Ajanna Brockenbaugh will be a new member of our school counseling and psychological support team, primarily working in the Middle School but also helping in other divisions as needed. She comes to us following three years at the Hewitt School and is herself an alumna of an all-girls’ high school, so she is familiar with and an advocate for single-gender schools. After earning Bachelor and Master Degrees in Business Administration at Adelphi University, Ms. Brockenbaugh earned her Master in Education, with a degree in School Counseling, from Hunter College. She has also twice attended the RULER Training Institute at Yale’s Center for Emotional Intelligence and holds a permanent certificate in School Counseling in New York.
Alicia Christian is our new Director of Nursing, where she will oversee the School’s health services, run point on all policies and procedures related to COVID mitigation, and direct our health and wellness programming. Ms. Christian comes to us from the Open Door Medical Center, where she is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. Before that, she was the Director of Health Services at Brooklyn Friends School for three years, and previously was a School Nurse and Health Educator at the United Nations International School, Grace Church School, and Avenues: the World School. She holds a B.S. in Nursing from University of Evansville in Indiana and an M.S.N. as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner from Seton Hall, and is expecting her doctorate in Nursing Practice, also from Seton Hall, next spring. Ms. Christian also holds an A.A. in Musical Theater from AMDA here in New York.
Lisa DeGirolami is our new K-6 Math Specialist, coming to us after 3 years as a Head Teacher at King School in Connecticut and 7 years at the Rippowam Cisqua School. In this role, Ms. Digirolami will oversee the scope and sequence of our early years math program, both curriculum and pedagogy, and work with students in the classroom and in pull-out groups and with teachers on delivering the program most effectively. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Williams College and an M.A.T. in Early Education and Childhood Development from Tufts University, and has a wide range of experience and training in various math curriculums, including Singapore Math, Investigations, and Math in the City.
Luke Dixon will be returning to his alma mater as our Interim Admissions Counselor. Mr. Dixon was also previously a member of our Middle School faculty from 2008-2019, serving in several roles including Spanish and World Religions teacher, grade-level dean, and sponsor of WARP (white anti-racist pupils). He earned a B.A. in Latin American Studies from Pomona College and also worked in Pomona’s admissions office as its Alumni Administrator.
Robin French will be joining our Middle School as a mathematics teacher and advisor. She joins us directly from Horace Mann School, where she has taught math for 3 years, and before that was a high school math teacher at Walter M. Williams High School in North Carolina, where she also coached soccer and cross country. Ms. French has her B.A. in Mathematics with a minor in Economics from Elon University and an M.A. from Columbia University’s Teachers College in Sociology and Education. She also holds a Gifted and Talented Teaching Licensure from Duke University and is a trained International Baccalaureate (IB) instructor.
Norris Gray is joining us as a Middle School English teacher and advisor. He comes to us after two years teaching English at Friends Seminary and two years as an Associate English teacher at The School at Columbia University. He was also a long-term substitute at Spence the year prior. Mr. Gray holds a B.A. in history from Loyola University in Baltimore and an M.Ed. in Middle Grades English-Language Arts & History from Chestnut Hill College. In addition to his classroom duties, Mr. Gray has coached student debate teams, supervised Model Congress, and overseen community service projects, among other extracurricular roles.
Thomas Henson is joining our mathematics department and will be teaching and advising in our Middle School. He is currently finishing up his third year as Middle School Math Department Chair and Middle and Upper School teacher at Brooklyn Friends School. He spent the previous 11 years at York Preparatory School as a math teacher, department chair, and Director of STEM and EdTech. He holds three degrees: a B.A. in Psychology from Dallas Baptist University, an M.S.W. in Social Work from University of Texas in Austin, and an M.Ed. in Special Education from Hunter College. Mr. Henson has served as sponsor of Student Council and overseen clubs on artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
Emma Holtzman joins us as an associate teacher in second grade. Having earned her B.A. in education with a minor in Spanish from Rhodes College and an M.A in Elementary Inclusive Education from Teachers College, Emma spent the past two years as a first grade associate teacher at the Blue School. Her training includes the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, the Reading Rescue Program, Fundations Phonics, and various math curricula.
Sade Jack is joining our Upper School as a French teacher and advisor. For the past three years she has been at St. Andrew’s School in Delaware as a French instructor, dorm parent, and advisor. Prior to that she taught French and coached tennis at the Pingry School and was a teaching fellow at Phillips Andover Academy. Ms. Jack has a B.A in French from Wesleyan University and an M.A. in French History from Middlebury College. In addition to her teaching, advising, and coaching experience, she also served for two years as a college counselor at St. Andrew’s.
Amadu Kamara will be joining the third grade team as an associate teacher. A graduate of Emory University with a B.A. in English, he has a wealth of experience in after school and summer camp programs, and was a learning supervisor at The Dalton School during the 2020-21 school year. Amadu is looking forward to complementing his classroom work with a graduate program in education.
Yumi Lee also joins the third grade team as an associate teacher. She holds a B.S. in early childhood and special education from New York University and an M.A in literacy from Teachers College. After completing a variety of student teaching assignments and internships, Yumi comes to us from The Town School where she was an associate kindergarten teacher. Yumi is also an accomplished violinist.
Neil Martinez is our new Director of Facilities, replacing Mark Gordon, who retired this summer after 15 years of service to Collegiate. Mr. Martinez comes to us from the Buckley School, where he has served in this same role for 7 years. Prior to that, he worked in facilities management at Learning Springs School and The Chapin School, with a six-year stint in between as a portfolio administrator at an asset management company. Mr. Martinez holds a B.A. in Finance from Pace University and a Certificate in Commercial Property Management from NYU. He is also a licensed FDNY Fire Safety Director, Building Commissioning Professional, and LEED Green Associate and holds five FDNY Certificates of Fitness.
Gary Neiditch will be coming to Collegiate to teach Upper School mathematics. Most recently he has been teaching math at Pine Crest School in Florida, but his longest stint was his eleven years at Rutgers Preparatory School, where he taught Upper School math, web design, and ACT/SAT courses, and served as the school’s webmaster. He has a B.S. in Systems Physiology and a minor in Education from Rutgers University, and is also a Google Certified Educator. Mr. Neiditch was also a long-time varsity volleyball coach for several state championship teams.
Bunny O’Reilly is going to be teaching Middle School English and serving as an advisor. She is finishing her second year as a 5th and 6th grade English teacher at Convent of the Sacred Heart here in New York, and before that taught Middle School English at Sacred Heart Greenwich for three years. Ms. O’Reilly holds three degrees: a B.A. in English and African-American Studies and a Master of Liberal Studies in Public Policy, both from Georgetown University, and an M.A. in Secondary English Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College. She is also a longtime lacrosse player and coach.
Mandy Pabone is joining our science department as a biology teacher. She is currently finishing her 13th year at Poly Prep Country Day School, where she has been teaching AP Biology, Biology, Anatomy & Physiology, Epidemiology, and Chemistry in addition to advising and coaching the Dance and STEP teams. She also taught Upper School science for 5 years at Fontbonne Academy. Ms. Pabone has a B.S. degree in Biology and Secondary Education from St. Joseph’s College, where she was a member of the Tribeta Biological Society. She is currently a candidate for a Masters degree in Biology at Brooklyn College.
Jeremy Pease will be our new music teacher and choral director. He will be moving to New York from Los Angeles, where he is completing his fourth year as the 7-9th grades Choral Director at the Harvard-Westlake School. Prior teaching experience included stints at the Westside Neighborhood School and Manhattan Beach Schools, where he taught music and led choral groups for students from 1st through 8th grades. In addition to music classes and choral groups, Mr. Pease has directed various a cappella groups, vocally directed many school musicals, and led community service projects.
Beth Weinberg joins us as Administrative Assistant to Assistant Heads of School and College Guidance. After graduating from Lehman College, Beth worked as an administrative assistant at the publishing company, Scientific American. She then worked as an executive assistant in finance before taking the leap into schools. Beth worked as the executive assistant and office manager in Fieldston’s Middle School for eleven years. She was an integral part of the community and supported the middle school in all ways. Most recently, Beth worked at The Leffell School in White Plains as an admissions assistant.
Kate Wheeler is our new Upper School Psychologist. Ms. Wheeler comes to us from the Carle Physician Group, where she is a counselor and works primarily with adolescents. Prior to these positions, she has had extensive experience as a child and family therapist and psychiatric social worker in several other settings. Ms. Wheeler also has experience as a teacher and learning specialist, including time at Hunter College High School. She holds a B.A in English from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence University, and an M.S.W. in Clinical Social Work from Columbia University. She is a licensed clinical social worker with New York’s Department of Education.
In addition to welcoming these new people to our community, some current members of the Collegiate faculty will have new roles this fall. Beverly Brown will take over as Director of our after-school program. Nisa Bryant will be assuming the role of Interim Director of Admissions, following the news of Joanne Heyman’s retirement in May. Zach Eldrige, previously a part-time member of our music department, will be moving to full-time teaching, in all three divisions. Fiona Evans, current 2nd grade associate teacher, has been promoted to Head Teacher in our 3rd grade. Jill Feighan, who served last year as a teaching aide to cover classrooms when teachers were online, will be assisting with academic support in the Middle School and directing our after-school Middle School Help Center. Melanie Hutchinson will be Assistant Head of School for Strategic Initiatives, running point on several key projects that have been in queue for some time. Raluca Manea will be serving as our Interim Chair of the Modern Languages Department. Marcello Pomies will move from Head Teacher in the third grade to the fourth grade. Nikki Solyom, currently our K-6 math specialist, will be our Middle School Academic Support specialist, with an emphasis on math support and instruction. Rebeka Stowe, longtime coach and currently kindergarten associate teacher, will be joining our Athletics department full-time as PE instructor. And Dwight Vidale has the same responsibilities as this past year, but now with the title of Assistant Head of School for Institutional Equity and Belonging, reflecting the scope of his portfolio and the importance of his work at the School.