This year's Fellows include Lower School physical education teacher Mrs. Colleen Bernabei, Hon., Lower School Coordinator of Instructional Support Mrs. Nicole Squillario, Middle School mathematics teacher Ms. Melissa Ruggiero, Upper School world languages teacher Sra. Cristina Deirmengian, and Upper School English teacher Mr. Tony Herman.
Established in 2016 by Lou and Kim D'Ambrosio P '17 '18, The D'Ambrosio Fund for Extraordinary Faculty seeks to inspire teachers to achieve the highest level of work with its Fellowship program and by funding professional development activities. This year's class of Fellows joins 22 others (see the complete list at the bottom of the story) who truly embody the transformative impact and extraordinary efforts all of our teachers make every single day at Episcopal.
Lower School Physical Education Teacher Mrs. Colleen Bernabei
You will never find Mrs. Bernabei without a wonderfully warm smile on her face. A much-loved member of the Lower School faculty, she continues to find new ways to make learning fun for her students. During virtual learning, her classes were a bright spot in many students' days, as she got the children moving and laughing together. She is described by her colleagues as positive, upbeat, dedicated, passionate, and caring.
Always living the Stripes, she has so much school spirit and love for each and every one of her students, and they love her back. Mrs. Bernabei takes time to get to know them individually and interacts with them on a personal level. Through coaching multiple sports, Mrs. Bernabei maintains relationships with many EA students from PreK through graduation, and beyond. Teachers like Mrs. Bernabei are an integral part of what makes the EA community special.
Lower School Coordinator of Instructional Support Mrs. Nicole Squillario
Mrs. Squillario is well-loved by her students and a respected mentor for her fellow faculty members. A student-centered educator, she regularly incorporates new technologies to encourage her students to engage in the learning process in deep and meaningful ways.
Her enthusiasm for her work and her growth mindset have inspired other teachers to continually refine their teaching practices. Described by her colleagues as selfless and genuine, she is driven by a single goal: the love of her students. Having Mrs. Squillario in their corner, her students know they have the support and encouragement they need to lay the foundation to grow into lifelong learners.
Middle School Mathematics Teacher Ms. Melissa Ruggiero
Ms. Ruggiero is a champion of her students. She establishes and maintains an excellent rapport and focuses her efforts on making the learning experience rich, fun, and rewarding. Putting her students first, she looks for ways to better connect with her students and advisees.
Ms. Ruggiero is the consummate professional, a positive colleague, and a thoughtful teacher and friend who is always willing to help others. She is the first to volunteer to work through creative solutions and come up with new teaching tools for her colleagues in the math department and in the Middle School. Her colleagues describe her as helpful, selfless, genuine, kind, and invested in her students' success.
Upper School World Languages Teacher Señora Cristina Deirmengian
Señora Deirmengian is a dogged advocate for her students. A universally positive force within the community, she balances high expectations with unrelenting student support. She possesses a drive and desire to improve her craft, actively seeking out professional development opportunities to develop her skills and ensure each and every student has a meaningful learning experience in her classroom.
Through her classes, students are inspired to become empathetic global citizens and ultimately achieve bilingualism. Many of her former students felt the spark of their deep love for the Spanish language and culture first ignited in her classroom. An integral part of many students' EA journey, she reaches out to those who may feel marginalized in school to provide them with crucial support and a sense of belonging. Señora Deirmengian is always available to her students and colleagues and aims to make all students feel confident and empowered in their educational journey.
Upper School English Teacher Mr. Tony Herman
Mr. Herman is a passionate and enthusiastic educator with boundless energy. He is student-centered, creative in lesson planning, collaborative with his colleagues, and focused on bringing his best to all areas of his life. Engaged with students in every area of the student experience, from athletics and clubs to advisory and the classroom, Mr. Herman strives to share his authentic self.
As a top-tier educator, Mr. Herman has expansive teaching capabilities. He takes the intricate craft of writing, the development of clear and concise articulation of thought, and makes it accessible for a wide range of learners. Students walk out of English class with a high level of craft and a refinement that reflects the work and thought that has gone into each and every lesson. He is a champion of students, a sought-after writing coach, and a devoted advocate for the integration of equity and inclusion into his classroom.
D'Ambrosio Fellows are selected based on the positive impact they have on the lives of their students and their incredible work. A portion of the fund, a substantial stipend, will be distributed to the Fellows in recognition of their extraordinary efforts. Additionally, the fund will be used to support the Fellows in completing a research project for the school and to support professional development activities.
Read about previous D'Ambrosio Fellows:
Class #1 (2016-2017): Kris Aldridge, Hon., Mark Luff, Hon., Allison Schultz, David Sigel, Hon.
Class #2 (2017-2018): Janet Albrycht, Hon., Heather Dupont, Hon., Anna McDermott, Hon., Matthew Memmo, Hon.
Class #3 (2018-2019): Kelley Bethoney, Steve Bosio, Larry Henderson, Chris McCreary, Hon., Ginny Spofford, Hon.
Class #4 (2019-2020): Lee Billmyer, Hon., Lee Burnett, Daniel Clay, Hon., Deborah Newnham, Hon.
Class #5 (2020-2021): Christele Furey, Hon., Quincy Hyson, Hon., Jennifer Jones, Marilyn Kistler, Hon., Ashley O'Connor