Twenty-nine talented and interesting faculty and staff joined us at Chapin as the 2020-21 school year gets underway. Below are brief profiles of these newest members of the Professional Community:
MADELINE BURNS, Class 2 Associate Teacher
- Experience: Ms. Burns student-taught in Metro Nashville Public Schools.
- Fun Facts: She loves to paint, attend spin classes, travel and try new restaurants.
- In Her Own Words: “I am incredibly excited about getting to work with the passionate, supportive and collaborative Chapin community. I am also so excited to get to know all of my wonderful students and their families.”
KATIE DIAZ, Kindergarten Associate Teacher
- Experience: Ms. Diaz taught Kindergarten in Nashville, Tennessee.
- Fun Facts: In her free time, she enjoys bike riding, reading, and following Duke Basketball.
- In Her Own Words: “Having been a Chapin student, I am excited to be back at Chapin to see the amazing ways the School has evolved since my time here. I am also excited to be part of a faculty that consistently puts the needs of students at the forefront, and in such a challenging year, I am honored to be working alongside such a committed group of educators.”
JOANIE FROST, Class 1 Associate Teacher
- Experience: Ms. Frost began her career as a Teach For America corps member in Boston, where she taught math and ESL. Since moving to New York City, she spent the last three years working in operations, community relations and special events for the city’s largest charter school network.
- Fun Facts: Outside of the classroom, Ms. Frost likes to sing, visit the library, take dance classes and solve crossword puzzles.
- In Her Own Words: “I am deeply inspired by Chapin’s commitment to empowering students as leaders, critical thinkers and change makers from an early age.”
ALYSSA JANSEN, Lower School Science Teacher
- Experience: Prior to coming to Chapin, Ms. Jansen worked as a science teacher at The Dalton School, where she helped run the afterschool STEAM program, and as an elementary technology teacher at West School in New Canaan, Connecticut.
- Fun Facts: Raised in Connecticut, she enjoys reading by the water, playing volleyball, following the New York Yankees and Indianapolis Colts, running along the East River and traveling.
- In Her Own Words: “I am excited to empower the next generation of female scientists.”
INDIA KERZ, Kindergarten Co-Head Teacher
- Experience: Ms. Kerz curated educational content as a writer and content strategist for an interactive online learning platform. She then taught for a year at a Reggio-based therapeutic children’s center in Vermont, and most recently, spent two years teaching at another K-12 independent school in New York City.
- Fun Facts: Ms. Kerz is particularly passionate about children’s literature and loves to write in her free time.
- In Her Own Words: “As a Chapin alumna, I feel as though I have come full circle and am thrilled to have the opportunity to teach at Chapin. I am eager to play, learn and explore with Chapin’s newest community members–the Kindergarteners!”
KRISTI LEE, Class 3 Associate Teacher
- Experience: Before teaching at Chapin, Ms. Lee was a first grade Associate Teacher at Trinity School. Also, during her time at Teachers College, she worked as a STEAM Resident for The GIANT Room, a global innovation hub for kid inventors and creators.
- Fun Facts: In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, golfing walking her newly adopted rescue dog, Churro.
- In Her Own Words: “I am excited to join a welcoming and caring community that values bravery and righteousness.”
TIFFANI ORMSBY, Class 2 Associate Teacher
- Experience: Prior to joining the Chapin community, Ms. Ormsby was an assistant first grade teacher at an elementary school on the Upper West Side, where she enjoyed working on literacy and science with students.
- Fun Facts: In her off hours, she loves to bake, explore New York City, listen to audiobooks and watch basketball.
- In Her Own Words: “What excites me about working at Chapin is the students! I am looking forward to seeing each student grow and develop throughout this school year. I am extremely excited to be a resource to all our students and especially our Black and brown students. I am also very excited to work with an incredibly smart and talented group of educators.”
DREW PERLMUTTER, Lower School Science Teacher
- Experience: Ms. Perlmutter worked at Chewonki Elementary and Middle School, a small place-based environmental school in Mid-Coast Maine. There, she taught math, science and literacy and had the opportunity to lead wilderness trips for her older students.
- Fun Facts: In her free time, Ms. Perlmutter hikes, camps, rock climbs, reads and makes art.
- In Her Own Words: “I am excited to return to this community and give other students the same opportunities to grow and learn that I got when I was a Chapin student.”
CHELSEA SUE, Class 2 Head Teacher
- Experience: Ms. Sue first joined the Chapin community in 2016 as a Class 1 and Class 2 Associate Teacher. She has completed professional development workshops in Responsive Classroom and the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Ms. Sue previously served as co-facilitator for the Ruby Bridges Group, a support group for Lower School students of color.
- Fun Facts: In her spare time, Ms. Sue can be found knitting, reading, playing piano, traveling, brushing up on her foreign language skills, and eating the best food that New York City has to offer.
- In Her Own Words: “What excites me about being at Chapin is working with the phenomenal faculty and staff. There is a warmth and camaraderie among everyone here that makes Chapin such a joyful place to work. My students’ energy is palpable, even through screens, and it definitely makes me excited to teach at Chapin this year!”
KIM TRAN, Kindergarten Associate Teacher
- Experience: Ms. Tran spent a year in Normandy, France, working as an assistant English teacher at two middle schools. After returning to the U.S., she spent two years working at a preschool.
- Fun Facts: She loves to salsa dance, paddle board and cook.
- In Her Own Words: “I am thrilled to be working at Chapin because it is a school committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Students need to know they are seen, acknowledged, heard and validated by their teachers, and Chapin allows me the space to do just that.”
JANEEN WASHINGTON, Class 3 Co-Head Teacher
- Experience: Ms. Washington taught for many years in Connecticut and New York City, both in public and independent schools.
- Fun Facts: In her spare time, she loves to write and is currently working to complete her first novel. Ms. Washington also likes spending time with family, cooking and baking, reading, and taking drama classes.
- In Her Own Words: “I am excited to join the warm, supportive professional community at Chapin. I am happy to be a part of the creative culture that develops an empowerment in girls and helps them realize their enormous potential.”
HELEN YU-HOLGUIN, Class 1 Head Teacher
- Experience: Prior to arriving at Chapin, Ms. Yu-Holguin taught Kindergarten and Science at charter schools in Harlem and Washington Heights.
- Fun Facts: In her free time, she likes to play sports, travel and practice calligraphy.
- In Her Own Words: “I am most excited about implementing social and emotional learning in my classroom. I want to empower my students to be creative, resilient and curious.”
HANNAH ZALSOS, Class 2 Associate Teacher
- Experience: Before Chapin, Ms. Zalsos student-taught in a in a first-grade Integrated Co-Teaching setting in a New York City public school.
- Fun Facts: In her spare time, she likes working out, singing, painting, listening to podcasts and taking walks at a local park.
- In Her Own Words: “The first thing that definitely excites me about working at Chapin is interacting with the students in person. Another thing I have been so excited about is being with colleagues and getting to know each other. Chapin is such a great community and I am so grateful to be part of it.”
ELVIS ALVES, Class 6 Humanities Teacher
- Experience: He has taught across grade levels, from Middle School to college and served as an Adjunct Professor at John Jay College. In addition, Mr. Alves is a published writer and poet. His book, “I Am No Battlefield But a Forest of Trees Growing” (2018), was awarded the Jacopone de Todi poetry book prize, sponsored by Franciscan University.
- Fun Facts: Mr. Alves served as Staff Chaplain at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. He enjoys traveling, cooking and spending quality time with his family.
- In His Own Words: “I am excited to work at Chapin because the students are genuinely interested in learning. It is such a pulsating intellectual community and I look forward to thriving within it, along with our students, staff, and faculty.”
YOJIN CHUNG, Head of Middle School Mathematics Department and Class 7 Math Teacher
- Experience: Ms. Chung joins Chapin after 11 years working at various international schools in Finland, Vietnam, South Korea and the Philippines, where she was head of a Middle School Mathematics Department that was comprised of 11 teachers.
- Fun Facts: She was born in South Korea and immigrated to the U.S. when she was seven years old. Ms. Chung loves all things culinary and has learned to wall climb, dive and tango.
- In Her Own Words: “What excites me about working at Chapin is the sense of community and belonging that emanates even from virtual interactions. I can only imagine how much more powerful it would be once we are together in person. The faculty embodies the values of respect, connecting, learning, giving and encouraging.”
ALLISON BISHOP, Head of Upper School
- Experience: Ms. Bishop’s teaching career began at a public high school in Houston, where she taught journalism, yearbook, media studies and newspaper. She then moved to independent schools in a similar role at Episcopal High School, eventually teaching English full time. Before joining Chapin, she was an English teacher, Dean of Student Life, and Assistant Head of Upper School at The Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn.
- Fun Facts: Growing up in Texas, Ms. Bishop spent her summers in used bookstores. Her love of reading eventually led to a passion for writing. After graduation, she worked in radio as a sports reporter, news reporter, morning show host and DJ.
- In Her Own Words: “What excites me about working at Chapin? Our community and the strength of our relationships. This was the quality that drew me to Chapin, and in our first weeks together it’s clear that the strength of our community and our relationships will not be diminished.”
RACHEL FARMER, Upper School Art Teacher
- Experience: She brings to Chapin years of teaching experience spanning a range of school and museum settings, including working with school programs through the Whitney Museum, MoMA and Cooper Hewitt, and teaching in the First Year Program at Parsons School of Design. As an artist, Ms. Farmer has participated in residencies at the Museum of Arts & Design, Brush Creek Arts and SPACE on Ryder Farm.
- Fun Facts: Ms. Farmer is a life-long musician and enjoys improvising on the violin/fiddle.
- In Her Own Words: “I am excited to build new relationships and share my deep love and passion for the visual arts.”
MICHELLE GELBS, Upper School Science and Computer Science Teacher
- Experience: Ms. Gelbs partnered with collaborators at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on bone mechanics and drug delivery research.
- Fun Facts: Her interests include video games, molecular gastronomy, music and reading.
- In Her Own Words: “I’m most looking forward to working with such supportive colleagues and in such a collaborative environment.”
DENIS MAGUIRE, Upper School Mathematics Teacher
- Experience: Before joining Chapin, Mr. Maguire taught at The Dublin School in New Hampshire, where he was a math teacher, math department head, and head coach of the ultimate Frisbee team. While completing his master’s at NYU, he taught at Brooklyn Prospect Charter School and also served as a math fellow at the Klingenstein Summer Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University.
- Fun Facts: When not teaching math, Mr. Maguire is often playing ultimate Frisbee, skiing, doing CrossFit, listening to podcasts or singing.
- In His Own Words: “More than anything, I’m excited to work with the students and share a collective passion for learning and math. I hope to be a valuable resource for my students in their experiences at Chapin. In all my interactions, I’ve felt a contagious energy and a sense of excitement around the educational process. I couldn't be happier to be joining such an engaged community.”
SRIDHAR NAGUBANDI, Head of Upper School Mathematics Department and Upper School Math Teacher
- Experience: Mr. Nagubandi has taught at the middle school, high school and college levels for almost 20 years.
- Fun Facts: His background also includes teaching mathematics to learning disabled students, which was the focus of research for his dissertation.
- In His Own Words: "I am looking forward to teaching in a new school with wonderful students who are excited about learning. I am also looking forward to learning from my new colleagues."
RENNY RAMSAWAK, Head of Upper School Computer Science Department and Computer Science Teacher
- Experience: Prior to joining Chapin, Mr. Ramsawak worked for 29 years as a Director of Information Technology in the logistics/shipping and legal industries.
- Fun Facts: The co-coordinator of Chapin’s Upper School Robotics Team, he lives in Westchester County with his wife.
- In His Own Words: “I’m excited about the opportunity to work with bright student and to learn from the Chapin professional community.”
JONATHAN RUELENS, Upper School History Teacher
- Experience: Mr. Ruelens has been teaching History and English for 10 years at independent schools, public schools and universities in New York, Athens, Greece and Toronto.
- Fun Facts: He spends his free time reading, studying languages, cycling, swimming and running.
- In His Own Words: “I am very excited to get back into the History classroom after teaching English for several years. I am also excited to work with a talented and creative interdisciplinary team in the 11th Grade.”
ADMINISTRATION & STAFF
SUZANNE FOGARTY, Head of School
- Experience: A distinguished educator with experience in each division, Ms. Fogarty spent the last six years as Head of School at Lincoln School in Providence, Rhode Island. Previously, she worked for 15 years at The Berkeley Carroll School, the last nine as Head of Upper School. Prior to this, she was an English Middle and Upper School teacher and the English Chair there. Before that, Ms. Fogarty was a Head teacher of first and second grade at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn. Her first teaching position was an Associate Teacher in the second and third grades at The Brearley School.
- Fun Facts: Ms. Fogarty is the only person in her family with curly hair, and can stand on her hands and head. This past summer, she started the “Donna Leon” detective series, which takes place in Venice, Italy. She has read 18 of 24 books and doesn’t want them to end!
- In Her Own Words: “Chapin is an amazing school with a warm, vibrant, thoughtful community filled with smart, creative and caring people.”
KRISTA HEIDENFELDER, Support Nurse
- Experience: Ms. Heidenfelder is a New York State registered nurse who holds a B.S. in Nursing.
- Fun Facts: She loves hanging out with friends and family, traveling and listening to music.
- In Her Own Words: “I look forward to learning and growing with the Chapin community as another support nurse to Cathy Parker and Anne Bae. I’m excited to meet the students and form new friendships with my colleagues.”
MURIEL ISAAC, Assistant to the Head of School
- Experience: Ms. Isaac spent the bulk of her career working in alumni relations and development mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lived for 11 years. An opportunity to work at Prep for Prep as Director of Alumni Affairs brought her back to New York City in 2017.
- Fun Facts: Ms. Isaac lives in the Bronx with her partner, Michael, and their two cats, Chargie and Linkie. Her favorite pastimes include playing video games, baking (her rum cupcakes are a crowd favorite), running in van Cortlandt Park and fawning over her baby nephew.
- In Her Own Words: “What excites me about working at Chapin? Working closely with our new Head of School as she leads Chapin through these extremely interesting times. I am proud to do so as a member of Chapin’s Class of 2001.”
HAZERA MUNIM, Accounts Receivable and Financial Aid (Business Office)
- Experience: Before coming to Chapin, Ms. Munim held accounting positions at New Classrooms, Institute of Audio Research and LIM College.
- Fun Facts: She loves reading, visiting museums and taking long walks with her sisters and cousins.
- In Her Own Words: “Chapin provides its students with their first steps toward their eventual discovery of success, and I’m very excited to be part of their journey to success.”
PARNELL PETERSON, Director of Security and Transportation
- Experience: Before coming to Chapin, Mr. Peterson held Security Director roles at Trinity School and the New York College of Podiatric Medicine.
- Fun Facts: Retired from the New York City Police Department, he enjoys basketball and bike riding.
- In His Own Words: “I am excited to be a part of a well-established security department.”
SHALIM RODRIGUEZ, Information Technology Support Specialist
- Experience: Mr. Rodriguez has been working in the IT industry and digital creative fields for over a decade, mainly as a UX Designer and an IT Support Specialist.
- Fun Facts: In his spare time, he likes to visit museums and take classes from cooking to different types of arts. He also loves traveling. So far, he has visited Japan, Greece, France and more.
- In His Own Words: “What excites me about working at Chapin is how much it reminds me of my old school, Milton Hershey School, and the opportunity to be able to give the students access to exciting new experiences.”
LAUREN WESSLER, Gift Planning and Major Gift Officer (Advancement Office)
- Experience: Most recently, Ms. Wessler founded and led the New York office of Girls Leadership, a national nonprofit organization that teaches social-emotional learning to girls, their caregivers and their educators. She also carried out fundraising, programmatic, and management efforts at nonprofit organizations in Washington, DC, including the Malala Fund, the Global Women's Innovation Network and Vital Voices Global Partnership.
- Fun Facts: Ms. Wessler is currently a board member of Sad Girls Club, a nonprofit organization that creates community and diminishes mental health stigmas for millennial and GenZ women of color.
- In Her Own Words: “I am honored and excited to be able to engage with this community to ensure that Chapin can continue to carry out its singular mission of preparing its students to thrive and lead in our world for years to come.”