2019 New Faces
The magic of GFA lies in its people and the partnership between our faculty, staff, and students. We are thrilled to welcome this next class of Dragons to the team. Each for all!Bob Whelan, Head of School
Tope Aiyegbo steps into our administrative leadership team as Director of Technology. Tope comes to GFA most recently from Rippowam Cisqua School, where he served in the same role and as a Diversity Facilitator. At Rippowam Cisqua, Tope oversaw all aspects of technology: academic technology, infrastructure, systems, and support. His earlier career was in industry, including time at Pepsico and Verizon. Tope earned his B.S. in computer science from Saint John’s University.
New Faculty Members
- Ginger Brooker — Associate Teacher PreK
- Stephen Fong — Associate Teacher Grade Two
- Ari Fustini — Associate Teacher First Grade
- Dayna Vasconcelos — Associate Teacher Kindergarten
Stephen Fong joined us last April as a new Associate Teacher in the Lower School. Stephen spent two years at Brunswick as an Assistant Teacher where he also taught at Brunswick's Horizons program. Most recently, he has worked with fifth graders at Glennville School in Greenwich. He earned his B.A. in environmental studies at Eckerd College and M.A. in education from Sacred Heart University.
- Michelle Boccuzzi — Fifth Grade English
- Vanessa Diaz — Languages Teaching Fellow
- Mattie Dulac — Sixth Grade Science
- Jodi Kupersmith — Learning Specialist
- Iman Rasti — English
- Julia Roellke — Science Teaching Fellow
- Jackie Woods — Counselor
Vanessa Diaz joins us as our Middle School World Languages Teaching Fellow. Vanessa will be teaching Spanish at several levels. An attorney by training, she taught most recently at Middlebrook Middle School in Wilton, having had experience with Lower School students before that. She earned her bachelor's in political science from Inter American University, J.D. from the University of Puerto Rico, M.A. in comparative law from Indiana University, and M.S. in secondary Spanish education at Sacred Heart.
Jodi Kupersmith will be our dedicated Middle School Learning Specialist. She recently worked across several schools in the Stamford public school system supporting students, parents, and families around learning needs. Previously, Jodi taught in the Department of Special Education at Hunter College and served as a special education teacher in New York. She earned her B.A. in art history at Holy Cross and M.S. in special education at Hunter College.
Iman Rasti joins the Middle School English Department. Iman taught previously at the Unquowa School, where he served as the English Department Chair, and at Rippowam Cisqua, where he distinguished himself for his contributions around executive functioning and teacher development. In addition to his teaching role at GFA, Iman will support the writing center and collaborate with the team regarding learning support. A native of Iran and a former high-level soccer player, Iman brings a global perspective and a love for the world’s game. He earned his undergraduate and master's in education degree from Shiraz University, and his Ph.D. in English from Liverpool University.
Julia Roellke joins us as our Middle School Science Teaching Fellow, teaching fifth grade. In addition, Julia will support the fifth-grade homeroom teachers and become part of the team actively engaged in school-wide on sustainability. A varsity basketball player at Vassar — who also taught part-time at Poughkeepsie Day School — Julia is excited to lend a hand in athletics as well.
Jackie Woods comes on as the dedicated counselor in our Middle School. An L.M.F.T., she steps away from a thriving private practice in Fairfield where she worked with adolescents and families. She earned her B.A. in psychology at Penn State and M.A. in Counseling at Santa Clara University. Jackie also understands competitive athletics, having played lacrosse at Penn State and having coached lacrosse at Colgate earlier in her career.
Michele Ames will be teaching English in the Upper School while Melanie Haas is on maternity leave. Michele has been a regular substitute teacher at GFA in the MS and US. Her first career was in publishing, where she worked as an editor for many years. She earned her B.A. in German at Wellesley College and M.A.T. at Fairfield University.
Sarah Bryant joins us as our new Upper School Science teacher, focusing on biology. Sarah recently completed a two-year teaching fellowship at Lawrenceville School, where she also coached three seasons. She was a Division I ice hockey player at Providence College, where she majored in biology with a focus on neuroscience. Sarah also completed her M.S. in Education at UPenn last spring as part of the Penn Fellows program.
Cristin Robb joins us as the dedicated Upper School Learning Specialist. Cristin was formerly the Upper School Student Services Coordinator at Stanwich School, where she served since 2006. Before moving into learning support, she was a lower school lead teacher. She earned her B.S. in psychology from Union College and Dual M.P.S.+ degree in childhood education and special education from Manhattanville College.
New Admission Members
- Mackenzie Kirkup — Senior Enrollment Associate
- Alex Russell — Associate Director of Enrollment
- Vanessa Sylvester — Assistant Director of Enrollment
Mackenzie Kirkup joins GFA as a Senior Enrollment Associate on our admission team. She previously served as an Admission Coordinator at Episcopal School of Dallas. A Division I lacrosse player at High Point University, where she studied business administration, Mackenzie has also coached several youth lacrosse programs.
Alex Russell joins the team as Associate Director of Enrollment. Alex comes to us most recently from Riverdale Country School, where he served as the Assistant Director of Admission for Middle and Upper School. Prior to that, he taught fourth grade at St. Bernard’s School in New York City. Alex earned his B.A. in history at Ohio Wesleyan University and M.S. in education from Bank Street College of Education.
Vanessa Sylvester takes on the role of Assistant Director of Enrollment. After serving as a Lower School lead teacher at GFA and overseeing testing for GFA Lower School applicants last year, Vanessa now takes on a larger role in admission this year, focused on the Lower School. Vanessa earned a B.A. in political science at the University of Vermont and M.S. in teaching from Fordham University.