By Vicky Chen ’19
This fall, Mr. Richard Fulco joined the Upper School English department where he will be teaching a wide variety of students. He is teaching two sections of ninth grade English, three sections of twelfth grade World Literature, and Creative Writing in the spring. He is the advisor of the creative writing club, plans on coaching baseball in the spring, and hopes to get involved in Pingry theater at some point.
Mr. Fulco received a Bachelor of the Arts at Pace University, a Masters Degree from CUNY College of Staten Island, and a Master of Fine Arts in playwriting from Brooklyn College. He has been teaching for 20 years, and he began his teaching career in the New York City public school system, teaching at Brooklyn Tech High School and Hunter College. He also worked as an adjunct professor at Pace University, Columbia University, and Montclair State University while he was finishing up his book and raising his children before moving to the Wardlaw-Hartridge High School in New Jersey.
When asked why he decided to teach, he said, “I knew when I was a senior in high school that I wanted to teach. I didn’t teach right when I got out of college, but I always knew I was going to end up teaching. I like the performance element of it, I like the literature element, and I enjoy working with young people.”
Mr. Fulco spends the bulk of his free time writing. He is currently editing a second book, and he hopes to publish it in the upcoming year. He writes every day, sometimes at 5 AM before the start of school. He loves hanging out with his 7-year-old twins and playing games, reading, writing, and playing piano with them. Mr. Fulco plays guitar, as well, and tries to work music into his life. He was playing in a band last year. On the topic of music, he reflected that, “I love music and it is a big part of me. I wish I could do more of it.”
This upcoming school year, Mr. Fulco hopes to “keep up with the students’ motivation, intellect, capacity, and enthusiasm for learning.” He has been focusing on acclimating to the culture of Pingry among both the student body and his teaching colleagues. When reflecting on his transition into the community, Mr. Fulco said, “I love it. I feel like I fell right into this place. I haven’t had much of an adjustment period — I felt ready to be here and work with Pingry students. My classes have really trusted me from day one, and they accepted my idiosyncrasies and teaching style.”
By Vicky Gu ’20
This fall, Dr. Ryan Johnson joins the Upper School’s Spanish Department, teaching Spanish 6 Honors and Spanish 3.
Most recently, Dr. Johnson lived in South Carolina, teaching at Hilton Head Preparatory School for two years. Before that, he taught undergraduates for five years at the University of Virginia while working on his doctorate.
Dr. Johnson first heard about Pingry from his wife, Dr. Johnson. While talking to friends who lived in New Jersey, he learned about Pingry and its “amazing reputation.” Originally from Pennsylvania, Dr. Johnson also decided that it would be nice to live near his family.
Regarding the origins of his passion for teaching Spanish, Dr. Johnson says that he first started taking Spanish in middle school and continued studying it through high school. At the time, he realized he loved learning the language and culture, and knew he wanted to keep studying Spanish in college, even if it wasn’t his major. The more Spanish classes he took, though, the more he wanted to continue learning not only the Spanish language, but the history and culture of Spanish-speaking countries.
After graduating, Dr. Johnson worked in Santiago, Chile teaching English and living with a host family for a year. He then further fulfilled his love for learning Spanish by studying Spanish Literature in graduate school. While in college, Dr. Johnson was inspired by his professors and recognized that he wanted to teach as well. He had tutored in high school and college and found that his naturally patient character suited his role as a teacher.
Though this will be his first year teaching high school students, Dr. Johnson is encouraged by the atmosphere of the Upper School at Pingry. “Students are becoming more independent and, at least at Pingry, are very self motivated and intellectually curious. I really respond to that,” he says. He finds it rewarding to “help kids on this path to developing critical thinking and an appreciation for Spanish literature and language.”
In terms of his goals for this year, Dr. Johnson hopes to make the material he teaches as engaging as possible to create enthusiasm among his students. Because Spanish 3 and 6 Honors are also new classes for him, he will strive to get a sense of the curriculum by finding what the previous level has learned and the next level’s expectations. Essentially, Dr. Johnson hopes to effectively transition students to their next level of Spanish learning.
In his free time, Dr. Johnson loves to read, run, and hike. He generally likes to be outside, and really appreciates the vast number of hiking trails that can be found throughout New Jersey, especially near Basking Ridge.
By Vicky Gu ’20
This year, Ms. Sara Hall joins the Middle School as a new teacher in the Spanish Department. She will teach Spanish levels 1A and 2.
Before coming to Pingry, Ms. Hall taught Spanish for 9 years in Illinois and Connecticut, mostly in urban public schools. She has also taught at various charter and magnet schools. Most recently, she taught Spanish at Southern Connecticut State University for two years. Ms. Hall has taught to a wide range of age groups, from kindergarten to college students. Except for one year in which she taught English Language Arts, Ms. Hall has always taught Spanish throughout her career.
Conversations with Assistant Headmaster Delvin Dinkins and World Languages Department Chair Steve Benoit first sparked Ms. Hall’s interest in working at Pingry. She found through speaking with them that Pingry matched her educational philosophy in important aspects that her last school didn’t share, such as Pingry’s goal to develop the “whole child” instead of just their academic side. She appreciates that Pingry recognizes this and teaches both character and social development to its students in addition to its curriculum.
The emphasis on diversity at Pingry further resonated with Ms. Hall. “I absolutely love the focus on diversity and inclusion,” she said. As someone in an interracial relationship with multiracial children, “it means everything to me.” Her favorite part of the rigorous interview process was talking to Dr. Artis and the Diversity and Inclusion Department, because they know “there are unconscious biases that we need to overcome. Lots of adults don’t know that they have those biases or are uncomfortable with addressing them.” She agrees that the school needs to make sure that everyone has these important conversations.
As a teaching assistant for sophomores in an English class in her senior year of high school, Ms. Hall first found her love for teaching and sparking interest in students. “It felt so natural – I knew at that moment it was for me. . . . There’s this lightbulb. Sometimes the light’s already been lit, and sometimes the light ignites later on. But being part of igniting that light is the reason,” Ms. Hall said.
Though she only started learning Spanish during her sophomore year of high school, Ms. Hall hopes to convey to her students that anyone can become good at Spanish. “My father’s from Indonesia but never taught me his language,” she said. Ms. Hall has one Mexican cousin, but she does not speak Spanish natively. She hopes to show that she is “living proof that you can come from a different language background” and still be able to love and become fluent at a language.
One of Ms. Hall’s goals this year is to focus on utilizing the Spanish language as much as possible. She realizes that some are hesitant to use the language because they’re afraid that they won’t use it correctly. Ms. Hall hopes to eliminate this barrier between different levels of proficiencies among her students. “Conference Period is a huge factor in this challenge,” she says, as it allows students to see her for extra help. Ms. Hall hopes that she will be able to teach students to be proactive about coming to see her for extra help to identify their weaknesses.
By Felicia Ho ’19
Madame Anne Changeux joins the Middle and Upper School foreign language department to teach French 1, 2, and 4 Honors in the Upper School and French 2 in the Middle School. She is also the French coordinator for the French-American global programs.
Madame Changeux has twenty-two years of experience in teaching French. She started by teaching the “language of love” to adult foreigners in France. Most recently, she taught nine years at The Peck School and nine years at Millburn High School. Her love for French has expanded beyond teaching her students basic grammar and vocabulary in a classroom. At The Peck School, she established the Lower School’s French curriculum, and at Millburn High School, Madame Changeux was the advisor for the French magazine and a chaperone for the French exchange program.
Born and raised in France, Madame Changeux naturally fell in love with her native language. Not only has she always been interested in French, but she has also wanted to become a teacher for as long as she can remember. Pursuing these two passions, Madame Changeux graduated from the University of Nanterre near Paris, France, with a Master’s in French Literature with distinction and a Master’s in Teaching of French as a Foreign Language. The University of Nanterre, or simply known as Nanterre, has a distinguished list of alumni, boasting Emmanuel Macron, the current President of France, and Nicolas Sarkozy, a former president of France.
After moving to the United States twenty years ago, Madame Changeux has enjoyed teaching French to high school students of all levels, from beginner to advanced. After teaching at The Peck School, she began to truly value the close relationships she has the opportunity to build with students in a small class size environment. This aspect is a uniquely private school experience, offering a lower teacher-to-student ratio compared to most public schools. Now at Pingry, another private institution, she is excited to embrace these connections again as she is able to spend more time with individual students helping them with everything from their French homework to how to prepare for a study abroad program in France.
In addition to teaching French, Madame Changeux loves to read French and English books every night. An avid dancer, she takes both jazz and flamenco classes every week. Looking to the year ahead, she is “very excited to join the Pingry team!”
By Felicia Ho ’19
This fall, Mr. David Rushforth joins the Pingry community to teach the Financial Literacy curriculum. Outside of the classroom, he coaches the Upper School Boys’ third Soccer team and the Middle School Girls’ Tennis teams. He also advises the Credit Union Team, the Entrepreneurship Club, and the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). Previously, Mr. Rushforth worked as a financial analyst in Fixed Income Asset Management for fifteen years, mostly at Prudential. During his time there, he was also able to spend time on the Money Market, Global/FX, Municipal Bond, and Mortgage trading desks. Most recently, he spent two years teaching as a substitute in the Bernards Township School District.
Mr. Rushforth first became interested in finance after watching how his parents reacted to and handled their family economics during the “Black Friday” stock market crash of 1989. In college, even though he was a declared History major, he found that he was enjoying many of the economics and business classes that he had originally chosen to take just for fun. He graduated from Franklin and Marshall College with a B.A. in History, but later pursued business by graduating with a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Rutgers Business School. After his then to-be wife moved to New Jersey, “everything fell into place with a job in finance.”
After spending several years in Prudential, Mr. Rushforth began to realize his love for teaching—a love that he had since his high school years. In fact, when he was asked to help in developing and implementing a training program for new associates at Prudential, he became one of the main mentors. It was in this experience that the “teaching ‘fire’ was re-started in earnest.” Soon after, he began to seriously consider and reflect on his dreams of becoming a teacher.
In his transition to teaching, Mr. Rushforth attended Bergen Community College and completed the New Pathways to Teaching program. Afterwards, he began to substitute for teachers in the Bernards Township School District.
At Pingry, he loves to see students take initiative in making their own learning experiences as innovating and interesting as possible. He appreciates how Pingry encourages its students to go beyond the classroom to grow into exceptional leaders and citizens of the world. In reflecting upon his first few weeks at Pingry, he described it as a “whirlwind, but from the first time I walked through the front doors for an interview back in late August, I felt right at home.”
Outside of Pingry, he is a member of the Oak Street School Parents Leadership Committee, helping to develop and implement programs for students and parents that emphasize the value of leadership, and a chair of the school’s Roald Dahl Day. He loves cooking and being outdoors, whether through fishing, hiking, or biking. He is also a USA Swimming official at the Berkeley Aquatic Club, where his daughter swims. Having been raised in Plymouth, Massachusetts where he worked as a pilgrim at the Plantation as a kid, he is an avid New England sports fan.
Mr. Rushforth is excited to be joining the Pingry community, and would like to share his favorite question with students: What would you do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?.
By Aneesh Karuppur ’21
This fall, Sra. Alexa López joins Pingry as a Spanish teacher and the Assistant to the Chair of the Department of Diversity and Inclusion. As a member of the World Languages Department, she teaches two sections of Spanish 2 in the Upper School. In her role within the Department of Diversity and Inclusion, she teaches one section of the sixth grade Cultural Competency class. In addition, as the Assistant Chair to this department, Sra. López works with affinity groups to provide the “resources [students] need to have great conversations” as well as with the Multicultural Teams to make sure that they “have the tools they need to work with all children.”
Sra. López holds a B.S. in Business and Marketing from New Jersey’s Kean University and a Master of Arts in Bilingual/Bicultural Education from the Teacher’s College at Columbia University in New York.
When a friend asked her to teach a Spanish course, Sra. López obliged and, realizing her love for teaching, left her work in business. For the next seven years, Sra. López taught at the Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, New York and at the Millbrook School in Millbrook, New York.
A native Puerto Rican, Sra. López is a native speaker of Spanish and understands that many nuances of the language can sometimes be overlooked in school curriculum. When asked about how that immersive experience of growing up in a Spanish-speaking territory shaped her teaching, Sra.López said that she grew up “immersed in English first and then immersed in only Spanish and back and forth, and so I believe that you have to be in the language as much as possible to be able to absorb it and use it. I try to put myself in a place of just absorbing language and try to give that to my students.”
When asked about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the Pingry community, Sra. López said, “I think it’s one of the most important things… it’s one of our four pillars of the school. And rightfully so, because there are people here with all kinds of backgrounds, and we welcome more.” She understands that everyone wants to “feel needed and known for who they are.” One of her main goals for working in the Department of Diversity and Inclusion is to “offer more exposure to affinity groups… I want students to know how helpful [affinity groups] are. I really want to get to know the community, first of all, and then adapt from there.”
Sra. López’s outside interests include reading books that discuss topics that combine her work and her personal lives, such as the subject of identity development. Just like the rest of us, she also enjoys vacationing. Sra. López also loves to spend time with her family and friends.
So far, Sra. López has truly been enjoying Pingry, explaining that “this campus offers so many resources that I haven’t had in other campuses.” She appreciates that everybody’s health and wellness “are really promoted here… and everybody’s so kind.” Of course, another important part of the Pingry experience is the food. When asked about the lunch, Sra. López said, “The lunch is going to get me in trouble because I’m having way too much of it.”
By Sophia Lewis ’22
This fall, the Pingry arts department welcomes Ms. Melody Boone to Pingry as a new faculty member. She will be teaching Art Fundamentals and Architecture to Upper School students, as well as an Art and Nature class to Middle School students. In addition, she will run an open studio art class for the middle school and the middle school yearbook.
Ms. Boone went to Virginia Commonwealth University where she earned her B.F.A in Painting and Printmaking. After this, she attended Pratt Institute where she earned her M.F.A in Painting. Before coming to Pingry, Ms. Boone was a teacher of Photography and Art Fundamentals at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy in Virginia for seven years, and she taught an eighth grade art class at the same school for one year.
When asked what inspired her to become a teacher, Ms. Boone said: “I have been an artist my whole life, and I want to be able to share what I love with others. It’s a good thing to be able to share something that you love to do with other people.” When she has free time, she likes to make her own art. “I haven’t had much time to make art recently since I have been so busy getting acclimated to the Pingry environment, figuring out where everything is and getting used to classes. I hope that I can find some time to start making more art again.” She especially likes using many different medias in her work.
Looking forward, Ms. Boone’s goal is to make it through the year and find her groove at Pingry, as the school is still relatively new to her. “I’m still getting used to Pingry – I want the year to run smoothly for me.” On top of that, at some point during the school year, she wants to be able to find a time to do some three-dimensional printing, either on her own or with one of her classes. She would also like to spend some time playing with materials in the art rooms that she teaches in. When asked about her experience at Pingry, Ms. Boone said that she “likes it here so far.” She also commented on the bustling, fast moving nature of the school: “Everyone here is so busy! It feels like Pingry is always buzzing– there is always something to do or somewhere to be.” Ms. Boone hopes to have a great first year!
By Brooke Pan ’21
This fall, the Pingry Upper and Middle Schools welcome Dr. Adam Rosen to the campus’s Counseling Department. Dr. Rosen will work both in the office as a counselor and outside his office on projects to help aid the Pingry community.
Dr. Rosen attended the University of Michigan, where he received his B.A. in Communications. After graduating, Dr. Rosen attended the Illinois School of Professional Psychology, receiving a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology.
Prior to arriving at Pingry, Dr. Rosen spent roughly 20 years working in counseling centers of multiple universities. He has a wide range of perspectives, having worked in various positions, including as a coordinator and a director of counseling centers. When he decided to search for a new environment, he found Pingry. Dr. Rosen welcomes the challenges of a different environment. Now, he hopes to use his previous experiences with college students to work with Pingry’s students. He noted that though there is a large age gap, there are similarities in the challenges both age groups face and he strives to use his knowledge of college students to combat them.
When asked why he became involved with Pingry specifically, he touched on the idea of how “the newness of working with younger students and also in a different setting is definitely appealing.” Within the first few weeks of school, Dr. Rosen already appreciated the new setting. He has enjoyed getting to know all of the students he has met. He then added that “the staff has been very supportive” with his transition into the new environment. Dr. Rosen stated that the contrast between the atmospheres of Pingry and the many college campuses he has worked at excites him, and he appreciates the fresh change.
This year, Dr. Rosen says that the most important goal for him is to “make counseling and health and wellness something that’s accessible and comfortable for all students.” He understands that students’ comfort levels vary, but he is also aware that high school is a stressful environment and everyone has moments when he or she struggles or needs support. He notes that it may be difficult for students to open up to someone new, and he looks to combat that. During his time here, Dr. Rosen hopes to make his office available to any student who may need it and to break the stigma associated with counseling.
He noted that, “People may not only feel uncomfortable but also may have certain perceptions about counseling that aren’t exactly clarified, so I want to help to demystify counseling for most people and make sure that if they’re struggling, they never have to do it silently.”
Dr. Rosen welcomes the new challenges and is grateful for the opportunities he will have during his first year at Pingry.
By Ashleigh Provoost ’22
This year, Coach Julia Braun joins the Pingry faculty as a fitness teacher and resident coach. She will be teaching Intro to Fitness and Fitness Education, while also coaching soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. She will be working with those sports for the girls’ varsity, junior varsity, and middle school teams.
Coach Braun completed her undergraduate studies at Bucknell University before receiving her M.S. in Exercise Physiology. Before working at Pingry, she worked at T3 Lacrosse in Morristown, New Jersey as a girls’ lacrosse coach. She currently plays for Baltimore Ride during the summer, a professional lacrosse team in association with the United Women’s Lacrosse League.
Coach Braun’s real passion lies in lacrosse. She was a two-time lacrosse captain at Bucknell, a Division I school. Though she continues to play, she now finds fulfillment in coaching her favorite sport.
“I fell in love with coaching when I was sixteen,” she recalled. She described the moment when she realized how much of an “impact she was able to have on the people [she] coached.” She also enjoys teaching; she loves learning and sharing her knowledge about exercise and the science behind it.
When asked why she chose to work at Pingry, Coach Braun described her first impression of the school. “Before I started working here, I volunteered at the weight room; I really enjoyed the environment here,” she said. “Everyone was very nice to me, and the students were awesome.”
Coach Braun truly believes Pingry is a special place. “Everyone at Pingry was so warm and welcoming,” she said. “I had never worked at a place where the students were so kind to each other and to the faculty. I never had a bad interaction with anyone here; I only had genuine and honest conversations.”
She is looking forward to the upcoming year and meeting all of the students in the community. Welcome, Coach Braun!
By Eva Schiller ’21
This year, Pingry welcomed Dr. Sabrina Chin-Shefi into the Middle and Upper School Language Departments, where she will be teaching Chinese 2, Chinese 5, and Chinese 7. Eager to get more involved in the Pingry community, she has already explored several committee meetings and will eventually decide which ones she is interested in. She is also very excited to be helping out as a producer for the upcoming school play.
Dr. Chin-Shefi attended Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan, where she earned a B.A. in English Literature and Language; she went on to receive an M.S. in Instructional Media at Indiana State University and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Kansas State University. Before coming to Pingry, she was a Chinese teacher and overseer of various Chinese programs at Father Ryan High School in Nashville, Tennessee. Even before she worked in America, Dr. Chin-Shefi worked with students at the Chinese University of Hong Kong as a lecturer and participant in professional committee boards.
Despite her years of experience, she notes that adapting to Pingry life is not the easiest. “I find the schedule is my biggest challenge,” said Dr. Chin-Shefi, especially when working with the conflicting schedules of the Middle and Upper School. In spite of these minor difficulties, Dr. Chin-Shefi maintains that she feels very welcomed into the Pingry community and that her experience has been “so far so good!” As she continues to work with her students, she plans to “do the best that [she] possibly can, and help those who are taking [her] classes to be able to do better.” Besides teaching, Dr. Chin-Shefi loves traveling, as well as visiting her friends and loved ones. “I also like to do some gardening work,” she added.
When asked about what inspired her to teach, Dr. Chin-Shefi answered right away: “because I love teaching,” she laughed. However, her choice of profession goes much deeper than that. “I enjoy communicating with people about concepts because it’s concepts that determine where we’re headed,” she remarked. “We have to constantly adapt by learning from others and reflecting on ourselves.” With her insightfulness and dedication, Dr. Chin-Shefi has already established herself as a valued member of the Pingry community.