Photo From Left to Right, Staggered: Veronica Dimberio, Dawn Fuller, Erica Shevchek, Katie, Mersky, Matthew Goetz, Cindy Dill, Daniela Burga, Gavin Immer, Sara Aylward, Adrienne Banks, Rachel Lang, Kari Olsen, Jennifer Platek, Jon Jodka (Missing from Photo: Shuja Khan, Linda Mohr, Jaci Nelson, Karen Rolfini-Beckenstein)
St. Luke’s welcomes 18 new faculty and staff to the Hilltop this year. Head of School Mark Davis introduced the new colleagues and shared these spoken remarks at the first Faculty/Staff meeting of the 2020-2021 school year:
Sara Aylward, Marketing and Communications Specialist: Sara joins St. Luke’s as our Marketing and Communications Specialist after a decade-long career in communications, marketing and fundraising. Much of that time was spent helping nonprofit organizations across Connecticut and New York fuel their missions by deepening relationships with donors and prospects through storytelling, brand awareness, and a strong online presence. Most recently, Sara worked at a marketing agency in Stamford, where she helped clients reimagine their digital marketing potential through data-driven creative and analytics. She was also instrumental in developing the agency’s public relations service line. When not at work you can often find Sara on her yoga mat (RYT 200 teacher), by the lake, or with her nose in a book. She resides in Sandy Hook with her husband Matt, and goldendoodle Rufio, where they enjoy traveling, strong coffee, and checking things off their bucket list.
Adrienne Banks, US Science Teacher Fellow: Adrienne joins us as the Upper School Chemistry Teaching Fellow. Originally from Oregon, she found her love of teaching through outdoor education, leading youth trips across the country for several years. She recently graduated from Williams College and can be found running, playing ultimate frisbee, adventuring outside, or experimenting in the kitchen in her spare time.
Daniela Burga, Human Resources Manager: Daniele comes to us from New Castle Hotels and Resorts where she was responsible for running Human Resources operations for their company in the U.S and Canada. She has over a decade of experience in Human Resources and recently earned her Master's degree in HR Management from the University of Connecticut. Daniela resides in Fairfield with her husband Stuart and her two sons, four-year-old Liam and five-month-old Luke. When not working Daniela enjoys handcrafting wooden trays that she decorates with mosaic tiles and epoxy. She also enjoys traveling with her family and going on new adventures. Daniela looks forward to joining the education world as she loves the ability that educators have of making an impact on upcoming generations.
Cindy Dill, Director of Annual Giving: Cindy comes to us from Kids in Crisis where she worked in their Development Office as an Individual Giving Manager. Prior to that she worked in the Development Office at King School for eight years. Cindy lives in the Shippan Point area of Stamford with her husband, Charlie, their two children Louise (19), Charlie (22) and their two dogs, Dilly (16) and Lila (3). In her spare time Cindy can be found power walking around her neighborhood, at The Stamford Yacht Club playing tennis, or planning weekend getaways with her girlfriends or family.
Veronica Dimberio, MS Math Teacher (Leave Replacement): Veronica just recently moved to Connecticut from Long Island, New York. While living in Long Island she worked as a teacher for 3 years at a wonderful private school. Veronica adores living in Connecticut with her boyfriend and miniature goldendoodle named Cashew and enjoys experiencing the beautiful scenery of the state. In her spare time she loves baking gluten-free desserts, binging Netflix series, doing pilates, and spending time with her family.
Dawn Fuller, MS & US Theater Teacher: Dawn has taught and directed in Independent Schools for the last 20 years. She served as Theatre Department Head at both Greenwich Academy and the Mandell School in NYC. Most recently, she led the MS Theatre Program at Sacred Heart Greenwich. As an actress, Dawn has “tread the boards” at several US regional theatres, toured with the National Shakespeare Company, produced at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and has sold everything from peanuts to Pampers on radio and television. She has two tiny humans at home who have tempted her palette for “Kid Lit” so much that she wrote a children’s book titled, Twirl. Dawn has read every copy of New York Magazine from cover to cover since 1996 and if 20+ years in Manhattan taught her anything, it is the importance of fabulous footwear.
Matthew Goetz, US Humanities Teacher: Matthew joined the St. Luke's team from Chase Collegiate School where he worked as faculty in both the English and History Departments, in addition to serving as Admissions Associate for grade nine. Prior to that he taught for three years within and was an examiner for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at Beijing National Day School in China after completing ten years as an officer in the US Navy, a masters degree in education at Harvard, and a masters degree in divinity at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis. He currently lives in Fairfield with his four-and-a-half year old daughter Sylvia and former Beijing street dog TinTin. When not trying to figure out the whirlwind that has been his life of late, Matt can be found reading, running, rowing, or cooking.
Gavin Immer, MS World Language Teacher: Gavin first fell in love with Mandarin as a sophomore at Fairfield Warde HS. He went on to study it at Tufts University, where he majored in Economics and minored in Chinese. After college, Gavin received government scholarships from China, Taiwan, and the USA to study Mandarin in Asia. Most recently, Gavin worked in HR at Fortune 500 companies and Chinese startups. He has also appeared on viral YouTube videos and Taiwanese TV, performed viola at an international music festival, and competed in the Irish Dance World Championships.
Jon Jodka, Director of Development: In addition to his long career as a leader in sales and managing teams in the financial services industry, Jon is in his sixth and final year as a dedicated St. Luke’s trustee, where he has served on the Momentum Campaign Committee, the Executive Committee, and as Chair of the Governance Committee. Throughout his distinguished career, Jon has served schools with wisdom, commitment and generosity, including as a trustee at Lawrence Academy and as a member of the President’s Visiting Committee at Bowdoin College. In short, he “gets'' schools. Moreover, after 14 years as a St. Luke’s parent (Maddie ‘14, Nick ‘16, and Henry ‘20), he not only can tell the St. Luke’s story as well as anyone possibly could, but he also loves doing so. Combined with his love for and longstanding service to St. Luke’s, Jon’s professional experience and gifts as a leader are the perfect complement to our experienced and dedicated Development team of Meg Paulson, Beth Garrabrant, Kathleen Murphy, Stefanie Veneruso and Janine Haberny. We are incredibly fortunate that Meg will continue to lead the “D Team'' as Acting Director until Jon comes on board, and I am grateful to everyone in the Development Office for their extraordinary efforts to make the transition to a new Director as seamless as possible. Many of you have gotten to know Jon and his wife Kim during their 14 years at St. Luke’s, as you have taught their children and/or worked with them in their various volunteer capacities. Clearly, service is in this couple’s blood, as Kim served on the Parents’ Association Executive Board for many years, including two as president, and has also been a singularly dedicated and wise supporter of our theater and vocal music programs.
Shuja Khan, US Math and Computer Science Teacher: Shuja comes from Gulliver Schools in Miami where he worked as the Director of Enrollment for the last three years. Before that, he worked at Schools of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco for 14 years as a teacher, coach, Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions. He's originally from Queens and is glad to be back in the area. He lives in Brewster, NY with his wife Emily (also an educator), his son Nas (11), his daughter Naia (7), and their dog, Cali. In his spare time, Shuja loves to read, play sports, watch movies and hang out with his family as much as possible.
Rachel Lang, MS Science Teacher: Rachel comes to us from Avenues: The World School the NYC campus where she worked as a 1st - 3rd-grade science specialist for the last five years. Prior to that she was a sixth-grade math and science teacher for the Croton Harmon Public School System. Rachel lives in White Plains with her better half and three-year-old fur baby, Charlotte. In her spare time Rachel can be found, singing, communing with nature, eating, cooking, and traveling.
Katie Mersky, MS Dean of Students: Katie comes to us from Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (SCH) in Philadelphia where she was the Assistant Head of Upper School. Previously to that role at SCH, Katie was the Dean of Student Life, worked in Admissions and was the Upper School Field Hockey Coach. Katie lives in Norwalk and outside of school she enjoys hiking and outdoor activities, reading mystery novels, and spending time with friends.
Linda Mohr, MS Math Department Chair: Linda has decided to return to her home state after 32 years. She spent the last 21 years teaching at the Pembroke Hill School in Kansas City, Missouri. Most recently she taught middle school math in grades six, seven and eight and was the math department chair. She is excited to be close to the ocean, the mountains and her youngest son who will attend college in Massachusetts. In her spare time you can find her reading, jogging, eating seafood, or skiing in the mountains.
Jacqueline Nelson, Director of Equity & Inclusion: St. Luke’s originally welcomed Jaci last June after a national search in partnership with industry-leading executive search firm Storbeck/Pimentel and many St. Luke’s faculty, parents, students, alumni, and trustees. She joins us from The Hewitt School in New York City, where she served as the Director of Diversity and Inclusivity and led several high impact diversity and equity initiatives. Jaci has a decade of experience in independent schools, as both a teacher and administrator, and also served on the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) Diversity Committee. Jaci believes that inclusion “is not the job of one, but the work of many,” and we look forward to carrying out that philosophy with her.
Kari Olsen, Director of Counseling Services: Kari comes to us from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, where she worked as a Program Manager for RULER, an approach to social emotional learning, for the past two years. Prior to that she worked as an elementary school teacher, middle and high school counselor, and middle and high school administrator in the Washington D.C. area. Kari lives in Stratford, CT with her husband Mark. Her 29 -year-old son lives in Arlington, VA and her 27-year-old daughter lives in North Bergen, NJ. When conditions allow, Kari enjoys spending time with family, shopping with her daughter, singing, watching the Yankees, and following her fantasy football team.
Jennifer Platek, MS History Teacher, Leave Replacement: Jen is a parent of a 2020 St. Luke’s graduate. Prior to staying at home to raise her children Jen taught fourth grade in New Canaan and fifth grade science in Ridgefield. Over the past two years Jen completed an online professional certificate program in Educational Consulting through UCI, which has helped her become familiar with many Different platforms of online learning. Jen lives in Weston with her husband Phil, and her two dogs: Tommy, a 17-year-old mini labradoodle, and Oli, a one-year-old goldendoodle. She has a 21-year-old daughter who is starting her Senior year at Chapman University studying Creative Producing. She also has an 18-year-old son, Phil, who will be starting at SMU this year.
Karen Rolfini-Beckenstein, MS & US World Language Teacher: Karen is excited to return to the Hilltop. You may remember Karen as “Ms. Rolfbeck” or Carrie's “maternity substitute.” In 2015 Karen founded The Language School (TLS) in Ridgefield, Connecticut. She currently manages TLS, now accredited school, offering customized instruction in 22 languages. As an educator, an entrepreneur and a former practicing attorney, Karen brings a wealth of knowledge, passion, and professional experience to St. Luke's School, including teaching at New Canaan Country Day, Wooster School, and Western Connecticut State University. Karen enjoys the company of her husband Eric, her 16-year-old son, Harrison, and her golden retriever, Boomer. In her nonexistent spare time, Karen likes to travel, go to Broadway shows, play the piano, and paint.
Erika Shevchek, MS English Teaching Fellow: Erica hails from Southampton, a suburb on the outskirts of Philadelphia, PA. A proud University of Michigan alumna and lover of all things literary, Erika is excited to be teaching English 7 this year. Erika lives in Stamford surrounded by her many books, unfinished story drafts, and "How To Play Classical Guitar" videos. When not at school, Erika is most likely running, chatting with friends, watching a documentary, or learning new vocab words.