Faculty and Staff Celebrate Epic Year; Honor Beloved Retirees

On June 10, Princeton Day School's faculty and staff gathered for a final time on the Colross lawn under sunny skies to celebrate the successful completion of the school year. The theme of the day, which was printed on commemorative cups, was "We did it. Together!" The celebration was a welcome chance for everyone to relax and enjoy each other's company one last time before Commencement officially signals the end of the year.

Head of School Paul J. Stellato reflected on a memorable year for the School, thanking everyone for their selfless and tireless work in the face of adversity to ensure a safe, healthy and successful experience for all. He also announced faculty and staff endowed awards and grants and honored this year's retirees, all of whom have left an indelible mark on Princeton Day School.

Faculty Awards and Grants

  • The Shepherd-McCaughan Sabbatical Fund, Miss Fine's School Fund and Minerva Funds Sabbatical Programs:
    • MS Literacy teacher and Fifth Grade Dean Kimberly Ballinger was awarded a sabbatical for the 2021-2022 school year for research to strengthen teaching practices to support learning literacy
    • US Spanish teacher Michelle Hays Simonds was awarded a full-year sabbatical to complete a Master's degree in Specialized Study at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and to research, design and implement a project in support of the School's Facing Forward diversity, equity and inclusion work, including but not limited to standards of conduct.
  • The David C. Bogle Award 
    • Awarded to Carol Olson, Carolee Van Dervort, Jen Gallagher, Aaron Schomburg, Anne Louise Ennis, Danielle Redd, Matt Tramontana, Jamie Atkeson, Dr. Charles Alt, Sheile Goeke and Jason Park to refine the structure and curriculum of the new LS and MS STEAM labs and to revisit and redesign offerings in the US Wellemeyer STEAM center.
  • The Johnston Award for Faculty Enrichment
    • Awarded to US Science teacher Brian Mayer, who will attend the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy.
  • The Kaye Family Fund for Professional Development 
    • Awarded to US English Department Head Dr. Karen Latham. Karen will research and gather materials at Holocaust museums and sites around the country and in Berlin. The work will help expand the Holocaust unit that is a part of her junior-senior elective, (Hi)Story in Film and Literature. The unit, "Representations of the Reprehensible" asks students to explore ways of remembering and teaching the Holocaust. 
  • The Robert C. Whitlock Award
    • This award for distinguished teaching is considered the School's highest honor for faculty. Nominations are made by current faculty with the winner chosen by a panel of former award winners. This year's recipient is Fourth Grade teacher Jenn Vradenburgh.
  • The Carl D. Reimers Distinguished Teaching Chair Award
    • This three-year appointment is awarded to an outstanding faculty member who has demonstrated exceptional teaching and devotion to students for over five years at PDS. This year's recipient is US Science teacher and Tenth Grade Dean Carlos Cara. 

2021 PDS Retirees

Maureen Stellato

Mr. Stellato shared heartfelt sentiments for his wife and Special Events Manager Maureen Stellato, who has served in the Advancement Office for seven years and as a host for countless gatherings at Behr House since they both arrived in 2008. An integral part of the School's successful Thrive! campaign, she ensured that the School's dearest friends were kept close and made to feel welcome.

Rose Price

Mr. Stellato commended Summer Programs Director Rose Price for her eight years of leadership of this important revenue-producing program, which has served as an introduction to the School for many students who aspire to attend PDS or recently enrolled. He lauded Ms. Price for serving as a wonderful ambassador of the School as she opened the campus to hundreds of prospective students who may never have found PDS otherwise.

Jody Erdman '72

Director of the Anne Reid '72 Art Gallery Jody Erdman was honored by Mr. Stellato for her 19 years at the helm of the gallery. She has been at the forefront of the evolution of the gallery, organizing exhibits with renowned guest artists as well as the School's most talented and creative students. Jody's vision and stewardship has built the gallery into a space which genuinely honors the memory of her friend and fellow classmate Anne Reid and her family. She also represents a family with among the deepest roots of any Princeton Day School family, stretching back for several generations.

Janet Mayo

Receptionist Janet Mayo, a mainstay and often the face at the front of the School, was honored for her 22 years of service. She has always had her finger on the pulse of PDS, noted Mr. Stellato, declaring "Janet likely knew more about each of us than we know about ourselves." The anecdotes about Janet that testified to her affection for the US students, along with her pride in her grandchildren, could fill volumes, with her selection a few years ago by the students as a Commencement speaker ranking as among her favorite memories.

Jerry Hirniak

Sustainability Coordinator Liz Cutler and her son Sam Cutler-Kreutz '08 each shared powerful memories and stories about Artist-in-Residence Jerry Hirniak, who retires from PDS after 30 years. Always giving and student-focused, Jerry was an empowering, intentional and intellectual art studio innovator, a creator of the School's media studio, and friend and mentor to thousands of students and numerous colleagues during his tenure. He has made a profound difference in countless lives with his unique philosophy of art and media. As a final act, he has brought the work full circle with his exhibit, 'Traces', which honors the evidence he has preserved and the works he has created from thousands of students who explored color, ink, and drawing, leaving behind their palettes, ink sheets and even pencil shavings for Jerry to recycle into an examination of what constitutes art.

Barbara Brent

Known for her unshakeable poise and grace, Assistant to the Middle School Barbara Brent has provided a steadying presence at PDS throughout her 40-year career. Between long stints in the Athletics department and Middle School, Barbara has always been a rock for heads to lean on and trust, even in the most difficult situations.Mr. Stellato referred to poignant memories and comments from a former Middle School head, a longtime athletic director and faculty members who attested to Barbara's coveted qualities of calm and virtue.

Steve Storey

Steve Storey's 45-year career at the School makes him the second longest-tenured faculty or staff member dating back to the founding of Miss Fine's School in 1899. He has spent his life at PDS, first coming to campus as a child when his father, Business Manager Carl Storey, worked in the Colross Building. Steve has worn many hats during his PDS career as a member of the Buildings and Grounds crew who rose to Director, and he helped build the PDS we know today, literally involved in every project since the School's inception and figuratively through the relationships he fostered. Mr. Stellato shared the words of one of Steve's maintenance colleagues, stating, "Although many people have come to embody parts of the school, few embody the whole place. Having arrived early in the School's history, he has both shaped and become a part of the story. Steve is, and will always be, the essence of Princeton Day School."

After the retiree tributes, PDS faculty and staff enjoyed a well deserved celebratory outdoor lunch on the circle, with an array of food and beverage trucks and opportunities to socialize and savor the moment. Enjoy photo highlights from today's faculty and staff festivities in our Flickr album here. And stay tuned for more extensive coverage of this year's retirees, including a detailed exploration of Jerry Hirniak's farewell art exhibit, coming soon and in the Fall 2021 Journal!

Photo: Faculty and staff members enjoying some shade on the Colross lawn

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