Welcoming New and Returning Faculty to Campus

Emily McDowell (right) with a student
Emily McDowell (right) began a new master’s program in teacher leadership.

Few Williston faculty members take the summer off in the true sense. Most delve into professional development at institutions across the country. Lori and Chris Pelliccia are no exceptions.

Lori, who teaches English, this summer completed an M.F.A. in writing for children and young adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. She attended her fifth and final 10-day residency at the school, gave a lecture based on a critical paper she wrote, and held a reading of her creative work. She participated in a 12-session workshop group and attended lectures and readings given by faculty members and other graduating students. Lori began the program in 2012 and completed one semester of writing each school year. 

Her husband, Chris, a science teacher, began a Master of Science in science education through Montana State University. This summer, he completed two classes at Montana State in Bozeman, “Animal Biodiversity of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem” and “Project Microbe,” and two classes online, “Environmental Chemistry” and “Current Topics in Science Education.” He will continue taking online classes this school year and then will return to Bozeman in the summer of 2017. The graduate program usually takes 2.5 years to complete.

Lori and Chris weren’t the only faculty members notching accomplishments this summer:

  • Track coach and math teacher Martha McCullagh went to the Olympic Track and Field Trials in Oregon where she volunteered and connected with Gabby Thomas ’15 who was participating in the event. 
  • College counselor Emily McDowell, French teacher Sue Michalski, and history and global studies teacher Andrew Syfu began a master of arts in Teacher Leadership that Williston has developed in a partnership with Mount Holyoke.  See more about the new program here.
  • Kyle Hanford and Jacob Rivers of the English Department participated in a Bard Institute of Writing and Thinking program.
  • Michael Doubleday in the History Department participated in a Gilder Lehrman Institute program in Texas.

New Faculty Arrive on Campus

As the first day of classes approaches, new faculty members are joining returning teachers on campus, and all are setting up classrooms and preparing lesson plans. We’re excited to welcome the following teachers to our team of skilled and committed faculty:

Tom Beaton (College Counseling and Athletics) joins the Williston faculty from Tufts University where he has been coaching football. He is a Bates graduate with a degree in American studies. Tom will be a college counselor and athletics liaison who will work closely with the post-graduates. He is the head football coach as Williston joins the Erickson League this year, and will also coach basketball and baseball. Tom is already familiar with Williston as his brother Pat was a postgraduate last year.

Steven Berlanga (Visual and Performing Arts) joins Williston as the director of choirs and will teach all the choral music classes and advise the Teller Chorus. He is currently a doctoral student at Indiana University and earned a master’s degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Cincinnati and a B.A. in Music from California State Long Beach. He will coach volleyball and supervise arts intensive.

Katy Briedis (Mathematics) joins the Williston faculty from Cushing Academy where she taught math and was a coach and a dorm parent. As a Cushing graduate she knows independent boarding schools. She will coach lacrosse and work in the athletic performance program. Katy has a B.A. in Mathematics from SUNY Potsdam and an M.B.A. from Averett University.

Rachel Currie-Rubin ’01 (Academic Support Coordinator) returns to her alma mater to run the Academic Support program. Rachel has worked as a teacher, researcher, and education specialist. Most recently she worked for an educational research and development organization as a research scientist and instructional designer. Rachel has a B.S. from Ithaca College in teaching students with speech and language disabilities, a master’s in education in language and literacy from the Harvard School of Education, and a Ed.D. degree from Harvard in human development and education. Rachel will also coach ice hockey at Williston.

Erin Davey (Assistant Dean of Students) returns to Williston after working for a year at Pomfret School as an admission officer. In her role as assistant dean of students, Erin’s responsibilities include the director of student activities, the director of inclusion, and 10th grade class dean. She graduated from Connecticut College with a B.A. in sociology and has a master’s degree in sports management from Southern New Hampshire University. Erin will coach ice hockey and softball.

Kara DeMichiel (College Counseling) most recently served as a senior assistant director in the office of admission at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y.  Her travel territory included the New England region and she coordinated the Student Ambassador program as well as enrollment event planning at St. Lawrence.  A graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology, Kara spent her undergraduate years working in the office of admission followed by three more years at RIT on the admissions staff.

Ben Farmer (Admissions) is an admissions officer and will serve as head coach of the boy’s varsity basketball team as well as coaching in the football program. He is a graduate of Marist College with a degree in communications, and recently completed a Master of Education program at the University of Hartford. Before joining Williston, Ben served as an assistant coach at the University of Hartford and Wesleyan University.

Lee Greener ’06 (Director of Financial Aid) is a 2006 graduate of Williston who returns to campus after most recently serving as associate director of admissions at Miss Hall’s School. She earned a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina and a M.S. in higher education from Bay Path University. She will work in the afternoon program coaching ultimate frisbee.

Duncan Laird (Director of Psychological Counseling Services) is a clinical social worker who has had a private practice in the Pioneer Valley for more than 20 years. He has been the director of psychological counseling at the Bement School for 16 years and also worked as a psychological and organizational consultant for the Academy at Charlemont. He earned a B.S. in social work from Western Michigan and an M.S.W. from Smith College.

Matt Liebowitz (English) is an experienced English teacher who has taught in several independent schools and who has also worked as a journalist. He graduated from Skidmore College with a B.A. in English and he earned an M.A. in English from Boston University. He will serve as the school’s sports information director, and serve as the faculty advisor to The Willistonian.

Katie Loomis (Language) is headed back to New England after working last year at the Darlington School in Georgia. Katie is an alum of Kingswood-Oxford School and has been on the Williston campus as a competitor in several sports. She graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A in modern languages and literatures, and earned an M.S. in education from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to her year at Darlington, Katie worked at Culver Academy and St. Pauls School. She will teach Spanish and coach cross country, swimming, and track and field.

Elibet Moore (English) knows independent schools well from growing up on the Lawrence Academy campus. She joins the Williston faculty after three years teaching English at Rumsey Hall School. She also has five years of experience working with adolescents at Wolfeboro in the summer boarding school program. Ellie graduated from Bowdoin College with a B.A. in sociology. She will teach English, coach soccer and lacrosse, and serve as a dorm parent at Williston.

Colleen Norgang (Athletic Training) will be the head athletic trainer at Williston after serving in that role for six years at Kents Hill School in Maine. Colleen’s work at Kents Hill also involved teaching and running a dormitory. She earned a B.S. in athletic training from the University of Maine-Orono. Colleen knows independent schools having graduated from KUA.

Rita Plouffe (Language) will be teaching Chinese at Williston after working most recently at Hawaii Preparatory Academy. In addition to teaching Rita will be involved in the afternoon program. She has a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from Asia University in Taiwan and a master’s degree in secondary education in Chinese from Brandeis University.

Matthew Porter (Science) joins the Williston faculty as a teaching intern in psychology and as a three season coach. Matt graduated this spring from Trinity College (CT) with a B.S. in psychology. He is familiar with independent boarding schools having completed a post-graduate year at Choate Rosemary Hall. Matt coaches varsity football, track and field, and athletic performance.

Mia Smith (Mathematics) graduated from Williams College this spring with a B.A. in mathematics. She has been very involved in math communities both at Williams and beyond. She was a member of the Math Student Advisory Board at Williams, and her work also included MathCamps, a summer boarding program for exceptional math scholars around the world. At Williston, Mia will teach math, coach cross country and lacrosse, and serve as a dorm parent.

Jill Stern (Advancement) is our new Director of Alumni Engagement. Jill is already well-known to many within the Williston community, as a parent of recent graduate Maddy ’14 and rising 10th grader Caleb ’19. She joins us from the Advancement office of her alma mater, Mount Holyoke College, where she had been since 2008. During her tenure, Jill directed their $10 million Annual Fund, coordinated advancement communications, and worked closely with their alumnae association. She has extensive experience in volunteer management, communications, marketing, and fund-raising. Prior to her work at the College, Jill was the co-founder and executive director of an equine ambulance organization, and has also worked as a freelance writer and editor.

Dave Werner (Advancement) is a new Leadership Gifts Officer. Dave joins us with three decades of experience at the Westminster School, most recently as their Director of Alumni Relations. In addition to a dozen years of alumni relations and major gifts experience in their Advancement Office, he has a depth of experience in school life as a teacher, director of college counseling, varsity coach, dorm parent, and admissions officer. He graduated from Westminster, earned his B.A. from the University of Vermont, and M.A.L.S. from Wesleyan University. In his new role at Williston, Dave will cultivate relationships with alumni and parents around the country to raise major gifts in support of the school.

Welcome, new faculty, and to those returning, welcome back!

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