Intermediate School Faculty

Intermediate School Homeroom

Samata DeCori

Fifth and Sixth Grade Homeroom, Social Studies and Language Arts Teacher Odyssey Mindfulness and Wellness Coach

As an elementary teacher at Odyssey, Samata has the training, vision, and enthusiasm that are hallmarks of the school’s spirit. She believe that childhood is a time of creativity and joy, and also a time to learn self-discipline and empowerment. Samata infuses her students’ days with these elements through song and kirtan, yoga, centering, and goal-setting, and takes care that the children practice speaking from the heart center of power.

As a professional musician and co-founder of Sangita Devi Kirtan, a kirtan group that meets weekly to share in devotional sacred music, Samata has a deep understanding of the power of heart-centered communication. She brings the magic of childhood alive, and is thrilled to have found resonance at Odyssey.

After receiving a BA in Elementary Education from Warren Wilson College, Samata studied education in India, with the plan of opening a mind-body-spirit oriented school for children. Samata has been teaching at Odyssey since 2008.

Kalyan Volpe

Seventh and Eighth Grade Homeroom, Social Studies and Math Teacher

Kalyan is one of Odyssey’s founding teachers, and he first came to teaching after a series of adventures, including traveling and living in Japan and considering monkhood in Nicaragua. When he visited a Long Island alternative elementary school, he was so enraptured(?) by their joy and excitement that his life goals shifted from the monkhood to working in alternative education. His passion is to help children discover and honor their inherent brilliant selves and use those gifts to add to a vibrant community.

Kalyan achieved a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut and an M.A. in Education from Goddard College in Vermont, where his master’s thesis focused on the design of holistic elementary schools. After working as a lead teacher in a school in Fukuoka, Japan, and head teacher as PSOLI in Merrick New York, Kalyan taught at Odyssey for six years before taking a hiatus to explore other career opportunities. He rejoined Odyssey Middle School in 2016.

In Kalyan’s classes students focus on going deeply into subjects and ideas. Critical and creative thinking is encouraged and developed. Students are given ample opportunity to shine in the areas where they are strong and to be supported and grow in those areas where they need help. Key components of Kalyan’s classes include mutual respect, fun, participation, and dialogue. He encourages students to follow through with their visions, develop their own voice, and encounter the diversity of humanity.

Alex Crooks

Seventh and Eighth Grade Homeroom, Fifth-Eighth Grade Science Teacher

Alex grew up in Annapolis, Maryland and discovered her passion for science while on the Chesapeake Bay in the 7th grade. Alex decided then and there that she never wanted to have a regular desk job, so she dove into environmental education working with an outdoor school until she graduated with a B.S. from Virginia Tech in Natural Resource Conservation & Environmental Education K-12. Realizing her passion for teaching, Alex decided that she wanted more time with her students and chose to take this drive into the classrooms of Washington, D.C. where she earned a general science teaching certificate through D.C. Teaching Fellows. Alex has explored her enthusiasm for teaching in a variety of different places (including Italy, Oklahoma and most recently, North Carolina) and her zeal for science in many different fields (farming, activism, hydroponics, and guiding). She is delighted to be in the classroom and a member of such a close knit, curious and supportive community!

Alex believes a classroom should be a safe, fun, creative and caring place for all students and teachers to continually explore the world. Finding that healthy homeostasis is essential to cells and people alike. When Alex isn’t planning bad jokes, experiments, and adventures, you can find her in her garden, walking her two Siberian huskies, hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains and camping in local wilderness areas.

Paul Forrest

Fifth and Sixth Grade Homeroom, Math & Language Arts Teacher

Paul grew up in Atlanta and graduated from the Paideia School before attending Emory University, where he earned a B.A. in English Literature. As a private tutor in Atlanta, Miami, and Asheville, Paul has helped hundreds of students improve their grades, prepare for their SAT and ACT exams, and polish their college essays and applications. He has taught ESL classes to children and adults at the Sarapiqui Learning and Conservation Center in Costa Rica, and has worked with students ranging in age from kindergarten to high school at various after school programs and summer camps. While working as Odyssey’s College Readiness teacher, Paul was asked to step in as a Middle School homeroom teacher midway through the 2015-16 school year, and he hasn’t looked back. He enjoys working with middle school students and the energy and unique perspective they bring to the classroom. This year Paul is thrilled to be teaching Language Arts, in addition to Math classes in the Middle and High School.

Paul comes from a family of educators, and believes that a good education and the ability to think critically are fundamental to living a happy and fulfilling life. He also believes that every student has their own unique learning style, and appreciates the value of an integral approach to education that focuses not only on intellectual growth, but also on emotional, physical, and spiritual development. When he is not teaching, Paul enjoys reading, playing guitar, composing music, cooking, hiking, playing games, and spending time with his wife and their two young children.

Preparing students, families, and educators to lead the 21st century with an authentic sense of self.

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