Longtime Lower School Teacher Homa Watts Retires

Longtime Lower School Teacher Homa Watts Retires

By Emma Drzala (V)

 After working at Pingry for thirteen years, Mrs. Homa Watts has announced that she will be stepping down from her position as a second grade teacher. Throughout her time at Pingry, Mrs. Watts has taught kindergarten, first grade, and second grade.

Mrs. Watts earned her BS from Tehran University in Iran, and her Masters Degree from Western Illinois University. After completing her education, Mrs. Watts taught at both the Sundance School in North Plainfield and the Kent Place School in Summit before teaching at Pingry starting in 2006. In 2013, Mrs. Watts opted to take two years off to live in the United Arab Emirates. She continued her teaching career in the UAE at a local school for the first year and privately tutored for the second year. She returned to Pingry in 2015. 

Mrs. Watts has greatly enjoyed her time teaching at Pingry. She says that she has “never regretted making the choice of being a teacher. [She] considers teaching an honorable profession” and “would like to help new teachers to become even better teachers than they already are. Mentoring young teachers is not only [her] passion, it is [her] responsibility.” Mrs. Watts looks forward to spending time with her grandchildren and traveling throughout Europe and Canada with her husband and Pingry music teacher, Dr. Kenneth Watts. Looking back at her time at Pingry, Mrs. Watts cherishes the memories she has made with her students and colleagues. One of her most notable memories was when a family of foxes declared the area under a slide as their own, and consequently, students were not allowed in the playground for nearly two months. She believes that instances like these show how seemingly insignificant moments make the biggest impact. 

Mrs. Watts’ retirement is a bittersweet occasion for many of us at Pingry. She is a great teacher who leaves behind a monumental legacy, and she has touched the lives of a generation of students for over fifteen years. As a former student of hers, I look forward to seeing her again and hearing about all of her future endeavors. We thank you for your dedication to the students at Pingry and we will miss you greatly, Mrs. Watts!

Ms. Haley Kost

Ms. Haley Kost

By Kelly Cao (III)

After two years, the Pingry Faculty must sadly say goodbye to Ms. Haley Kost, who has made the decision to depart Pingry to be closer with family. During her tenure, Ms. Kost has taught Form I history.

Before arriving at Pingry, Ms. Kost worked at King’s Academy in Jordan, teaching tenth, eleventh, and twelfth-grade History, as well as Economics and English. She decided to join Pingry because of its “innovative middle school” and “great community.” Upon her arrival, she immersed herself in Pingry life, becoming the Rainbow Club advisor and helping with the Debate Club. She additionally coached the soccer and basketball teams.

Originally from Chicago, Ms. Kost discovered her love for teaching in high school after participating in a program that taught younger students a variety of instruments. She majored in Education at Northwestern University, solidifying her interest in history despite her initial choice to pursue music. Ms. Kost found history to be her most difficult subject; however, she also found it to be the most interesting, and as a result, she now understands learning history enables people to “reflect and see how they can impact our future.” After discovering such passion for history, Ms. Kost graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on history. 

Her favorite memories from her time at the Middle School are the events that she attended, such as the Middle School faculty and student basketball game. She will miss the students’ energy and questions the most, which contributed to her growth as a teacher. Ms. Kost is very grateful for the faculty and students, who have welcomed and supported her throughout her tenure. We will miss you, Ms. Kost, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors!

Ms. Patty Finn’s Departure From Lower School Music

By Emma Drzala (V)

    As the 2020-2021 school year comes to a close, Ms. Patty Finn has announced her retirement from the Lower School. After teaching at Pingry for thirty-seven years, Ms. Finn describes the Short Hills music room as her “happy place.” She has worked with students ranging from Kindergarten to Grade 3, as well as with Grade 4 students learning the flute and Grade 5 handbell players. During her years at Pingry, Ms. Finn has worked with numerous colleagues in the Arts Department, including fellow lower school music teachers Mr. Thomas Berdos and Ms. Emma Liu, and high school teachers Dr. Andrew Moore and Mr. Jay Winston. 

    Prior to working at Pingry, Ms. Finn studied at both Douglass College and Rutgers Graduate School for a degree in musical education. Her studies were augmented by multiple Orff workshops, a session at the College of Piping on Prince Edward Island, and additional classes at the Gaelic College in Nova Scotia. These additional courses serve as proof to her students that a person’s education is not limited to just college and graduate school: there is always more to learn. This past year, Ms. Finn has played the flute in her church, as well as continuing to teach music in her local library. She has found herself giving private lessons to those looking to explore and expand their musical capabilities. 

    Looking back, Ms. Finn found it hard to choose a single moment that defined her time at Pingry, but she said she will always think back fondly to the annual performance of “This Day of Peace” during the holiday concert. Ms. Finn explained her love for this performance, expressing that “there is nothing better than the voices of 300 children raised in song.” She will forever cherish the relationships she forged with the students and faculty at Pingry and considers herself fortunate to “have spent [her] life making music.” As a former student of Ms. Finn’s, I will say that she will be greatly missed as a valued member of the Pingry community, and we all wish her well in her future endeavors!

Mrs. Schifano

Mrs. Schifano

By Julia Eng (III)

After working for almost ten years at the Basking Ridge campus, Mrs. Schifano is leaving Pingry. Before joining the school, she received her B.A. at Villanova University and shortly thereafter began working at a talent agency with newscasters, producers, and even the “Real Housewives” media franchise.

She originally heard about an opening at Pingry through her sister-in-law, an alumnus, and began working with the community in 2011. During the 2020-2021 school year, Mrs. Schifano served as the Director of Middle and Upper School Admission and Director of Financial Aid, working alongside Ms. Sheila Ramirez at the Lower School. Her goal was to make the admissions process as exciting and seamless as possible, often asking herself, “How do we make it interesting for both the students and the families?” In addition, Mrs. Schifano is the Form III Dean, planning events for freshmen students and helping them navigate their first year of high school.

When asked about what she’ll miss most about Pingry, Mrs. Schifano said, “I’m going to miss… working with people who are happy to be here. It’s exciting being able to enjoy what you do.” To her, the experience is incredibly rewarding. Additionally, she enjoys watching kids grow and learn at school. “It’s amazing to watch the students transform.”

Mrs. Schifano is looking forward to the next chapter in her life, which includes working for her family business and stepping back into the business world. When asked about what message she wanted to leave the Pingry community with, she said, “Be open to change… The more open you are, the more opportunities unveil themselves to you. Just know they’re out there, you just have to set [doubt] aside and trust what you think.”

We thank Mrs. Schifano for her work at Pingry and wish her the best of luck!

Mr. Dennis Pearlstein to Depart Pingry

By Dean Koenig (V)

Mr. Dennis Pearlstein has written and directed fantastic plays and musicals over his time at Pingry, but most importantly, he has taught and mentored the students here since 2007. After 13 years, he is departing from Pingry.

Mr. Pearlstein began his career as a teacher in 1971 after earning his Bachelor of Arts degree and his Master of Fine Arts degree at Columbia University. He then taught English for 20 years at the Calhoun School in New York City before joining the faculty at Pingry. When Mr. Pearlstein first arrived at Pingry, he was a sixth grade teacher. At the time, this grade was based on an interdisciplinary curriculum for English and History, which he taught for four years before becoming a high school teacher in 2011.

Ever since his arrival, Mr. Pearlstein has greatly enjoyed working with his students each day. He admires their intelligence and creativity when working on projects or essays, also noting that they are incredible observers of art, always finding new ways to connect art to literature. “I think my students are also adventurous in exploring new ways of writing,” he adds. “They like the challenge, and they meet the challenge.” 

When asked what he will miss most about Pingry, Mr. Pearlstein did not hesitate to mention his students and colleagues. “The students here are absolutely wonderful,” he answered. He added, “[The teachers] work with a purpose here to offer bright students a high degree of challenging material.  I hope that will always be the case.”

In the future, Mr. Pearlstein wishes to keep his hand in the field of education. He plans to tutor students and possibly become a docent at a museum, working in its educational division. In terms of Pingry’s future, he hopes the students will continue to treasure one another and enjoy being in an environment where they have the potential to achieve excellence. We wish Mr. Pearlstein the best of luck in the years to come!

Pingry Says Goodbye to Ms. Susan Conklin

By Ashleigh Proovost (IV)

This year, we must say goodbye to Ms. Susan Conklin, Pingry’s Academic Support Coordinator and Learning Specialist. On the Basking Ridge campus, Ms. Conklin could always be found in the hallway with a smile on her face, or in her office behind Macrae Theater, collaborating with many different students every single day.

As Pingry’s Learning Specialist, Ms. Conklin would give students academic support, consulting with students and their families to help students with their study habits. She loved helping people find the best study strategies for them, as shown by one of her favorite metaphors involving the twenty-five year-old geode on her desk. “People can look at themselves like they would a geode,” says Ms. Conklin. “Once you can unlock someone’s mind, there’s a treasure of beautiful crystals waiting inside!”

Ms. Conklin had significant experience in her field prior to arriving at Pingry. She received a graduate degree in social work from Hunter College, and worked as a psychotherapist in private practice for many years afterwards. Ms. Conklin then taught graduates at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Ms. Conklin began teaching in schools in 2007, and came to Pingry three years ago. She’s especially interested in brain neurology, and how the brain works for learning. 

Pingry was an important part of Ms. Conklin’s life, and she’ll really miss the Pingry culture and community. “One of my favorite memories of Pingry will be eating lunch with my colleagues,” she remarks. “Especially now, I really miss that social connection.” She really loved her experience on the Global Programs trip to the Balkans last year. “We got to help students learn while developing our own bond at the same time,” she recalls. “It’s a wonderful thing to do; to study with your colleagues and go away together.”

She enjoyed interacting with students and parents just as much as she did with faculty. “It was an amazing feeling to help a student have a breakthrough,” she said. “It’s like letting the butterfly out of the cage.” She added, “You know, nature really does have beautiful metaphors for us!” Speaking on what she will miss the most, Ms. Conklin mentioned Pingry’s theater and art showcases: “I love the shows and the art and the music,” she remarks. “I’m just amazed by the talent of the students and faculty!” 

Ms. Conklin is planning on retiring after leaving Pingry, but she still wants to stay involved. “I love life and I love what I do,” she says. She’ll be missed greatly by the Pingry community at large. Best of luck to you, Ms. Conklin!


Mr. Crowley Delman to Leave Pingry

By Brooke Pan (V)

After nearly thirty years in the Pingry community as both a student and a teacher, Mr. Crowley-Delman is leaving to further his interests in the outdoors. Having largely taught in the humanities department, Mr. Crowley-Delman will be shifting his focus outside of the classroom. Starting in  July, he will be serving as the Director of Outdoor Education at the Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, New York. 

Before coming to Pingry, Mr. Crowley-Delman worked in a wide variety of career fields, including real-estate, law, sales, and more. Through all of it, he notes, “I always wanted to learn more about human beings and their place in the world. So I decided to make that my career.” At Pingry, Mr. Crowley-Delman was able to explore his wonders for humanity, whether within the Pingry campus or out in nature. He influenced many of his students and colleagues with his passion for the outdoors, having led multiple domestic global programs, most of which focused on “wilderness travel, sustainability, and plant-based education.” When asked about his favorite memory of Pingry, Mr. Crowley-Delman found difficulty naming just one. He recalls an instance while on a backpacking trip he had led: “My dad’s backpack was so heavy that he fell over while putting it on and was trapped on the ground for a few minutes like a turtle on its back.”

Mr. Crowley-Delman carries this effervescent spirit with him wherever he goes and in whatever he is doing. He first attended Williams College, where he earned a BA with Honors in History, and he then went on to earn his Master’s Degree in Eastern Classics at St. John’s College. He brought his extensive background in history to Pingry, which he applied in his World History 9 and 10 courses, as well as his American Society and Culture classes. Outside of teaching classes, Mr. Crowley-Delman was also involved with many extracurricular activities, such as running the LeBow Oratorical Competition and coaching football and lacrosse for several years. Though, what Abby Parrish (V) was most impacted by were his efforts in Pingry’s Outing Club. “Crow-Del brings an energy and purpose to the school that no one else has. His passion for outdoor education and experiential learning has impacted me, and so many others, in the way we want to learn and grow as not only students, but also just as people.”

It is no question that Mr. Crowley-Delman has left an indelible impact on his students, whether they were directly taught by him or indirectly impacted by his work. In pouring all his heart and efforts into the Outing Club, he has created a legacy that will continue to inspire many students to come. Parrish notes, “We’ve already seen the impacts of the change he has been trying to create. It’s up to us now to do the best we can to continue [his legacy].” Mr. Crowley-Delman is leaving Pingry with a bittersweet farewell: “I’m so thankful for everything Pingry has given me after nearly thirty years. Most of all, I’m grateful for the students who continue to surprise me every day.” 


Dr. Reid Pritchett to Leave Pingry

By Mirika Jambudi

After serving as Dean of Faculty for Teaching and Learning, Dr. Reid Prichett will be leaving Pingry to take the next step in his career. He was tasked with nurturing the faculty’s ongoing professional growth and developed the Assessment for Growth (AfG) procedure. During his tenure at Pingry, Dr. Pritchett additionally helped guide numerous faculty through graduate programs, led faculty to participate in more professional development events, and assisted with improving the productivity of Faculty In-Service Days.

Dr. Prichett received a BS in economics from Williams College, an MA in Curriculum and Instruction of Mathematics Education, and a PhD and MA in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before he came to Pingry, he “taught, coached, and worked in different administrative roles.” As a teacher, his goal has always been to help students become better learners by understanding how they learn. In addition to serving as Dean of Faculty for Teaching and Learning, Dr. Prichett taught Intermediate Algebra with Geometry and coached the Upper School wrestling team. Dr. Prichett will fondly look back at his favorite memories of Pingry in the classroom when he got to “work with students… and reflect on student learning with teachers.”

Thank you, Dr. Prichett, for your contributions to Pingry, you will be missed. 


Ms. Eva Ostrowsky to Leave Pingry

By Meghan Durkin (V)


Ms. Eva Ostrowsky, who began teaching at Pingry in 2011, is leaving at the end of this school year. Before coming to Pingry, she earned her B.A. at Cornell University, where she was captain of the Field Hockey team. After college, she worked at Barclays Capital. 

Throughout her time at Pingry, Ms. Ostrowsky has held numerous positions. She taught sixth grade History, served as Dean of Student Culture in the Middle School, and coached both the Junior Varsity Field Hockey and Lacrosse teams. In 2015, she returned to Pingry following an 18-month sabbatical, during which she received a Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University. More recently, she has served as a school counselor, while also taking active roles in the Peer Leadership program and SDLC. During her time as a counselor, she has brought numerous student wellness initiatives to the Pingry community, including yearly advisory “check-ins” with Pingry’s counselors.

Through all of her roles at Pingry, Ms. Ostrowsky has cherished the connections she has made the most. When asked about her favorite Pingry memories, she responded, “Being a sixth grade teacher and advisor was such a fun experience. I remember students baking amazing things for their birthday celebrations, and I will never forget when my advisory … threw me a baby shower before I went on maternity leave in 2015. I still read the books they gave to my son Eddie to my children!” She has also “loved the relationships that I have built with students as a counselor over the past few years. It’s been an honor to get to know students on a deeper level, and I will cherish those connections for a very long time.”

Upon leaving Pingry, she will join the faculty at The Hun School, where she will serve as the Director of Counseling and Wellness. She will also lead their Peer Leadership program. She is “incredibly excited to move to a boarding school community and take on this next step in my career.” Ms. Ostrowsky has touched many parts of the Pingry community, from the classroom to the fields, and will be missed by many. 

Mr. Freiwald to Depart Pingry after 32 Years

By Eva Schiller (V)

This year, the Pingry community must bid Visual Arts Teacher Mr. Freiwald (affectionately known as “Frei” by his students) farewell as he enters retirement. During a 32-year career at Pingry, Mr. Freiwald has taught a myriad of art classes including Advanced Topics in Art, Photography, Graphics (printmaking and graphic design), Art Fundamentals, and Metalworking. However, he is best known among students for his famed Clayworking and Sculpture class, as well as his incredible pottery showing in Pingry’s Hostetter gallery. 


Mr. Freiwald is extremely experienced in his field; he received a BA in Fine Arts from Montclair State University, and a MFA in Sculpture and Graphic Design from Rutgers University. His work has been exhibited in over twenty galleries and, before coming to Pingry, he obtained considerable teaching experience at nearly ten educational institutions. As a community, we are incredibly fortunate to have been the recipients of such experience and expertise throughout his classes. 


However, since becoming a faculty member in 1988, Mr. Freiwald’s impact on students has reached far beyond the classroom. He helped construct sets for the Drama Department, served as faculty advisor for the Make a Wish Foundation and Potters for Peace, and even spent 11 years as Blue Book photographer. Perhaps most importantly, he is beloved among his students for his good nature and devotion to the community. 


As such, he will be missed greatly by his students. “Frei has inspired me to pursue my dreams,” notes clayworking student Jerry O’Mara (V). “I remember when I asked him about how he got his ideas for his amazing pots he told me that he just dreamed about it and the next day, made it. Frei has taught me that great work does not come from great skill but great vision and determination.” Speaking for the rest of Mr. Freiwald’s students, Jerry added that “everyone that has had Frei as a teacher can agree that his passion and deep understanding drives everyone around him to create bigger and better things.”


As for Mr. Freiwald’s plans in retirement, the Record has gotten wind of a rumor that he may be writing a book in his newfound free time. If so, we are excited to read it! If not, we must continue holding out hope that just a few more pieces of original Freiwald pottery make it to the Hostetter gallery. Best of luck to you, Mr. Freiwald, wherever you go!