Abe Pachikara, a history teacher, seminar teacher and grade dean for the ninth grade, left GDS after eight years to become the associate head of upper school at the Mount Vernon School in Atlanta. Math teacher Anike Oliver has taken over Pachikara’s former position as ninth grade dean. She found out she got the job in May.
“I’m a little bit anxious, but that’s because I just want to make sure that I do a really good job,” Oliver said, but added that she is also “really excited” about having the position.
Since assuming her role as dean, Oliver had a leading role in preparing the freshmen’s Bridge Week, orientation and overnight. “This is the first time that I’ve had to coordinate an event of this magnitude,” she said of Bridge Week. “I really want to make sure that the students feel welcomed and are excited and they have a really good time.”
Oliver added that her hope is to be a welcoming figure for the class of 2026. “My goals for this incoming class are simple,” she said. “I want them to feel welcomed to the high school, I want them to have a sense of belonging and I want them to be excited to be members of the Georgetown Day School community.”
Oliver also said she believes the ease of her transition into the job was largely due to Pachikara’s organization. “He left a very extensive framework for what this position entails,” she said. “So walking into the new role, I already had a roadmap of what to expect.” She added that she will still be learning to find her footing throughout the year, but that support from the “dean team” will make it easier.
Pachikara said in an interview in May that he had long thought about taking on a more administrative position and began to explore opportunities last school year. He said that deciding to take the new job was a difficult choice for multiple reasons, one being that he was raised in the D.C. area. “Not only am I going to a new school,” he said in an interview with the Bit, “I’m leaving home.”
Additionally, Pachikara said that it was hard to leave GDS since he feels the school has “been really instrumental” in developing him as an educator and a human being. “It’s hard to leave a place that’s helped me grow so much,” he said.
Pachikara specifically cited the autonomy given to teachers and the flexibility of administrators as reasons he loved teaching at GDS. He said that other schools he worked at prior to GDS had not given teachers as much freedom. He added that he appreciates GDS’ students, faculty “and also the free food in the cafeteria.”
Though Pachikara said he was sad to move on, he said that there is one GDS tradition he is not sorry to be leaving. “I won’t miss chaperoning the ninth grade lock-in,” he said jokingly. “It’s not because of the kids; it’s just that it’s kind of scary to be in a place overnight with a bunch of kids.”
History teacher Sue Ikenberry said she found out about Pachikara’s new job when he told her himself, which was relatively soon after he made the decision to leave. Ikenberry said that she knew Pachikara before he worked at GDS, when he worked at Anacostia High School, through their work with their schools’ respective Quiz Bowl teams. Ikenberry added that she told him about the job opening for his initial position at GDS, and since then, the two have had a very close relationship. “There was a long time there when he used to call me mom and I used to call him son,” she joked. “I think the world of him.”
“If it wasn’t for Sue, I wouldn’t be here,” Pachikara said. “I would have not even known about this fairyland world known as GDS.”
Former High School Principal Katie Gibson said in an interview in the spring that what she will miss most about Pachikara is his “way of engaging the students.” She mentioned Pachikara “getting everybody hyped” in assemblies with his emceeing and a bullhorn, and said that his general excitement is “a particular Abe trait that I will miss.”
Sophomores Kwaw Pobee and Eli Zucker, two of Pachikara’s former history students, both said they thought highly of him. Pobee described his class as very engaging. “It’s not just him talking at us the whole time,” Pobee said.
Pachikara reflected on how he felt about GDS when he started. “When I came here, the amount of people who were so smart and so thoughtful intimidated me, and I was like, ‘I don’t think I can cut it,’” he said. “But those people were also willing to teach me. I just feel like I’ve learned so much.”