With an 8:1 Student/Faculty ratio, RCDS teachers really know and connect with their students.

Our teachers are innovative in their approaches to teaching and highly knowledgeable in their subject areas. Approximately 87 percent have advanced degrees, including many doctorates.

Meet the Faculty Videos

Endowed Faculty Chairs

The Rye Country Day Endowed Faculty Chair program was established to honor and reward outstanding teachers in all three divisions of the School, while also providing additional funds for overall faculty compensation. Since its inception, eight Endowed Faculty Chairs have been created, seven of which rotate every three years.

Current Faculty Chairholders

Joel Brockman Memorial Chair – Lower School

Caryn Olson


Caryn Olson, a mainstay of the Lower School faculty since 2005, recently brought her nurturing approach to Grade 4 after ten years of teaching Grade 2. Over the years, Caryn's involvement in and contributions to the Lower School program have been varied and extensive. A strong collaborator with colleagues, she has coordinated the Responsive Classroom program, mentored new faculty, co-led the fully integrated public purpose initiative, interdisciplinary unit focused on Long Island Sound. In addition, over the years Caryn has served on the school-wide diversity, public purpose, and scope and sequence committees.

Lower School Chair

Aundrea Tabbs-Smith


Aundrea Tabbs-Smith joined the Lower School faculty as an assistant teacher in 2006. After completing this two-year program, she was appointed as a lead teacher in Grade 1. As a lead teacher, Aundrea was one of the early adopters of the interactive SMARTBoard technology that is now pervasive throughout the school. A versatile and flexible educator, she taught Grade 3 for five years before moving to Grade 4 in 2015. In addition to her excellent teaching, Aundrea has attended numerous professional development programs in support of the RCDS diversity initiative. Her work as Lower School diversity coordinator was instrumental in the creation of community groups to facilitate conversations among Lower School students.

Middle School Chair

Kyle Mitschele


Kyle Mitschele - Passionate about teaching history, Kyle began his RCDS career in 2001 as a fifth-grade Social Studies teacher and then moved to seventh and eighth grade in 2007. In the classroom, he strives to get his students to question things they take for granted and to view history and life through multiple perspectives. His contributions to the Middle School include a focus on curricular issues and pedagogy, as well as professional development related to these topics. Kyle also has served on numerous school-wide committees, including Diversity and Inclusion, Curriculum Scope and Sequence, Character/Leadership/Ethics Strategic Planning Committee, Global Studies Strategic Planning Committee, and the Public Purpose Task Force. He recently was awarded a grant (along with Sarah Danziger) from the RCDS Institute for Innovative Teaching and Learning to create programming for a Community of Innovative Teachers. In addition to his teaching and curricular work, Kyle finds time to coach fencing at both the varsity and middle school levels. Since the summer of 2012, he has served as the Director of the RCDS Summer School.

RCDS Parents Association Chair

Carrie Donahue


Carrie Donahue holds an M.S.W. in Clinical Social Work and started at RCDS in 2006 as the Middle School Counselor and Dean of Girls for Grades 7 and 8. Prior to joining the faculty at Rye Country Day, she worked at the Rye Youth Council. In 2014-2015, she gave up the dean role in order to focus full-time on the counseling of our young adolescents. Carrie single-handedly enhanced the SEEK curriculum, both its scope and its sequence, which is constantly evolving to keep up with the social and emotional worlds of our students. She spearheaded a revamping of the Middle School Buddy Program (with Betsy Stedman) in 2016-2017, as she takes personal pride in ensuring our newest middle schoolers have a smooth social transition. Carrie finds joy in working with middle schoolers and the middle-school developmental process. She continues to provide excellent education for middle-school parents during her grade level coffees, and her level-headed approach to the ups and downs of young adolescent life is integral to the effective functioning of the Middle School.

Middle School Chair

Matt Rosolen


Matt Rosolen, a valued member of the Middle School administration and beloved teacher and coach, has been at Rye Country Day School for 16 years. He currently serves as the Dean of Boys for Grades 7 and 8, the Middle School scheduler, and a mathematics teacher for Grades 7 and 8. During his time at RCDS, Matt has also taught Grade 6 mathematics and has coached various athletic teams: varsity boys' lacrosse, varsity girls' soccer, JV basketball, and middle school squash and soccer. Matt's students and colleagues alike enjoy his fun sense of humor, his easygoing manner, and his passion for education. At the 2016 Faculty/Staff Tea, Matt was presented with the Frank Effinger Coaching Award for his many contributions to Wildcat athletics, including six Fairchester and two NYSAIS lacrosse championships.

English Department Chair

Sarah Land


Sarah Land has spread her love of literature and writing to upper school students since her arrival on campus in 2008. Her spirit and sense of fun pervade her classroom, and she has also been a committed participant in the Drama Department, both as an actor in the Student-Faculty Musical and as a backstage support person with costume creation and design. She presides over each year’s Echo publication; Sarah guides students gently through the process and emerges with a fine yearbook for all to enjoy each year. Always positive, always smiling, Sarah brings optimism and joy to all she does at RCDS.

Sue & Edgar Wachenheim III Humanities Department Chair

Johnny Flynn


Johnny Flynn, head of the Humanities Department, is a leader in mixing the innovative and the traditional in the classroom. He has imparted the lessons of European history to our students since 1993, maintaining a stellar AP record over these years. Ever evolving, he makes use of the school’s professional development budget, and he brings his lessons learned back to the division and the department. For more than a decade, he has served as the Upper School scheduler, and his work as the Upper School Diversity Coordinator was an important component of his contributions. Currently, he works with the Peer Leaders, showing again his propensity for being a lifelong learner.

Class of 2006 Chair

Joe Rue


For 31 years, Joe Rue has anchored the ninth-grade biology program, a constant and positive source of energy for our young scientists. A popular and dynamic teacher, he mixes traditional learning with innovative labs and constant fun references to popular culture that is appreciated by all. The ever-popular science elective, Forensics, is also a product of his great work. Outside of the classroom, Joe started our very popular and highly successful fencing program; anyone who has ever fenced at RCDS, at any level, has Joe to thank. With his welcoming attitude and love of the sport, fencing ranks as the Upper School’s top participatory sport each winter season. Joe also embodies the school’s motto, Not for Self, but for Service. Both in school and out, Joe offers his talents, his energies, and his skills to those less fortunate than he, and as such, provides his students with a superb role model in public purpose and community service.

Former Faculty Chairs

  • Ginny Black
    Middle School Language Arts
    Middle School Chair
  • Ellen Cartwright
    Middle School Science
    Middle School Chair
  • Sandra Castagna
    Lower School Chair
  • Matt Cavanaugh
    Upper School Spanish
    Class of 2006 Chair - Upper School
  • Cary Fuller
    Former Upper School English Teacher
    English Chair
  • Amanda Hanzlik
    Former Lower School Music Teacher
    Lower School Chair
  • Virginia Hearon
    Lower School Librarian
    Joel Brockman Memorial Chair, Lower School
  • Jenny Heath
    Upper School English, Grade 9 Dean, and Peer Leadership Director
    English Department Chair - Upper School
  • Jennifer Iannariello
    Former Grade 2 Teacher
    Lower School Chair
  • Jessica Kaplan
    Former Middle School Language Arts
    English Department Chair
  • Stacy Kaufman
    Grade 2
    Joel Brockman Memorial Chair - Lower School
  • Nicole Leath
    Former Kindergarten Teacher
    Joel Brockman Memorial Chair, Lower School
  • Mary Marcell
    Head of Music Department and Upper School Music
    Class of 2006 Chair, Upper School
  • Norma Mabry
    Head of Modern Languages Department and Upper School French
    RCDS Auxiliary Chair
  • Steve Norman
    Athletic Trainer and Assistant Athletic Director
    RCDS Auxiliary Chair
  • Brian O'Callaghan
    Middle School Social Studies
    Middle School Chair
  • Susan Peck
    Middle School Mathematics
    Middle School Chair
  • Elvira Rebate
    Lower School, Middle School, and Upper School Spanish
    Lower School Chair
  • Debra Simpson
    Lower School Science
    RCDS Auxiliary Chair
  • Betsy Stedman
    Assistant Middle School Principal, Dean of Grades 5 and 6, Middle School Mathematics
    Middle School Chair
  • Richard Strean
    Former Head of Humanities Department, Grades 5-12
    The Sue & Edgar Wachenheim III Humanities Department Chair
  • David Tafe
    Former Classics Teacher
    Class of 2006 Chair, Upper School


Cohen Excellence in Teaching Awards

The 2015-16 recipients of the Cohen Excellence in Teaching Awards.

Anne Bedrick

Anne Bedrick

Lower School Art – 9 years at RCDS

A creative and innovative teacher, Anne introduced a “choice program” that gives Lower School students ownership and responsibility for their creative pursuits in Art class. She helps students think critically about their work, encouraging them to develop their creative skills. Anne works collaboratively with her Lower School colleagues and often seeks interdisciplinary approaches to specific projects. One example of such collaboration was the Grade Three STEAM projects that combined art, technology, and science.

Anne actively pursues professional development through attendance at conferences and workshops. She often shares professional development ideas with colleagues. In recent years, she has presented workshops on her “choice program,” and she regularly serves as a mentor to aspiring student teachers from local colleges. At RCDS, Anne has led the Bowls for Haiti faculty initiative that raises funds during the International Arts Festival, and she serves on the School’s Balance and Wellness Committee.

Sarah Danziger

Classics Department Chair – 9 years at RCDS

One of Sarah’s colleagues described her in the following manner: “She is an incredible department chair. Her classroom observation feedback has been invaluable to the development of my teaching …. I credit my willingness to take risks … to her trust and confidence in me.” As a department chair and as a teacher, Sarah models a high level of scholarship and a love of Latin. For instance, she regularly meets with individual AP Latin students to sight-read passages of Latin text. On another occasion, she stayed late after school to explore the use of specific verbs in passages from Caesar with a department colleague.

Beyond her role in the Classics Department, Sarah was actively involved in the proposal that has led to the creation of the new Institute for Innovative Teaching and Learning, which was piloted last summer. She is a regular, thoughtful contributor to the school-wide Curriculum Council and the strategic planning committee focusing on Leadership, Character, and Ethics. Her work on the latter led to her involvement with co-teaching a week-long bio-ethics seminar for Upper School students in June.

Clemmie Everett

Clemmie Everett

Humanities – 8 years at RCDS

An excellent Humanities teacher, including United States History and Global Economics, Clemmie brings fresh ideas and innovative approaches to her classroom. She regularly attends conferences and workshops to stay current in her field, and she finds ways to connect her courses to current event and other disciplines.

Clemmie’s contributions extend well beyond the classroom, as she has been the assistant coach for the highly successful girls’ field hockey team. As a member of the Leadership, Character, and Ethics strategic planning committee, she helped to develop the first Student Leadership workshop that was launched in 2015. As co-leader of the school-wide Sustainability Committee, she has helped to keep “green initiatives” moving forward following the School’s 2013 Green Ribbon School recognition. In addition, she recently volunteered to chaperone a week-long service learning trip to Nicaragua.

Jay Gerlach

Jay Gerlach

Drama and Dance Department Chair – 6 years at RCDS

Right from the start, Jay has been a true pied piper on behalf of the Drama and Dance department at RCDS. His collaborative approach within his department, as well as with faculty from other disciplines, is exemplary. Nominations in support of Jay pointed out the following: “The work that Jay does with his team and students is phenomenal; His work ethic is impressive.” In five years, he has grown participation in the Student/Faculty Musical, which involved 130 students in three sell-out performances of Legally Blonde this past February. Jay has also brought an innovative approach to the Spring One Acts by having students select the theme, direct the plays, and design the sets – all of which resulted in a well received Upper School assembly.

Jay is committed to professional development for himself and his department members. In his own case, he is pursuing a second master’s degree through summer study in Colorado. For his department, he uses his contacts in the New York theater world to bring actors and dancers to campus, and he invites his department colleagues to a Broadway performance each year.

Nicole Leath

Nicole Leath

Grade Four – 13 years at RCDS

As a lead teacher of Kindergarten and now Grade Four, Nicole has demonstrated her strong ability to create, sequence, and scaffold curriculum. She integrates technology very effectively into her classroom, while offering differentiated instruction that meets each student’s academic needs. For students who need extra support, Nicole willingly extends herself, often meeting before and after school to offer extra help to individual students.

Nicole’s other Lower School contributions include serving on the school-wide Scope and Sequence Committee, participating on the Grade Four Admissions Committee, and mentoring the Assistant Teachers and new Lower School faculty. This spring, she helped chaperone the girls’ golf team spring training trip. In addition, she has served as the Summer Mini-Camp Coordinator for 10 years.

Tammy McKenna

Tammy McKenna

Language Arts – 6 years at RCDS

Tammy is an excellent teacher who incorporates creativity and innovation into the Language Arts curriculum. She is also very dedicated to helping each and every one of her students. One Middle School colleague described her as “a pit bull on the pant leg of student learning.” Nothing falls through the cracks with her students; she meets with students at all hours and regularly throughout the school day to ensure that they “get it.” A similar, thorough approach is evident in Tammy’s work as an advisor. She is quick to communicate with parents of her advisees, and as a result, nothing falls through the cracks.

Tammy models ongoing learning for her students and colleagues. Whenever she attends a conference or workshop, she gives it her full attention and always comes back with outstanding ideas to share and to use in her classroom. She has presented at grade-level meetings about alternative/nontraditional ways to assess students.

Overall, Tammy is a wonderful and very capable colleague who does not seek the limelight, and her students and colleagues greatly benefit from her expertise and friendship.

Steve Norman

Steve Norman

Assistant Athletic Director and Head Athletic Trainer – 23 years at RCDS

In his 22 years as Head Athletic Trainer, Steve has been a superb teacher who has used his expertise to support individual students, their parents, coaches, and all faculty and staff. On an individual basis, Steve has educated student-athletes and their parents about athletic training, injuries, and rehabilitation. Similarly, he has kept coaches informed about the status of student-athletes, and he has taught all coaches, as well as most faculty and staff, basic First Aid and CPR/AED each year.
One of Steve’s major accomplishments has been his innovative work in the area of concussion management. He was at the forefront of the IMPACT testing program and helped develop the concussion management protocol for return to play (and return to academics) well before other schools adopted this program.

In every respect, Steve, is very knowledgeable with respect to athletic training because he stays abreast of the latest developments to ensure best practices in support of health and safety of students-athletes, as well as all members of the RCDS community.

Susan Peck

Susan Peck

Mathematics – 9 years at RCDS

Susan demonstrates a solid work ethic, extra effort, and amazing problem-solving skills in all that she does. An exceptional collaborator and supportive colleague, Susan contributes significantly to the Grade Five team and the Middle School Math Department. As Math Department chair, she has been instrumental in the growth and development of the department.

In all of her interactions with students and advisees, Susan is warm, accessible, enthusiastic, and caring. She establishes high expectations for her math students and encourages them to work at their best level, while creating a respectful sense of community and belonging in the classroom. As with other excellent teachers, she is always willing to meet with students outside of class for extra help, often providing them with extra material to help them learn or master specific math concepts.

Last year, she shared her ideas with the Grade Five team for a year-long service learning project focusing on animals. This leadership is indicative of how Susan approaches her work at RCDS every day as she displays a positive attitude, support of the school’s mission, and genuine love of teaching her Middle School students.

Richard Strean

Richard Strean

Humanities Department Chair – 20 years at RCDS

As one colleague pointed out Rich is the “definition of a master teacher.” As such, he is always exploring ways to expand what and how he teaches, including integrating technology into his classroom. Rich stays on top of his field through reading, web searching, and professional development, and he encourages department colleagues to pursue similar opportunities.

In addition to his teaching and department roles, Rich sponsored numerous independent study projects, and he led a series of lunchtime sessions featuring students who have been in his independent study group. These sessions present current topics for discussion among faculty and students.

All in all, students comment regularly on the rigor and challenge AND rewards of having Rich as a teacher. As students head off to college and beyond, they realize and appreciate the long- term impact he has on their critical thinking, writing, and research skills.

Ashley Zanon

Ashley Zanon

Dance – 4 years at RCDS

Ashley has injected energy, expertise, and encouragement into the RCDS Dance program. Participation has increased at the Middle and Upper School levels as she encourages students to try Dance and manages to teach many different ability levels by framing her approach perfectly for each student. Ashley uses terminology at all levels to invigorate students’ learning, and she encourages students to reflect on the creative process.

Ashley is constantly thinking of new ways to collaborate with other disciplines and support other programs. By incorporating the choreography for the Musical into the Dance program, she has elevated the performances of everyone – the chorus and individual actors. She achieves this by seamlessly weaving together the best dancers with those who are just beginning their study. The annual Dance Recital has also developed into a major school event that includes dancers from Grades 7 through 12 and highlights some student-created dances.

Meet the Faculty