By Kate Hegel, Staff Writer and News Editor
In addition to the new Head of School Mary Kate Blaine, Trinity Hall welcomed eight new faculty and staff members to its community this 2021-2022 school year. The STEM department gained three new members: JoAnn Layton, Austin Cucchiara, and Kate Crilly. The Humanities department also welcomed two new teachers: Michael Santos and Kerri Maltese. Gina Jadelis and Caitlin Post joined the college counseling office. Finally, Chloe Toole, a member of the founding class, returned to Trinity Hall as the school’s new Communications Coordinator.
Cucchiara worked at Trinity Hall last year as a substitute teacher and was brought on as a full-time teacher for this 2021-2022 school year. He currently teaches Engineering II, Calculus, moderates the newly founded Criminology Club, and serves as a Senior Class advisor.
Before teaching at Trinity Hall, Cucchiara attended Saint Michael’s College in Vermont, where he graduated with a degree in Mathematics and also studied coding. Cucchiara hopes to use his background in computer science to expand the coding curriculum, which currently uses the computer program, Code Avengers.
“I would like to get a little more in depth on coding because coding is what I kind of studied in college,” Cucchiara said. “I would like it if I could get an actual computer science curriculum instead of Code Avengers because I kind of don’t like Code Avengers. I think if we could come up with something better that would be really good and get people actually interested.”
Layton joins Trinity Hall after teaching STEM to middle school students. Currently, she is teaching Engineering I, Engineering II, Physics I, and serving as the Environmental Club advisor. Layton’s move to Trinity came after she was recommended by former colleagues, teachers Cindy Sobieski and Kerri Maltese. The two informed her of the STEM position opening at their school, and recommended that she apply.
“[I] loved it the minute I walked in the door. I had never considered even leaving where I was teaching, but the opportunity to work here is just amazing,” Layton said.
As an adjunct professor of Environmental Science at Brookdale Community College, Layton hopes to teach AP Environmental Science to Trinity Hall students one day. The class is currently only offered online, but Layton hopes to change that in the coming years. While she thoroughly enjoys overseeing the Environmental Club, Layton would love to bring environmental science into physical classrooms as well.
“Environmental science…that’s my passion,” Layton said.
Outside of teaching, Layton enjoys mountain biking and surfing as well as skiing, which she does during winter weekends in Windham, NY.
Teaching Physics I this year is Crilly, who is also overseeing the school’s new Surf Club, and serving as an assistant coach for the swim team. Crilly comes to Trinity Hall from Gettysburg College, where she studied mathematics and swam competitively.
Uniquely, Crilly decided she wanted to teach at Trinity after learning about the school’s culture from her friends who had attended.
“I grew up in this area and was familiar with Trinity Hall,” Crilly said. “I have friends who graduated from Trinity who were in the first few classes, and they all spoke very highly of their experience[s].”
Looking towards the future, Crilly is excited about getting the Surf Club up and running for the spring season and hopefully making it a competitive team for the fall 2022 season.
Maltese, an avid Harry Potter and theater fan, entered Trinity Hall after teaching middle school Language Arts for eight years, and Spanish and English Language Learners (ELL) for six years prior to that. She now teaches English I to freshmen and helps advise the Trinity Hall Tribune. She decided to make the move after her middle school co-teacher, Cindy Sobieski, who currently teaches English II and AP English Language, informed her of the culture and community of Trinity Hall.
“[Sobieski] told me so many amazing things about the students, the faculty, and the campus at her new school. I decided to do some research myself […] I found that the school aligned well with my style of teaching, and the core values that make up the education provided here match well with my beliefs,” Maltese said.
So far, Maltese has most enjoyed the supportive community and collaborative environment of her new school, and is excited about continuing to both empower and be empowered by her students and coworkers in the months to come.
Teaching Theology II this year to the sophomore class is Santos, who also serves as an advisor for the Model UN Club. Santos is thrilled to extend his passion for the Theology II curriculum to his students this year.
“I love teaching World Religions. It’s something that I did at my old school, the only difference is that I taught world religions to seniors at my old school,” Santos said. “But I also taught sophomores… a different course. Sophomores were always, always, always my favorite grade to teach.”
His favorite course and grade level are not the only interests Santos is combining this year. As a first time advisor for Model UN, Santos is tapping into topics he previously studied in college, like geography and politics.
“Model UN was something I was excited to try even as an adult,” Santos said. “I was stoked to try something new, and it seemed particularly suited to the type of nerd that I am deep down, so I volunteered to give it a try.”
When not teaching, Santos can be found hunting, fishing, playing hockey, coaching lacrosse, or working his second job as a cook at a Portuguese restaurant during the summer.
Post joins Trinity Hall from Donovan Catholic where she worked as a guidance counselor for all high school grades for three years. In her new position, she works as a college counselor, school counselor, and testing coordinator. In addition, Post is a sophomore class advisor and the faculty advisor for the Community Life Council.
So far, Post has most enjoyed creating relationships with the student body and helping them in their college process. Looking to the future, Post is excited to get more acquainted with the larger student body and for a Blue Team win at the annual flag football game.
Working closely with Post is Jadelis, who is also new to the college counseling office this year. Jadelis’ background as an admissions counselor at Marist College has prepared her well for her current position where she works with seniors on the supplemental essay portions of their college applications.
In advising students in the college counseling office, Jadelis hopes to guide them towards the college that will set them up for the greatest future success.
“I am extremely passionate about helping students find the right college for them and that’s the mission in the college office- it is about fit,” Jadelis said.
When she’s not at school, Jadelis can be found running an Etsy sewing shop with her mother, reading, or doing HIIT Circuit training.
Toole enters Trinity Hall as resident Communications Coordinator where she manages the school’s social media accounts, writes and edits articles for the school’s website, and sends out press releases to news outlets. Toole also works the front desk at night.
Prior to joining the staff at Trinity Hall, Toole attended George Washington University where she majored in Organizational Sciences and minored in Communications. She also worked as a communications assistant at a graduate school on GWU’s campus, managing the school’s social media pages, job boards, Linkedin, and sending out a weekly newsletter, all of which gave her a strong foundation for her current position.
After COVID-19 restrictions cancelled her internship plans, and an offer from Director of Advancement and Admissions, Theresa Kiernan, for Toole to take her skills back to her high school alma mater, she made the decision because she saw the move as an opportunity for personal growth.
“When I went [to Trinity Hall] I felt like I grew so much as a student and as a person…and thinking about starting out in my career, I [thought I] could still grow so much here as a professional,” Toole said. “I knew I had the skills that they needed for this job and just knowing…the environment […] just really brought me back […] I love it so much.”
Toole also loves that her role lets her share the work of the community with those outside of the school.
“We do so many amazing things here, so to get to be a part of it is such an honor,” Toole said. “I want to make sure that we look good and that we are showing everyone what we do because we do so many amazing things, from academics, to athletics, to our clubs, to our plays.”
We welcome all of our new staff and wish them the best of luck for a successful school year.