Katie Abarr


At WES Since: 2022

What excites you about teaching?
I am so excited to be a part of creating an atmosphere of community learning. It is important that students recognize that they are also teachers. No one is the expert in the room, and we can all learn and grow with each other.

Why did you become a teacher?
Teaching is my second career, and I felt driven to be in a field where my effort and passion counted every moment.  The impact of love, care, and education from adults when I was young changed my life. And I hope I can do that for some of the beautiful children who pass through my classroom.

I have nine years of experience teaching primary grade levels and ESOL at independent schools all over the world, including Chadwick International School (South Korea), the Australian International School Phnom Penh (Cambodia), and the Escola Americana de Belo Horizonte (Brazil). I’ve also served as the sustainability coordinator for the Australian International School, where I authored the school’s sustainability policy and designed and maintained a student garden, among other activities. I earned my bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University and a certificate in elementary education from Moreland University. In my spare time I enjoy being active outdoors and spending time with my family!

Kim Bair


At WES Since: 1987

What is your favorite thing about being part of the WES community?
The WES community has been my second family from the beginning.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
“Treat others as you want to be treated and believe in yourself.”

I was born and raised in the Washington, DC, area. I graduated from Clemson University with a B.A. in Education and a certification in Learning Disabilities. Most recently I received a CAEP certification (certificate for admission and enrollment management professionals) from AISAP, and in partnership with Vanderbilt Peabody College. This is my 30th year working at WES as a teacher and administrator. I first began in the classroom as a faculty member, and after 22 years in the classroom, I moved to the Office of Admission as the director of admission and financial aid in 2014. With three grown children who attended four different independent schools and two universities, I have firsthand admission experience from a parent’s perspective, too. I loves to travel and spend time with my family and my dog, Tillman. My husband, Jim, and I have been married for 32 years, raised three awesome kids, and live in Bethesda.

Ivanna Bandura


At WES Since: 2021

What is one of your goals as a teacher?
A goal I have as a Spanish teacher this year is to inspire my young students to love and engage in learning a new language, in a fun way!

What is the best book you have ever read?
I have read many great books, but recently thanks to my daughters, I read a beautiful one called Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. While generally assigned for younger readers, it is a heartwarming story with lessons for all!

Originally from Argentina, I grew up traveling around the world. My undergraduate degree is from Argentine Catholic University, and my M.A. is from Tufts University. I have 7 years of teaching experience and also taught Spanish to Kindergarten and Grade 1 students previously at Big Learning Foreign Language. I have a great passion for people, as well as for animals, including my cat and dog. I love to visit the beach with my family in the summer and to spend time outdoors. Most of all, I love being a mom to my two wonderful daughters.

Ali Bratun


At WES Since: 2007

Why did you choose to work at WES?
After volunteering on the Auction, Book Fair, and other events and projects at WES, the Development Office said, “Give her a desk!” So that began my nearly 15-year tenure at WES. Making friends through volunteering on both sides of the equation and taking photos of the precious WES Dragons has sparked joy and warmed my heart for years.

I support the fundraising, communications, and community-building needs of the school. I am the editor-in-chief of The WES Magazine, and if you visit campus, you will likely find me with a camera in my hand, capturing the cherished experiences, big or small, of our Dragons every day. I love to make things beautiful, whether it’s creating a card or invitation, decorating campus, or designing an event. I also keep our community in stylish swag as the manager of the Dragon’s Den. I speak fluent emoji, as I keep track of our alumni and my two daughters, who graduated from WES in 2009 and 2010.

Justin Black


At WES Since: 2021

What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that each child is a unique individual who needs a secure, caring, and stimulating atmosphere in which to grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, and socially. It is my desire as an educator to help students meet their fullest potential in these areas by providing a safe environment that supports risk-taking and invites a sharing of ideas. For me, teaching provides an opportunity for continual learning and growth. One of my hopes as an educator is to instill hope, the belief that nothing is too far fetch and or out of reach. Life is limitless and full of surprises.

An alumnus of DeMatha Catholic High School, I was raised in the D.C. metro area. I was a professional basketball player for years as part of the International Basketball Federation and played in Germany, Kosovo, Paris, London, and Malaysia. I have 10+ years of coaching experience in basketball training, skill development, and youth sports, including serving as the assistant coach for men’s basketball at the University of East London. I am a student-focused mentor with proven experience in motivating amateur and professional athletes. I have a bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University and a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of East London, where I studied under 1992 Turner Prize winner Grenville Davey. I also manage the @gowesathletics Instagram account.

Barbora Bridle


At WES Since: 2011-2014, returned in 2019

What is your philosophy on teaching?
My first year of teaching was in 5th grade and I was lucky to have an excellent mentor, who fondly referred to 5th grade as the “cadillac year,” a coming-of-age year in elementary school. I have always loved this phrase and this grade level, because students are excited about learning, are developing their opinions, and learning how to articulate the “whys.” They are becoming independent preteens, but still willing to take creative and academic risks. Grade 5 is thrilling!

As a 10 year-old, I moved to the U.S. with my parents from Czechoslovakia (a country that no longer exists), none of us speaking more than a handful of English words. Teachers made a huge impact on my life. I wanted to give back to students in the same way, which is why I became a teacher. I grew up code-switching between the cultures of southern California and the Czech Republic. This contributes to my empathy for multi-cultural students.