2021 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
New Administrators & Staff
- Eric Lee — Director of Athletics and Physical Education
- Lauren Weller — Director of Advancement Services
Eric Lee earned his B.A. in political science at Haverford College, where he was a three-year varsity letter-winner. He went on to teach world history and coach basketball and baseball at Hawaii Preparatory Academy before returning to Haverford College, where he was an Assistant Dean of Students and Assistant Baseball Coach. Eric spent two years at National Presbyterian School, an independent school in Washington, D.C. where he worked in the Development Office and coached the girls’ middle school basketball and softball teams. After earning a law degree from the University of Maryland, Lee joined the Cincinnati Reds organization and rose steadily through the ranks over eight years, serving as the Director of Baseball Operations and the Senior Director of International Operations before assuming his current role as Senior Director of Player Development in 2018.
Lauren Weller received a Bachelor of Arts from Fordham University, with a major in Communications and minor in Spanish Studies. She went on to pursue a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management from Eastern University while working full time in the nonprofit sector. She spent seventeen years with the Westchester Golf Association Caddie Scholarship Fund, where she awarded need-based scholarships to caddies and others who worked in service to golf at local clubs in Westchester, Rockland and Fairfield Counties. She then transferred to White Plains Hospital as a member of their Development team for three years where she acquired a new set of software skills. She is excited to combine her experience in fundraising, scholarship program administration and database management in her newly created position, Director of Advancement Services. Outside of GFA, Lauren is a soccer wife and mom of two, who enjoys cooking, running, the stock market, kayaking and visiting family in Maryland whenever there is free time.
New Faculty Members
- Barbara Hearn — Fourth Grade Lead Teacher
- Carrie Amicucci - Associate Teacher
- Mary Atkeson — Associate Teacher
- Lindsay Blackburn — Associate Teacher
- David Claeson — Associate Teacher
- Tatiana Crawford '16 — Associate Teacher
- Stephanie Fazekas — Associate Teacher
- Kelsie Hermance — Associate Teacher
Brandy received a Bachelor of Arts from St. Lawrence University, majoring in Government and English Literature. She then went on to teach English as an Additional Language in Chile for nearly four years. Brandy returned to the U.S. in 2013 to pursue a Master's of Science in Childhood Education from the Bank Street Graduate School of Education. Prior to GFA, Brandy taught fourth grade at the Trevor Day School in New York City. She also taught at Holmes School in Darien, Hackley School in Tarrytown, and Brunswick School in Greenwich. Eager to work closer to home, Brandy joined GFA in 2021 where she is a fourth grade lead teacher. Outside of GFA, Brandy enjoys spending time with her friends and family. She is an avid skier, amateur artist, and has a love of the great outdoors and live music.
Carrie Amicucci received a Bachelor of Arts from Skidmore College, majoring in Spanish and minoring in Education Studies. Her interest in working in the education field began in high school when she first had the opportunity to mentor and tutor students at a local elementary school, in Fairfield. During her year abroad in Spain, while studying at Skidmore, she had the pleasure of co-teaching a semester of an English Conversation class at the University of Madrid. This experience solidified her desire to further pursue a career in education. After graduating from Skidmore, and before joining GFA, she spent the 2020–2021 academic year teaching a small group of third grade students during the remote portion of their schooling. Carrie is looking forward to joining the GFA community and being in the classroom full-time. In addition to her love of education, she enjoys photography, dance, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
Mary Atkeson graduated from The College of New Jersey, where she majored in Early Childhood Education and Visual Arts. There, she student taught in several New Jersey Public schools, earning her New Jersey Teaching Certification for PreK–6. Mary has also spent time abroad, including assisting in a kindergarten classroom at the Ambrit International School in Rome, Italy. After graduating, and before joining GFA, she was an Assistant Teacher in kindergarten and After Care Instructor at Princeton Day School. Mary comes from a family of teachers and is excited to share her love of education with the GFA community. In her free time, Mary enjoys traveling, drawing, skiing, playing tennis and volleyball, and finding new fun children’s books.
Lindsay Blackburn joins us from the UK where she worked as a substitute teacher at the ACS International School in Cobham, Surrey, and prior to that as a class teacher in second and third grade at All Saints Junior School in Hampshire. She has also worked in Education Training and Consultancy for an Education Department in the UK, and as a volunteer English language teacher for the Mercy Learning Center in Bridgeport. Lindsay has a TESOL English Language teaching certificate from Trinity College in London, a CIM Diploma of marketing communications, a Postgraduate Teaching Certificate from University of Winchester and a Bachelor's Degree in the History of Art and Publishing from Oxford Brookes University. She relocated to Westport from England with her husband and family last year and is enjoying meeting new friends, exploring new places, and making her house a home. In her free time she likes to hike, cook, read, travel and keep fit.
David Claeson joins us from Fredericksburg, Va., where he has been working at Fredericksburg Academy as a STEAM and enrichment teacher. He graduated from University of Mary Washington with a concentration in creative writing. In his free time, David enjoys skiing, playing tennis, going for runs, and reading novels and comics. On top of his passion for teaching, David is also an aspiring author, and is in the process of publishing his first story in a novella anthology.
Since graduating GFA in 2016, Tatiana Crawford attended The New School where she completed her Bachelor of Arts in History and worked as an Advanced Academic Fellow teaching and tutoring students. She spent a semester of her junior year living in Paris, France and a summer living and working in Oslo, Norway, with a Norwegian family. When Tatiana was not busy conducting her historical research, specifically about the survival of the Estonian identity throughout centuries of oppression under foreign regimes, she could be found, modeling high fashion in New York City, teaching children and adults how to surf in Nantucket, working with children, and being present with family and friends.
Stephanie Fazekas is a graduate of Arcadia University, with a Master's in Art Therapy and Counseling from Albertus Magnus College. She recently worked as an art therapist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, supporting young patients and families with therapeutic expression through the use of art. She is currently pursuing her Master's in Elementary Education at Fairfield University and has experience teaching as an intern and long term substitute in the public school system. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys reading, baking, painting, and musical theater. She also has an extensive knowledge of Disney trivia.
Kelsie Hermance is a graduate of Elon University earning her B.A in Elementary Education and obtaining her North Carolina State Licensure for teaching grades K–6. During her time at Elon, Kelsie traveled abroad to London, U.K. where she interned at a local nursery school, Holland Pre-Prep, and gained international early childhood teaching experience. She also completed her student teaching at a Title I school in Burlington, N.C., Marvin B. Smith Elementary, where she completed her edTPA and worked alongside colleagues to create a culturally relevant, 21st century curriculum in alignment with common core state standards. Kelsie also completed her Master’s in Educational Studies from Manhattanville College and is now obtaining her post-Master’s Educational Leadership Professional Diploma, in hopes to go into professorship or administration. For the past two years, she has been an Associate Teacher at Greenwich Academy in kindergarten and second grade. Kelsie is originally from Bucks County, Pa. She attended school at Germantown Academy, where she likes to revisit old running trails and soccer fields. In her free time, she likes to surf, read, and go for walks on the beach.
- Elena Aniel — Spanish
- Matthew DuCharme — Science
- Isabella Ferrante '15 - Grade 5 Associate Teacher
- Marc Maier — English
- Selassie Sayon — History and Global Studies
- Allison Stine — History and Global Studies
Elena returns to GFA after six years working in schools in New York City. Originally from the Basque Country in Spain, Elena received a B.A. in History of Art from Universidad del País Vasco and started working in museums after completing her graduate studies in Museum Education. But, discovering how much she liked the classroom setting — even inside museums — she decided to go back to school. Elena earned her M.A. in Multicultural Education at the Universidad de Salamanca and studied second language acquisition. Outside school, Elena is busy discovering all her new town of Rowayton has to offer and enjoying the pleasures and endless projects that come with owning a house.
Matt DuCharme joins us from Fairfield Country Day School, just up the hill. Prior to teaching at FCDS, he taught at Pingry school in New Jersey and Brunswick school in Greenwich, all the time teaching middle school science. Matt is an avid traveler and outdoorsman and gets much of his classroom inspiration from his explorations. Matt and his wife, Kristin, live with their dog Paul in Trumbull.
This is not Bella’s first time spending a year at GFA. She spent her high school years in its halls graduating in 2015 and then returning in 2020 to assist as a Teacher Partner first in the Upper School then in the Middle School. She received her B.A. from UConn majoring in History and minoring in both Psychology and English. History has been her love and passion since middle school and she hopes to inspire the same enthusiasm for learning in her students. She recently became a dog-mom and is currently raising a mutt puppy, Henry, which takes up most of her free time. When he is sleeping, she likes to play video games, read, and play DND with her college friends.
Marc joins us from Sacred Heart Greenwich where he taught middle school English and directed the annual middle school musical production for the past 17 years. He has a B.A. from the University of Michigan (double major in History and Drama); M.A. in History from Vanderbilt University and an M.A. (ABD) in Comparative Literature (Theatre/Film focus) from Columbia University. Originally from Nashville, Tenn., he now lives in Darien, sharing with his wife the care of seven mammals: three felines, one canine and three primate offspring. In his spare time, Marc is an avid road cyclist, boardgamer and reader/viewer of science fiction.
Selassie began her career in education by happenstance during her senior year at Mount Holyoke College. A work-study placement uncovered her deeply rooted passion for middle school education. Since then, she has taught fifth through eighth graders, most recently teaching fifth grade humanities at Brooklyn Friends School in Brooklyn, N.Y. Selassie went on to earn her Master’s in Curriculum and Teaching from Boston University. As a New York City native, Selassie never thought she’d leave her beloved city. She is delighted that her ninth year of teaching will be at GFA, and delighted to call Connecticut home. When not planning exciting lessons, Selassie enjoys spending time with her husband and 7-month-old son, solving puzzles, cooking, and completing DIY projects.
Allison comes to GFA from The Brandeis School of San Francisco where she served as the Dean of Student Life and a Middle School Social Studies teacher. Prior to that, she taught history for grades 9–12 at the School of the Holy Child in Rye, N.Y., and the Brooks School in North Andover, Mass., where she also coached its high school tennis teams. She attended Lehigh University where she majored in Political Science and went on to receive a Master's in Secondary Education Social Studies, and played varsity tennis for four years. Allison has taught a broad range of courses from Pre-Modern World History and International Relations to American History and AP Government and Politics. Allison is passionate about bringing history to life and making a difference in the lives of her students. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, two children and labradoodle. She looks forward to teaching her daughter how to ski this winter.
- Julianne (Juli) Gerdes — Science
- Jordan Kravitz — English and 10th-Grade Dean
- Paul Ramaley — Science
Dr. Juli Gerdes will be joining GFA as an Upper School Science Teacher. Juli always planned to be a teacher, although she took a circuitous path to reach GFA. While attending Rutgers University, where she received a B.A. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, she had the privilege to teach her own undergraduate course, which cemented her love of teaching. Juli earned her Ph.D. in Genetics at Yale, where she was able to meld her passions for research, teaching, and mentoring. In addition to teaching undergraduates, she worked in the Yale Center for Teaching and Learning where she trained graduate students to be more effective teachers. After graduating at the peak of the pandemic, Juli worked as a math and science tutor. She is passionate about the scholarship of teaching and learning and is eager to find like-minded colleagues at GFA. Outside the classroom and the lab, Juli is an avid reader, a novice gardener, and an enthusiastic (if not very coordinated) pickleball player.
Jordan Kravitz comes to GFA from Avenues, in New York, N.Y., where he taught English in grades 7–12. He also taught at Friends Academy, in Locust Valley, N.Y., North Shore Country Day School, in Winnetka, Ill., and Stuyvesant High School, in New York, N.Y., and he served as a staff developer at The Reading & Writing Project at Teachers College at Columbia University. He received a B.A. in English from Amherst College, completed coursework at The University of Chicago Divinity School, and earned his M.A. in English education from Teachers College at Columbia University. Residents of Brooklyn for most of their adult lives, Jordan and his wife Cat recently relocated to Connecticut, after the birth of their daughter, Winnie, and to the delight of Winnie’s rabbit-crazed, terrier sister, Wicket. Jordan is excited to teach English in the Upper School at GFA and to serve as the 10th-grade dean. In his free time, Jordan enjoys reading short stories and comic novels, running, and going on walks with his family in the Pioneer Valley.
Paul Ramaley will be joining GFA from Weston High School where he taught AP and Honors Physics. As an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University, Paul received his B.A. in Biophysics and was a two-time captain and four-year starter for the Varsity Water Polo Team. After college Paul began teaching at the Saint Andrews School in Boca Raton, Fla., where he taught Physics to 9–12th graders and was the Head Coach of the Boys Water Polo Team. Paul’s passion for coaching led him back to the pool where he became the head of Greenwich Water Polo and then later Chelsea Piers CT. Wanting to get back to the classroom, Paul received his teaching certification through the Connecticut ARC (Alternate Route to Certification) program and started working at his alma mater, Greenwich High School, until he began at Weston. Paul continues to coach for CT Premier Water Polo when he is not in the classroom.