Custom Class: post-landing-hero

For this year’s debate team, there may be one thing that feels better than claiming Rowland Hall’s second consecutive region and state titles.

Doing it in person.

After two years of online-only competition, debaters from across the state were able to gather in person once again for the 2022 regional and state tournaments. After numerous Zoom-room competitions, said Mike Shackelford, Rowland Hall debate coach, these in-person gatherings were a welcome change.

"A return to in-person debate was rejuvenating,” said Mike. “Sure, it meant more planning and earlier mornings—but it also meant pep talks and motivational speeches, real-time collaboration, bonding and playing together between rounds, and supporting one another by watching final rounds as a group. It allowed our students to be truly seen and heard by their opponents, judges, and their teammates." And it was especially exciting for the team members who hadn’t yet experienced in-person debate events. “They didn't even know what they were missing,” said Mike.

Sophomore Zac Bahna was one of these students: he experienced his first year of competition—where he placed third in Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking at state—on Zoom, and now understands the contrast between the two settings.

We were able to foster an environment in which everyone was willing to help each other out and push each other to succeed.—Zac Bahna, class of 2024

“The in-person experience is a lot different but more fun,” said Zac, who, with fellow sophomore and partner Harris Matheson, took third place in this year’s Public Forum event. “You get to talk to debaters from other schools and hang out with your teammates between rounds. Although last year’s debate season was still a great experience, the team felt more isolated and disconnected when we were all debating from our own homes. The state tournament was one of the first times that I could really feel the good energy of a team environment.”

That energy makes a difference for Rowland Hall not only because the team plays up a division into the 3A classification, pitting them against larger schools, but also because they had to spend a lot of time preparing for individual speech events—an area they don't practice during the regular season—to be competitive.

“It was so awesome to see so many Rowland Hall debaters come together and push themselves to compete in different events than they normally would and work together to achieve a common goal,” said Zac. “We were able to foster an environment in which everyone was willing to help each other out and push each other to succeed.”

As a result, the team walked away from the state tournament with their second consecutive 3A state title (their total score, 108, was 33 points higher than the second-place team) and an impressive list of performances:

  • Senior Samantha Lehman took first place in National Extemporaneous Speaking, an event in which debaters are given a domestic affairs question and have 30 minutes to research, write, and deliver seven-minute speeches.
  • Senior teammates Ella Houden and Kit Stevens took first place in Public Forum, an event that includes short speeches interspersed with three-minute crossfire sections, on the topic of the pros and cons of organic agriculture. Senior Samantha Lehman and junior Micah Sheinberg as well as sophomores Zac Bahna and Harris Matheson closed out the top three spots, giving them a co-championship.
  • Junior Layla Hijjawi and sophomore Joey Lieskovan took first place in Policy, an event in which teams advocate for or against a policy change resolution, for their take on the best proposals for water resource protection. Juniors Ruchi Agarwal and Julia Summerfield also went undefeated in this event, giving them the co-championship, while senior George Drakos and sophomore Gabe Andrus, as well as sophomores Marina Peng and Logan Fang, tied for third place—a clean sweep of the top four spots! (Learn more about how debaters across the state, including Rowland Hall students, prepared for this topic in The Salt Lake Tribune.)
  • Freshman Aiden Gandhi took fifth place in Lincoln-Douglas, a solo debate event, for his speech on journalistic ethics.
  • Junior Zachary Klein took third place in Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking, an event in which debaters are given a foreign affairs question and have 30 minutes to research, write, and deliver seven-minute speeches.
  • Freshman Andrew Murphy took fifth place in Student Congress, a competition in which students lead and participate in a simulation where they debate different pieces of national legislation.
  • Junior Micah Sheinberg took fourth place in Impromptu Speaking, an event in which debaters are required to prepare and deliver speeches on a random topic, with only one to two minutes to prepare.

Samantha Lehman also made school history by being the first Rowland Hall student to win an individual state championship in three different debate events over her high school career. The senior said the accomplishment showed her that she can successfully debate on both national and state levels—and reminded her of what she’s learned over four years.

Debate has made me more confident in my voice.—Samantha Lehman, class of 2022

“Debate has made me a more confident person,” said Samantha. “I’ve always been willing to put myself out there, but debate has made me more confident in my voice, in my ability to convey ideas. I know how to speak to a specific audience, to use my research skills and cater arguments to different groups. I know how to speak efficiently and clearly, in a way that’s not pedantic. I know more about the world: criminal justice issues, arms sales, international relations, water, climate change—subjects you would never find out just in school and reading the news.”

This perspective was echoed by ninth grader Aiden Gandhi, who emerged as a team phenom in his novice season, taking fifth place in Lincoln-Douglas at his first state tournament.

“The season allowed me to grow and learn about topics and ideas that I never would have explored otherwise,” said Aiden. And though he is thrilled about the accomplishments of this year, he’s even more excited about his personal growth. “I think I am most proud of achieving the growth that I did this year in debate. It means that I will be better equipped for next year and future debates.”

It’s this kind of attitude, found across the team, that promises continued excellence for Rowland Hall Debate. Even after graduation, said Samantha, she’ll be keeping an eye on the team—she’s that excited about what lies ahead. Zac and Aiden, also looking forward to what's in the team’s future, have already promised to contribute to ongoing success by challenging themselves and their teammates, cultivating a positive and fun environment, and building community.

“I am excited for the opportunity that next year's season brings to connect, grow, and improve,” said Aiden.

Debate

Rowland Hall Debate Wins Second Consecutive State Championship

For this year’s debate team, there may be one thing that feels better than claiming Rowland Hall’s second consecutive region and state titles.

Doing it in person.

After two years of online-only competition, debaters from across the state were able to gather in person once again for the 2022 regional and state tournaments. After numerous Zoom-room competitions, said Mike Shackelford, Rowland Hall debate coach, these in-person gatherings were a welcome change.

"A return to in-person debate was rejuvenating,” said Mike. “Sure, it meant more planning and earlier mornings—but it also meant pep talks and motivational speeches, real-time collaboration, bonding and playing together between rounds, and supporting one another by watching final rounds as a group. It allowed our students to be truly seen and heard by their opponents, judges, and their teammates." And it was especially exciting for the team members who hadn’t yet experienced in-person debate events. “They didn't even know what they were missing,” said Mike.

Sophomore Zac Bahna was one of these students: he experienced his first year of competition—where he placed third in Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking at state—on Zoom, and now understands the contrast between the two settings.

We were able to foster an environment in which everyone was willing to help each other out and push each other to succeed.—Zac Bahna, class of 2024

“The in-person experience is a lot different but more fun,” said Zac, who, with fellow sophomore and partner Harris Matheson, took third place in this year’s Public Forum event. “You get to talk to debaters from other schools and hang out with your teammates between rounds. Although last year’s debate season was still a great experience, the team felt more isolated and disconnected when we were all debating from our own homes. The state tournament was one of the first times that I could really feel the good energy of a team environment.”

That energy makes a difference for Rowland Hall not only because the team plays up a division into the 3A classification, pitting them against larger schools, but also because they had to spend a lot of time preparing for individual speech events—an area they don't practice during the regular season—to be competitive.

“It was so awesome to see so many Rowland Hall debaters come together and push themselves to compete in different events than they normally would and work together to achieve a common goal,” said Zac. “We were able to foster an environment in which everyone was willing to help each other out and push each other to succeed.”

As a result, the team walked away from the state tournament with their second consecutive 3A state title (their total score, 108, was 33 points higher than the second-place team) and an impressive list of performances:

  • Senior Samantha Lehman took first place in National Extemporaneous Speaking, an event in which debaters are given a domestic affairs question and have 30 minutes to research, write, and deliver seven-minute speeches.
  • Senior teammates Ella Houden and Kit Stevens took first place in Public Forum, an event that includes short speeches interspersed with three-minute crossfire sections, on the topic of the pros and cons of organic agriculture. Senior Samantha Lehman and junior Micah Sheinberg as well as sophomores Zac Bahna and Harris Matheson closed out the top three spots, giving them a co-championship.
  • Junior Layla Hijjawi and sophomore Joey Lieskovan took first place in Policy, an event in which teams advocate for or against a policy change resolution, for their take on the best proposals for water resource protection. Juniors Ruchi Agarwal and Julia Summerfield also went undefeated in this event, giving them the co-championship, while senior George Drakos and sophomore Gabe Andrus, as well as sophomores Marina Peng and Logan Fang, tied for third place—a clean sweep of the top four spots! (Learn more about how debaters across the state, including Rowland Hall students, prepared for this topic in The Salt Lake Tribune.)
  • Freshman Aiden Gandhi took fifth place in Lincoln-Douglas, a solo debate event, for his speech on journalistic ethics.
  • Junior Zachary Klein took third place in Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking, an event in which debaters are given a foreign affairs question and have 30 minutes to research, write, and deliver seven-minute speeches.
  • Freshman Andrew Murphy took fifth place in Student Congress, a competition in which students lead and participate in a simulation where they debate different pieces of national legislation.
  • Junior Micah Sheinberg took fourth place in Impromptu Speaking, an event in which debaters are required to prepare and deliver speeches on a random topic, with only one to two minutes to prepare.

Samantha Lehman also made school history by being the first Rowland Hall student to win an individual state championship in three different debate events over her high school career. The senior said the accomplishment showed her that she can successfully debate on both national and state levels—and reminded her of what she’s learned over four years.

Debate has made me more confident in my voice.—Samantha Lehman, class of 2022

“Debate has made me a more confident person,” said Samantha. “I’ve always been willing to put myself out there, but debate has made me more confident in my voice, in my ability to convey ideas. I know how to speak to a specific audience, to use my research skills and cater arguments to different groups. I know how to speak efficiently and clearly, in a way that’s not pedantic. I know more about the world: criminal justice issues, arms sales, international relations, water, climate change—subjects you would never find out just in school and reading the news.”

This perspective was echoed by ninth grader Aiden Gandhi, who emerged as a team phenom in his novice season, taking fifth place in Lincoln-Douglas at his first state tournament.

“The season allowed me to grow and learn about topics and ideas that I never would have explored otherwise,” said Aiden. And though he is thrilled about the accomplishments of this year, he’s even more excited about his personal growth. “I think I am most proud of achieving the growth that I did this year in debate. It means that I will be better equipped for next year and future debates.”

It’s this kind of attitude, found across the team, that promises continued excellence for Rowland Hall Debate. Even after graduation, said Samantha, she’ll be keeping an eye on the team—she’s that excited about what lies ahead. Zac and Aiden, also looking forward to what's in the team’s future, have already promised to contribute to ongoing success by challenging themselves and their teammates, cultivating a positive and fun environment, and building community.

“I am excited for the opportunity that next year's season brings to connect, grow, and improve,” said Aiden.

Debate

Explore School Stories

Rowland Hall Beginning School teacher Vicki Smith bids farewell to the school in 2022, after 13 years of service.

Carolyn Uhle, director of human resources, leaves Rowland Hall after 29 years. In addition to her most recent role, Carolyn also served as Lower School administrative assistant and accounts payable and payroll associate. As director of human resources, she was instrumental in building the school’s human resource practice, supporting faculty and staff, and ensuring that the school meets employment laws and regulations. Carolyn has brought to her work a genuine love of people, a deep care for the school, and a sense of humor. "I'm looking forward to being able to spend time with my family, follow my passions, and create new adventures,” she said. Read Carolyn’s retirement tribute.

Stuart McCandless (pictured top), fifth-grade teacher, is re-retiring after an encore year. Stuart first began teaching at Rowland Hall in 2001, retired for the 2020–2021 school year, and returned for 2021–2022. During these years, Stuart has impacted hundreds of fifth-grade students and their families and built strong classroom communities that foster deep and careful thinking, teamwork, and personal growth. He’s looking forward to spending more time with his wife, Peggy, in retirement, and we hope to have him back as a substitute from time to time.

Lori Miller, Lower School assistant principal, is retiring after 15 years of dedicated service to the beginning and lower schools. This year, she supported the new academic leadership team on the McCarthey Campus as Lower School assistant principal, but has spent most of her time at Rowland Hall as the director of learning services. Lori is a phenomenal resource, loved for her presence, humanity, and ardent encouragement for others. We are thrilled she'll have time for more travel, gardening, and being with her dear ones. She will be missed.

Andrea Beckman, Middle School administrative assistant, left Rowland Hall at the end of March, after nearly 14 years at the school, for an opportunity at Huntsman Cancer Institute. The heart and soul of the Middle School, Andrea worked tirelessly behind the scenes to support the entire division. She handled difficult situations with grace and professionalism and never said no to a colleague or friend in need. Her humor, kindness, and team spirit will be missed, and we look forward to seeing her at community events.

Beth Ott, 4PreK assistant teacher, leaves Rowland Hall after 13 years. Beth worked as an assistant teacher in both 4PreK and kindergarten, and was also the director of auxiliary programs for 10 years. Extraordinarily kind, patient, self-reflective, even-keeled, and curious, Beth is a cherished colleague, teacher, mentor, and friend, and she will be missed.

Dan Mitchell, middle and upper school ceramics teacher, leaves Rowland Hall after 12 years. Many students have repeatedly taken Dan’s classes, developing into skilled, masterful ceramicists, and many more have benefited from the welcoming, calming atmosphere of his classroom. We will miss Dan’s commitment to his craft and his ability to connect with students—not to mention his incredible T-shirt collection, music, storytelling, and love of cars.

Garrett Alberico, bus driver, resigned in September 2021 after 10 years with the school. He’ll be remembered for his years of hard work and his dedication to Rowland Hall and our families.

Linda Tatomer, Lower School assistant principal, left Rowland Hall in November 2021 after nearly 10 combined years at the school. In addition to this most recent role, Linda previously served as the Lower School specialty principal, the Lower School assistant principal, and a Middle School teacher. She had returned to Rowland Hall in the shared assistant principal role to support the transition to a new team of leaders in the beginning and lower schools.

I am very proud to have worked at Rowland Hall and with such outstanding colleagues.—Cheryl Birt, retiring McCarthey Campus library

Cheryl Birt, McCarthey Campus librarian, retires after eight years at Rowland Hall. Her dedication, organization, and welcoming smile will be missed. “I am very proud to have worked at Rowland Hall and with such outstanding colleagues,” she said.

Emina Alibegović, Upper School mathematics teacher, leaves after six years at Rowland Hall. As Math Department chair, Emina led the redesign of the math curriculum, incorporating an integrated sequence and expanded curricular pathways for students of all abilities and interests. Committed to student and peer success, she has served as an advisor, led professional development work, initiated Friday hikes with students, and was in the vanguard when the school pivoted to distance learning in 2020. We’ll miss her energy, expertise, and commitment.

Trina Empey, student accounts manager, left Rowland Hall in December 2021 to relocate out of state, though she continued to support the school into March. Over the last six years, Trina developed strong relationships with families, streamlined the school’s billing and collection processes, and significantly reduced receivables. She always kept the needs of students and families at the center of her work, and brought a lot of laughter to the office.

Lyndsay Strange, Rowmark Ski Academy FIS coach, leaves Rowland Hall after six years to move to Washington State, where she will pursue new opportunities and adventures. Lyndsay has held multiple roles with Rowmark, bringing infectious positive energy, deep knowledge of all aspects of Alpine ski coaching, and an unwavering passion to find the next bottomless powder turn. She always kept it fun while pushing athletes to reach their potential and will be missed.

Chelsea Vasquez, eighth-grade English teacher, leaves Rowland Hall for new adventures after six years at the school. During her time here, Chelsea taught seventh- and eighth-grade English, and she will be remembered as a kind, caring, funny, humble, smart, and passionate teacher and a champion of all students—connecting with them, advocating for them, and inspiring them. She will be greatly missed.

Carly Biedul, Lower School science teacher, leaves Rowland Hall after five years. Carly joined the Lower School team as a long-term substitute in 2017, and has gotten elementary students fired up about science ever since. A dynamic and knowledgeable educator, Carly will be remembered for her humor, warmth, and energy. We wish her well as she finds her next grand adventure.

Kate Ferguson, Steiner Library assistant, leaves Rowland Hall after five years. Kate has been an integral part of the library, welcoming students and sparking joy for books and stories, and she brought warmth, deep knowledge, and a terrific sense of humor to her work. Though we will miss Kate as a full-time staff member, she will continue to be part of the community as a substitute teacher next year.

Niure Damico, advancement services manager, leaves for a new opportunity after nearly five years at the school. In addition to her support of the Advancement Department, Niure was an Upper School advisor and, prior to this year, worked as the Upper School administrative professional. We wish her the best of luck.

Matthew Collins, third-grade teacher, leaves Rowland Hall for a new opportunity after four years at the school. During his time here, Matthew has held many roles: fourth-grade teacher, third-grade teacher, ombudsperson, Strategic Plan Implementation Committee member, instructional coach, and Lower School representative on the Strategic Priority Task Force. A skilled and thoughtful educator, Matthew is admired by all who know him. He will be sincerely missed.

Jacade Narcisse, bus driver, left Rowland Hall in December 2021 after a combined four years at the school. Those lucky enough to cross paths with Jacade know of his genuine kindness, extended to everyone he meets, and hard work and dedication to Rowland Hall and our families.

Nevah Stevenson, director of major gifts, left Rowland Hall in April after nearly three years at the school to become executive director of the Catholic Foundation of Utah. Nevah’s positivity and professionalism were an asset to the Advancement Department, where she worked to raise funds for the new Steiner Campus. She will be missed.

Foreste Peterson, Rowmark head women's FIS coach and head conditioning coach, leaves the school after two years to become assistant coach for the US Ski Team women's Development Team. Foreste led the Rowmark women's FIS team and conditioning program with tremendous expertise and enthusiasm. She is a tireless professional who—thanks to her experiences as a World Cup athlete, NCAA athlete, and Rowmark coach—will bring a lot to the table at the next level.

Marcus Riley, Lower School associate teacher, has completed his year with the Lower School. Marcus was just who was needed during another wacky COVID year—he rolled up his sleeves, figuratively and literally, to support every teacher, grade level, and student in the division, meeting many a curveball with flexibility, humor, and a can-do attitude. While he won’t be the associate teacher next year, since this was a one-year position, we’re glad he’s agreed to be a substitute teacher and are confident we’ll see a lot of him in this capacity.

Danielle Thomas, McCarthey Campus emotional support counselor, leaves Rowland Hall after one year to relocate with her family. Danielle jumped into our beginning and lower school communities with both feet—and her head and heart too. She quickly became a safe adult for many of our students and an invaluable member of the student support team. Danielle’s humor, warmth, and unflappable approach have meant so much to so many on the McCarthey Campus this year. She will be missed.

Chelsea Zussman, assistant nurse on the McCarthey Campus, leaves after one year at Rowland Hall. Chelsea quickly became an integral part of the team, working with students, families, and employees with grace, humor, and care during a very demanding year. Chelsea is returning to full-time parenthood but promises she will return to fill in when needed in the future. Thank you, Chelsea!

Sonya Cotton, Beginning School and Lower School logistics manager, leaves Rowland Hall after nearly a year to relocate with her family. Sonya temporarily stepped in mid-year to manage various essential components of the school day, all with good cheer, attention to detail, and a collaborative approach. We’ll miss you!

Josh Scheuerman leaves Rowland Hall after teaching the Middle School mixed media art class this past semester to return to his full-time job as a muralist. Schedule permitting, he may return to work with students as a visiting artist in the future.

Brina Serassio, dance ensemble teacher, leaves Rowland Hall after one year. During her time at the school, Brina inspired beginning dancers and helped to lay the foundation both for a strong dance program and the lifelong love of dance and artistic expression amongst middle schoolers. Schedule permitting, Brina may return throughout the next school year as a visiting artist, to help with Winter Sports, and to judge dance auditions.

People

2021 Sumner Award winner Sara Yoon.

Each year at division commencement ceremonies, Rowland Hall proudly honors faculty who have demonstrated exceptional teaching and mentoring.

Sumner/Larsen Excellence in Teaching Awards

The Sumner/Larsen Excellence in Teaching Faculty Awards are given each year to outstanding faculty members in each division who have demonstrated a love for teaching and excellence in their fields. This award was established in 1985 by Kit Sumner and his wife, Molly, who have shown an unparalleled commitment to Rowland Hall for three generations. In 2022, Kurt Larsen, who shares the Sumners’ high regard for Rowland Hall’s faculty and dedication to the school, joined Kit Sumner in funding this award to increase its impact. The newly renamed Sumner/Larsen Excellence in Teaching Faculty Award is one of the highest recognitions of excellence in teaching at Rowland Hall. Congratulations to the following recipients.

Beginning School: Gail Rose, 3PreK lead teacher

Rowland Hall Beginning School 3PreK lead teacher Gail Rose.

Gail Rose is like a unicorn: she is magical, enchanting, and adventurous, and her hair looks great in the wind. She inspires wonder in those around her, and her enthusiasm for learning and play is equally contagious amongst young children and adults. An insatiable learner and enthusiastic advocate for early childhood education, she reads widely, attends tons of webinars, and soaks up every opportunity for professional development—learning that translates to new ideas, connections, and passions to share with her young students and colleagues. She has been a beacon of steady positivity, and she and her merry band of students delight all who visit their classroom. She is a spark of joy, curiosity, and tenacity that lights a fire in others.

Lower School: Susanna Mellor, first-grade teacher

Rowland Hall Lower School first-grade teacher Susanna Mellor.

Susanna Mellor is an exceptionally reflective and thoughtful practitioner, with a nearly infinite well of patience and compassion. Her classroom community brims with positivity, deep thinking, mutual respect, and just the right amount of silliness. A highly effective and admired teacher, Susanna has worked hard to hone her craft, and is always open to learn more, tackle new challenges, and connect with colleagues for their perspectives and insight. She is calm and centered, and an exemplary colleague, providing a listening ear to those who need one, helpful advice when asked, and, even in the busiest, most stressful times, prioritizing care and community as an ally, advocate, and friend.

Middle School: Anna Wolfe, seventh-grade science teacher

Rowland Hall Middle School science teacher Anna Wolfe.

Anna Wolfe is respected by her colleagues and beloved by her students. She loves teaching, seeking out opportunities for professional growth, collaboration, and development. Full of energy and cheer, Anna goes above and beyond: volunteering for committees, organizing events for students and teachers alike, single-handedly running Student Council, organizing a seventh-grade class trip, and more, all in addition to planning and engaging dynamic lessons. She sets the bar high for herself and for her students in the science classroom. She works tirelessly to bring out the best in every student, believing each is a scientist and aiming to ensure they see the connection between science and the world around them.

Upper School: Lisa Friedman, math teacher

Rowland Hall Upper School math teacher Lisa Friedman.

Lisa Friedman loves teaching. She is continuously looking to grow her craft and focuses on improving student learning outcomes and the student experience. Lisa empowers students, placing them in dialogue with each other and encouraging them to work together. She is not afraid to set a high bar, and does it with a seemingly endless reserve of support, patience, and kindness. She is also a consummate professional and a respected colleague, embracing aspects of being an educator beyond the classroom and volunteering for service in other areas of school life: she’s a ninth-grade advisor, serves on the Honor Council, organized a pandemic-era Interim tennis tournament, and has gone on countless hikes with students.

Cary Jones Faculty Mentor Award 2022

The Cary Jones Faculty Mentor Award is presented to Rowland Hall faculty members who demonstrate excellence in teaching, serve as mentors to others, and contribute to the Rowland Hall community. This award was established through an anonymous gift to the school in honor of Mr. Jones’ dedication to the faculty when he was the chair of the Board of Trustees.

Rowland Hall educators Ben Smith (left) and Christian Waters (right).

This year’s Cary Jones Faculty Mentor Award has been awarded to two Rowland Hall educators: Ben Smith ’89, computer science teacher, and Christian Waters, director of technology integration. Ben and Christian have reenergized the computer science program, growing some of the most sought-out electives in the middle and upper schools. Self-taught computer scientists, they model many of the traits we aspire to at Rowland Hall: a love of lifelong learning, resiliency, and empathy, to name but a few. They are receptive to the needs of students and our community, regularly offering professional learning opportunities and workshops for students, teachers, and parents/caregivers. They encourage a safe classroom environment, supporting and challenging students to think creatively and critically—when you walk into their classroom, you see and hear students actively creating, collaborating, and solving problems. When we look at our future programming, their classroom and vision is at the forefront of our strategic priority work.

For their teaching excellence, mentorship, and contributions to the school community, Rowland Hall proudly honors Ben Smith and Christian Waters with the 2022 Cary Jones Faculty Mentor Award.

People

2022 Rowland Hall valedictorian Charles Topoleski.

At this year's twelfth-, eighth-, and fifth-grade graduation ceremonies, student speakers shared reflective and inspiring stories about their experiences at Rowland Hall.

The group included senior speakers Samantha Lehman, student body president, and Charles Topoleski (pictured above), Bishop's Award recipient; Senior Celebration speaker Ella Houden; Senior Chapel speakers Sophie Ayers-Harris, Daniel McNally, and Irenka Saffarian; eighth-grade graduation speakers Noa Fukushima and Leo Pickron; and several fifth-grade graders.

We have posted their speeches for you to enjoy.

Student Voices

Carolyn Uhle, director of human resources, to retire at the end of the 2021–2022 school year.

Carolyn Uhle’s title at Rowland Hall is director of human resources.

It’s a good title, but it really doesn’t give you a full picture of what Carolyn does. Every day at the school, Carolyn functions as a psychologist, a sociologist, a mediator, a proofreader, an accountant, a policy keeper, and a problem solver.

“We are so lucky to have Carolyn,” said Chief Financial Officer Gwen Fonarow. “She is that rare person who can see the big picture yet at the same time respond to each situation with care, understanding that people and their needs can be so vastly different.”

We are so lucky to have Carolyn. She is that rare person who can see the big picture yet at the same time respond to each situation with care, understanding that people and their needs can be so vastly different.—Gwen Fonarow, chief financial officerCarolyn is the first person to hold the director of human resources position in the history of the school, and her experience as a staff member for the last 25-plus years made her well suited for it. Because, like Rowland Hall, Carolyn grew and changed a lot in that time.

“When I was first hired, I was the administrative assistant to the Lower School principal,” said Carolyn. “After a few years I transferred into the Business Office, where I did accounts payable and eventually took on payroll, then added benefits. In 2016 I was made the human resources manager and began completing my certification in the field. Then, after completing the certification in 2019, I was made director of human resources.”

Each of Carolyn’s career changes at Rowland Hall echoes the story of a school transforming from a small niche campus in the Avenues to a dynamic, constantly growing multi-campus institution with a national reputation. After all, one of the reasons she became the school’s first human resources director is that, up until fairly recently, such a position wasn’t recognized as needed. “Things are so different now than when I started,” she said. “But what stays the same is that this is a place of open ideas and diversity that really cares about preparing students to impact their world in a positive way.”

Carolyn Uhle at the Lower School mask parade.

Carolyn at the Lower School mask parade, 2021.


The position of director of human resources isn’t directly involved in education. Carolyn doesn’t prepare lesson plans or grade papers, take attendance or schedule parent-teacher conferences. But she sees her job as supporting the students. “Even though I don’t have a lot of contact with kids, I try to support faculty so that they can do their jobs better, and I support managers and administration so they can support faculty,” she said. “Everyone here, at the end of the day, is here for the kids.” 

Everyone here, at the end of the day, is here for the kids.—Carolyn Uhle

In order to support the faculty and staff Carolyn has worked hard to put in place a foundation for employment practices and a model of equity across all divisions when it comes to human resources. Her goal, she said, is for everyone to receive equal treatment and access to benefits, no matter where they are working or who they report to. She has done this not only through her work, but by collaborating with others to ensure that there is fairness and understanding of policies among the faculty and staff. “I think workplace harmony is important to Carolyn,” said Gwen. “Of course, that doesn’t mean people don’t get upset. But it means that when they do, they’re heard and given fair answers.”

“Carolyn puts people first,” added Associate Head of School Jennifer Blake. “That isn’t always easy in her position, trying to balance the business interests of the school with the personal needs of the faculty and staff, but she works tirelessly doing it."

Maybe the reason Carolyn is so good at caring for people professionally is how much cares for them personally. If you ask anyone who has known Carolyn for an extended time, the first thing they will tell you is how much they value her as a friend and confidant. “Carolyn was the first person I went to when I received some bad news while at work,” said Director of Operations Ann Burnett. “The news came as a shock and I thought of nothing more but to seek her out in her office so we could process together.”

Chief Information Officer Patrick Godfrey said that Carolyn’s office often serves as a place of refuge for anyone in need of one. “You can walk in and shut the door and vent a bit and know it’s not going to go anywhere,” he said. “And she will always manage to make you laugh. Carolyn has an excellent sense of humor.”

That sense of humor has been the source of countless practical jokes at the school over the years. Carolyn has been a part of pranks involving tiny school photos of employees pasted into various locations around campus and a famous flying loaf of bread. For all her antics, though, Carolyn is willing to get as good as she gives. “Carolyn has a really sensitive sense of smell,” says Patrick. “We took hundreds of those hanging air freshener trees and put them all over her office. It took her almost a month and a half to find them all. She never got mad, though, she just kept laughing.”

Carolyn Uhle with her two dogs

Carolyn with her beloved dogs, Steve (left) and Curly (right).


As she looks toward the next chapter of her life, Carolyn said she’s looking forward to spending time with her parents, her partner, John, and their dogs and family, and to recharging her batteries for new adventures. Of course, that doesn’t mean we still won’t see Carolyn around campus—she is thrilled with the changes and growth on the school’s horizon, and as excited about Rowland Hall’s new chapter as she is for her own. She will always be a part of this community, in many ways—even in muscle memory.

“When I leave, I’m probably going to drive to school every morning at first because that’s been my habit for 29 years,” she chuckled.


Banner: Carolyn with colleague Carol Frymire.

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