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2023 Dream Grant Recipients Announced

For more than a decade, St. Luke’s faculty members have been invited to apply for the annual Faculty Enrichment Award, funded by the generosity of Steve and Liz Goldstone, former St. Luke’s parents. More commonly known as “Dream Grants,” this monetary award allows faculty to pursue a personal project or journey that will enrich their lives.

St. Luke’s is excited to announce the 2023 recipients: Cynthia Briggs, Middle School French Teacher; Ty Wieland, Middle School English Teacher; and Rich Kaechele, Facilities Technician. 

This summer, Cynthia plans to visit the French island of Corsica — a dream ignited in middle school by her first French teacher, Madame Chevaleau. Also known as “The Isle of Beauty,” Corsica is rich in culture, history, tradition, and beautiful landscapes, from rose-tinted alpine mountains that plunge into Caribbean aqua-colored waters to ancient stone villages nestled in limestone cliffs. Cynthia looks forward to exploring Corsica and returning with rich cultural experiences to share with her students.

Ty will travel to Vietnam with his spouse, Quoc, and daughter, Isabel. Quoc, who is Vietnamese, left the country with his family in 1975 after the fall of Saigon. Thanks to the Faculty Enrichment Grant, Ty and Isabel can now see Quoc’s country of origin. Both are intensely curious and eager to learn more about Vietnamese culture and their family’s experience there.

Rich has a love for the history of American transportation. This fall, Rich and his wife plan to take a road trip out west to explore museums that focus on America’s transportation history, including the Henry Ford Museum, the Gilmore Car Museum, the Harley Davidson Museum, and The National Museum of Transportation.

Past "Dream Grant" recipients include:

2022: Janet Jochem, St. Luke’s Upper School Science Department Chair, and her husband took a trip to Ireland — the place they honeymooned 29 years ago and where their love story took root. There, they enjoyed the sites of Dublin, sang Karaoke, danced to country-western music, and drank Guinness on draught. Most importantly, they celebrated their enduring love. Zach Brusko, St. Luke’s Computer Science Teacher and textbook coordinator, installed a 125-gallon aquarium in his home, which houses African cichlids and helped him to reconnect with his childhood love of aquarium fish. 

2021: Jen Pokorney, Head of Middle School Curriculum and Special Programs, explored her roots and connected with her family on a trip out West. Last summer, they rented an RV and hit the open road. Jen enjoyed the time with her kids, even the sibling bickering, while they visited her home state of South Dakota, the Redwoods of California, coastal Oregon, and the Grand Canyon, to name just a few spots. Middle School Math Teacher Jay Blau spent the summer on a good ole American road trip. While traveling, he reconnected with his passions of music, art, food, baseball, nature, and people. He visited museums in New York City, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Wrigley Field in Chicago, and the Field of Dreams in Iowa. He wandered in California, Seattle, and Austin and enjoyed the delectable tastes of New Orleans. He wrapped up his adventure with old friends in Miami.

2020: Matt Bavone, Academic Technology Coordinator and Latin Teacher, originally planned to tour seventh-to-eleventh century historical sites in England, Wales, and Scotland. Instead, due to COVID-19, 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 a 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 visiting 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 with 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 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 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 (non-religious), private school in New Canaan, CT for grades 5 through 12 serving over 30 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.