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For alumna Andrea Hoffman ’05, RN, landing the job of Rowland Hall’s all-school nurse has been a dream come true.

“It’s like coming home,” she said.

In this role—created in the summer of 2020 as part of Rowland Hall’s ongoing commitment to community health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic—Andrea, a graduate of Westminster College’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences, blends her nursing background with her deep affection for the Rowland Hall community. She brings to the school years of experience caring for children of all ages, most recently as a registered nurse and parent educator at Primary Children's Hospital, as well as experience as a Rowland Hall lifer—someone who attended the school for 12 or more years.

“It’s a nice full-circle thing,” Andrea said, “to support the Rowland Hall community during this difficult time, to be present and answer people’s questions, to make sure that we are doing this right.”

That is such a gift from Rowland Hall: a lifelong community.—Andrea Hoffman ’05, all-school nurse

Andrea works closely with former classmate Gita Varner ’05, project manager for reopening campus, to manage the school’s COVID-19 protocols. The all-school nurse also liaises with families and the Utah Department of Health regarding exposures and cases in the Rowland Hall community. Andrea said it’s fulfilling to use her training to help navigate evolving guidelines and mandates, and to help provide reassurance to the community that has played a major role in her life.

“That is such a gift from Rowland Hall: a lifelong community,” said Andrea, who can recall many moments since her 2005 graduation where the community has supported her—and even changed her life: she credits an Alumni Association event for reconnecting her with Christopher Felt ’06, a former classmate who is now her husband. She said the couple is proud to support Rowland Hall: Chris is a member of the Alumni Executive Board, and they regularly donate to the school, attend events, and volunteer for opportunities like Day of Giving, where, Andrea laughed, they compete to see who can get more people to give to the school.

Andrea Hoffman as a student and a staff member.

Then and now: Andrea as a first grader on the Avenues Campus and as all-school nurse in 2020.

And because of her years watching the Rowland Hall community come together, Andrea has no doubt her community will continue to rise to the challenges of this pandemic. She is already proud of the clear commitment to health and safety that families have shown so far.

“They are really doing a fantastic job: they’ve been keeping their kids home and being extra cautious any time they have symptoms, they’ve been communicating, and they’ve stepped up to help keep all of us safe,” she said. “We really appreciate that.”

As we move into the winter months, Andrea reminds the Rowland Hall community to continue to be vigilant: wear masks, wash hands often, and maintain social distancing. She also emphasized the importance of limiting gatherings with people outside of your household to protect in-person learning, as data shows that COVID-19 spreads originate outside of classrooms. “Being more mindful of interactions that happen outside of school will help keep our school open and prevent the spread of COVID within our community,” she said.

People

Rowland Hall Welcomes Alumna Andrea Hoffman '05 as All-School Nurse

For alumna Andrea Hoffman ’05, RN, landing the job of Rowland Hall’s all-school nurse has been a dream come true.

“It’s like coming home,” she said.

In this role—created in the summer of 2020 as part of Rowland Hall’s ongoing commitment to community health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic—Andrea, a graduate of Westminster College’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences, blends her nursing background with her deep affection for the Rowland Hall community. She brings to the school years of experience caring for children of all ages, most recently as a registered nurse and parent educator at Primary Children's Hospital, as well as experience as a Rowland Hall lifer—someone who attended the school for 12 or more years.

“It’s a nice full-circle thing,” Andrea said, “to support the Rowland Hall community during this difficult time, to be present and answer people’s questions, to make sure that we are doing this right.”

That is such a gift from Rowland Hall: a lifelong community.—Andrea Hoffman ’05, all-school nurse

Andrea works closely with former classmate Gita Varner ’05, project manager for reopening campus, to manage the school’s COVID-19 protocols. The all-school nurse also liaises with families and the Utah Department of Health regarding exposures and cases in the Rowland Hall community. Andrea said it’s fulfilling to use her training to help navigate evolving guidelines and mandates, and to help provide reassurance to the community that has played a major role in her life.

“That is such a gift from Rowland Hall: a lifelong community,” said Andrea, who can recall many moments since her 2005 graduation where the community has supported her—and even changed her life: she credits an Alumni Association event for reconnecting her with Christopher Felt ’06, a former classmate who is now her husband. She said the couple is proud to support Rowland Hall: Chris is a member of the Alumni Executive Board, and they regularly donate to the school, attend events, and volunteer for opportunities like Day of Giving, where, Andrea laughed, they compete to see who can get more people to give to the school.

Andrea Hoffman as a student and a staff member.

Then and now: Andrea as a first grader on the Avenues Campus and as all-school nurse in 2020.

And because of her years watching the Rowland Hall community come together, Andrea has no doubt her community will continue to rise to the challenges of this pandemic. She is already proud of the clear commitment to health and safety that families have shown so far.

“They are really doing a fantastic job: they’ve been keeping their kids home and being extra cautious any time they have symptoms, they’ve been communicating, and they’ve stepped up to help keep all of us safe,” she said. “We really appreciate that.”

As we move into the winter months, Andrea reminds the Rowland Hall community to continue to be vigilant: wear masks, wash hands often, and maintain social distancing. She also emphasized the importance of limiting gatherings with people outside of your household to protect in-person learning, as data shows that COVID-19 spreads originate outside of classrooms. “Being more mindful of interactions that happen outside of school will help keep our school open and prevent the spread of COVID within our community,” she said.

People

Explore More News In Brief

Alum comedian Jamie Pierce

Alum Jamie Pierce ’98 thrives in all sorts of spotlights: he’s a classically trained dancer with theatre credits galore, and as a comedian, he was named a Laugh Factory top-10 national emerging comic and has opened for industry legends such as Wanda Sykes and Janeane Garofalo.

Now, Jamie—who honed his performing arts skills on our Larimer Center stage—will grace Rowland Hall’s virtual stage to host our April 17 stand-up comedy auction benefiting school financial aid, faculty professional development, and our ongoing COVID-19 response.

What a thrill to now be master of ceremonies for such a glamorous event! And this year it’s taking place in the most glittering venue of them all—my living room.—Jamie Pierce ’98

“When I was in high school, I remember being jealous of the adults who got to dress up fancy and attend the auction,” Jamie said. “What a thrill to now be master of ceremonies for such a glamorous event! And this year it’s taking place in the most glittering venue of them all—my living room.”

We can’t wait for Jamie—aided by a few other hilarious community members—to crack us up for a good cause. Visit our auction webpage to read more and get ready to STAND UP Rowland Hall on April 17.

Jamie Pierce's Biography

After graduating from Rowland Hall, Jamie began his career as a classically trained dancer (BFA, ballet, University of Utah) performing with the Utah Ballet Company before moving to New York where he appeared in The Music Man and Broadway Dances. Other professional theatre credits include Carousel, Dreamgirls, Urinetown, and The Wild Party, as well as Evita, Phantom, and Peter Pan with Utah’s Pioneer Theatre Company. In 2019, he received an Ovation Award nomination for his performance in the Los Angeles production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and most recently created the role of “Frank” in the world-premier play, Embridge. As a comedian, he was selected as a Laugh Factory top-10 national emerging comic and was featured in the New York Comedy Festival at Caroline’s on Broadway. He has performed as the opening act for notable comedy legends including Wanda Sykes and Janeane Garofalo. On screen, Jamie can be seen as the title role in the film festival favorite Bill (2021) as well as the lead in the music video for “Just Party” by hip-hop artist Supanova Galaxy. He has also appeared in numerous TV commercials. Jamie is host of the top-rated podcast Hello, Gorgeous! (#43 on iTunes). He currently lives in Los Angeles.

auction

Banner featuring Chandani Patel, Director of Equity and Inclusion

Following a four-month national search, Rowland Hall is excited to announce that Dr. Chandani Patel will take the reins on July 1 as our first director of equity and inclusion.

Chandani (pronounced ChAHn-dhuh-nee) has spent the last 10 years advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives across a number of institutions. For the past 18 months, she has served as the director for global diversity education for New York University (NYU), where she provides strategic direction and works with faculty on curriculum and instruction that is centered in DEI. Before that, she was senior assistant director at Columbia University’s Center for Teaching and Learning, where she developed pedagogical workshops and online resources to support instructors in creating inclusive classroom spaces. 

Chandani Patel with husband Brady and daughter Aashna.

  Chandani Patel with husband Brady and daughter Aashna.

“I believe deeply in relationship building across a community,” Chandani said. “I look forward to being part of a community where all voices are represented so that we can work towards building an inclusive teaching and learning environment for all students, faculty, staff, and families.”

Chandani has taught and written extensively on how concepts of race, identity, and belonging shift across places, languages, and cultures. She holds a PhD from the University of Chicago, where she studied comparative literature with a focus on South Asian and African literatures. She also holds a BA in comparative literature and an MA in humanities and social thought, both from NYU.

Our search for a director of equity and inclusion began in mid-November, following the announcement of a $2.4 million donation from the Cumming Family Foundation to create the first endowed position in school history. Former head of school Alan Sparrow, who retired last June, worked closely with the Cumming family to articulate our DEI vision and secure the gift, which ensures we have a permanent, full-time leader to guide us in this important work. At a time when pivotal conversations about racial justice are occurring across the nation, we’re so grateful to the Cummings for their generosity and leadership. Their gift supports our core value of welcoming everyone, elevates our institutional commitment to DEI, and sets a precedent for schools in Utah and beyond.

Rowland Hall is forever grateful for the Cumming Family Foundation's $2.4 million gift to create the school's first endowed role, ensuring we have a permanent leader to guide us in this important work.

To ensure an effective search, Rowland Hall partnered with StratéGenius, a Berkeley-based firm with extensive experience cultivating, recruiting, and placing educators in DEI leadership positions at independent schools. Indeed, the process moved along efficiently and transparently: by the first week of March, school community members had a chance to virtually chat with and provide feedback on three finalists. According to our search committee—co-chaired by Head of School Mick Gee and Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman—Chandani rose to the top for our community due to her expertise, professionalism, sincere approachability, and willingness to dig deep in this important role. 

“The search committee was drawn to Chandani’s focus on building communities of belonging where members feel safe to learn and grow together,” Mick said. Chandani, in turn, said she’s excited to discover areas of growth within Rowland Hall where she can center equity in conversations and support inclusive dialogue.

Chandani will relocate to Salt Lake City this summer with husband Brady Smith, daughter Aashna (age 4), and dog Maddy. Chandani’s parents, Vaishali and Sanjay, will also be relocating to the area. Please join us in welcoming Chandani and her family to Rowland Hall!

Equity & Inclusion

A UV-C light used for disinfecting classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Air purifiers, hand-sanitizing stations, ubiquitous health and safety rules and signage, participation in the Utah Health & Economic Recovery Outreach (HERO) Project, and now, our very own disinfecting monoliths: last month, Rowland Hall added two ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light towers to our arsenal of tools and protocols for minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

A UV-C light used for disinfecting classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re incredibly lucky to have these machines,” said alum Gita Varner ’05, Rowland Hall’s project manager for reopening campus. “They’re in full swing in the afternoons and evenings, resetting Lincoln Street Campus classrooms and getting them ready for the next day. They’ve been especially helpful as the weather has become colder and we’ve had to move our HERO testing, as well as testing for our Upper School athletes, inside.”

Rowland Hall started using the devices—the hospital-grade R-Zero Arc—in early November, thanks to a generous donation from parents Benjamin and Joanna Boyer. According to biosafety company R-Zero, the 78-inch-high UV-C light towers can disinfect a 1,000-square-foot room in just seven minutes, destroying over 99.99% of surface and airborne pathogens.

The lights are among the latest upgrades to help us combat COVID-19. After Thanksgiving, we added air purifiers to Upper School classrooms. We also have one of the highest participation rates among Utah schools in the HERO Project, which provides rapid testing and aims to reduce outbreaks.

The towers are among the latest improvements to help the school combat COVID-19. After Thanksgiving break, we also added powerful Blue Pure 211+ air purifiers to every Upper School classroom, even looping a student into the process: freshman Rodrigo Fernandez-Esquivias assisted Gita in researching purifier options. And in September, Head of School Mick Gee announced Rowland Hall’s participation in the HERO Project. This public health initiative—implemented by the University of Utah and funded by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget—aims to enhance school response to COVID-19 and reduce outbreaks. It provides voluntary rapid testing (outside, in a large room, or using a drive-through) for Rowland Hall classmates and teachers only after an individual in their class or cohort reports a positive case. Rowland Hall has had one of the highest project participation rates among Utah schools.

Rowland Hall’s leading participation in the HERO Project is just one COVID-era example of our conscientious, supportive community—traits that have helped our school be one of the few in the Salt Lake City area to offer in-person learning. The Boyer family donation for the UV-C light towers was another such example, and it triggered a smaller one. Following the arrival of the towers, computer science teacher and student and plant dad Ben Smith ’89 surveyed his colleagues to help inventory their campus plants and keep them safe from any potential UV-C light damage. It was a simple, green-thumbed gesture—but one that was reflective of the broader thoughtfulness and adaptability that Rowland Hall faculty, staff, students, and parents have modeled since the pandemic’s start.

covid-19

Tyler Dennis, PGA Tour executive

Utah Golf Association's Fairways magazine featured Rowland Hall alum Tyler Dennis ’95 in the November issue, spotlighting how the PGA Tour senior vice president and chief of operations has helped his organization efficiently implement health, safety, and scheduling changes in response to COVID-19.

Read the full story below. Republished with permission from Fairways magazine, the official publication of the Utah Golf Association, and author Kurt Kragthorpe, one of Utah's legendary sportswriters and senior writer of Fairways Media.

Alumni

You Belong at Rowland Hall