Director of Institutional Advancement Mrs. Hoffmann Pursues an Exciting New School Leadership Opportunity

Director of Institutional Advancement Mrs. Hoffmann Pursues an Exciting New School Leadership Opportunity

by Rhea Kapur (III)

After 15 years of serving in the Office of Institutional Advancement, Mrs. Melanie Hoffmann will be leaving Pingry in June to take the next step in her career.

Mrs. Hoffmann will become the Assistant Head of School at the boarding school Vermont Academy. She credits Pingry for “preparing her to take on this next step in her journey,” saying that her long tenure at Pingry and all of the “opportunities and roles [she’s] taken on have really readied her to take on this new leadership role.”

Mrs. Hoffmann received a B.A. in both Art History and German from Hollands College. After graduating, Mrs. Hoffmann worked at the Smithsonian Museum’s Development Office, where she first developed her passion for consulting and fundraising. Upon moving to New Jersey in 1997, she worked for a year at the Central Park Conservancy in New York, after which she came to Pingry. From 2000-2005, Mrs. Hoffmann worked for the Museum of New York and for Ellis Island, and she also did some consulting. She is currently pursuing her Master’s of Education in School Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania and graduates in July.

As a good friend of Henry Stifel III ’83, for whom the Stifel Award is named, Mrs. Hoffmann first applied for the job of Campaign Manager in 1998 and talked extensively with Mr. Stifel about Pingry. She was initially attracted to Pingry after “really connecting with the Honor Code and all that Pingry stood for,” talking to Mr. Stifel, and conversing with then-headmaster John Hanley as well. Over her 15 years at Pingry, Mrs. Hoffmann has served as Campaign Manager, the Director of Major Gifts, the Interim Director of Development, and finally, the Director of Institutional Advancement. Among one of her biggest projects included the immensely successful “Blueprint for the Future” campaign of 2016.

When asked about memories from Pingry that she will forever carry with her, Mrs. Hoffmann immediately talked about regularly meeting with Honorary Trustee William Beinecke ’31, who recently passed away. “Getting to know him over the course of 20 years was truly amazing, and just realizing what an incredible person he was for the vision he had to move the school out to Bernards Township has been so warming and rewarding for me. It’s something I’ll never forget. He was such an important pillar of this community, and Pingry was really fortunate to have him.”

Mrs. Hoffmann will miss Pingry’s people the most after her departure. “I’ll forever cherish my experiences with the amazing faculty, alumni, and parents I have worked with over the years,” she said. Over her time at Pingry, Mrs. Hoffmann has enjoyed seeing the “composition of the student body evolve to include more racial and socioeconomic diversity” and generally watching the students thrive, as “they are a reflection of everything that goes on at this school.” She is also extremely grateful for Pingry’s community, support system, and “being able to reach out to anyone at any time.”

Mrs. Hoffmann encourages members of the community to “appreciate what you have, because Pingry has so much, and to enjoy every minute of your incredible time in this incredible community.

 

Thank you, Mrs. Hoffmann, for your longstanding impact on Pingry, and good luck during the next step of your career!

Ms. Lily Wang Pursues Interdisciplinary PhD

Ms. Lily Wang Pursues Interdisciplinary PhD

by Allie Matthias (V)

Ms. Wang will be leaving Pingry this year after teaching Chinese for six years. Lily Wang, better known as Wang Laoshi by her students, will be moving on to continue studying as she pursues a Ph.D in the convergence of Buddhism and science.

Ms. Wang came to Pingry in 2012, seeking teaching experience at a prestigious school. She was invited to teach at Pingry and took a position in the world language department’s Chinese program. She taught many different levels of Chinese, ranging from Chinese 1A with middle schoolers and Chinese 7 with high school seniors. This past year she taught Chinese 2, Chinese 3, and Chinese 4 Pre-AP. She has also become involved in the science department: she gave a Journal Club presentation in 2015 and became an IRT mentor this year. Ms. Wang guided Brian Li (Form IV), Josie Jahng (V), and Emily Sanchez (IV) with the Biogas IRT project.

Ms. Wang has enjoyed her time at Pingry and made great connections with both faculty and staff. “I think the people are very kind and supportive here, she said, “and the staff and faculty work in harmony.” It’s an atmosphere she will miss.

Her favorite part of working at Pingry was that “it was such a pleasure to teach students of diverse backgrounds.” She considered it “a unique opportunity” to teach so many different students who have enjoyed a variety of cultural experiences.

By working at Pingry, she “learned a lot.” She said, “Pingry has a unique culture and a very close community. I learned a lot of American culture from Pingry.” She will carry her memories from Pingry with her into her future endeavors and careers.

She has impacted students and her fellow faculty throughout the year with her genuine love of teaching and her respect for students. Leo Zhu (V), who was Ms. Wang’s student for three years, said, “Wang Laoshi is very flexible and understanding. She is aware of the busy-ness of junior year and is accommodating to make sure that you can put your full efforts into everything.”

In fact, this own writer’s Chinese ability has improved greatly as a student of hers. All her students will miss talking to Wang Laoshi in the language office.

Seasoned Teacher, Advisor, and Mentor Señora Godfrey Will Be Missed By All

Seasoned Teacher, Advisor, and Mentor Señora Godfrey Will Be Missed By All

Seasoned Teacher, Advisor, and Mentor Señora Godfrey Will Be Missed By All

By Martha LeWand (IV)

After nineteen years of serving the Pingry community, seasoned teacher Señora Malla Godfrey is retiring.

After graduating from Syracuse in 1969, Sra. Godfrey started her teaching career at Milburn High School in Milburn, New Jersey. From there, she moved to Connecticut to teach at Low Heywood Thomas, a girls’ school in Stamford. After ten years, she left teaching to raise a family and start a business.  When she and her family moved back to New Jersey, her two daughters, Dana (’94) and Avery (’03), attended Pingry, while her son, Jason, decided not to be known as “the third daughter” and went to Morristown-Beard.

Sra. Godfrey became a teacher at Pingry in 1999, while her daughter Avery was a student. Since then, she has taught multiple levels of Spanish. This past year, she taught upper school students at levels 2/3 and 4. During her long tenure, Sra. Godfrey has been an advisor to not only her students, but to the ski team and Quiz Bowl.

Reflecting upon her time at Pingry, Sra. Godfrey credits all of her past and current students for having the most notable impact on her life.

“I love being with the students,” she noted. “Pingry has provided me with the opportunity to work with such amazing kids and help them accomplish their goals despite the stress.”

When asked about a favorite memory, Sra. Godfrey again emphasized the focus on the students.

“My goal as a teacher is to encourage kids to have fun learning,” she said. “Being with my students every day, sharing the good and bad times, seeing them smile from ear to ear when they accomplish something and not falling apart if they occasionally crash, —  all of that has motivated me to get up every day.”

She hopes to be back at Pingry as a substitute and visitor in the years to come!

Dr. Desimone Leaves a Legacy of Historical Scholarship

Dr. Desimone Leaves a Legacy of Historical Scholarship

Dr. Desimone Leaves a Legacy of Historical Scholarship

By Udochi Emeghara (V)

After exactly 20 years, the beloved Dr. Al Desimone is leaving Pingry. Appointed in 1998, Dr. Desimone has been an integral part of the Basking Ridge campus. He has been the faculty advisor for Pingry’s Vital Signs and headed Model Congress for 10 years of his tenure here.

Dr. Desimone attended Harvard as an undergraduate. He then went on to the University of Massachusetts for his M.A. and Ph.D. Dr. Desimone taught at the Nichols School in Buffalo for seventeen years where he taught AP US History. Following his tenure there, he came to Pingry.

Initially, Dr.DeSimone primarily taught AP US History, but in his second year, a teacher was needed to teach AP Government. Thus, he has been teaching AP Government and AP US History every year except this 2017-2018 year when he only taught AP Government.

As stated before, Dr. Desimone headed Model Congress for about ten years. In his third year, students in his AP Government class wanted to establish a Model Congress team (the school already has Model UN but nothing that focused on Congress). Eventually, Mrs. Madeline Landau, the teacher who had initiated and advised the student-edited publication Vital Signs, retired, so Dr. Desimone took over that project.

As it was under Mrs. Landau, the purpose of Vital Signs had been to allow students to research important issues in politics, society, and world affairs and develop articles that accurately explore the nuances of these issues. Under his leadership, the paper grew to include a wider variety of perspectives on current world issues.

As he retires, Dr. Desimone stated that he would like to pick up hobbies that he had to leave due to time issues. He hopes to read more literature and write articles about historical events and how they are relevant to society today. He also looks forward to traveling with his wife and spending time with his son and daughter-in-law and their 15 month-old daughter in NYC.

Still, he states that he will miss his colleagues and students as he closes this chapter in his life. He also hopes that as Pingry continues to expand its academic and extracurricular scope, the students will still have time to give their best effort to all their activities, whether it be academics, the arts, athletics, or other extracurriculars. In Dr. Desimone’s words, “our virtues are our vices.” As members of the Pingry community, we are often extremely busy and are pulled in a million different directions. As a result, we do not spend as much time on certain tasks that we should or would like to because we do not have enough time. Hopefully, we as a community can take Dr. Desimone’s advice.

The Pingry community wishes Dr. Desimone a good retirement!

We also wish farewell to Ms. Barbara Conroy, Mr. Brian Smith, and Ms. Theresa O’Byrne!

Teacher and Coach Mr. Forte Departs after an Unforgettable 36 Years

Teacher and Coach Mr. Forte Departs after an Unforgettable 36 Years

by Ketaki Tavan (V)

Mr. Joe Forte is known by many names. Joe to his friends, Coach Forte to those he has inspired and coached, and Mr. Forte to his students that he has taught over the years, 36 to be exact.

Mr. Forte is part of the Magistri faculty, faculty with more than 25 years tenure, beginning his career in the Hillside campus in 1982. He was originally a physical education and health teacher before becoming the department head for physical education.  He was also the Head Coach of Boys’ Varsity Wrestling and Head Coach of Boys’ Varsity Golf, although according to his friend and colleague, Mr. Doug Scott, “the funny thing is that when he took over the golf job thirty years ago, he didn’t know how to golf. He learned how to golf along with the players. He’s a hall of fame coach now.”

Coach Forte was inducted into the NJSCA Hall of Fame in 2015, during his 29th year coaching the team. In that same year, he led the team to three NJSIAA State Championships, five NJSIAA Sectional Championships, four Prep State Championships, and four conference championships. While he coached wrestling, he produced many county, district, prep state, regional, and state champions.

One of Mr. Forte most memorable contributions to the school was the garden located outside the cafeteria. He created the garden alongside Ms. Shelley Hartz, who when asked about her experience with Mr. Forte said, “Building the garden with Joe Forte was one of my best memories at Pingry. It gave me an opportunity to work with someone that I really didn’t know and build a relationship with him, and certainly to learn from him about the garden. I believe that the success of the garden is a result of Joe.” Since its introduction to the school, the garden has been the classroom for both the middle school and high school in which it has hosted numerous garden lunches and sustainability courses.

“We look at the auxiliary department and all the things they do with rentals and stuff, we look at the classes now that are in the garden and the outdoor ed and the farm team. We forget that before all of that, someone had to be the first to say I’ll try. Mr. Forte was the first one to say, ‘I’ll try’.” Mr. Scott, said, adding that Mr. Forte “will never tell you any of this stuff.”

Others agree that Mr. Forte will always be remembered for his open mind and open heart. He was the head of the Big Blue Summer Day Camp and conducted numerous clinics. He and his wife continue to take part in fundraisers for veterans, cancer, and those who are less fortunate. Active in the Folds of Honor Military Tribute Program, he raised money alongside then co-captain of the Boys’ Varsity Golf team, Jake Mayer ’17, to honor an alum who gave his life to protect one of his own men.

Mr. Joe Forte has given a lot to the school over the course of 36 years. He created a garden, contributed to athletic achievements, taught classes, directed camps, and fundraised. Though, he himself is leaving the Pingry community, he leaves behind a significant legacy

Beloved Spanish Teacher and Can Drive Organizer Señor Nazario Retires

Beloved Spanish Teacher and Can Drive Organizer Señor Nazario Retires

by Darlene Fung (V)

After 41 years of teaching Spanish, coaching, and running the annual holiday can drive at Pingry, Señor Victor Nazario is retiring.

Teaching and education have always been a part of Sr. Nazario’s life. “Academics has always been in my house,” he said. “We didn’t have a TV, so my grandfather read all the classics to me”. He also grew up with three aunts, all of whom were teachers, and in school, he always helped his classmates with their Spanish work.

Before coming to Pingry, Sr. Nazario taught, coached, and worked in a department store all at once. One day at the department store, he met Bill Lionetti, former head of Pingry’s language department, who mentioned that Pingry was looking for a Spanish teacher. Mr. Leonetti invited Sr. Nazario to his house to chat, and then introduced Sr. Nazario to the headmaster, Mr. Cunningham, who eventually hired him.

In addition to teaching and coaching, Sr. Nazario has also contributed greatly to the Pingry community through his annual holiday can drive. This past year, the Upper School raised over 1,000 pounds of cans this year, far more than ever raised before. Sr. Nazario started doing the can drive during his second year at Pingry. As he explains his involvement, “The assistant head of the school came to me and said ‘Vic, I think you can take care of this’, and that was it”.

He then met Ms. Rosa Floyd, who collected all the donated cans at her organization in Elizabeth, NJ, and became his role model for the years to come. Sr. Nazario said, “Everyone should have a Rosa Floyd in their life. She always gave, without asking for anything. Towards the end, she was using money that should have gone towards her medication, and giving it to those she said needed it more.” With Ms. Floyd as his example, Sr. Nazario was never fixated on number of cans he wanted people to donate. “I just wanted to give and help as many people as possible,” he said.

One piece of advice from his years of teaching that Sr. Nazario would like to give Pingry students and faculty alike is to follow your passions. He says, “You must love what you do, but you cannot make that thing the only aspect of your life. You should make it the central pole around which you build the rest of your life”.

One of Sr. Nazario’s favorite parts about teaching at Pingry is the camaraderie between the teachers in the language department. “We’re always trying to tickle ideas and see what we can done using our creativity,” he said.

Along with his fellow language teachers, Sr. Nazario will also greatly miss the students, who challenge and bring him joy every day.
“To tell you the truth, he said, “the kids are what I am going to miss the most from Pingry.”

Dr. Dinkins Joins Basking Ridge Campus as Assistant Headmaster

Dr. Dinkins Joins Basking Ridge Campus as Assistant Headmaster

By Ketaki Tavan (V)

Dr. Delvin Dinkins, who joins the community as the new Assistant Headmaster, previously worked at Episcopal Academy Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, serving as the Head of the Upper School and teaching English.

Dr. Dinkins received his B.A. in English from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. He then received his M.A. in Literacy and English Education from the University of Michigan and his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.

When asked what activities he was involved in as a student, Dr. Dinkins said, “I really loved running in college—it was my main activity.” He also sang for an a cappella group and was involved with the gospel choir, literary magazine, and different affinity clubs. “I love the deep connections I made with my colleagues,” he said. “I have enormous affection for the schools, the experiences I had there, and the people I met.”

When asked about his first impressions of Pingry, Dr. Dinkins commented, “I love it! Even if every day or every moment isn’t a home run, I know this is a magnificent place that prides itself on being thoughtful and intentional across all aspects of the school environment.

“The club fair was a great example of the kind of autonomy and agency students here are afforded,” he said.

Dr. Dinkins’ goals for the year include trying to get to know as many people as he can and developing an intimate understanding of the Pingry environment. “Before the year is over,” he said, “I hope to have interacted with everyone at some point and to use those interactions as an opportunity to get to know what Pingry is all about.”

Although Dr. Dinkins is especially excited about big events like Homecoming, he also wants to “appreciate the magic of the everyday,” which includes small moments in classrooms and the hallways. “I look forward to learning more about what makes this place special to students, to faculty and staff, to families, and to alums,” he added.

When asked what obstacles he thinks he might encounter this year, Dr. Dinkins said, “Not knowing what I don’t know. I’m a person who likes names and faces, but it’s daunting to think about the 1000-or-so names and faces I want to get to know when I’m not interacting with them in the classroom every day.” Nevertheless, he does not believe this obstacle is insurmountable and looks forward to tackling it.

Dr. Dinkins wants the Pingry community to know that he is “a man of enormous principle” and that he “believes wholeheartedly in Pingry’s core values.”

“I believe in and embrace these values,” he said, “and it’s important for everyone to know that you’ll find me to be someone who’s optimistic, approachable, and friendly. I want to know what’s on the hearts and minds of people, and I believe in everyone’s inherent goodness. I don’t believe in judging people based on single stories, and my door is always open!”

Ms. Mygas

Ms. Mygas

Ms. Mygas

Ms. Mygas

Biology and Chemistry

This fall, Ms. Stephanie Mygas joined the Pingry faculty to teach both Biology I/II and Chemistry I/II. Additionally, she is working closely with Journal Club and will be coaching fencing during the winter. She is also a co-advisor with Mr. Steve Benoit for Form V students. Ms. Mygas originally hails from Randolph, New Jersey and attended Rowan University, graduating with a B.S. in Science and Biology. She then went on to earn her Master’s in Marine Biology from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Prior to starting at Pingry, she worked as a substitute teacher in the District of Philadelphia and as a science teacher at Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast Catholic High School.

When asked about her decision to become a teacher, Ms. Mygas cited her experiences in lab research and her time as a T.A in college. “I enjoyed conducting research and teaching others about my research,” she said. After working as a T.A., Ms. Mygas’ passion for education and science led her to become a science teacher. She also stated that she likes Pingry so far because the “students are often really involved in research” and because the science facilities at Pingry are great for teaching all levels of classes.

This year, Ms. Mygas wishes to stay involved with the Pingry community by working closely with students. She hopes to bond with the students by learning more about them and being an active member of the community.

During her free time, Ms. Mygas enjoys a variety of hobbies, including playing softball, knitting, and weaving. She also loves reading sci-fi books and is a big fan of Jurassic Park and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

On her thoughts about Pingry thus far, Ms. Mygas said that she is definitely enjoying teaching at Pingry and is looking forward to a great first year. She also said, “Students should definitely come out to Journal Club, it’s really cool and the topics are interesting.”

Ms. Sher

Ms. Sher

Ms. Sher

Ms. Sher

Mathematics

This fall, Ms. Anne Sher joins the Upper School Mathematics Department to teach Geometry and Intermediate Algebra. She will also help coach the Girls’ JV Basketball Team in the winter and is co-advising seniors with Ms. Judy Lebowitz.

Ms. Sher attended Williams College, where she received a B.A. in mathematics and history and graduated this past June. Taking courses in both math and history “was a good balance,” she recalls. “I enjoy both subjects.”

Prior to arriving at Pingry, Ms. Sher worked as camp counselor at a sleep-away camp for five years, and this was one of the experiences that inspired her to become a teacher. “I love being around kids and being a part of their lives,” she says, smiling. “Teaching seemed like the perfect match for me.”

At Williams, she was employed by the Math and Science Resource Center and tutored fellow college students in chemistry and multivariate calculus. She also worked for the local elementary school to tutor students after the school day. These experiences strengthened her resolution to become a teacher, and she now arrives at Pingry to pursue her first full-time teaching position after college.

When asked about her time at Pingry thus far, Ms. Sher “can’t imagine it being better.” She notes how motivated and kind the students are and how she already “feels so welcomed into the community.”

Speaking about her goals for the year, Ms. Sher hopes to “improve myself as a teacher and see my own personal growth” as she eases into this new teaching experience. “I also hope to become a part of the Pingry community and connect with my students,” she adds.

When she is not teaching, Ms. Sher loves to visit her friends in New York City, as she lives in the nearby city of Hoboken. She has many dogs at home and is a dedicated animal lover. “I really like music as well,” she adds, “and I like going to concerts. They are great experiences.”

Dr. Mirliss

Dr. Mirliss

Dr. Mirliss

Dr. Mirliss

Technology

This year, Dr. Danielle Mirliss joins Pingry as an advisor on the technology committee. Among several technology-related roles, she will be helping the faculty integrate Schoology into their classes.

Dr. Mirliss received her B.A. from Rutgers University, her M.A. from New York University, and her M.Ed. and Ed.D. from Columbia University.

Having studied psychology and instructional technology, Dr. Mirliss decided to pursue teaching technology at Seton Hall University.

There, she worked on various technology projects such as developing creative spaces for new technology as well as online courses. When asked about her experience there, Dr. Mirliss said, “The environment of helping the faculty and students showed me the benefits of teaching.”

At Pingry, Dr. Mirliss looks forward to being involved with computer science, robotics, and other new technology projects.

One idea that she is currently working with is using virtual reality (VR) headsets to display art in a new way. She is working to have VR available for the whole school to use.

In her free time, Dr. Mirliss enjoys spending time with her family. With her son starting fourth grade at Pingry this year, she is very excited to be both an administrator and parent with Pingry. She enjoys attending her son’s sporting events and working on robotics projects with him.

This year, Dr. Mirliss hopes to build connections with the faculty and learn about the student culture. When asked what her goals are for the year, she responded, “Not only do I want to support the community, but I also want push innovation at Pingry.”