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WHAT’s NEW

at Harley

Holly Beaston
Director of Development
Jonathan Ntheketha
Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Lydia Okturo
Middle School Head

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elcome to three new administrators!

by Will Fiandach ‘24

Holly Beaston is new to Harley this year, joining our Advancement team as Director of Development. She comes from YWCA, an organization whose mission is to eliminate racism and empower women through housing and young adult services. Holly hopes to help infuse a culture of philanthropy into the Harley community, and she wants to be able to grant students the opportunity to become invested in philanthropy, as well. Holly has been teaching in the field of education for over 15 years with a focus on early childhood, working with children of differing abilities as well as teaching coursework in psychology and sociology. Her plan is to utilize both her teaching and fundraising experience to their fullest potential here. 

She is excited to help push the school towards fulfilling its mission. By helping us reach our fundraising goals, she believes our culture will be able to spread and evolve beyond our walls and into the larger Rochester community. Being a single parent helped empower Holly to approach the world with a “can-do” attitude to help push her goals forward. Her personal mission is connecting amazing humans to missions they love. 

Her first job out of college was as a sociotherapist at Hillside Children’s Center, and she also spent a few years selling cars for the Saturn car company, which she credits with teaching her how to educate people through relationship development. She has a love of theater and firmly believes if you are able to get up on stage and talk in front of thousands of people, then it is easy to utilize those skills in different places, including one-on-one environments like those in fundraising.

She loves that Harley’s mission statement supports diversity and inclusion because it ties back to one of her main goals from her time at the YWCA—eliminating racism and reducing barriers to success for all. Being an anti-racist is an ideal Holly holds in high regard, and she believes it is important that we work together to achieve this goal, as it will help allow the school to thrive for years to come. Holly is the founder of the YWCA program “Equity Through Development.” She created an innovative resource combining curriculum, mentorship, and cohort development to help women of color begin a career in fundraising.  

Holly has a systemic and focused style of thinking and looks forward to using her skills to help support the larger Harley community. She is excited to see what the Development team is going to accomplish together. 

We are glad to have Holly as a new member of the Harley community! 

by Lizzie Tucker ’24

Mr. Ntheketha is the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Harley, which is a brand new position! In addition to teaching in Middle School, Mr. Ntheketha’s work involves the entire Harley community. He is developing DEI curricula for Middle School Grades 6 through 8, in collaboration with Jocie [Kopfman ’09] and Mr. [Lars] Kuelling. The objectives of this course are to introduce vocabulary and understand the impacts of things like institutionalized oppres- sion in the Rochester and Harley communities. DEI 6 focuses on individual understanding and affirming the identities of people. DEI 7 focuses on interpersonal issues, and DEI 8 focuses on local issues like redlining. In the future, these classes will be aligned with the ongoing DEI efforts in Lower and Upper Schools in order to more fully integrate the content into the daily life of students at all levels.

Mr. Ntheketha loves working with Middle Schoolers and enjoys their energy. Harley’s welcoming nature and collaboration with faculty, staff, students, advisors, and families, puts each student at the center of their own learning. He understands the importance of both being heard and being a good listener, which he brings to his work. He wants to enjoy the beauty of life and problem solving to draw different concepts together to reach an end goal. He believes empathy is an integral part of connecting and finding common ground.

This philosophy has supported Mr. Ntheketha in his hobbies and previous work. He spent 16 years at RIT in the Division of Diversity and Inclusion. This included helping students of color navigate a predominantly white institution and creating a place that was safe for everyone. He notes, “systems can either affirm or break down individuality and excellence.” Additionally, Mr. Ntheketha has a passion for storytelling and performance. Theater has always been an important part of his life, and he has a degree in speech theater, as well as education. He taught at the University of Rochester, RIT, and the Geva Summer Academy. He also works with the theater-based training company Impact Interactive. They use performing arts to help people think and further connect with issues of oppression and discrimination and figure out solutions. Entertainment also plays an important role in Mr. Ntheketha’s hobbies. When it comes to books, movies, and TV, he loves animé, theater, and afro-futurism. He enjoys popular media like Stranger Things, The Office, and Marvel, especially Hawkeye and Black Panther, as well as authors like Nnedi Okorafor who wrote Remote Control, Binti, Akata Witch, and more. One of Mr. Ntheketha’s other hobbies is cooking. He loves to barbecue and smoke meats. He would always go to the Public Market with his mother, where he loved to select produce. He loves ribs, brisket, and jambalaya, and enjoys figuring out the science behind cooking. He loves to try new foods, loves spices and seasonings, baking desserts, and enjoys tasting foods from different cultures.

by Anna Sinha ’29

Where were you from?

I was born in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to the US at the age of nine. I grew up in New York City.

Where did you work before you came to The Harley School?

Right before Harley, we lived in India, and I worked at the American International School Chennai (AISC) for five years. Before that, we lived in the Middle East, and I worked at the American School of Kuwait.

What was the reason that you came to Rochester?

Actually, I moved here for my job at Harley, and I thought Rochester was a nice, safe place to have a home and raise my family. I have a young son, in Grade 2 at Harley.

What is your favorite food?

I love a lot of different things. I guess one of my top favorites would be a dish from Senegal. It’s called Thiebou jen. It’s a rice and fish dish that is super delicious! I lived in Senegal for one year a long time ago—and my husband’s family is from there.

How old are you?

Almost 50!

How long have you been teaching?

Over 22 years!

What is your favorite book genre?

I love reading most genres when I have the time…I like memoir, biography, realistic fiction. My favorite book of all time when I was teaching is The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Do you have a pet?

Not currently, but my son wants a hamster or a dog! I told him we will have no rodents in my house!

If you have had more than one job, what is/was your favorite job?

I really enjoyed working as an editor at Scholastic in New York City. I got to do a lot of reading, research, writing, and editing. And I met several famous authors!

What is your favorite place to visit?

I have a few places I like to visit, but the one my family visited most often was Thailand. When we lived abroad, we would travel to Bangkok and Phuket Island for the winter holiday. We love the beaches, the sun, the people, the food, and the adventure. Everything!

What is your favorite color and why?

Burnt orange, the color that you usually see in the fall (which is also my favorite season). The burnt orange color makes me happy. I used that color in my wedding many years ago.

What was it like in India?

So hard to describe, but if I had to sum it up in one or two words, I would say INCREDIBLE and VIBRANT. Everything is magnified, the sights, sounds, smells. Everything. There is always something to learn and discover. It’s definitely a place that I would return to.

What is your favorite food from India?

My favorite Indian food is chicken or shrimp korma, and lamb saag, and lamb biriyani. I also really like garlic naan.

When did you decide to come to Harley?

A little over a year ago in March of 2021 when we were still living in India.

Was there a specific reason that you decided to work at The Harley School?

No, not one specific reason; there were several. I was drawn to the sense of care that teachers showed for students and the sense of community here. It was also very important to my family that my son go to school where I work. Additionally, being in Rochester was attractive because there is so much space and nature and opportunities for different family-friendly activities.

What was the hardest part about leaving India?

The chance to travel more and meet people from, literally, all parts of the world. We had a pretty good life, and we felt very safe, so packing up our lives and leaving that safe space was challenging. We also miss all the cheap fresh fruit you can eat. Mango season is always a favorite time of year. Almost every night in late April, May, and June, we would buy a big bag of mangoes for two or three dollars and devour three or four an evening. There were so many different types—our favorite was Banganapalli mangoes because they were big and juicy and sweet!

What is your favorite part of Harley?

How is Harley different from the school in India? A lot of people at Harley are from this area, and they have been here for a really long time. Also, Harley is over 100 years old, whereas the school in India is only 25 years old with students and teachers from about 30 different countries. But, in some ways, Harley is pretty similar to my old school in India. They are both about the same size and there is the sense of community you feel, plus, the fact that everyone is so nice. People are willing to help you. Harley has many traditions that I appreciate (like Elf Day and May Day). This is like the school in India which has special traditions, too, such as the United Nations Day Parade…I guess both schools are pretty similar if I really think about it.