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New Staff and Faculty Welcomed for 2019-20 School Year

As students return for the 2019-20 school year in September, they will notice a few new faces around campus. New faculty will be joining our Upper School science and math teams, six individuals will be joining our Lower School Associate Teachers program, and two new members of the administrative staff join Peck.
Jessica Angelo comes to us with more than a decade of experience teaching mathematics to middle schoolers.  Most recently, she worked at Metropolitan Montessori in NYC, where, in addition to her teaching, she also coached two math teams (Mathcounts and Girls Adventures in Math), as well as developed a Math Makerspace, where students could explore connections between mathematics, art, and science. Ms. Angelo holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Temple University and a master’s degree in Teaching Literacy from Mercy College. Joining our Upper School math team, she will teach students in Grades 5 and 6. 

Lisa Foster joins our science department, teaching Grades 5 and 7. She comes to us from St. Catherine’s School in Richmond, Virginia, where for the last several years she served as a middle school teacher and advisor and ran a number of highly successful robotics teams.  She has also been instrumental in developing the school’s outdoor education program, creating immersive learning experiences that take advantage of the local ecosystems. Her references describe her as the quintessential life-long learner, known for her creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration.  Ms. Foster earned a bachelor’s degree in Classical Language & Archeology from Florida State University and a master’s in teaching from the University of Cincinnati. 

The following teachers will be joining our Lower School Associate Program:

Elsy Castillo earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in School Counseling from St. Peter’s University. Working in the North Plainfield School District, she served as a substitute, ESL instructor, tutor, and also as administrative support for the assistant principal.  She also has previous experience developing STEM activities for Chatham High School and aiding adults with disabilities as a Direct Care Counselor at The Center for Family Support. She has been praised by colleagues for her calm, thoughtful, and caring demeanor when working with students of all ages. We are excited to welcome Elsy as a new Associate Teacher. 

Jessica Cepparulo joins us with a bachelor’s degree in K-6 Education from Kean University. She gained several years of experience working at Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit, where she served in a variety of capacities; as the Head Counselor for Summer Camp, an instructor in the afterschool program, and as a long-term substitute.  Most recently Jessica taught Kindergarten in Aberdeen Township. We very much look forward to all that Jessica will bring, as one of two new Associate Teachers in our Kindergarten. 

Kamika Freeman earned a bachelor’s degree in Family Science and Human Development from Montclair State University.  Most recently she has worked as a supervisor for the Kids Academy at Lifetime Fitness, where she developed programming and managed staff in everything from STEAM classes to origami to rock climbing. Kamika is also accomplished in martial arts and fluent in American Sign Language. We very much look forward to all that Kamika will bring, as one of two new Associate Teachers in our Kindergarten. 

Tayler Hedgepeth graduated from Seton Hall University with a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood, Elementary, and Special Education, as well as a minor in English. Tayler’s student teaching was in first and third grade, and most recently she worked as a Preschool Teacher in Florham Park. With siblings who attended Peck, Tayler is excited to join a community that she already knows well. We very much look forward to welcoming Tayler as a new Associate Teacher. 

Amy Loesser earned her bachelor’s degree in 2013. Since then, Amy has explored diverse opportunities across a number of fields. She worked at Princeton University’s Plasma Physics Laboratory as an archivist, conducted fieldwork and education programs with AmeriCorps and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, and most recently taught math and science to fourth graders in Mexico. We welcome Amy Loesser as a new member of our Associate Teacher Program and look forward to all that she will bring to our students.

Kate Mochnacz graduated from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania with a dual major in Early Childhood Special Education and Theatre Arts. She completed her student teaching in grades one, five, and six. In addition to her classroom teaching, Kate brings extensive experience working at summer camps with students ranging in age from 6 to 16.  We are excited to welcome Kate as a new Associate Teacher. 

Administration and Staff

Keri Skobo-Trought joins the Advancement team as an Advancement Associate with the management of the school’s fundraising database as well as many other duties. With more than 13 years’ experience as a special education teacher, Keri is excited to challenge herself and broaden her professional experience in education with her role in Peck’s Advancement Office.  Keri’s most recent position was as a member of the autism program team in the Summit public school system where she was awarded Teacher of the Year at the Jefferson Elementary School in 2013. Her extensive experience coordinating student programs, serving on fundraising event committees, and volunteering at countless fundraising events ensure for her a smooth transition to the myriad functions of the Advancement Office.

Darlene White joins Peck as our new AfterSchool and Summer Camp Coordinator.  Darlene is a seasoned educator with more than 20 years of experience in the K-12 space where she worked to "spark children's curiosity and inspire students to explore, question, and have fun learning." Darlene began her career teaching theater and English in the New Jersey public school system. She later worked as an enrichment and afterschool coordinator in South Jersey, managing the day-to-day operations of a middle school enrichment program. During this time, Darlene owned and operated a small business specializing in design. Most recently, she led professional development workshops as a consultant for Inspired Education. Darlene holds a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University with a double major in Speech Arts & Theater and English, as well as a master’s degree from New York University in Educational Theater. 

In addition to the new faculty and staff joining our team, here are a few other changes for the year ahead: 

After a very successful stewardship of our Director of the Summer Program,
Ms. Christa Nees is excited to pass the baton to our new AfterSchool and Summer Camp Coordinator, Ms. Darlene White, who will take over the planning and day-to-day running of the Summer Program.

As we expand our Downy-Redhead competition, Mr. Stewart Wilkinson will be our first Downy-Redhead Coordinator. As he moves into the new role, Ms. Hogan, our current Lower School Math Coordinator, will be our new K-8 Math Department Chair.

After a remarkable 25-year run as Art Department Chair, Mr. Mark Mortensen has decided to step down from the position.  Mrs. Karen Dispenziere will assume the role of Art Department Chair moving forward. As a result of her new position, Mrs. D will transition away from running our PEP program, which will be taken over by our new AfterSchool and Summer Camp Coordinator, Ms. Darlene White. Mr. Mortensen, in addition to serving in numerous capacities throughout the school, will also be the fifth-grade team leader.
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