Meet Alex Cussen, Middle School Humanities Teacher
Alex Cussen attended UC Berkeley as a history major—but he’d actually been a fixture on campus at a much earlier time. His parents, both originally from Santiago, Chile, were comparative literature grad students who passed Alex’s stroller to one another between classes.
Alex’s interest in literature blossomed during his time at Berkeley, when he found himself going to different novelists to see how they captured moments in history. After two years of teaching 5th grade in a bilingual classroom in Oakland, he was admitted into his dream writing program and earned his MFA at Columbia University.
After a four-year stint as the Head of Subtitles and Translation at Paramount Pictures and five years teaching at another independent school, he joined Wildwood in 2013.
Into the Wild—Thoughtful Global Citizenship
Into the Wild is a captstone project for 8th grade students that engages them in active and thoughtful inquiry on what it means to be a global citizen.
Everyone talks about project-based learning,” says Alex. “What attracted me to Wildwood was the idea of student-led inquiry that empowers students to do research and formulate the questions that drive their search for answers.”
For example, one of Alex’s favorite Wildwood traditions is a yearly film adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.”
“My students first learn about censorship by taking a closer look at the history of book burning over the last two thousand years,” says Alex. “As we do a close reading of “Fahrenheit 451,” we study the Bill of Rights. Students ask: What happens to a society that ends individual freedoms? How can citizens help keep a democracy alive?”
Alex’s passion for lifelong learning is a perfect match for Wildwood’s commitment to faculty development, which enabled him to travel to Poland in 2015 and Sweden and Denmark in 2019. Funded by Wildwood’s Research Exploration and Advancement Program (REAP) and the Landis Green Innovation Fund, Alex initiated ongoing relationships and research with global educators seeking to give students agency around the issues they want to have an impact on in this fast-changing world.
Alex is very excited to see how Wildwood’s ongoing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) and Global Citizenship work will continue to energize the school’s curriculum. What excites him the most as a Wildwood teacher and parent is how the school constantly seeks to do better, do more, and expand this work.
“Inspiring and empowering students to become changemakers can only happen when they have a strong sense of self: Who am I? What have I experienced in my life?” Alex says. “Students all have their own identities and experiences that impact what they care about. It’s only by learning to value diversity and leaning into conversations around differences that we can help students to truly expand their worldview.”
Faculty & Staff
- Amy Abrams, Director of College Counseling and Alumni Relations
- Dr. Banks-Hunt, Director of Upper School
- Steve Barrett, Director of Outreach
- Francesca Bill, Kindergarten Teacher
- Jaimi Boehm, Director of Middle School
- Anthony Brown, CFO/COO
- Sandi Crozier, Interim Elementary Librarian
- Alex Cussen, Middle School Humanities Teacher
- Herach Danlyan, Upper School Math Teacher
- Karen Dye, Director of Equity and Inclusion
- Landis Green, Head of School
- Kristin Hampton, Director of Institutional Advancement
- Claudia Hatter, Fifth Grade Teacher
- Christina Kyong, Associate Head of School
- Michelle Meena, Director of Head’s Office and Board Relations
- Kimberly Pope, Director of Admission and Enrollment Management
- Katie Rios, Director of Elementary School
- Nicholas Smith, Director of Educational Technology