Franck Koffi is a new member of the faculty and the community. He was born and raised in a small West African country called Togo, sandwiched between Ghana and Benin. However, Mr. Koffi studied mostly in Bordeaux and Paris, France. He came to the United States from Paris in 2006. He loves America and says it is “very nice and there are a lot of opportunities here.” Groton is not the first American school at which he has taught; before coming to the Circle, Mr. Koffi taught for two years at Clark University and at Suffolk University in Boston. He even taught tutorials in France while working on his Ph.D.
Mr. Koffi is currently the assistant coach for the Girls’ Cross-Country team, which he enjoys. In the future he is hoping to coach JV basketball or soccer, two of his favorite sports According to Mr. Koffi, “Groton is a fabulous place,” and he loves both the school and the people.
This fall, Stephen Fernandez joined the Groton community as a Spanish teacher. Coming to Groton was a big change for him, but the big change ultimately was to find out what he wanted. He was born and raised in Madrid, and attended La Universidad de Educacion a Distancia (UNED) there. He decidedly enjoyed his time there and says that he likes the word “universidad” (university), rather than the word “college”, because “universidad” has the same root as “universo” (universe). For him, every university is like a small universe. At UNED, he studied Spanish because he has always loved literature, especially Don Quijote de la Mancha.
After attending UNED, Mr. Fernandez worked in Madrid teaching English, French, and Philosophy to high school students as a private tutor. He was also translating a 520 page book titled The Gang that Wouldn’t Write Straight by Marc Weingarten from English to Spanish. The project took him nine months to complete. He says, “It was quite a solitary odyssey, but it taught me to be perseverant and thorough, values that now, I try to share with my students here at Groton.” In addition to this, Mr. Fernandez has also been an interpreter for the director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Laurence Boswell.
Now that he has moved across the Atlantic, he is thrilled to be here, and says that his favorite part about being on the Circle is the students, but he also loves the beautiful campus, and he’s a big fan of the Dining Hall. He is not coaching any sports this year, but he is in charge of the yearbook and the ICAP (International Community Advising Program). He also says that he likes how each different type of tree looks like it has a different personality – something you wouldn’t see in a big city like Madrid.
Skylar Prill recently graduated from Yale University and now teaches two sections of French 2 at Groton. He is also a coach for Boys Cross-Country in the fall, Thirds Squash in the winter, and Crew in the spring. Interestingly, he never rowed in high school. In France, high school sports are not considered as important; one has to join a club to participate in a sport. When Mr. Prill went to Yale, he became interested in rowing during orientation and rowed for the following four years as a lightweight. Mr. Prill worked as a paralegal in New York City for a few years. However, he decided that his heart was not in it and that he wanted to work at place “where [he] would be challenged, and where the work would be more aligned with what [he] views as important. At Groton, it is a much different atmosphere than being relegated to a cubicle and looking at stacks and stacks of paper in silence!”
Mr. Prill said that his first week here “was crazy and hectic to learn all the names, but it has been so fun to teach and coach for the first time.” He says that it was fascinating to be on the teacher’s side of the table after having been on the student’s side for so long. Mr. Prill certainly brings a fresh, new, and exciting perspective to Groton.