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Former St. Luke’s Parents Make Dreams Come True for Faculty

S.A.
Each year, St. Luke’s faculty members are invited to apply for the annual Faculty Enrichment Award, funded by the generosity of former St. Luke’s parents Steve and Liz Goldstone. More commonly known as “Dream Grants,” this monetary grant provides faculty the opportunity to pursue a personal project or journey that will enrich their lives. 

St. Luke’s is excited to announce the 2021 Faculty Dream Grant recipients: Head of Middle School Curriculum and Special Programs Jen Pokorney and Middle School Math Teacher Jay Blau.

Jen is excited to explore her roots and connect with her family on a trip out West. This summer, they plan to rent an RV and hit the open road. She looks forward to time on endless roads with her kids, even the anticipated sibling bickering. The adventure will begin in her home state of South Dakota with long hikes in the Black Hills before they head to the Redwoods of California, coastal Oregon, or the Grand Canyon. With no specific destination, the plan is to pack up, push west, and explore, as they find peace in nature and take the time to reflect along the way.

Jay also plans to fulfill his travel dreams. A self-proclaimed George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life, Jay always wanted to travel the world. A job, kids, and a whole lot of life later, his travel plans were put on hold. But thanks to the Faculty Dream Grant, he plans to pack up and hit the road this summer (if health conditions are safe) for a good ole American road trip and the opportunity to reconnect with his passions of music, art, food, baseball, nature, and people. He’ll visit museums in New York City, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Wrigley Field in Chicago, and the Field of Dreams in Iowa. Next, he plans to wander in California, Seattle, and Austin, as well as enjoy the delectable tastes of New Orleans. He will wrap up his trip with old friends in Miami. Jay’s dream of experiencing the world and meeting new people along the way is about to come true, even though, like George Bailey, he already has a wonderful life.

Past "Dream Grant" recipients include:

2020: Matt Bavone, Academic Technology Coordinator and Latin Teacher, originally planned to tour seventh-eleventh century historical sites in England, Wales, and Scotland, but due to COVID-19, instead he reimagined his backyard and created a beautiful garden space, as well as built a desktop computer from the ground up. Michael Mitchell, designLab Director, returned to his childhood passion of drumming, with his purchase of an electronic drum set and a year’s worth of lessons to refresh his skills.

2019: Middle School History Teacher Sarah Westerberg-Egan took a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Beirut with her mother, who is second-generation Lebanese, to explore their heritage. Westerberg-Egan shared, “I was so grateful for that opportunity, and my mom and I really had a life-changing experience going to our homeland.” 
 
Upper School English Teacher Steve Flachsbart traveled with his wife to Greece, where they explored everything from the Parthenon in Athens to the oracle in Delphi to the blue roofs of Santorini. Visiting Greece was a longtime dream after reading the Odyssey in ninth grade. Steve shared, “Being able to see the pages come to life was an incredible and gratifying experience.”
 
2018: US Band Teacher Peter Valera purchased his first new saxophone in nearly twenty years, after playing the same one since high school, and former Music Chair Katie Kaplan traveled to Israel for the first time with her husband and synagogue group. 
 
2017: Retired Math Teacher Nancy Walsh went to Ireland with her sisters to trace their maternal family heritage, and English Teacher Susan Doran visited the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales in Great Britain (an area associated with literary greats such as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, and the Brontës).
 
2016: MS Art Chair Nancy Sarno re-learned the piano, Assistant Head of MS Mark Chuhta rebuilt a ‘68 Mustang engine with his son AJ, and Director of College Counseling Sonia Bell took an Albany-to-Los Angeles train ride with her sister.
 
2015: Director of Educational Support Services Daphne Teittinen-Schreck took cooking classes with her husband, and Physical Education Teacher Pat Raffaele took craft brewing classes.

2014: Former Director of Technology and horse-enthusiast Elizabeth Preston enrolled in dressage riding sport lessons, and former Math Teacher Elaine Greene took a treasured family trip to Ireland.
 
2013: Director of Character Education Kate Parker-Burgard acquired bees and expanded her family’s vegetable garden, and Math Teacher Colin “Bucky” Buchanan took a special cruise with his wife.
 
2012: Math Teacher and WSLX faculty advisor Jeff Kress created his own home radio station, and US Health & Wellness Coordinator Camille DeMarco-Havens took an anniversary trip.
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St. Luke’s School is a secular private school in New Canaan, CT for grades 5 through 12 serving 25 towns in Connecticut and New York. Our exceptional academics and diverse co-educational community foster students’ intellectual and ethical development and prepare them for top colleges. St. Luke’s Center for Leadership builds the commitment to serve and the confidence to lead.