Adam grew up outside of Richmond, Virginia. He received a bachelor's degree in philosophy at the University of Virginia, a master's degree in education from Stanford University, and a master's degree in positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Since 2007, he has served in a variety of roles at the Woodside Priory School, including as a Residential Faculty member in the boarding program, teacher of history and psychology, chair of the History Department, and currently as Dean of Residential Life. Adam is fiercely optimistic about the future of the world and believes that wellbeing is a birthright. He lives on the Priory campus with his wife, Megan, and their newborn son, Ben.
Myles Somerville, Assistant Dean of Residential Life
Myles Somerville is from Middletown, RI, and has lived on small islands off the coast of New England for most of his life. A graduate of a Benedictine school, Portsmouth Abbey School, Myles continued his education at Florida State University and earned his bachelor's degree in Outdoor Pursuits with a minor in English in 2009. He was also a three-time All-South Eastern Conference lacrosse player for Florida State University. In addition to serving a Residential Faculty member, Myles is always looking for opportunities to traverse new hiking trails, travel, write, and meet good people in great places.
Mary Castaneda, Residential Faculty
Mary graduated from Woodside Priory in 2007 and is thrilled to return home as a member of the Residential Faculty! She received her bachelor's degree in Business and Marketing and a master's degree in Teaching from the University of San Francisco. Mary's career in education began in teaching kindergarten (yes, little 4.5-year-olds!) During her tenure as a kindergarten teacher, she brought her passion for education to the fitness world and became a Pure Barre teacher. After a few years of teaching both kindergarten and Pure Barre, Mary left the classroom to become the owner of the Pure Barre studio in Palo Alto. Mary is jazzed to work with younger students again. In her downtime, Mary enjoys staying active, channeling her inner baker, knitting, going on food adventures, and walking her Shih Tzu, Riley.
Andrew Downey, Residential Faculty
A native of Kingston and the beautiful Hudson Valley in New York state, Andrew Downey graduated from the University of Maine with a bachelor's degree in secondary education with a focus on world history. Andrew was also a former member of the Black Bear football team where he earned three All-Colonial Athletic Association selections and a contract with the National Football League. Andrew is passionate about artistic expression, sustainable agriculture, and is an outdoor enthusiast.
C.J. Gomez, Residential Faculty
C.J. grew up in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area alongside his four younger brothers, two of whom also attended the Priory! Graduating in 2012 from California State University, East Bay with a bachelor's degree in philosophy, C.J. continued his education and earned a master's degree in philosophy at San Francisco State University. Prior to joining the Priory Residential Faculty, he was a substitute teacher in the Newark Unified School District as well as a graduate teaching associate. Along with being an avid rock climber and martial arts practitioner, C.J. enjoys nothing more than learning from others about their culture and language.
Ella Okoli, Residential Faculty
Mainly raised in Nigeria, with some time in South Africa, and deep roots in New York, Ella Okoli earned a bachelor's degree in Written Arts at Bard College. She has taught first-grade literacy, waited tables, sung with a jazz band, and made chocolate from scratch. Seeking good weather and good people, Ella is relishing her time in the Northern Californian sunshine. She is delighted to be a member of a dedicating team of Residential Faculty.
Maia Thielen, Residential Faculty
Maia grew up in Redwood City, graduating from the Priory in 2010, and is so happy to return home after a decade away! A lifelong singer, she earned her bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Contrary to popular belief that what happens in Vegas does not stay there, she went on to complete a master’s degree in Voice Performance at the University of Washington. In addition to performing her beloved opera and art song, Maia has spent time working in the nonprofit sector with organizations such as the Bozeman Symphony and the Walt Disney Family Museum and maintains a small, private voice studio. She is a hobbyist paleontologist – thanks to Priory legend, Paul Trudelle. Maia has also dug up dinosaur bones in the Montana badlands, is passionate about women’s issues, and is a John Steinbeck aficionado. The foundation provided, relationships formed, and values instilled in Maia at the Priory were critical to her development as a young person. She is now honored to now be part of its educational legacy.
Nikhil Wadhwani, Residential Faculty
Nikhil Wadhwani grew up among the orange groves and almond farms of California's Central Valley. An alumnus of Sarah Lawrence College and holding a Master's of Science Degree in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University, Nikhil has taught narrative workshops for doctors, nurses, and social workers in-training at UCSF School of Medicine. He has also helped healthcare professionals develop skills for listening and interpretation. Given his background, Nikhil also serves on the English faculty occasionally teaching a course or two. A former boarding student himself, Nikhil is a rock climber, a tea aficionado, writes Asian American fiction, and makes a mean masala chai.