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Despite its pandemic-related challenges, 2020–2021 was a banner year for the Rowland Hall debate team, which embraced the sport's virtual format to excel in both individual and team events—including the state tournament, where they won the title of 3A Speech & Debate Champions for the first time in the school’s history.

“It's been a historically challenging year for all schools, but we turned it into a historically successful one,” said coach Mike Shackelford.

Rowland Hall competed virtually in more than 40 local and national events in 2020–2021—more than double the events in a non-pandemic year—including the Utah Debate Coaches Association tournament, the most prestigious local regular-season tournament, in November, where the team won the sweepstakes award for the top school, and the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) state tournament in March, where the team won the championship title.

Debating at the state tournament was a great opportunity to bond as a team after a year of separation, and winning the championship wouldn't have been possible without the dedication from each member.—Emery Bahna, class of 2022

Earning the state trophy is an especially impressive feat for Rowland Hall, a small school that plays up one classification level and has, in previous years, been unable to assemble a large enough team to be in the running for the state title, due to tournament timing, travel, and other event-related challenges. Team size matters at state because while all students compete for individual titles, their performances also count toward a school’s overall score: students who place in the top 25 percent of an event earn their schools five points (a “Superior” rating), and points descend until the bottom 25 percent, which earns no points. While Rowland Hall has long won individual championships, its previous rosters of 12 to 15 students meant the team had to take zeros in categories they didn't enter. Thanks to this year’s virtual format, however, which made it easier to participate, they could finally set their sights on the championship.
 
“The whole team came together to conduct research, participate in practice debates, and share information about our opponents,” said junior Emery Bahna, who, with junior Mahit Dagar, took first place in the UHSAA Public Forum event. “Debating at the state tournament was a great opportunity to bond as a team after a year of separation, and winning the championship wouldn't have been possible without the dedication from each member.”
 
Mike agreed, noting that he views that dedication as the students’ way to balance a year in which they were unable to enjoy normal aspects of debate, like socials, bus rides, and even being in the same room during final rounds to root for each other. “There was a real commitment to achieve something collectively,” he said.
 
This they did, together earning a final tournament score of 122 points. Second-place school Providence Hall, the 2020 state champion, finished with 74 points.
 
“We nearly lapped the field,” said Mike. “The state championship reflected our collective desire and commitment to be a part of something larger than ourselves. Winning state was a product of 25 students rallying for a cause, and each doing their part.”

Rowland Hall 2020–2021 debate team, 2021 Utah 3A State Champions.


Below are the top individual championship performances at the UHSAA tournament, which contributed to the state title:

  • Seniors Sophie Dau and Maddy Frech took first place in Policy, an event in which teams advocate for or against a policy change resolution, for their proposal for criminal justice reform. Three other teams—seniors Auden Bown and Ty Lunde, sophomores Zachary Klein and Micah Sheinberg, and sophomores Ruchi Agarwal and Layla Hijjawi—went undefeated in Policy, giving them a co-championship.
  • Sophomore Ane Hernandez took first place in the Impromptu Speaking event, which requires debaters to prepare and deliver five-minute speeches on random topics, with only one to two minutes of preparation. Sophomores Anna Hull and Maile Fukushima were also finalists in this event, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
  • Junior Samantha Lehman finished in 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.
  • Juniors Emery Bahna and Mahit Dagar 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 the Space Force; this dynamic duo also qualified to the national Tournament of Champions and will compete at the National Speech & Debate Tournament in June. Senior Hattie Wall and junior Julia Graham, as well as juniors Ella Houden and Kit Stevens, closed out the top three spots, giving them a co-championship. Juniors Casey Maloy and Lizzie Carlin finished fifth.  
  • Sophomore Maddie Carlin took second place in Student Congress, a competition in which students lead and participate in a simulation where they debate different pieces of national legislation.
  • Freshman Zac Bahna 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 Marina Peng took fifth place in Lincoln-Douglas, a solo debate event in which she spoke on the ethical necessity of universal child care.

Congratulations, debaters, on an impressive year!


Update October 29, 2021: This month, debate coach Mike Shakelford received a letter from J. Scott Wunn, executive director of the National Speech & Debate Association, notifying him that Rowland Hall earned the 2020–2021 Leading Chapter Award in the Great Salt Lake (UT) District. Out of 3,000 member schools nationwide, Rowland Hall is one of only 108 to receive this award.

"This coveted honor, based on student participation throughout the school year, is the highest recognition your school can receive from the National Speech & Debate Association. Only the top school in accumulated members and degrees per district earns this designation each year, and each school must wait at least five years before being eligible again," the letter read. "Your award reflects 725 members and degrees over 10 years. In that time, several hundred students have been taught communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration skills through speech and debate. The Leading Chapter Award serves as an indication of your relentless dedication to these students and to speech and debate education. Your efforts truly embody our mission to empower youth."

For Coach Mike and his students, this award is indeed the cherry on top of a fantastic season—as well as a powerful example of why our debate program has been recognized as one of the strongest in the Intermountain West.

"This is a special award because it reflects sustained excellence, longevity, and collective effort," said Mike. "Unlike many individual tournament achievements, this award recognizes the contributions of every single debater at Rowland Hall over the last five years. Every practice speech, every article researched, every creative argument idea; it all adds up!"

Debate

Physically Distanced, Intellectually Connected: Rowland Hall Debate Named 2021 3A State Champions

Despite its pandemic-related challenges, 2020–2021 was a banner year for the Rowland Hall debate team, which embraced the sport's virtual format to excel in both individual and team events—including the state tournament, where they won the title of 3A Speech & Debate Champions for the first time in the school’s history.

“It's been a historically challenging year for all schools, but we turned it into a historically successful one,” said coach Mike Shackelford.

Rowland Hall competed virtually in more than 40 local and national events in 2020–2021—more than double the events in a non-pandemic year—including the Utah Debate Coaches Association tournament, the most prestigious local regular-season tournament, in November, where the team won the sweepstakes award for the top school, and the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) state tournament in March, where the team won the championship title.

Debating at the state tournament was a great opportunity to bond as a team after a year of separation, and winning the championship wouldn't have been possible without the dedication from each member.—Emery Bahna, class of 2022

Earning the state trophy is an especially impressive feat for Rowland Hall, a small school that plays up one classification level and has, in previous years, been unable to assemble a large enough team to be in the running for the state title, due to tournament timing, travel, and other event-related challenges. Team size matters at state because while all students compete for individual titles, their performances also count toward a school’s overall score: students who place in the top 25 percent of an event earn their schools five points (a “Superior” rating), and points descend until the bottom 25 percent, which earns no points. While Rowland Hall has long won individual championships, its previous rosters of 12 to 15 students meant the team had to take zeros in categories they didn't enter. Thanks to this year’s virtual format, however, which made it easier to participate, they could finally set their sights on the championship.
 
“The whole team came together to conduct research, participate in practice debates, and share information about our opponents,” said junior Emery Bahna, who, with junior Mahit Dagar, took first place in the UHSAA Public Forum event. “Debating at the state tournament was a great opportunity to bond as a team after a year of separation, and winning the championship wouldn't have been possible without the dedication from each member.”
 
Mike agreed, noting that he views that dedication as the students’ way to balance a year in which they were unable to enjoy normal aspects of debate, like socials, bus rides, and even being in the same room during final rounds to root for each other. “There was a real commitment to achieve something collectively,” he said.
 
This they did, together earning a final tournament score of 122 points. Second-place school Providence Hall, the 2020 state champion, finished with 74 points.
 
“We nearly lapped the field,” said Mike. “The state championship reflected our collective desire and commitment to be a part of something larger than ourselves. Winning state was a product of 25 students rallying for a cause, and each doing their part.”

Rowland Hall 2020–2021 debate team, 2021 Utah 3A State Champions.


Below are the top individual championship performances at the UHSAA tournament, which contributed to the state title:

  • Seniors Sophie Dau and Maddy Frech took first place in Policy, an event in which teams advocate for or against a policy change resolution, for their proposal for criminal justice reform. Three other teams—seniors Auden Bown and Ty Lunde, sophomores Zachary Klein and Micah Sheinberg, and sophomores Ruchi Agarwal and Layla Hijjawi—went undefeated in Policy, giving them a co-championship.
  • Sophomore Ane Hernandez took first place in the Impromptu Speaking event, which requires debaters to prepare and deliver five-minute speeches on random topics, with only one to two minutes of preparation. Sophomores Anna Hull and Maile Fukushima were also finalists in this event, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
  • Junior Samantha Lehman finished in 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.
  • Juniors Emery Bahna and Mahit Dagar 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 the Space Force; this dynamic duo also qualified to the national Tournament of Champions and will compete at the National Speech & Debate Tournament in June. Senior Hattie Wall and junior Julia Graham, as well as juniors Ella Houden and Kit Stevens, closed out the top three spots, giving them a co-championship. Juniors Casey Maloy and Lizzie Carlin finished fifth.  
  • Sophomore Maddie Carlin took second place in Student Congress, a competition in which students lead and participate in a simulation where they debate different pieces of national legislation.
  • Freshman Zac Bahna 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 Marina Peng took fifth place in Lincoln-Douglas, a solo debate event in which she spoke on the ethical necessity of universal child care.

Congratulations, debaters, on an impressive year!


Update October 29, 2021: This month, debate coach Mike Shakelford received a letter from J. Scott Wunn, executive director of the National Speech & Debate Association, notifying him that Rowland Hall earned the 2020–2021 Leading Chapter Award in the Great Salt Lake (UT) District. Out of 3,000 member schools nationwide, Rowland Hall is one of only 108 to receive this award.

"This coveted honor, based on student participation throughout the school year, is the highest recognition your school can receive from the National Speech & Debate Association. Only the top school in accumulated members and degrees per district earns this designation each year, and each school must wait at least five years before being eligible again," the letter read. "Your award reflects 725 members and degrees over 10 years. In that time, several hundred students have been taught communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration skills through speech and debate. The Leading Chapter Award serves as an indication of your relentless dedication to these students and to speech and debate education. Your efforts truly embody our mission to empower youth."

For Coach Mike and his students, this award is indeed the cherry on top of a fantastic season—as well as a powerful example of why our debate program has been recognized as one of the strongest in the Intermountain West.

"This is a special award because it reflects sustained excellence, longevity, and collective effort," said Mike. "Unlike many individual tournament achievements, this award recognizes the contributions of every single debater at Rowland Hall over the last five years. Every practice speech, every article researched, every creative argument idea; it all adds up!"

Debate

Explore School Stories

Katie Williams, first-grade homeroom teacher

Rowland Hall is thrilled to welcome students and families to the 2022–2023 school year.

As you spend time on our campuses in the following weeks, you’ll get to know the newest additions to our faculty and staff, as well as see some of our returning team members in new, adjusted, or expanded roles. For your convenience, we’ve listed these staffing changes below. (Please refer to Fond Farewells 2022 for a list of those not returning for this school year.) Be sure to check back, as this list will continue to be updated during the school year.

Administration and Staff

New Staff

  • Teal Beltran joins Rowland Hall as an all-school nurse.
  • Marlee Brown joins Rowland Hall as the advancement services manager. 
  • Cassie Ford joins Rowland Hall as the payroll/benefits specialist.
  • Braden Morrill joins Rowland Hall as the director of annual giving.
  • Nicholas Renzo joins Rowland Hall as the director of people.

Administration and Staff Role Changes

  • Alec Baden, formerly director of transportation, is now director of transportation and safety.
  • Lindsay Carver, formerly the director of the Annual Fund, is now director of major gifts.
  • Brittney Hansen ’02, formerly the Beginning School assistant principal, is now a Beginning School and Lower School assistant principal.
  • Eric Schmitz, formerly a second-grade teacher, is now a Beginning School and Lower School assistant principal.
  • Gita Varner ’05, formerly the manager of COVID campus response and safety, is now the operations project manager.

Beginning School

New Beginning School Faculty and Staff

  • Jordan Capps joins Rowland Hall as a 4PreK assistant teacher, working alongside Lauren Augusta.
  • Jenn Carrino joins Rowland Hall as an assistant kindergarten teacher, working alongside Melanie Robbins.
  • Julianne Harmon joins Rowland Hall as a McCarthey Campus librarian.
  • Deborah Wright joins Rowland Hall as the McCarthey Campus emotional support counselor.

Beginning School Role Changes

  • Melinda Canfield, formerly a long-term substitute teacher and classroom aide, is now a three-day 3PreK assistant teacher, working alongside Gail Rose.
  • Mary Grace Ellison, formerly a kindergarten assistant teacher, is now a lead kindergarten teacher.
  • Emma Shear, formerly the Beginning School associate teacher, is now an assistant kindergarten teacher, working alongside Mary Grace Ellison.
  • Ella Slaker, formerly a 4PreK assistant teacher, is now a 4PreK lead teacher.
  • Vicki Smith, formerly a kindergarten assistant teacher, is now a McCarthey Campus librarian.

Lower School

New Lower School Faculty and Staff

  • Jenn Anderson joins Rowland Hall as the Lower School learning specialist.
  • Julianne Harmon joins Rowland Hall as a McCarthey Campus librarian.
  • Meredith Johnson joins Rowland Hall as a third-grade teacher.
  • Sam Johnson joins Rowland Hall as a fifth-grade teacher.
  • Lexi Kemp joins Rowland Hall as a third-grade teacher.
  • Fabian Liesner joins Rowland Hall as a part-time Lower School PE teacher.
  • Nico Napolski joins Rowland Hall as the Lower School science specialist.
  • Deborah Wright joins Rowland Hall as the McCarthey Campus emotional support counselor.

Lower School Role Changes

  • Vicki Smith, formerly a kindergarten assistant teacher, is now a McCarthey Campus librarian.
  • Katie Williams, pictured top, formerly a kindergarten lead teacher, is now a first-grade teacher.

Middle School

New Middle School Faculty and Staff

  • Sophia Cutrubus ’18 joins Rowland Hall as a part-time middle and upper school dance teacher.
  • Mindy Leo joins Rowland Hall as a part-time academic support counselor.
  • Jon Poll joins Rowland Hall as a computer science teacher.
  • Brady Smith joins Rowland Hall as the eighth-grade English teacher.
  • Dan Trockman joins Rowland Hall as the sixth-grade science teacher.

Middle School Role Changes

  • Zack Alvidrez, formerly the interim Middle School athletic director, is now assistant athletic director.
  • Molly Lewis, formerly a sixth-grade math and science teacher, is now the middle and upper school ceramics teacher.

Upper School

New and Returning Upper School Faculty

  • Brian Birchler returns to Rowland Hall as a part-time Upper School math teacher.
  • Paul Christensen returns to Rowland Hall as a part-time Upper School math teacher.
  • Sophia Cutrubus ’18 joins Rowland Hall as a part-time middle and upper school dance teacher.
  • Brenna Thomas joins Rowland Hall as an Upper School math teacher and ninth-grade advisor.

Upper School Role Changes

  • Zack Alvidrez, formerly the interim Middle School athletic director, is now assistant athletic director.
  • Molly Lewis, formerly a sixth-grade math and science teacher, is now the middle and upper school ceramics teacher.

Rowmark Ski Academy

New and Returning Rowmark Staff

Rowmark Role Changes

  • Brian Morgan, formerly head men's FIS coach and equipment manager, is now head men's and women's FIS coach.

People

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.

Charles Cain departs Rowland Hall after eight years to work for his family's business. During his time at the school, Charles made delicious meals in the Lincoln Street Campus cafeteria during the school year and helped the McCarthey Campus operations team during summers. He was generous in his treatment of faculty, staff, students, and visitors alike, leading by example the many young employees who worked alongside him, and always giving his best and bringing pride to his day-to-day routine.

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.

Kirsten White leaves Rowland Hall after four years to work closer to home and better support the needs of her family at this time. During her time at the school, Kirsten worked in the Beginning School Enrichment program, for Extended Day, and as a 3PreK Assistant Teacher. We have so enjoyed having Kirsten on the faculty and wish her the best.

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.

Irina Eikenberry, Upper School math teacher, leaves after one year. We are grateful for Irina's expertise in the creation of a new course: data science. This was a challenge, as there was no previous teacher's work to build upon, but Irina did it with grace, hard work, and professionalism. Students, and her colleagues, love Irina's kind and caring nature in the classroom and beyond. We wish her well as she works to complete her master's degree in statistics and enjoys life as a newlywed.

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

You Belong at Rowland Hall