By Angelica Niedermeyer, News Editor
Trinity Hall’s Humanities faculty welcomes five teachers this year: Janet Drudy, Katie Gillen, Ella Michelle McCue, Brittany Orrico and Mariana Sierra. These well-rounded teachers are all new, except Gillen, who is returning after a two-year leave.
Gillen, a freshman World History teacher, was a founding faculty member in 2013 when Trinity Hall first opened its doors. She spent three years teaching Humanities at the Croydon Hall location. After her daughter, Harper, was born in May 2016, Gillen made the decision to spend her time at home to focus on her family and raising her three young children.
“After a two-year hiatus from teaching at Trinity Hall, I am excited to return as a full-time member of the faculty,” Gillen said. “Since I attended and taught at an all-girls Catholic high school prior to my arrival at Trinity Hall, I immediately felt at home here.”
“I must admit I was nervous about coming back to teaching after being out of the classroom for two years and having three young children at home. I am happy to report that being back at Trinity Hall just feels right and that my love for teaching (and history) has been reaffirmed,” said Gillen, who is also returning as advisor to the Political Science Club and as an assistant swim coach.
Orrico joins Trinity Hall not only as a freshman English and world history teacher, but also as co-advisor for the Royal Record and Students Against Destructive Decisions clubs; she even hopes to help with the Queen’s Court Company costume team.
When asked what made her take a job at Trinity Hall, Orrico said, “I was blown away by the girls but also by the faculty… it felt like home right away…it was a no-brainer when they made me an offer.”
Orrico previously worked at the Colts Neck Township Schools and as a constructive response scorer for Educational Testing Services (the company that produces the SAT). “I would read the SAT essays and score them, which is pretty helpful as an English teacher to know kind of what they’re looking for and know what skills to help my girls develop so that they’re ready to take the exams and also AP exams,” Orrico said.
Outside of school, Orrico is a professional writer of children’s books, a ghost writer and a content writer. When she’s not teaching or writing, Orrico enjoys spending time with her three children and being a Girl Scout leader.
Even though this is Orrico’s first time teaching at an all-girls environment and she has only taught at college and elementary levels before, she is “really enjoying it and feel(s) like it’s a really great fit.”
“I’m still really impressed with my students. I see that they are trying to go above and beyond in everything,” said Orrico.
In addition to complimenting the work ethic of the students, Orrico said, “The faculty has also been incredibly supportive. People have been awesome about letting me come in, observe their classes, and…just kind of get a feel of the Trinity Hall way.”
Another new member of the Humanities Team is Sierra, who teaches AP English Language to juniors and AP English Literature to seniors, and is the co-advisor of the literary magazine. Sierra canceled all her other job interviews after her visit to Trinity Hall. She said she “got a really good vibe” when she first came here.
“It presented itself as the kind of environment I wanted to be in. People here seem to have genuine care for the students and that they’re learning and taking control of their learning and making it meaningful and fun,” Sierra said. “The kind of place where there’s a mutual respect for educators and students is the place I want to be.”
Sierra was born and raised in Puerto Rico, where she also went to undergraduate college. She earned Masters degrees at Monmouth University and Virginia Tech, and has been teaching for 10 years. She has taught elementary school art, high school English in Puerto Rico, ESL (English as a second language) in New Jersey, high school English in West Virginia, and college composition in both New Jersey and Virginia.
In comparison to Trinity Hall, her other teaching experiences have been different. “For starters, you guys do your homework,” Sierra-Santana joked. “I’ve never taught AP before. I taught college, but not such a high level in the high school environment. But I think that it’s more the trust and respect that administrators have for the staff [that] kind of sets this place apart from other places where I’ve been,” Sierra continued. “It’s great to actually work with students that genuinely care about the material…they have a genuine opinion about it. That to me is going the extra mile regarding your education.”
When she’s not teaching, Sierra, an avid consumer of pop culture, loves to watch television and read. “I take my entertainment very seriously. I love meme culture. Thank you millennials — you entertain me,” she said.
Another new Humanities teacher is Janet Drudy, who teaches freshman Theology. She believes Trinity Hall has an amazing mission of educating and empowering young women in the Catholic tradition. “It is truly a gift and blessing for me to be here,” Drudy said.
Previously Drudy was a fifth grade teacher and taught religion/theology to grades 7 through 10. She was also a National Honor Society co-advisor and cheerleading coach. In addition, she was responsible for liturgy planning and Confirmation preparation, and is a Christian Service coordinator. This is Drudy’s first time teaching at an all girls school, but she graduated from an all-girls college before earning her M.A. in Theology at Georgian Court University.
“The first month of school has been wonderful (and very busy),” Drudy said. “Everyone has been extremely generous sharing their time, wisdom and resources with me. The girls have also been very welcoming.”
“I teach ninth grade theology, and I am very excited to be involved with the ninth grade class activities,” said Drudy, who is also the freshman class advisor and part of the SCOPE council. “It is awesome there are so many opportunities for the community to put faith into action in meaningful ways.”
When she isn’t teaching, Drudy enjoys spending time with her family and loves to cook, read and garden.
McCue, who recently received her doctorate in theology, joins Drudy as a freshman Theology teacher as well as a junior Theology teacher.
When she saw that Trinity Hall needed a theology teacher, she immediately applied.“I feel so fortunate and blessed to be here…I’ve gone to school for theology and really wanted to have the opportunity to teach it,” said McCue, who has taught elementary school and high school. She also spent many years in parish work, where she taught children, parents, RCIA (The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) groups and workshops. McCue, who is co-advisor of the junior class and the book club, enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, long walks and the beach.
McCue has truly enjoyed her experience at Trinity Hall so far. “The young women here are amazing. The faculty here are so supportive. We are treated like professionals. You are encouraged to use your knowledge and creativity,” she said. “To have engaged students is such a blessing.”