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Among a record number of submissions for this year's New Year's card design contest, the artwork of Sheryl Chen '26 took the prize, reminding Pingrians of the importance of unity and community.

Pingry

Employees

Bria Barnes

Middle School Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Although Bria Barnes has only been at Pingry since 2016, it didn’t take her long to feel at home in her new surroundings. In the fall of her first year, she attended faculty and staff events that welcomed new employees. She was struck by how eager those in the Pingry community were to extend themselves and exchange ideas. “Teachers here share so much with each other. Someone comes up with something that works really well and they reach out to share it with others,” she says.
 

This cooperative mentality extends beyond the walls of the classroom, and Bria adds that her colleagues feel more like family than co-workers. “Pingry is a place where people check in on one another and make cards when someone is sick. People say good morning and really mean it; they ask how you’re doing and really want to know. I’m so happy to wake up and come to work each day.”

Other highlights of being a Pingry teacher? “I have more autonomy over my classroom,” she adds. “I love that I am allowed to teach creatively, collaboratively, and authentically. I also love that I can be my true self here. I can share parts of myself and culture with my coworkers and students.”

Bria noticed that not long into her new job, she saw changes in herself as an educator. She has a better perspective of education as a journey—a journey that is different for each student and teacher—and not just a series of steps. In addition to teaching English, she serves as the Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Middle School. “I appreciate how others come to me as a trusted resource for diversity advice, and I look forward to continuing to learn and grow through this role.”

When asked what she enjoys most about working at Pingry, Bria responds, “I love that I’m not just a teacher here; I am so much more.”

Matt Horesta

History teacher, upper school
For Upper School history teacher Matt Horesta, one of the most rewarding aspects of his job takes place outside the classroom, on Pingry’s track and wooded campus trails. In addition to teaching, Matt serves as Head Coach of the Boys’ Varsity Cross Country Team and Assistant Coach of the outdoor Varsity Track & Field Team. As a former high school and college runner himself, Matt stays involved in the sport thanks to Pingry’s “Plus-One” initiative, which encourages Pingry teachers to pursue their passions outside of the classroom.

With Upper School athletic practices meeting six days a week (in both the fall and spring) for up to four months in an average school year, Matt spends more time with the students on his teams than those in his history classes. He appreciates that this kind of time provides a unique opportunity to get a sense of what students are capable of and he enjoys mentoring them, adding, “A lot goes into the pursuit of a long-term goal, like winning a team title or challenging a school record, and when those goals are achieved, well, it doesn’t get better than that!”

Matt is also proud of the number of runners he has coached who have gone on to run in college, especially since many of his athletes were not serious runners before they arrived in the Upper School. As a coach, he finds it rewarding to watch former student athletes expand upon what they learned in high school and take their running to the next level. “That they continue competing after Pingry means that they found something in the sport and in their teammates that they wanted to keep building upon.” His runners have continued competing at DI and DIII schools including Princeton, Dartmouth, Haverford, Middlebury, Williams, NYU, and Connecticut College.

Beyond coaching, Matt also helps out with Pingry’s Outing Club, which teaches leadership and wilderness skills by taking students on local hikes as well as to distant locations like the canyons of southern Utah and the high peaks of the Adirondacks. He sees the club as an important complement to varsity sports, explaining, “The natural world provides physical and intellectual challenges in a non-competitive setting, and that break from being goal-oriented is valuable. I also think that if kids—athletes and non-athletes alike—have fun in the outdoors and gain an appreciation for the natural world, they will become invested in it going forward.”


Amy Cooperman

Assistant Director of College Counseling and Co-Coordinator of Pingry’s Independent Senior Project (ISP)

Amy Cooperman '90, P ’23, can easily relate to the students and parents she meets, as she is a Pingry graduate as well as a current Pingry parent. After a decade working in publishing, advertising, and marketing, followed by an even tougher job as a stay-at-home-mom, she decided to return to the workforce. Starting a job at Pingry gave Mrs. Cooperman the job satisfaction and benefits she had never experienced before. 

 

She feels lucky to work at a school where she continues to see her son's teachers from the Lower and Middle School, and she enjoys being surrounded by faculty and staff whose children attend, or have attended. Mrs. Cooperman is also grateful for Pingry's tuition remission benefit for full-time faculty and staff, as well as the School's support in helping her to pursue a master's degree in School Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. Through her master's program, she looks forward to enhancing her credentials and influencing how she approaches both day-to-day tasks and long-term goal-setting. 

Another perk of Mrs. Cooperman's job: Being part of a College Counseling team with colleagues who feel more like family, and have become close friends. She also enjoys her interactions with Pingry students, who she characterizes as "incredibly special people." Overall, Mrs. Cooperman describes a strong feeling of connection working at Pingry, adding, "There hasn't been a Sunday night when I haven't looked forward to coming to work the next morning, even when it's application decision time and I know the day will be filled with tough conversations. There is something about Pingry that makes me feel like we are all in this together. How fortunate!"

Amy Cooperman

Anthony Gagliardi

Groundskeeper, Basking Ridge Campus
When Anthony Gagliardi P ’22 joined Pingry directly out of high school, he never imagined the profound impact his job would have on his life 27 years later. As a member of the Facilities Team and also a Pingry parent, Anthony spent his first 20 years as a groundskeeper at the Short Hills Campus, a job which involved overseeing several major campus additions, including the creation of a new baseball field and the construction of the school’s first garden. In 2008, Anthony moved to the 192-acre Basking Ridge Campus, where he has since worked, helping to maintain all of the campus fields, plantings, and other outdoor structures.

What has it been like for Anthony to work at Pingry for his entire career? “I have a really rewarding job, from overseeing a World Cup soccer field to working alongside students on Rufus Gunther Day (Pingry’s annual day of community and civic engagement) planting daffodil bulbs around campus. I can see the results of my work and it’s a great feeling to know I’ve played a role in these kids’ lives.” Anthony describes Pingry as a place that fully supports him and his ideas, and he especially enjoys taking part in the School’s in-service days, which have allowed him to grow as a person. He embraces Pingry’s values of excellence and honor, and believes that when he helps to make the campus look its best, the students take notice and are even more respectful of their surroundings.

Anthony cannot imagine his current life without Pingry, as he considers his colleagues (both fellow staff members and teachers) and the students like family. He also points to the inclusiveness of the Pingry community, a place that cares about his personal well-being. For those thinking of working at Pingry, Anthony offers up some final advice: “Pingry is a great place for people who are creative and proactive about getting things done. Your experience will be what you make of it, and there is no limit in terms of what you can achieve here.”

Shalini Parikh

Grade 2 Teacher

The Big Blue Garden is just a glance outside of Ms. Parikh’s classroom window. For an educator who can’t imagine working in any other profession, a garden view mirrors the energy and brightness she brings to her class every day. It also reflects the growth and change her students experience, and the excitement they, too, can’t help but feel.  

“When I first came to Pingry, I was amazed by the level of engagement from the students,” she recalls. “Their dedication and commitment to learning is evident in everything they do.”

The annual second-grade poetry unit provides a perfect example. For weeks, the students explore poetry from all over the world and craft their own original works using the techniques they’ve learned. The culminating project is a presentation of their writing and accompanying artwork. “Each year, I am amazed to witness their voices come out in their published work,” she says.

In addition to her students, Ms. Parikh says her colleagues, who made her feel part of the Pingry community from day 1, inspire her. “Working with my fellow second-grade team brings me the most joy and fulfillment as an educator.” 

Shalini Parikh Employee Profile