mom and dad, pretty standard.” Bartell said.
“Mrs Bartell is very uppy and energetic, very understanding, very temptive. She’s very involved and participates with students; she loves putting students in groups.” Bartells student , Gabby Penate (24) said about Bartells English 3 class.
“She’s very collaborative and big on groups. I really enjoy her class,” Cole Easler (‘24) said.
“ I appreciate how much she cares for her students, I would not be able to get through English 1 without her,” Maddie Kilpatrick (‘27) said.
After teaching for 29 years, instructing students in science, Latin American studies, African American studies and ESL, Melvin Torres took on the role teaching science at Nation Ford this fall.
“I grew up and completed most of my education in New York,” says Torres, who is
originally Puerto Rican but grew up in New York. He is bi-lingual in English and Spanish, and is very proud of his ability to speak two languages.
“I had lots of friends growing up in New York,” he explained. “Every afternoon, after completing the school assignments, we went to the street and played all types of games,”
Torres was a good student growing up and was involved in extracurricular activities such as theater club, football, newspaper, and was a cook for the student-run restaurant at his high school.
Before his career in teaching, Torres had a career in Genetic Engineering. “I was working in a pharmaceutical laboratory and had to make a big career change for medical reasons,” says Torres.
After Torres made his career change, he taught in New York for 20 years, then he moved to Charlotte where he taught at Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools for nine years before taking a job in the Science Department at Nation Ford. He changed schools because he was looking for a change.
Outside of school Torres does a lot of volunteer work, plays football and soccer, and enjoys hiking.
“I love being part of the staff at Nation Ford and that I am here to help anyone that would like some help,” says Torres.
Torres says he is excited to teach in an environment with bright students and diversity.
Donna Confere is a new English to Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) teacher who teaches students English who speak a different language. She teaches students English by helping them observe, use phonics, grammar, vocabulary, and encourage them to grow in their first language with book discussions.
A math teacher who works with Ms. Confere “She really makes the students feel more comfortable and is a great addition, it is so interesting to see when she interacts with the students.”, said Marisa Adamson.
She also interprets for parents, provides information and suggestions to teachers while cheering on teachers who work to serve students. She says she is starting over in her career focusing on the language of math which is a challenge for her .She currently speaks French, Spanish, and is now studying Hindi.
“I am here because I care. I want to bring more good into the world” Donna Confere said.
Out of school, she plays piano and likes to study ballroom dancing. She also enjoys dancing the tango, waltz, salsa, rumba, and cha cha. She liked dancing because it makes her feel free and creative.
The Foreign Language department welcomed a new French teacher this year, but Megan Gillespie has much more up her sleeve than French. Gillespie has been a busy, involved individual since her own high school days.
“In high school, I did HOSA, I did Key Club, and I did Interact Club,” Gillespie said.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with kids,” Gillespie said.
Her love of the French language was also evident from early on.
“I went abroad to France, which was very impactful to me,” she said.
“I was really involved with the French program, I took all the French I could until there was no more and they just had to let me take French 4 over and over. My mom was a teacher, so I really just grew up around education.”
Gillespie is currently in her ninth year of teaching. Outside of teaching the French language, she has also taught Language Arts and Social Studies as part of French immersion courses. Her occupation has also brought her from North to South Carolina.
“I’m from Raleigh, and I came here to teach,” she explained. “I taught in Raleigh for a while, moved around, and finally just decided to stay here.”
Gillespie lives with her husband and children.
“I just like to relax,” she said.
“I have little kids so it gets kind of hectic but we do a lot of hiking, camping, outdoorsy stuff.”
Her son and daughter, ages 5 and 2 respectively, both speak French as well, although her husband does not.
Natalia Kraft (’23), one of Gillespie’s French 3 students, admires her teaching style.
“I like her interactment, the way she talks to us and has conversations with us,” Kraft said.
One of Gillespie’s principal priorities is to help students be comfortable learning in her classroom.
“I am open-minded and welcoming to everyone,” she says.
“I want them to feel comfortable to come to me if they’re struggling in school or in any other facet that I can be helpful in.”