2023 Stephen F. Bayne Jr. Chair in History and Ethics: Nikki FastLee

August 23, 2023

By Kimberly Banti


When Tarriers reflect on exemplifying the values and mission of Charles Wright Academy, humanities teacher Nikki FastLee often comes to mind. “She embodies the ‘nurture and challenge’ part of the mission by holding students to high standards but also giving them all the tools they need to meet those standards,” said Middle School Librarian Susanne Everill. In honor of Ms. FastLee’s unwavering dedication to students and the school community, she has been recognized as the 2023 Stephen F. Bayne Jr. Chair in History and Ethics.


Since joining CWA in 2016, Ms. FastLee has taught core and elective courses in the Upper and Middle schools; led clubs, service learning opportunities, and Outdoor and Experiential ed programs; and coached volleyball. In addition to her existing leadership roles as the seventh and eighth trade team lead as well as the service learning coordinator, this fall she will also serve as the Middle School Director of Student Life, wherein she will partner with colleagues to intentionally create Experiential Education programming that ties closely with the division’s curriculum across all four grade levels. 


“I look forward to helping make more connections with Experiential Education throughout the MS curriculum, as well as supporting our students as they navigate their Middle School years,” Ms. FastLee said. “I am honored to be named the 2023 Bayne Chair and excited about how this position can lead to further education to benefit our wonderful students and community at CWA. I am so grateful for being heard and to experiment with creativity in the curriculum. I relish the opportunities I have to explore new ways of thinking and studying history and literature with students.” 


Colleagues across divisions highlight Ms. FastLee’s creativity and devotion to her students. “She makes history come alive by using multiple perspectives to examine a historical event,” reflected Middle School Director Rachel Rippl, who added that Ms. FastLee “designs and leads field trips, so students can experience first hand some of our local history and better understand how it impacts our world today. Through these activities, students come to better understand our past and their potential to shape the future. Her passion is palpable when you hear her talk about her students or an upcoming class project.” Upper School history teacher Dave Adams agreed. “Her passion for connecting with the kids has always driven her teaching, and her commitment to creative teaching, coaching, and leading experiential learning trips allows her to bond with her students,” he said.


Ultimately, Ms. FastLee’s inherent curiosity and eagerness to embrace lifelong learning is what makes her such a phenomenal educator and colleague. “She has grown into her role as an academic leader on campus,” Dr. Adams said, and “she is never afraid to ask questions, listen to the input of others, or take a stand for what she believes in.” Ms. FastLee said she “relishes the opportunities I have to explore new ways of thinking and studying history and literature with students. I am so thankful CWA is a place where teachers can be innovative and try new things.”


As Head of School Susan Rice noted in naming Ms. FastLee the 2023 Bayne Chair, her “performance has been a consistent reminder of what it means to be a Tarrier, demonstrating perseverance, respect, integrity, compassion, and excellence. For her meritorious service to Charles Wright Academy, I’m honored to award the title of the Stephen F. Bayne Jr. Chair of History and Ethics to Ms. Nikki Fastlee.”

The Stephen F. Bayne Jr. Chair in History and Ethics was established at Charles Wright Academy in 1992 in memory of the Right Reverend Stephen Fielding Bayne Jr. (1908-1974) to honor faculty members at the school. Reverend Bayne served as the bishop of the Diocese of Olympia between 1947 and 1960 in addition to being an original member of the CWA Board of Trustees, and he was an educational and a spiritual inspiration to Charles Wright Academy founders Sam and Nathalie Brown.