Victoria Watson, Department Chair:
Victoria Watson’s mother was an elementary school teacher, which inspired her to become a teacher herself.
Watson teaches English II, Honors English II, AP English III and Mythology. She is also the English Department Chair. She began her teaching career at Riverside nine years ago and has stayed with Riverside ever since.
Watson has been living in Granville County, North Carolina since 2015, but lived in Durham her first year of teaching. She is originally from Vance County.
Her favorite thing about Riverside is its inclusion.
“I think that Riverside is a good reflection of Durham,” Watson said. “We have kids that are going to ivy leagues and participating in a range of activities. The most quiet, quirky kids will have a place to go at Riverside.”
Before coming to Riverside, Ryan Bollier earned his masters degree in Philosophy from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
Bollier teaches English II and English II Honors. This is his second year teaching at Riverside and third year teaching overall. He decided to start teaching because of his curiosity about the world.
“I had an English teacher in my life that asked intensely probing questions of what it means to be human, and what it means to be alive,” he said. “That was one of the first times I felt a sense of curiosity.”
Bollier is enjoying his days at Riverside and hopes to bring students that same wonder for the world.
“I think that it [English] is one of those disciplines in high school that permits exploring and probing profound questions,” he said. “I’m happy to work here and I think this place is a wonderful space.”
Before coming to Riverside, Laura Brady earned her graduate degree from Duke University.
Brady teaches English I and Honors English IV. She has been teaching at Riverside for three years and has been teaching for four years total.
Brady is originally from Holly Springs, North Carolina and moved to Durham four years ago. She decided to start teaching because she was inspired by her teachers.
“I was really inspired by my teachers growing up, particularly my English teachers. They helped me see the world in a new way. I thought it was cool to bring to other students.”
Though Brady has only been at Riverside for three years, one of those years being online due to Covid, she appreciates Riverside’s diversity.
“It is so different here from my highschool experience. So many people get along. There are so many people but everyone is able to make connections with each other.”
Emily Ericson knew she wanted to be a teacher her sophomore year of high school. Years later, she is still in love with her career.
Ericson teaches English IV, mythology and creative writing. This is her third year teaching at Riverside and fourteenth overall. Ericson is originally from Galva, Illinois, a small, rural community of about 2500 people, Ericson was inspired by her influential teachers growing up.
“I had a really great set of teachers growing up,” she said. “That definitely had a great impact on me in elementary school, middle school and high school.”
Ericson moved to Durham six years ago after visiting and falling in love with the community. During her trip, her car broke down and she needed to get it fixed.
“I spent three days in Durham while my car was getting fixed and just really fell in love with the community,” she said. “I was starting to get restless at the school that I was teaching at in Illinois and I was ready to move.”
Ericson’s favorite thing about Riverside is its student involvement.
“Riverside has a very strong community. I think when it comes to the student community, the focus on clubs is huge and so neat,” she said. “I want young people at Riverside to know that this is very unique to a school.”
When Jamie Flowers was applying to college, she received a full ride scholarship for her undergraduate education if she agreed to teach in North Carolina. Eighteen years later, she’s still teaching.
Flowers teaches English II and IV. This is her fourth year teaching at Riverside.
Flowers is from Winston Salem and has been living in Durham for the past 20 years. She decided to start teaching after enjoying tutoring work in High School.
If her house were ever to catch on fire and she had to run back in the house to get a prized possession, she would get her books.
“I guess that’s the teacher thing to say,” she joked.
English teacher Bianca Martinez moved to Durham in August of Last year.
Martinez is from Northern Virginia and moved to Durham last August. Martinez teaches Introduction to English ll and English ll. This is her first year teaching at Riverside and living in Durham.
Before coming to Riverside, Martinez taught at a middle school in Memphis, Tennessee. She’s originally from Northern Virginia and has been teaching for three years, but this is her first year teaching high school.
“I feel good,” she said. “ I am excited to teach high schoolers.”
Martinez dreams of traveling across the country and seeing the Grand Canyon, along with other national parks.
Before becoming a teacher, Christopher Meglin was a radio DJ in Compton, California and he is currently a DJ for a radio station in Durham.
Meglin has been teaching at Riverside for 19 years and this is his 24th year teaching overall. He began teaching in Compton, CA but is originally from New York. Before moving to Durham in 2004, he lived in Los Angeles, California. Though he enjoyed the liveliness and good weather in LA, he ultimately decided to move to Durham because of its better cost of living.
Meglin decided to come to Riverside after hearing positive things about the school from his niece and nephew.
“My niece and nephew live in this town and they came here. They shared their legacy at Riverside with me. There was a job fair and I went straight to the Riverside table,” Meglin said.
After landing the job, Meglin learned a lot more about Riverside’s atmosphere.
“My favorite thing about Riverside is its diversity. We have a great mixture of people here. Look at all the diversity between all of the groups. That is why I love every class I have. I love people and celebrating diversity. It is so exciting,” he said.
Mira Prater has always wanted to be a teacher. And she knew right after college she wanted to come to Riverside.
Prater is originally from Durham. She developed a love of books as she attended schools in the area, including Northern High School. Her mother, who taught Spanish at Northern, inspired her to become a teacher.
“I just really love books and working with young people,” she said. “I knew I wanted to do something that could bridge those two things together.”
Prater returned to the area after college and has been teaching here for 15 years.
Prater teaches English III Honors, and AP Literature and Composition.
Prater’s favorite thing about Riverside is the students.
“They are what keep me coming back here,” she said. “They are the most fun, entertaining and funny people.”
Before Erin Roth considered becoming a teacher, she majored in Veterinary Studies at Penn State University. After looking at all of her options and the different opportunities other careers could offer her, she switched her major to Communications and later received her graduate degree in English education.
Erin Roth teaches English III and Yearbook. She currently resides in Morrisville, North Carolina but is originally from New York. After researching other fields of study, Roth realized she had always had a passion for writing and editing and thought the best way to express that was through teaching.
“I decided that what I was good at and liked to do was write,” Roth said. “I was [also] very good at editing and helping people bring the best out of their writing.”
This is her fifth year teaching at Riverside and fifteenth year teaching overall. Though teaching was never her original goal, she finds it very valuable.
“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing someone look at their writing and swear they cannot write and then have them turn around and be proud of it,” she said.
One of her long time dreams is to travel overseas with her children to visit family in Ireland.
English teacher Catherine Singletary has always had the personality for teaching.
“I have loved English since I was young. I love reading and writing. That is my happy place.”
She enjoys working with the youth, creating positive environments, and keeping an open mind.
Singletary teaches Introduction to English I. She has been teaching at Riverside for two years. Originally from Long Island, New York, she has been living in Durham for 25 years.
“I was honestly nervous about coming to Riverside, but it all just kind of came together.”
She is most grateful for her family and if her house was ever on fire once her family was safe, she would save her photos.
This academic school year marks Matt Smith’s twentieth year at Riverside.
Smith teaches English I, III and AP English III. He has been teaching for 23 years in total.
Smith lives in Durham but is originally from Louisville, Kentucky. He decided to start teaching because he had influential teachers in high school.
“I had really good teachers in high school who changed my life for the better,” Smith said.
If his house ever were to catch fire, once his family was safe, he would run back in the house to get a guitar his father gifted him.
Though this is only Barry Varela’s fourth week teaching at Riverside, he is already passionate about his job and students
“It is a lot of work and it is very demanding,” Varela said. “It is probably the most challenging job I’ve ever had. However, I [also] often find it to be the most gratifying job I’ve ever had.”
Varela teaches English I Honors and English IV. He is from Fairfax, Virginia but spent his early years in Southern New Jersey. He moved to Durham in 1999 and took on numerous book editing, researching, and writing jobs at places like Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill before becoming a teacher.
Varela has always thought about being a teacher, but teaching did not offer the same flexibility his previous jobs had. His favorite thing about Riverside so far is its diversity.
“There are all kinds of students here and they are all interesting to me,” he said.