St. Luke’s welcomed new faculty and staff to the Hilltop this week. Head of School Mark Davis shared these spoken remarks during the first Faculty-Staff meeting:
Cynthia Badan — Middle School French
Cynthia joins us to teach Middle School French and to coach several sports, including Middle School field hockey and squash. She graduated from Bowdoin, where she majored in French, played field hockey, and swam. After teaching French and coaching at Westminster School, she received a master’s degree in Private School Administration from the Klingenstein Center at Columbia.
In addition to teaching and coaching, Cynthia has served as an administrator and as Director of College Counseling at several private day and boarding schools in New York, Connecticut, and Michigan. Most recently, she worked at New Canaan Country School and Greenwich Academy. Having grown up in the Caribbean, she has a love of the sea and promotes stewardship of the oceans, including through the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Cynthia has also served on the boards of the Glen Lake Yacht Club and the FBI Citizens Academy. She has a daughter, three sons, and four cats. Cynthia and her husband (whose native language is French) travel frequently to his native Switzerland.
Anna Birinyi — Upper School English
Anna is a graduate of Greens Farms Academy and is delighted to be back in Connecticut to begin her Upper School English career. She was a kindergarten associate at St. Bernard’s School in New York before pursuing a master’s in English at Yale and making the switch to Upper School. She also holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia and a master’s degree in early childhood education from Teachers College. Anna just moved to Norwalk and is an avid reader and cook.
David Burnham — Upper School Mathematics
After spending four years teaching Calculus at Avon Old Farms School, Dave joins the Upper School Math Department, where this year he will teach Geometry and Functions, Statistics, and Trigonometry. In addition to teaching math at Avon, Dave coached soccer and swimming and led the swim team to consecutive runners-up finishes at the New England Championships. Prior to Avon, Dave taught in Maryland, and at The Island School.
Dave currently lives in Stamford but was raised in Wilton where he attended Wilton High School. After graduation, he attended St. Lawrence University where he majored in Math and Economics and minored in Statistics while also serving as a two-year captain of the swimming and diving team. He went on to earn his master's in education with a focus in secondary math from St. Lawrence before starting his career in education.
In his free time, Dave enjoys running (he is training for the New York City Marathon in November), sailing, and golf.
Mary Kate DeRienzo — Admissions Associate
Mary Kate came on board this summer as Admissions Associate. Most recently, she served as the Admissions Events Coordinator for the past three years at SUNY Purchase. Before SUNY Purchase, she worked at ArtsWestchester, Drexel University, and the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. Her professional background includes marketing communications and development.
Mary Kate holds a bachelor's degree in Studio Art, French, and Art History from Holy Cross and a master’s degree in Arts Administration from Drexel University. She lives in New Canaan with her husband, Mike, and enjoys cooking, gardening, painting, and knitting.
Seeley Fancher — Science Teaching Fellow
Seeley graduated from St. Luke’s in the class of 2014 and will take on two new roles as both a 9th Grade Biology Teaching Fellow and Varsity Field Hockey Coach. In May, she graduated from Skidmore College, where she majored in Neuroscience and was a member of the field hockey team. In addition to her love of learning, Seeley is passionate about athletics (both participating and spectating), animals, and the environment, and she enjoys reading and being by the water.
While all of us are thrilled to see Seeley return to the Hilltop, no one is happier than her father, Gareth, who also takes on a new role this year as Director of Emotional Intelligence. Her mother, Lisa, works at Greenwich High School as a French teacher. While it’s abundantly clear that being an educator runs in the family, Seeley’s brother Gareth — a 2012 St. Luke’s graduate — recently joined the rest of his generation by taking a cool job in Austin, Texas.
Kimberly Gerardi — designLab
Kim joins St. Luke’s designLab faculty and also hopes to write curriculum and enhance lessons as a partner to core curriculum teachers. She has an MFA in Design Technology from SUNY Purchase with a focus in Scenic Design. In addition to many years designing for the stage, Kim has served as art director for independent film and music video, industrial design (at Wide World of Sports), installations and red carpet events for film festivals (including Tribeca and Hamptons Intl.), print production for Ann Taylor and as scenic artist for Hartford Stage, The Barrow Group, and The Atlantic Theatre Companies. She spent the last six school years (plus six summer camp years) at Wooster School in Danbury, where she began as a part-time Technical Director and later helped develop the makerspace. At Wooster, Kim taught Design Engineering in all three divisions from pre-K to 12th grade.
Kim lives in Brookfield with her husband, Peter, her two children — Olivia (10) and Leo (7) — and new puppy, Bruno.
Jeanine Haberny — Development Associate
Jeanine joined the St. Luke’s D-team in the fall of last year, after spending 22 years at King School in both the Lower School Division and Development Department.
Jeanine is married with three children. She and her family live on a farm in South Salem, New York, where they have cows, chickens, and turkeys, and in the summer months — as I learned recently to my great delight — they produce a variety of delicious farm-fresh vegetables. In her free time, Jeanine enjoys exercising, cooking, reading, and eating chocolate.
Maggie Lauer — Middle School Band Director
Our new Middle School Band Director, Maggie holds flute performance degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, McGill University, and the University of Montreal, and her music education degree from McGill.
Before coming to St. Luke’s, Maggie was the Junior School Music Teacher at KuperAcademy in Montreal. As a professional flutist, Maggie has performed with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the National Cathedral Orchestra of Washington, D.C., the Canadian Chamber Orchestra of New York, and with members of New York City’s “Bang on a Can” ensemble and pop group Il Divo.
As an ensemble coach, Maggie has worked with students in the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, the D.C. Youth Orchestra Program and, most recently, the Orquesta Filarmonica of Chonchi, Chile. She has also taught music elective classes at the Latin American Youth Center in Washington, D.C., and served on the faculty at McGill Conservatory. This past year, Maggie was part of the Global Leaders Program, a program that selected 35 fellows from around the world for their commitment to music education and social justice.
Maggie can be heard on recordings from Innova, the American Composers Label, and on NPR performing with the Montreal Symphony at Carnegie Hall. She regularly performs with the DCINY (Distinguished Concerts International New York) Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. She works closely with ensembles all around the world as a consultant to help further their education initiatives and is on the board of the new music group, Ensemble Paramirabo.
Sasha Mathrani — Academic Technologist
Sasha joins St. Luke’s as an Academic Technologist after graduating from Haverford College in May with a degree in Biology and a passion for education. During her time at Haverford, Sasha worked with faculty and staff in various capacities to improve diversity and inclusion efforts in the classroom, and she hopes to bring that same passion to her work at St. Luke’s. Sasha was born in Fairfield but moved to India when she was 7 years old, and she’s excited to return to her home state after 14 years away. In her free time, she enjoys watching plays, spending time outdoors, and trying new recipes in the kitchen.
Jean Myles — Middle School Librarian
Jean will serve as our Middle School librarian. She received her BS in Elementary Education from the Neag School of Education at UConn and taught Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade for six years. Jean took time off after her first son was diagnosed with autism and stayed home until her younger son was in preschool. She then started to work part-time at the Wilton Library Association, where she still works seasonally. Jean returned to the elementary school setting as a school librarian in the Norwalk Public Schools while getting her certification as a School Library Media Specialist and her master’s degree in Library Science. She was given the Excellence in Education award through the Norwalk Public Schools last year and is currently on the Nutmeg Book Award Selection Committee.
Jean lives in Norwalk with her husband, who is a drummer and drum teacher, and her two sons, ages 11 and 9. She loves to read, play video games, meditate daily, and train for her 2nd-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
Tony Newsom — Student Services Associate
Tony joins the College Counseling Department as Student Services Associate and returns for his second season as the boys varsity basketball coach.
Tony grew up in Metuchen, New Jersey, and went on to attend Niagara University, where he played basketball on a full athletic scholarship. Upon graduation, he worked for a New York City investment firm, SunAmerica, for two years and during that time volunteered as a high school basketball coach. He then left the business world to pursue a career as a Division 1 college basketball coach and spent the next 22 years working at schools such as Princeton University, College of the Holy Cross, Fairfield University, and Quinnipiac University. Tony's mission here is to leverage his knowledge of the collegiate recruiting and admissions process to help St. Luke’s students and student athletes realize their athletic and academic goals.
Tony enjoys spending time with his family and attending his son’s various sporting events. He and his family have grown to love Monroe, Connecticut, where they have lived for the last seven years.
Nano Saulnier — Front Desk Receptionist
Nano came to St. Luke’s from Vineyard Vines here in New Canaan, where she served as Assistant Manager for the last three years, and learned how to live the Vineyard Vines motto: “Every day should feel this good.” A St. Luke’s parent (who knew Nano from the store) brought her to our attention as a potential Front Desk Receptionist — or as she likes to call her position, the “Director of First Impressions.”
Nano lives in Fairfield with her daughter, Avery Grace, who will be a senior at the University of Alabama, and her son, Trey, who will be a sophomore at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. Sun and sand are her hobbies of choice, and she also loves spending time with her dogs, Pilot and Dixie.
Joshua Schneider — Upper School Science
An 18-year teaching veteran, Joshua joins St. Luke's as a Physics teacher in the Upper School Science department. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, he majored in Physics Education with a minor in philosophy at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. After college, he taught physics in Maryland public schools for 13 years, during which he also led a Physics and Engineering team, a VEX robotics team, and a Science Bowl team, while also serving as both technical director and overall director in school theater programs and events coordinator for the county performing arts center. For the last five years, Joshua taught in England at two different independent schools. Throughout his career, he has organized and chaperoned international student trips. He enjoys hiking, orienteering, and camping as well as playing softball and volleyball.
Lissette Soto — Upper School Spanish
Lissette joins the Upper School World Language Department as a Spanish teacher and is also excited to assist with the debate team. She comes to us from MIT, where she worked as a Spanish Lecturer for the last 11 years. A native Spanish speaker born in the Dominican Republic, Lissette has her bachelor’s and master’s in Spanish and Latin-American Literature from the University of Alabama. At MIT, Lissette was known for her inspiring and innovative teaching practice, and for making immediate connections with her students.
Lissette relocated to Nyack, New York, in July with her two children, Sofía (soon to be 5) and Nicolás (3). She is always searching for the perfect playground and good restaurants, and when not busy with her kids she enjoys reading, yoga, and coffee dates with friends.
Emily Walsh — Upper School English
This year Emily will teach 9th and 10th grade English, and coach varsity field hockey and junior varsity lacrosse. She comes to St. Luke's from Westminster School in Simsbury, where she also taught English, lived in the dorms, and coached ice hockey and lacrosse. She is one course away from completing her master’s degree at Wesleyan and was fortunate to attend the Character Lab conference with Angela Duckworth in Philadelphia this summer. Emily completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont, where she was a member of their Division 1 ice hockey team. After college, she spent a year playing professional ice hockey in Germany.