Meet ModernBrain’s New Teaching Assistants: Inspiring the Next Generation of Leaders

admissions counseling volunteering Jun 06, 2024

At ModernBrain, we are dedicated to fostering excellence in communication skills among K-12 students. This year, we are thrilled to introduce our first cohort of Teaching Assistants (TAs), who bring a wealth of experience and passion to our programs.

Annie Jiang, 11th Grader, University High

Annie has been a formidable force in speech and debate for the past five years, transitioning from debate (Public Forum and Lincoln-Douglas) to speech events in her sophomore year. Her accolades include being a top 16 finalist at the Great Communicator Debate Series National Championship, fourth place in Impromptu at the National Individual Events Tournament of Champions, and a top 16 finish at the Tournament of Champions in Extemporaneous Speaking. Additionally, she is a varsity attorney on her school's mock trial team, contributing to two county championships and an eighth-place finish at the state level.

Annie has been coaching her middle school's speech and debate team for two years, growing the team from six to nearly forty students. She also teaches classes for BeHASSTic, a nonprofit organization, where she instructs middle and elementary school students in English and American politics.

Annie joined ModernBrain in her freshman year, starting with LD and later the National Speech team classes. Annie cherishes the close-knit community at ModernBrain, where small class sizes foster strong bonds among students and coaches. She values the friendships and collaborative spirit that make competing not just a learning experience but a joy.

Christiana Garcia, 10th Grader, Sky Mountain Charter School

Christiana's journey in mock trial began in January 2023. By August, she was fully committed to ModernBrain’s mock trial nationals team, where she has excelled as both an attorney and witness, frequently delivering defense closing arguments and captaining her team.

Christiana brings a unique perspective from her role as an assistant instructor at her karate dojo, teaching children ages 3 to 13. She is adept at breaking down complex techniques and creating a positive learning environment.

Starting as a novice, Christiana’s dedication and passion for mock trial have driven her rapid progress. She credits her coaches, Natalie Penn, Cody Smith, and Iain Lampert, with helping her discover her passion for public speaking and honing her skills. Christiana’s journey from a beginner to a skilled competitor underscores her belief in the transformative power of dedicated learning. Her personal experiences with learning disabilities have instilled in her a deep understanding of diverse learning needs, which she brings to her role as a TA.

Victoria Seoah Baek, 10th Grader, Orange County School of the Arts

Victoria started Mock Trial at ModernBrain last summer and has since competed in numerous prestigious tournaments. She has received the Outstanding Attorney award and played pivotal roles in her teams’ successes, including a first-place finish.

Victoria has experience teaching her brother and his friends, guiding them in reading and writing. She also led younger children in ballet, demonstrating her ability to mentor across different disciplines.

Victoria has taken several classes at ModernBrain and currently competes on the Mock Trial Nationals Team. She has studied under multiple coaches, including Miles, Natalie, Sean, and Jack. Victoria’s leadership as a team captain and her experience studying under various coaches at ModernBrain highlight her adaptability and commitment to excellence. She values the comprehensive support and camaraderie that ModernBrain provides.

Mira Jiang, 9th Grader, Westlake High School

Mira has been involved in speech and debate since 5th grade, earning top places in Impromptu, Storytelling, Congressional Debate, and Extemporaneous Speaking. She has recently focused on Mock Trial, achieving outstanding results in various competitions.

Mira has coached students for the Asian American Advocacy Alliance Student Speech Contest and led her middle school’s Speech and Debate club, fostering a supportive and educational environment.

Mira’s journey with ModernBrain began with comprehensive speech and debate classes, followed by specialized Congress and Mock Trial training. She currently competes on the Mock Trial Nationals Team under Coach Iain. Mira’s experience as a volunteer judge at a Scholars of Speech tournament allowed her to reflect on her growth and the impact she can have on others. She finds fulfillment in mentoring and helping others improve.

Anna Feng, 9th Grader, St. Margaret’s Episcopal School

Anna brings five years of experience in various speech events, with significant achievements in POI, OO, and Impromptu. Highlights include being the MSNSDA Champion in POI (2022), MSTOC Champion in POI (2023), and a POI finalist at Berkeley (2024). She also has a basic understanding of Public Forum debate and has judged speech events both in-person and online.

Anna led a reading club for kindergartners in middle school and worked as a stage manager at her acting studio, engaging with children aged 8-13. She has a knack for adapting to unexpected situations and creating a positive environment for learning.

Anna’s journey with ModernBrain started in 4th grade, attending Pod classes and weekend sessions on the Nationals Team. She has studied under various coaches, including Coach Trig, Coach Alissa, Coach Scott, and Coach Cecilia. Anna also enjoys engaging with Coach Alana, who teaches her brother. Anna's experience includes helping out at the Irvine Global Village Festival, presenting her POI piece at a seminar, and judging at numerous NOF asynchronous tournaments. Her enthusiasm and adaptability make her a valuable asset to ModernBrain.

Luna Bouhairi, 10th Grader, Northwood High School

Luna has been with ModernBrain since 5th grade. Her journey includes attending the Speech and Debate Comprehensive class, participating in Lincoln-Douglas and Mock Trial, and competing as a ModernBrain Speech Nationals Team member. She has numerous accolades, including being the 2022 MSNSDA champion in Original Oratory, the 2023 NIETOC champion in Impromptu and runner-up in Expository, and a 2024 TOC finalist in Original Oratory. Luna is also an award-winning varsity pre-trial attorney on her school's Mock Trial Team.

Luna served as the Limited Prep Captain and is now the Speech President of her school's speech and debate team, coaching her peers in Impromptu, Extemp, and Parliamentary. She leads weekly practice sessions, conducts warm-ups at tournaments, and supports novices.

Luna attributes her success to the guidance of ModernBrain coaches. Dr. Iain, who has been her mentor for four years, has played a significant role in her development. Luna has also benefited from classes with Coach Noah and Coach Scott M., which have enhanced her critical thinking skills. Luna’s passion for Speech and Debate, coupled with her ability to mentor, makes her an excellent fit for the TA role. Her experience and enthusiasm can inspire and guide future speakers and debaters.

We are incredibly proud of our new TAs and the diverse experiences they bring to our programs. Their dedication, achievements, and passion for teaching will undoubtedly inspire and support our students. If you are interested in becoming a TA or learning more about our programs, please visit our VOLUNTEER WITH MODERNBRAIN page. ModernBrain is an approved provider of the President's Volunteer Service Award, offering valuable opportunities for students to develop their skills and make a meaningful impact.

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