With a similar team to last year's, Big Blue has high expectations and will not only look to regain the #1 state ranking, but also win the county and state championships.
Sixteen members of the faculty and staff are leaving Pingry at the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year, and the School thanks them for their service.
Bria Barnes, Middle School English Teacher and Middle School Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, leaves Pingry after five years to become Assistant Head of School for Community, Equity, and Belonging at The White Mountain School in Bethlehem, NH. While at Pingry, she also served as Form I Advisor and Assistant Director of the Middle School Play, and created affinity groups in the Middle School. “Pingry has supported my growth as a teacher, DEI practitioner, and as a person over the course of five years,” Ms. Barnes said. “My time here has been an adventure, a blessing, and a challenge, all wrapped up in a Big Blue Bow.”
Janice Browne P ’16, Advancement Services Associate in the Office of Institutional Advancement, leaves Pingry after three years. She played an integral role in keeping Pingry’s Advancement databases up-to-date.
Allison Brunhouse ’00, P ’31, Director of Institutional Advancement, has left Pingry after 14 years. She joined Pingry in 2007 as Assistant Director of Admission and Coordinator of Financial Aid, became Director of Admission and Director of Financial Aid in 2010, and added oversight of Communications in 2015. For the past two years, Mrs. Brunhouse served in her current role, overseeing Enrollment Management, Communications, and Development. During her tenure, awareness of Pingry in the community has grown steadily, generating record numbers of applications for multiple years running.
In her role with financial aid, Mrs. Brunhouse served as a member of the Board of Trustees Financial Aid Task Force in 2008 (when Pingry was being proactive to meet the needs of families) and 2019 (to address budget questions). She was also Co-Chair of the 2015 New Jersey Association of Independent Schools (NJAIS) Self-Study for Accreditation.
“It has been such a privilege to be part of the big and small moments, like small conversations that become transformative opportunities for the School,” she says of seeing Pingry from multiple perspectives. “And I got to understand how much work goes into everything that gets done at this School. For one email, how many hours have gone into brainstorming, gathering information, writing, proofreading, and more—so many people’s perspectives and hands.”
Mrs. Brunhouse is proudest of her time as an Upper School advisor, as well as her teams over the past 14 years and their important work. “Everyone matters, and it’s been such a gift to work with families, students, fellow alumni . . . it’s been an incredible journey, and I was lucky to be given responsibilities and challenges. I’ve had mentors and colleagues who believe in teamwork and working together.”
Ananya Chatterji P ’25, Upper School Math Teacher and Upper School Director, and a new member of the Magistri, is leaving Pingry after 25 years.
Andrea Dawson, Senior Writer in the Communications Office, leaves Pingry after six years. Among her many responsibilities, she wrote articles for Pingry's website, including sports coverage, and The Pingry Review; worked with student writers on "Big Blue Beat" stories and "In My Own Words" essays; and produced season-specific copy for the display cases in Pingry's Athletics Hall of Fame. Mrs. Dawson also oversaw Pingry's wall calendar and edited school communications.
Emily Glatter, Middle School History Teacher, leaves Pingry after four years to move with her wife Dr. Colleen Kirkhart to Providence, RI. During her time at Pingry, she served as Form II Team Leader and History Department Coordinator (including overseeing curriculum changes), and taught Friday classes in cultural competency and public speaking. Ms. Glatter is grateful for the caliber of her Pingry colleagues.
Dr. Colleen Kirkhart, Biology and Chemistry Teacher, leaves Pingry after six years to move with her wife Emily Glatter to Providence, RI, where Dr. Kirkhart will teach chemistry, cancer biology, and neuroscience at Providence Country Day School. At Pingry, Dr. Kirkhart enjoyed teaching biology and chemistry because they “are intricately connected, and it’s a nice transition to teach the whole sequence, from atoms to complicated proteins to chemical reactions.” She was also an advisor for IRTs (Independent Research Teams) and is pleased with the broadening of the research program, which used to focus on biology and now includes computer science, the Humanities, and sustainability-related projects. Like Ms. Glatter, Dr. Kirkhart considers herself fortunate to have worked with her high-caliber Pingry colleagues. “They are intellectually curious, excited to learn new things, and always trying to improve,” she said, “and the students have blown my mind with their intellectual exploration.”
Haley Kost, Middle School History Teacher, is leaving Pingry after two years to return to her native Chicago, where she will be a Grade 8 Humanities Teacher for the Chicago Public Schools. At Pingry, she served as a Project Week Coordinator for Form I and became a design coach to help her colleagues with lesson planning and logistics during Pingry Anywhere. “I’m grateful for my students’ questions, my co-workers’ support and collaboration, and my administration’s faith in my ideas and goals,” Ms. Kost said. “I am grateful for the Rainbow Club, Debate Club, Middle School Girls’ Soccer and Basketball, and the Cattafi/Kost and Kost advisories. I am so honored to have grown alongside all of you these past two years, and I’m excited to see what you all accomplish in the future!”
Kelle Leonhard, Upper School Economics and Math Teacher, has left Pingry after 13 years. In her Principles of Economics course, students worked on many projects that focused on world events from an economics perspective—fiscal policy, monetary policy, inflation, and industries’ responses to various economic events. “Kudos to [former C. B. Newton Library Director] Eileen Hymas for helping the students’ find resources. She went above and beyond,” she says.
Mrs. Leonhard also coordinated Upper School students’ involvement in two math competitions: the New Jersey Math League’s monthly contests and the Mathematical Association of America’s American Mathematics Competitions. For the first time in 2016, she took eight AP Economics students to Boston for the annual Harvard Pre-Collegiate Economics Challenge for high school students from around the world (Harvard Economics Professor and Pingry Trustee Dr. Greg Mankiw ’76 is the competition’s faculty sponsor). The day-long competition is divided between a 60-question multiple choice test based on the AP Economics curriculum, and quiz bowl rounds based on economic history, current economic events, and recent economic research topics.
In addition, Mrs. Leonhard advised the student-organized Math Help Center, which became the STEM Center (Science, Technology, Economics, Math), and enjoyed mentoring new faculty. “I will hold my Pingry memories near and dear,” she says. Mrs. Leonhard received the James P. Whitlock, Jr. ’60 Faculty Development Fund for Science, Mathematics and Technology (2013) and The Albert W. Booth Master Chair (2015).
Jennifer Mack-Watkins, Middle and Upper School Visual Arts Teacher, leaves Pingry after six years. One of her major achievements at Pingry was Hostetter on the Five, when students performed for five minutes for audiences in the Hostetter Arts Center Gallery; their performances were inspired by artwork in the gallery. She also served as a gallery coordinator to incorporate themes from gallery exhibits into teachers’ lesson plans; helped coordinate renowned “water bottle” artist Willie Cole’s visit to Pingry; and advised the Afrofuturism HIRT (Humanities Independent Research Team). “I will continue to create work, educate, and focus on reaching audiences near and far on the topics I choose to create my work around,” Mrs. Mack-Watkins says. “I plan on using my artwork to bring people together to address social issues and overlooked histories.”
Susan Marshall Marotto, Health Department Chair and a member of the Magistri, has left Pingry after 36 years.
Mary Packer, Major Gifts Officer in the Office of Institutional Advancement, is leaving Pingry after three years to become Executive Director of the Montclair Public Library Foundation.
Dr. Joan Pearlman P ’89, ’92, ’96, Grade 5 Language Arts Teacher and a member of the Magistri, retires after a 38-year Pingry career.
Samantha Schifano, Director of Middle and Upper School Admission, and Director of Financial Aid, has left Pingry after 10 years to work for an e-commerce business of which she is part owner, Bear Mattress. She came to Pingry as Admission Coordinator and then became Assistant Director of Admission and Director of Financial Aid. Mrs. Schifano was also Form III Dean.
She learned much about admission and financial aid during her time at Pingry. “The work is only as good as the people you meet, and I’ve met some great people along the way. I learned how to connect with students and families, recognizing how their own values align with Pingry, and the importance of a partnership in order to see a child truly flourish and reach their full potential. And financial aid will always hold a piece of my heart. Finances are not easy to talk about. It’s a very intimate process, but I was able to build relationships so that families felt that I was trustworthy with their personal information. It can be very business-like, but I always felt that families should feel my warmth and understanding for their circumstances because we have their best interests at heart. In fact, regardless of financial aid, I hope all the families I have encountered over the years have experienced this when working with me.”
How does Mrs. Schifano describe the sense of responsibility that comes with these positions? “It comes down to making sure that Pingry is the right fit for each child. We have a responsibility to take care of our students, so it is really important when a child comes to Pingry, they feel valued and supported, and sometimes, it’s just as important to know when it may not be the right fit for them. For financial aid, we have to be fiscally responsible with our budget and how we administer it, and be equitable across the board.”
She never expected to be at Pingry for 10 years, but “it’s a warm and welcoming environment, and what I thought would be a one-year job became a career. I am truly grateful to the numerous members of the community who championed my progression and success.”
Graham Touhey, Chemistry Teacher and Upper School Dean of Student Life, leaves Pingry after eight years.
Mike Wang, Mandarin Teacher for two years, is leaving Pingry for the Kent School in Kent, CT. He is known for making Chinese fun to learn.
Homa Watts, Grade 2 Teacher, retires after a combined 13 years at Pingry. She taught Kindergarten from 2006–2013, took a two-year sabbatical to spend time with her husband Kenneth in Abu Dhabi, returned to teach Grade 1 from 2015–2020, and taught Grade 2 this year. Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Watts has been a member of the Diversity, Curriculum, Admission, and Hiring Committees.
She has been a natural fit for Kindergarten and Grades 1 and 2 because “I love early childhood. I love to see students learn something new, the twinkle in their eyes at the joy of reading or solving a math problem, their passion for learning, their innocence.”
Through her work at Pingry, she has developed even more respect for Kindergarten teachers because “they have one of the hardest jobs—planting the seeds for learning. That is a tremendous responsibility.” Beyond Kindergarten, she finds it fascinating to watch students’ developmental growth. “Development and time are great attributes in how children learn. When they struggle with something, I tell them, ‘Maybe not yet, but it will happen.’” She is thankful to all of her colleagues and grateful for the collaboration over the years. “It has been truly an honor to work here. Pingry has been my Mt. Everest.” Mrs. Watts received The Albert W. Booth Master Chair in 2012.
Contact: Greg Waxberg ’96, Communications Writer, Editor of The Pingry Review