Head of School
Head of School, 8th Grade Capstone Course, Bridge Brain & Learning Seminar
Dagan originally came to Seven Hills as a Language Arts teacher in 2010 following a successful and fulfilling 10 years at Appomattox Regional Governor’s School (ARGS) where he taught English and World History, led courses in the Literary Arts program, and served as the Boys Varsity Basketball and Tennis head coach. Having taught many Seven Hills alumni at ARGS, Dagan was continually impressed by the written, verbal, interpersonal and critical thinking skills they possessed. After teaching for only a short time at Seven Hills, it became clear to him that making learning meaningful and joyous for middle school boys was his professional calling.
A Petersburg native, Dagan attended Wingate University in North Carolina where he earned a B.A. in English while playing on the Bulldogs’ varsity tennis team, serving as Student Body President, and completing the school’s Leadership Development program. He also studied in the Master’s Program in Educational Administration and Supervision at Virginia State University, and earned an additional teaching certificate in Gifted Education.
Dagan moved into the role of Head of the Upper Program at Seven Hills in 2011 and also became director of the school’s athletic program. A year later he accepted the role of interim Head of School while a broad-based committee conducted a national search for the school’s new leader. More than 30 qualified candidates were interviewed, yet ultimately the committee chose Dagan to fill the challenging role in December of 2012.
With an obvious and contagious passion for providing the best possible educational experience for middle school boys, Dagan takes every opportunity to advance the concepts of listening to – and understanding – middle schools boys in order to motivate them toward success as learners and people.
Dagan has lectured to students attending Mary Baldwin College’s “Thoughtful Assessment” graduate course, and in the Urban Education Fellow Program at the University of Richmond on the topic of single gender education. He was named to Style Weekly’s “40 Under 40” list in 2017. In addition to serving as Head of School, Dagan enjoys coaching the Seven Hills basketball Gold Team, playing tennis, and spending time with his wife and two daughters at their Colonial Heights home.
Faculty and Staff
Director of Student Activities, Science
In her years as a teacher, Tess has taught in a number of subject areas, yet she’s found her niche in the realm of science. She came to Virginia from New Jersey, but earned her B.S. degree in Environmental Biology from Wingate University in North Carolina where she was also a varsity swimmer. After earning a Master’s degree in Environmental Education and Conservation from Rowan University in NJ, Tess came to Seven Hills in 2008. She challenges herself to consistently find new and intriguing ways to teach science. She is a member of the National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) and attended their regional conference last fall in Richmond.
Tess blends her aquatic, science and biology knowledge to full advantage as the River Day Coordinator for Seven Hills. River Days have long been one of Tess’ most beloved elements of the curriculum at Seven Hills, as they enable her to use the James River and its natural environment as her classroom. In the summer of 2016, Tess completed training with the James River Association Riverkeepers to help monitor the James River at the Robious Landing Park location. Tess’s energy and creativity is hard to match, which is why she was recently named as the Director of Student Activities. She will continue with her great work on River Days, but she will also help create and organize all the myriad field trips we have during the school year for the boys. When she’s not at school, you’ll find Tess coaching or swimming with youngsters at her community pool. She’s done three 10-mile swims and various other long distances. In the summer of 2019, Tess completed (and won!) the 22.75 mile Jim Whelan Around the Island swim as a two-person relay.
Phoenix Garden Coordinator
Lee Bristow hails from the rural countryside just outside Petersburg, Virginia. He attended high school at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School in Richmond and went on to earn a B.A. in Classical Studies from the College of William and Mary. After finishing college, Lee worked in a wide variety of fields, including geology, biology, and organic agriculture before being drawn to Seven Hills. Lee works with the students on cultivating the Phoenix Garden and also teaches in our experiential-learning curriculum on Fridays. As a swimmer, tennis and volleyball player, Lee came to develop a strong interest in the study of biomechanics. Perhaps that understanding of physical motion has led to his love of Afro-Cuban percussion and Middle Eastern music. Lee is an accomplished cook who is either outdoors or wishing he were. Lee lives in Richmond with his wife, Emily, and son, Acre.
Head of Upper Program, Comparative Civics and Economics
Tim Franzak thoroughly enjoys connecting with his students about topics that interest them – especially if that topic is comic book art, about which he has remarkable knowledge. A native Richmonder, Tim earned a B.A. in History as well as a Master’s certification in Secondary Social Studies Education from VCU before coming to Seven Hills in 2012. He applies a unique, question-based approach to the study of history and government which encourages students to actively interact with topics being studied. This brings the study of history to life for each student personally. At Seven Hills, Tim has explored a newfound appreciation for basketball and soccer, even serving as assistant coach of the Gold basketball team and soccer coach. As Upper Program Head, he works closely with 7th and 8th grade students, guiding them to the conclusion of their middle school years. Tim is also the faculty representative for the Student Honor Court.
Visual Arts, Future Problem Solving
Thomas O’Keefe is a native of Richmond who graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with a B.F.A. in Filmmaking. In addition to his multiple teaching duties, Tom works as a professional filmmaker on documentary and commercial projects. Before coming to Seven Hills in 2008, Tom taught classes in Documentary Cinema and Film History at Richmond’s Trinity Episcopal School. He also brings experience in traditional studio arts, darkroom photography and mixed media. Tom teaches all grade levels in the Seven Hills Visual Arts program, as well as teaching courses in Future Problem Solving and exploratory classes in Photography, Advanced Filmmaking, and Chess. He loves playing board and card games, and serves as sponsor for the school’s popular Game Club.
Stephen Ours is a native of Loudoun County, Virginia. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from George Mason University, where he was an active member of the Academic Quiz Bowl team and a member of the Potomac Curling Club. Since graduating, he’s worked with mathematics students in middle and high schools at a well-known tutoring company. He left that position to serve as an AmeriCorps service member, and was assigned to a nonprofit organization in Loudoun County, where he worked with adult learners preparing them for the math and science portions of the GED exam in addition to teaching English Language Learner (ELL) classes. Away from the classroom, Stephen can often be found working on his golf game or riffing on his tenor saxophone.
Head of Lower Program, Bridge Director, Global Studies
Jay Parker began his teaching career in 1999 and came to Seven Hills 10 years later. Each year his boundless enthusiasm about teaching and learning with the boys at Seven Hills grows, as they enter what is often the most challenging period of their lives. As Lower Program Head and Bridge Director he serves as the primary guide to students in their first two years at Seven Hills. A graduate of Hampden Sydney College, Jay explored a number of career options before choosing to earn his Masters Degree in Teaching from Mary Baldwin College – while working full time as a carpenter. Since then, Jay has acquired years of experience teaching and working with middle school boys, including his own, both in the classroom and as a counselor in a Canadian wilderness canoe trip camp during the summers. The boys at Seven Hills benefit every day from his unique experiences and insight. Jay’s interests include camping, mountain biking and canoeing, yet one may also find him in his garage working on a carpentry project or his ’67 Mustang.
A transplant from Knoxville, Tennessee, Katie graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a minor in Mandarin Chinese. During her college years, she worked as a student ambassador for the UT Confucius Institute, was involved heavily in the Chinese Culture Club, and received scholarships to study abroad in both China and Taiwan. In addition to teaching English in Taiwan with the Fulbright Program during the 2018-19 school year, Katie has worked as a teaching assistant and tutor in various locations over the past five years, from California to North Dakota to Tennessee. Unsurprisingly, she enjoys traveling. In her free time, Katie enjoys reading sci-fi books, watching Chinese reality TV, attempting to learn Spanish, playing board games, and practicing the handful of songs she knows on the ukulele.
Mitchell Teal is from Columbia, South Carolina and received a B.A. in English from Wofford College followed by an M.A. in English from James Madison University. While in undergrad, he spent his summers as a river guide with the non-profit organization Canoeing for Kids where he realized how much he enjoys the chaos, fervor, and earnestness of children. In the classroom he emphasizes the importance of critical thinking and writing in the process of personal reflection and development. Students in his classes are pressed to utilize literature as a means of better understanding themselves, empathizing with others, and seeing the ways in which individual choices and actions reverberate throughout communities. In addition to teaching, Mitchell enjoys hiking, Fridays at the VMFA, learning new facts about animals, and cooking.
Álvaro Villar Cobo
Spanish, Physical Education
Álvaro Villar Cobo is originally from Jaén, a little town in the south of Spain known for its good quality olive oil. His interest for languages made him study Translation and Interpreting in the University of Granada, and pursue a life abroad in Germany for a while. After graduating, he arrived to the United States, where he pursued a Masters in Foreign Languages and Pedagogy at the University of Delaware. During his lifetime he has been many things: farmer, flautist, competitive gamer, blog writer… His interests right now include reading and writing fantasy, world-building, playing old-school video games, fitness and cross-cultural communication.
Latin, History, Mathematics
Richard came to Seven Hills as a part-time teacher in 2006. Since then he’s taught Latin, Language Arts, and Math in different combinations to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders – full-time. After 10 years of teaching at Seven Hills, he can now call himself a Seven Hills’ parent, as his son is a new Bridge student this year. He’s proud to say that he’s taught scheduled classes in every instructional space on campus, except for the current Art room, where he hopes to squeeze-in an exploratory class to complete his sweep. Richard has also coordinated an after-school tutoring program, helped plant the library in its current home, and coached basketball at Seven Hills. He enjoys playing sports, managing fantasy sports teams, playing old time music with his brothers, and engaging in what he calls “binge carpentry.” Richard holds a B.A. from Davidson College, and an M.Div. from the Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond. A life-long learner, Richard has also earned an M.A. in Linguistics at the University of Virginia.
Although Shannon’s hometown is Fredericksburg, Va., she grew up around the globe. Her father’s job in government intelligence meant that the family lived in many places – from Africa to England to the Philippines. Shannon earned her B.S. in Public Administration and Political Science from James Madison, and served as the Office Manager for a children’s photography company for 15 years before coming to Seven Hills. As the person on the phone, the one who greets parents and visitors at the door, and the one who distributes school news each week, Shannon keeps the main office running smoothly. She enjoys spending time with her daughter at the park and the beach, and especially looks forward to trips to visit her husband’s family in Nicaragua.
Specializing in accounting and human resources, Becky began her own consulting firm in 2007 prior to joining the staff of Seven Hills in 2011. She is a graduate of the Braxton Business School and holds an Executive Secretary and Accounting Specialist diploma. Her experience includes work with public corporations, small companies, and non-profits of all sizes. She has served as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for two statewide associations in Virginia, as well as Vice President of an international association. Since 2010 Becky has served on the Board of Directors of the Byrd Theater Foundation in its continuing restoration efforts on behalf of Richmond’s premier movie palace, the Byrd Theatre. Becky’s family is the “twinkle in her eyes,” and with them she enjoys the outdoors, college football games, and weekends on their boat.
Director of Admissions
Hailing from western North Carolina, Drew graduated from Woodberry Forest School in 1992 where he was a prefect and All-Prep League tennis player. After graduating from Sewanee – University of the South, he worked for four years in college admissions before going to Saint James School. During his 12 years there, Drew served as the Director of College Counseling, English teacher, dorm head, varsity boys tennis coach, Director of Upper School Studies, and finally as the Director of Admission. Drew loves being a part of the Seven Hills School community. As the Director of Admissions, Drew oversees the new student admission process and is the lead on high school placement. Drew lives in the City of Richmond and loves exploring all that is “RVA.” He is an avid tennis player and loves spending time around the James River.
Director of Marketing & Communications
Maggie is originally from Chantilly, VA and earned her B.A. in Communication from Virginia Tech. Before coming to Seven Hills in 2019, she lived in Washington, DC where she worked as Assistant Director of Communications and Yearbook Advisor at Edmund Burke School. She loves melding her creativity with her love for education to tell Seven Hills’s story. (Follow us on Instagram @7hsrva!) When she’s not running around campus with a camera in hand, you can find Maggie turning her unhealthy amount of pop culture knowledge into gift cards at trivia night or sampling every variety of cheese available at the farmers market.
Director of Development
Emmy joined the staff of Seven Hills School as Director of Development in the summer of 2018. A Richmonder by marriage, there is no place Emmy would rather be raising her 4 children and 2 dogs. Emmy graduated from George Mason University with a B.A. in English. She brings with her a background in event planning and professional organizing as well as 13 years experience chairing PTA fundraisers for various schools. When she is not at Seven Hills, you can find Emmy enjoying the James River with her kids, hanging out at her local pool where she serves as social chair, or showing off her moves on any dance floor available!