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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
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
The Cohen Excellence in Teaching Awards are yearly $10,000 grants awarded to faculty members who have been nominated by their peers and selected by the administration for outstanding instruction and contributions to the School.
The awards are the result of a tremendous leadership gift of $10 million from the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation to the Advancing a Tradition of Excellence campaign. As past parents of the School, Mr. and Mrs. Cohen recognize the importance of supporting our excellent faculty. Five million dollars of their $10 million capital gift has been put towards the campaign’s $7.5 million goal for raising the endowment for faculty and staff.
In 2001, Cathie Bischoff joined the RCDS faculty as the new chair of the Science Department for Grades 9 through 12, a role that was later expanded to include oversight of the Middle and Lower School Science programs , as well. As department chair, Cathie models professional growth by participating in various conferences and workshops, and she enthusiastically encourages her department colleagues to follow her lead. Her teaching has recently focused mainly on AP Biology and AP Environmental Science, two courses where her students have achieved excellent results. She also has co-taught biology, physics and middle school science courses over the years. Most recently, Cathie has developed and co-taught an interdisciplinary engineering elective in the Upper School, while also serving as coordinator of the expanding, school-wide STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) initiative.
Susan Burns has been making learning at RCDS fun and meaningful since 2008, when she started at RCDS as a teacher of Grade 4. In 2014, she moved to the Middle School to teach Grade 6 Social Studies. At whatever level she is teaching, Susan creates a classroom environment where students feel appreciated and comfortable asking questions, and she is dedicated to meeting students where they are developmentally. She has brought energy, commitment, and attention to detail to her role as middle school public purpose coordinator, and has championed the service learning work of faculty and students. Susan is a top-notch advisor and an excellent communicator and collaborator. She also has served as an assistant coach for the girls’ varsity soccer team.
Monique Caterina joined the RCDS faculty in 2010 as an assistant teacher and later was hired as a lead teacher for Kindergarten. She stands out as a strong collaborator, eager to work with all members of the community with thoughtfulness and quiet enthusiasm. She has extended the Public Purpose, Global Studies, and Balance and Wellness initiatives into her curriculum and instruction. Among her accomplishments, she has expanded the Homes Around the World kindergarten unit; run several after-school clubs; served as a co-leader of the SET (Saturday Enrichment Tutorial) program for local public students in Grades 1-4; and served as SCOPE Coordinator, Responsive Classroom Coordinator, Summer Mini-Camps Coordinator, and Assistant Teacher Mentor Program Coordinator. She has recently been awarded a fellowship through the Institute for Innovative Teaching and Learning to develop Mindfulness Toolkits for Lower and middle school teachers, so as to lead our faculty and students in developing a common language and practice.
An engaging, energetic teacher, Matt Cavanaugh has effectively taught all levels of Spanish from Level 1 through AP Literature during the past 18 years. He maintains the highest standards, cares deeply about each of his students, and is always focused on teaching the whole student. In this sense, he manages to balance a rigorous, yet nurturing approach in his classroom. An experienced chaperone, Matt has participated on numerous RCDS trips, including the service learning trip to Nicaragua, as well as the global studies trip to Sicily. In 2014, Matt was appointed co-dean of Grade 9, and he brings the same focus and understanding to these additional responsibilities that involve guiding and supporting freshman students as they begin their high school careers.
Since 2003, Sara Ingrassia has brought an abundance of knowledge about math programs and a true dedication to students to the RCDS Lower School. Sara works with students at all levels to develop strong math skills and a love for the subject. She collaborates often with colleagues, providing materials and guidance in teaching, modeling lessons in her classroom, and serving as an in-house professional development resource for RCDS faculty. Sara holds several math workshops each year for parents of all lower school grade levels. In nominating her, a colleague wrote that Sara’s “gentle engagement with students yet disciplined and critical approach to teaching and student evaluation make her memorable to students and their parents.”
Mary Krasovec joined the Upper School Science Department in 2008 as the RCDS physics program was growing. Ever since, she has led a strong course of study that engages and challenges students from an introductory level through various AP courses. A lifelong learner, Mary is constantly discovering new tools, new ideas, and new methods to improve her courses. In every respect, she is an impressive role model for female students in science and engineering. As head of the RCDS Young Physicists Tournament (YPT) program, she has adjusted the program so it now includes more students in this indepth study of physics problems. It is not surprising that, under Mary’s leadership, the RCDS YPT teams have been successful at the annual YPT competition, including winning the national championship in 2016 and the world championship in 2012 and 2017!
Mary Marcell joined the faculty in 1992 as chair of the Music Department and Upper School choral and band director. Under her leadership, participation in and energy for music at RCDS has grown tremendously. As an educator, Mary teaches her students the fundamentals of music, while also weaving the School’s commitments to diversity, inclusion, global citizenship, and service into her approach and into the repertoire she selects. Over the years, Mary has created many different singing groups to broaden students’ exposure to music and participation in the music program; The Bel Canto, Madrigals, and WildScats choirs provide greater opportunities for in-depth study. In addition, each year Mary combines the collective talents of students, faculty, alumni, and friends into an annual Festival Chorus concert that teaches all the participants a major work, performed with an orchestra, for the enjoyment of the RCDS community. A superb musician in her own right, a talented teacher, a spirited conductor, and an excellent educator, Mary has taken a history of good music at RCDS and turned it into a central and daily activity for a growing number of our students.
Since 2001, Kyle has been inspiring his middle school students to think deeply about topics they are studying, and many of his former students stop by his classroom long after they have moved on to the Upper School to thank him for encouraging them through his teaching . Having taught social studies in three of the four middle-school grades, Kyle has a comprehensive understanding of the scope and sequence in this academic discipline. He also has worked collaboratively with several new RCDS faculty who co-taught his courses. In this respect, his colleagues have benefitted from Kyle’s intense interest in curriculum and pedagogy, two topics he is pursuing through his doctoral studies. Kyle’s impact extends beyond the classroom as he supports middle-school diversity work, serves as a fencing coach at the middle school and varsity levels, participates on the school-wide Scope and Sequence Committee, and co-leads the RCDS Institute’s Community of Innovative Teachers project. For the past six years, Kyle also has served as director of the RCDS Summer School.
Corey Rubel brought his energy, creativity, and passion to RCDS in 2014 when he joined the drama program as it was expanding in the middle and lower divisions. As a drama teacher, he helps his students peel away any insecurity they might have so they can tap into their own creativity. He makes sure every student in one of his productions feels like an important part of it. A true believer in collaboration, Corey seeks input from his students and from colleagues when he is co-teaching a class or co-directing a show. His energy and creativity extend beyond the Drama Department, as he engages his advisees through fun activities, motivates his hockey players on the ice, and brings joy to the middle school community through his co-production of the weekly news show Good Morning RCDS with his middle school colleague, Tim Silverman.
Georgette Summers, assistant athletic director and coach of varsity field hockey and girls’ varsity lacrosse, joined the RCDS staff in 2000. In her 17 years at RCDS, she has coached the field hockey team to eight NYSAIS championships and the lacrosse team to three NYSAIS championships. The field hockey team has 204 wins, 74 losses, and 15 ties under her leadership, while the lacrosse team has 175 wins, 96 losses, and two ties. In 2015, the girls’ lacrosse team had its first-ever undefeated season, winning FAA, NYSAIS, and WNEPSAA championships. That year, Georgette was honored as the first recipient of the Frank Effinger Coaching Award. In addition to coaching, Georgette teaches the required upper school health course. More important than her stellar win-loss record is Georgette’s steadfast commitment to her students and athletes. She is an outstanding advisor to upper school students, and is committed to helping her advisees and athletes develop leadership skills, character, and mindfulness practices. Georgette’s positive and thoughtful approach to students, love for her work, and professionalism make her a model teacher and mentor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.