In his first address to students, Head of School Matt Levinson P '21 shares his perspective on what it means to "hit the brakes."
In addition to all of the new and returning students who will soon be arriving on the Basking Ridge and Short Hills Campuses, Pingry is delighted to greet the newest members of its talented faculty and staff for the 2019-20 school year. Read their profiles below to learn more about their varied backgrounds, and help us welcome them all to the Pingry community!
Amir Abiskaroon, Operations Officer for Transportation, worked previously as a bus driver at Morris Catholic High School and as a professional truck driver. At Pingry, he will be a bus driver for the new group stop bus program, as well as transport students to and from athletic events. Prior to working in transportation, Mr. Abiskaroon worked in technology and taught computer and networking classes at The Chubb Institute. He earned a B.S. in Computer Science at Jersey City State College.
Kathleen (Katie) Bartlett '89, P '22, Admission Coordinator, has fond memories of her time as a Pingry student and is pleased to return in a professional capacity, working with prospective applicants in the Admission office. Ms. Bartlett has worked as an English professor at several colleges, including Fairleigh Dickinson University, Montclair State University, and County College of Morris. She also has experience in the fields of marketing, copywriting, and project management. Ms. Bartlett earned a B.A. in Mathematics at Colby College and an MFA in Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Shamir Bearfield, Lower School Associate Teacher, worked as a paraprofessional with students at Rahway High School and Newark Collegiate Academy prior to joining Pingry. He has coached a variety of sports, including JV and varsity track and field at Rahway High School, as well as football for various programs. He graduated from The College of William and Mary with a B.A. in American Studies.
Matthew (Matt) Composto '13, Middle School English Teacher, is pleased to return to Pingry in a full-time teaching role this year. Last year, Mr. Composto filled in for two teachers out on maternity leave, teaching Upper School Latin and Middle School math, as well as coaching various teams. As a Pingry graduate, he was inspired to become a teacher by several of his Pingry instructors and the School's strong sense of community, so returning to Pingry was an obvious choice. Mr. Composto graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Political Science.
Roberto (Berto) De Almeida '15, Operations Officer, returns to Pingry in a full-time capacity after holding several part-time roles at the School, including coaching soccer, basketball, and wrestling, as well as supervising the Middle School Homework Club and other projects. Mr. De Almeida is currently enrolled at Rutgers University, majoring in Sports Management, and expects to graduate next spring.
Brendan Garnett, Grade 2 Teacher, arrives at Pingry from Sacred Heart Greenwich, where he was an assistant teacher for fourth-grade students and, prior to that role, a head teacher for pre-K students at the YMCA of Greenwich. Mr. Garnett worked as a substitute teacher for several years and has experience creating new programs for students, including starting courses in public speaking and acting at the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich. He earned a B.A. in Theater Arts at Morgan State University and an M.S.Ed. at Long Island University.
Lisa Hartmann, Middle School Math Teacher, arrives at Pingry from The Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, where she was the Middle School Math Department Chair and taught math to students in Grades 5-8. At Berkeley Carroll, she also oversaw a Middle School-wide initiative to promote equity in math for female-identified students. Ms. Hartmann received an A.B. in Anthropology from Princeton University and an M.S.Ed. in Elementary Education from the University of Pennsylvania.
Laura Hassert, Operations Officer for Transportation Coordination and Summer Camp Registrar, is pleased to be on board full-time after working at Pingry for several years in various roles related to Big Blue Summer camp programs. In her new position, Ms. Hassert will help to oversee Pingry's bussing program as well as assist with transportation logistics for field trips and other needs. Ms. Hassert earned a B.S. in Business Management at Montclair State University.
Jessica Hoepfl, P.E. Teacher and coach, arrives at Pingry from the Warrenton Grade School in Oregon. Most recently, she served as Warrenton's Middle School Athletics Director and taught P.E. to students in Grades K-3. Before living in Oregon, she held several teaching and coaching roles, including assistant lacrosse coach at Haverford College and at her alma mater, Temple University, where she played Division I lacrosse, served as team captain, and received the “Most Valuable Defender” award. She earned a B.S. in Physical and Health Education Teacher Education at Temple University and an M.S. in Education at Gwynedd Mercy University.
Robert Hoepfl, Basking Ridge Permanent Substitute Teacher, joins Pingry from Warrenton High School in Warrenton, Oregon, where he served as the school's Athletic Director, taught social studies, coached girls' varsity basketball, and mentored several student programs. A highlight from his time at Warrenton was leading the girls' basketball program from a record of 2-22 the year before taking over as head coach, to a sixth-place state finish and a record of 21-9 his last year with the team. Mr. Hoepfl earned a B.A. in History at Northwest Christian University, an M.E. in Secondary Education at Grand Canyon University, and an M.S. in Educational Administration at Fort Hays State University.
Igor Jasinski, Upper School German Teacher, returns to Pingry following several years in Oaxaca, Mexico, where he worked on a doctorate. From 2009-2014, he taught German, Latin, and philosophy at Pingry. Returning to Pingry, Mr. Jasinski reflects on the positive experience he had teaching a sixth-grade extracurricular philosophy course: "Knowing that Pingry is the kind of school that would be open to offering this kind of course made me want to return." He holds a B.A. equivalent in philosophy, German literature, and linguistics from the University of Düsseldorf; an M.A. in philosophy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook; and an Ed.D. in Pedagogy and Philosophy from Montclair State University.
Bridget Killian, Lower School Assistant Director of Academics, comes to Pingry from Derby Academy, where she was a reading specialist involved with the development and implementation of the school's PreK-3 reading program. Over the last 20 years, Ms. Killian has also worked as a K-5 classroom teacher, learning specialist, and curriculum developer at several other schools across the U.S. She earned a B.S. in Elementary Education at The University of Vermont and M.Ed in Special Education at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Haley Kost, Middle School History Teacher, joins Pingry from King's Academy in Jordan, where she taught Upper School history, English, and economics, as well as coached the girls' JV soccer and varsity basketball teams. She also helped out with the school's pit orchestra. Prior to King's Academy, Ms. Kost was a student teacher for a year at the Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in Chicago. She received a B.A. in Secondary Education from Northwestern University.
Alexandra Lasevich, Mathematics Department Chair and Upper School Math Teacher, spent more than 10 years at Princeton Day School in a variety of roles, including math teacher, Director of Community Service for the Upper School, and Upper School Leader of Accreditation. She has also worked at Educational Testing Services (ETS) and Kent Place School. Ms. Lasevich earned a B.A. in Mathematics at the University of Rochester and an M.S. in Educational Leadership at Delaware Valley University, and is working on her dissertation for an Ed.D. from Delaware Valley University.
Matt Levinson P '21, Pingry’s 16th Head of School, brings to the Basking Ridge and Short Hills Campuses over 25 years of leadership experience in independent schools. A native of Washington, DC, he began his teaching career at Princeton Day School in 1993, and, at the time, was actively involved in NJ SEEDS and Prep for Prep. Prior to Pingry, Mr. Levinson spent 12 years on the West Coast in senior leadership positions at Marin Country Day School and The Nueva School, both in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most recently, he served as Head of School at University Prep in Seattle. In addition to his leadership experience, he has taught Middle and Upper School history, served as department chair and grade-level dean, and coached Upper School varsity soccer. Mr. Levinson earned a B.A. in History from Haverford College, where he co-captained the men’s soccer team for two years, and an M.A. in Social Studies Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, where he was a member of the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society. In addition to his 2010 book, From Fear to Facebook: One School’s Journey, his articles on education have appeared in The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Education Week, and Teacher Magazine. To learn more, visit pingry.org/headsearch.
Julia Martinez, Middle School Math Teacher, arrives at Pingry from St. Gerard Majella School in Paterson, New Jersey, where she taught math to students in Grades 5-8. She has also coached Middle School field hockey at Oak Knoll and high school lacrosse in Pennsylvania's Southern Lehigh School District. Ms. Martinez holds a B.A. in Early Childhood Elementary Education from DeSales University.
Anupama Menon P '26, Middle School Computer Science Teacher, most recently taught math and information technology at Fairleigh Dickinson University in the Silberman College of Business. Prior to teaching, Ms. Menon worked in various information technology roles, both at Verizon Communications and Intel Corporation. She received a B.S. in Computer Science, Math, and Physics from Mangalore University in India as well as an M.S. in Computer Science from Fitchburg State University.
Cecily Moyer, Middle School Science Teacher, joins Pingry from Mary McDowell Friends School in Brooklyn, where she taught science, math, and literacy, and co-founded the Middle School's first track team and outdoor running club. In graduate school, Ms. Moyer conducted soil chemistry research on how arsenic sorbs to iron oxides on the exterior of rice roots. She analyzed the samples at Brookhaven National Laboratory, examining their chemical interaction at the atomic level. An outdoor enthusiast, Ms. Moyer is excited about incorporating outdoor education with learning in the classroom and making discoveries with her students through experimentation. She earned a B.S. in Biology at Haverford College and an M.S. at the University of Delaware.
Alex Nanfara, Summer and Auxiliary Programs Marketing and Communications Director, had a 14-year career as a creative marketing professional in New York City, which culminated in his role as an Executive Producer at Nickelodeon. Prior to this position, he worked as a staff Writer/Producer of multi-platform content for Showtime Networks, Comedy Central, A&E Networks, and Nickelodeon, along with various freelance roles for creative agencies, production companies, and television networks. Reflecting on his prior positions, Mr. Nanfara says his most rewarding work was on several projects volunteering for Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital's KidZone TV studio, which creates live content for their closed-circuit hospital TV network. He earned a B.A. in English from Franklin & Marshall College.
Joseph Napolitano, Drama Production Designer, is a multidisciplinary designer whose work has been featured on Broadway, Off-Broadway, across the U.S., and internationally. He has also worked with the Broadway League and the Broadway Green Alliance on multiple initiatives, including the Broadway Bike Program in Times Square and other sustainable approaches to physical production in theatre. He enjoys the research and practice of sustainable design methodology and creative placemaking. Mr. Napolitano earned a B.A. in Theater at Rowan University.
Guadalupe Núñez, Middle School Spanish Teacher, has more than 15 years of experience teaching at several schools, including Hunter College Elementary School, Trevor Day School, and New Canaan Country School, among others. She also taught with Teach For America, where she planned and implemented a program for non-English and limited-English-speaking students. In prior roles, she has spearheaded a Middle School diversity committee and worked with various not-for-profit organizations and cultural centers in New York City, including the International Rescue Committee, the Coalition for the Homeless, and El Museo del Barrio. Ms. Núñez earned a B.A. in International Relations and Human Resource Management at Syracuse University as well as an M.A. in Foreign Language Education at New York University.
Arden Olson, Operations Officer, spent over 45 years in publishing sales, the last 30 of which were devoted to selling electronic databases and ebooks to colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada. At Pingry, he provides administrative support in the main building and Miller A. Bugliari ’52 Athletics Center.
Sally Redling, Interim Grade 2 Teacher, is filling in for the first part of the 2019-20 school year for Ms. Shalini Parikh, who is out on maternity leave. Ms. Redling has previous experience working at several schools, including Richey Elementary School in Rhode Island, Cecil Manor Elementary School in Maryland, and MOT Charter School in Delaware. She earned her B.S.Ed. in Elementary Education from the University of Delaware.
John Rios, Operations Officer for Transportation, worked for 35 years in the art field, previously as an art director for Grand Union Supermarkets, prior to transitioning to transportation. He has driven buses for the Union Board of Education, the Morris-Union Jointure Company, and Barker Bus Company, for school routes, field trips, and athletic events.
Kelly Ross, Upper School English Teacher, has worked at several schools, including Oak Knoll, where she was English Department Chairperson and an Upper School English teacher. In addition to her classroom teaching roles, Mrs. Ross has also coached cross country, track, and lacrosse. She earned a B.A. in English at Bucknell University and an M.A. in English at Middlebury College.
Alissa Rust, Kindergarten Teacher, began teaching at Pingry after the start of the 2018-19 school year in an interim capacity. She has tutored students in elementary school for over 15 years and has also taught Grade 2 for the School District of the Chathams and Language Arts at St. Vincent Martyr School. Mrs. Rust is the twin sister of Lower School teacher Jill Driscoll P '30. Mrs. Driscoll remarks that, by working together at Pingry, they can mirror for other twins at the School just how collaborative and enriching a twin relationship can be. She earned a B.A. in Communication from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and an M.A. in Elementary Education from Seton Hall University.
Kevin Schroedter, Middle and Upper School French and Spanish Teacher, joins Pingry from Dunn School in California, where he taught French and Spanish to Upper School students. He has been active with global education programs and has accompanied students on international cultural trips and family homestays. As a child raised in a bilingual English-Spanish home in Miami, he was surrounded by different cultures and developed an early love for France, where he has traveled extensively and considers his "home away from home." Mr. Schroedter earned a B.A. in Political Science at Duke University and an M.A. in French at Middlebury College.
Neil Spagnuolo, Grounds Supervisor, has 33 years of experience in landscaping and ground maintenance. Since 1986, he has owned his own company, maintaining landscape features for both commercial and residential properties. He earned his associate degree in Agricultural Technology from the County College of Morris in 1987.
Brentnol Sullivan, Operations Officer, has worked at the Basking Ridge Campus since 2018 as a security guard. Prior to Pingry, he worked in the same capacity at Columbia High School in Maplewood for five years. Before arriving in the U.S. from Guyana in 2009, he worked as a general duty policeman.
Paul Sykes, Operations Officer, has been part of the Pingry community since 2016, as an assistant coach for the Girls' Varsity Soccer Team, and joins the School full-time with experience in business management, substitute teaching, athletic training, and other coaching. He teaches P.E. and health at Benedictine Academy and is a speed and strength trainer at Williams Sports Training. Mr. Sykes is a Certified Personal Trainer and earned a B.A. in Physical Education & Global Fitness and Wellness at Kean University.
Dominick Tamula, Facilities Technician, most recently worked as a Process Operator at OptoElectronics in Warren and, prior to that, as a Lab Assistant at the Laboratory Corporation of America.
Saad A. Toor, Upper School History Teacher, began his teaching career in the Middle East, where he served as the Associate Department Head of Humanities at Jeddah Knowledge International School, the first International Baccalaureate Continuum School in Saudi Arabia. He later taught at various schools in Connecticut and was an instructor for Stanford University’s Bing Overseas Studies Program while completing a second master's degree in the United Kingdom. Mr. Toor earned both a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Connecticut as well as an M.Sc. in Modern South Asian Studies at Oxford University.
Zachary (Zach) Wakefield, Upper School History Teacher, spent four years as a history teacher at Virginia Episcopal School prior to joining Pingry. In his previous role, Dr. Wakefield also coached varsity wrestling and football and served as a dorm parent. Dr. Wakefield earned a B.A. in History at Juniata College as well as an M.A. and Ph.D, both in History, at Auburn University.
Erin Walsh, Operations Officer, worked for several athletics-oriented organizations, including SOFIVE Soccer Centers, Global Team Events, and UK Elite Soccer, prior to joining Pingry. Some of her primary responsibilities included administrative oversight, facility management, tournament supervision, and coaching. Ms. Walsh was the captain of Centenary College's Softball Team and was an All-CSAS Honorable Mention. She enjoys being involved with youth sports and has coached youth soccer and softball clinics. Ms. Walsh earned a B.S. in Business Management and Marketing from Centenary College.
Michael Wang, Upper School Mandarin Teacher, spent 18 years as a Chinese teacher at St. George's School in Rhode Island. He taught Mandarin Chinese at all levels, including A.P. Chinese, and also coached soccer, supervised a dorm, and served as a student advisor. He was inspired to become an educator by his fifth-grade math teacher, who always made the subject fun to learn. "Coincidentally, when I completed graduate school in 2000, there was a job opening for a Mandarin Chinese teacher at my former school." Mr. Wang earned a B.A. at Beijing University of Astronautics and Aeronautics.
Yifan Xu, Middle and Upper School Mandarin Teacher, arrives at Pingry from Chatham Hall, where she taught Chinese, served as a dorm advisor, and was the Director of International Programs. Ms. Xu has also trained other K-12 Chinese teachers at STARTALK Chinese Teacher Academy. She earned a B.A. in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language at Beijing Language and Culture University, as well as an M.A. in Asian Studies at Binghamton University.
Zhaojun Yong, who will be teaching Upper School math while Will LaGarde is on sabbatical, joins Pingry from The Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, where he taught Upper School math. A math enthusiast, he has coached students in preparation for the AMC 10 (American Mathematical Competition for Grades 10 and below). As a teaching assistant at Rutgers University, Mr. Yong discovered how much he enjoyed interacting with students, becoming intrigued with ways to motivate them to learn—and even be fond of— math. He earned a B.A. in Mathematics at New York University and an M.A. in Mathematics Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Devan Zadrozny, Grade 3 Teacher, joins the Pingry community from Saint David's School in New York City, where she taught Grades 1 and 2. Prior to Saint David's, she taught Grades 1 and 3 at Brunswick School in Connecticut. Mrs. Zadrozny holds a B.S. in Elementary Education and Special Education from Saint Joseph's University and an M.S. in Education from Bank Street College of Education.
Alana Zussman, Lower School Technology and Innovation Coordinator, arrives at Pingry from Dwight School in New York City, where she served as the Design and Technology Integrator for Grades 1-5. In her role at Dwight, she was responsible for maintaining the Lower School’s culture of innovation and design thinking by integrating into the classroom a variety of new media tools, including creative software, 3D printing, stop-motion animation, and computer science. Ms. Zussman received a B.F.A. in Advertising Design from Syracuse University and an M.S. in Art and Design Education from Pratt Institute.
Contact: Andrea Dawson, Senior Writer, email@example.com