A Pre-Kindergarten - Grade 12 co-educational independent day school in Westchester, New York

RCDS Welcomes New Employees to the 2021-22 School Year

RCDS was thrilled to welcome this accomplished and impressive group of educators to campus for New Employee Meetings. Please take a moment to learn a little bit about the newest members of our community, and be sure to give them a warm Wildcat welcome to Rye Country Day!


Sonya Amon
Upper School Administrative Assistant for Attendance

Sonya Amon joins the Upper School team as the Administrative Assistant for Attendance. Ms. Amon recently served as the Upper School Attendance Monitor at Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn for five years before moving with her family to Westchester County. She brings a wealth of experience in facilitating communication among various constituencies, database records and management, customer service and relations, and office management support. She holds a B.A. in Communications from St. Francis College.

Dr. Kelly Ann Barker
Lower School Psychologist  
 
Dr. Kelly Ann Barker, Psy.D., joins RCDS as the new Lower School Psychologist. Dr. Barker completed her undergraduate studies at Gettysburg College, and she received her Master of Science and Doctor of Psychology from St. John's University. She has extensive experience working in elementary and middle schools and helping families navigate their children's social-emotional development. Most recently, she has been a school psychologist in the Westport Public Schools in Connecticut, where she has worked since August 2013. Her areas of expertise include teacher and parent consultation, curriculum integration, emotional skills development, and anxiety intervention, to name a few. In addition, she has created and delivered classroom lessons on conflict resolution, self-advocacy, problem-solving, goal setting, growth mindset, and skills-based mindfulness classes.

Danielle (Dani) Bensky    
Dance Teacher

We are pleased to welcome Danielle Bensky back to RCDS as our full-time Dance Teacher. Most recently, Ms. Bensky served as the Director of Upper School Dance at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, where she taught upper school dance, choreographed concert and musical pieces, and advised the dance and step teams. At Poly Prep, she was instrumental in building relationships with master teachers and cultivating partnerships with well-known dance companies. She also served as RCDS’s Musical Choreographer and Dance Instructor (maternity leave replacement) in 2018-19. In addition to her work at Poly Prep, Ms. Bensky currently serves as a teaching artist for the Disney Theatrical Group and for Encores! By City Center. She has taught master classes and created pieces for studios and conservatories across the United States with Liberate Artists. She has also choreographed/staged many full-scale musicals and original concert dance pieces for The New York Musical Theater Festival (NYMF), Stagedoor Manor, Ohana Arts, and York College (CUNY).
        
Dr. Angelo Bove    
Upper School Science Teacher (Physics)

Dr. Angelo Bove joins RCDS as an Upper School Physics Teacher. At his previous school, The Dalton School in New York City, he taught a variety of physics, engineering, and computer programming courses starting in 2008, in addition to working on a vertical alignment of the science curricula and serving as an advisor. Dr. Bove also has held teaching and research positions at Purdue University and Duke University. He holds a Ph.D. in Physics from Purdue University, and he is fluent in Italian, English, and French.

Pilar Bustamante
Middle School Spanish Teacher

Pilar Bustamante joins RCDS as a Middle School Modern Language Teacher. Ms. Bustamante holds a Master of Administrative Science, Diplomacy, and International Relations from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Human Resources from Universidad Javeriana, Bogota, Colombia. Over her years as an educator, she has worked with multiple schools, including Whitby School, KEIO Academy, and RCDS. Since 2018, she has taught RCDS Spanish classes across many levels as a trusted substitute teacher. We look forward to having Ms. Bustamante’s warm and energetic presence in our classrooms on a daily basis.

Dr. Patrick Cahill    
Upper School Math Teacher

Dr. Patrick Cahill joins RCDS’s Upper School Department of Mathematics having worked at both the secondary and college levels as a mathematics teacher. He holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University at Albany, an M.A. in Mathematics from the University at Albany, and a B.S. in Mathematics and adolescent education from SUNY Oneonta. Dr. Cahill joins us from Webb School of Knoxville, where he served as an upper school mathematics teacher. He also has served as a visiting mathematics lecturer at SUNY Oneonta in the Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, as well as an instructor of mathematics at the University at Albany.

Elizabeth Chirls
Lower School Assistant Teacher

In 2021, Elizabeth Chirls received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary and Special Education from Indiana University. Ms. Chirls was a student teacher in fourth grade and kindergarten classes in Bloomington, IN. Passionate about service learning and advocacy, she brings a plethora of after-school and summer experiences as a teaching assistant at the Windward School, counselor at BOOST!, tutor at Literacy+Math Volunteer Program, intern at the HA DERECKH and CLASSP JCCs, and aide at Ramapo Country Day Camp. Ms. Chirls will be the Assistant Teacher in Grade 3 with Ms. Aventuro.

Andrés Cerpa    
Upper School English Teacher

Andrés Cerpa joins Rye Country Day as an Upper School English Teacher. He has served as an adjunct associate professor and visiting lecturer in creative writing at the College of Staten Island (CUNY), where he taught undergraduate courses in creative writing, literature, poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, and theater; and as an adjunct associate professor at Pace University, Pleasantville, where he taught introductory to advanced workshops in poetry and creative non-fiction, a variety of literature courses that focus on contemporary American literature and coming-of-age narratives, and first-year writing courses. He is the author of two poetry collections, and he brings to the RCDS English Department a set of skills that he has developed as a professor, teaching artist, author, and editor. Mr. Cerpa was a member of Harvard’s Phillips Brooks House, where he received training in curriculum development and classroom management from the Harvard University School of Education. In his words, “I want to inspire a love of literature and help nourish a community that seeks to empower young people to discover their potential.” Mr. Cerpa holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Rutgers University and a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in philosophy from the University of Delaware.

Stewart Ebersole 
Upper School Science Maternity Leave Replacement; STEAM Fellow

Stewart Ebersole joins the Upper School as a Natural Sciences Department leave replacement teaching Environmental Science. He also will serve as a fellow in the area of STEAM, where he will assist with the robotics and Makerspace programs. Mr. Ebersole has taught environmental science at EF International Academy and Garfield High School. He holds a B.A. in Geology from the University of Delaware and an M.S. in Geology from the University of Cincinnati.

Dr. Carla España    
Dean of Grades 7 & 8; Middle School Language Arts Teacher

Dr. Carla España joins the Middle School as a Dean for Grades 7 & 8, as well as a Language Arts Teacher. Dr. España holds a Ph.D. in Urban Education and an M.S. in Elementary Childhood Education with a bilingual extension from the City University of New York, an M.Div. in Religion and Society from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a B.S. in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University. Most recently, she has served as an instructor at Bank Street Graduate School of Education, as the Middle Grade Summer Program Director at De La Salle Academy, and as a literary consultant at The Educator Collaborative. Dr. España’s teaching, publications, and research have helped prepare educators in curriculum development, pedagogy, and teaching for social justice.

Jessica Flaxman    
Dean of Faculty & Employees  
 
Jessica Flaxman joins Rye Country Day as the new Dean of Faculty and Employees. Ms. Flaxman holds an Ed.M. in Organizational Leadership from Teachers College, an M.A. in English from Columbia University, and a B.A. in English from Wesleyan University, where she was the recipient of the Murphy Prize for academic writing. She is founding partner of the 120 Education Consultancy, a practitioner-based collaborative dedicated to strengthening independent schools through providing leaders with research, strategic communications, audits, coaching, and solutions. Ms. Flaxman previously served as the Assistant Head of School and Middle School Head at Nashoba Brooks School, in Concord, MA. She was also the Upper School Director of Studies at Charlotte Country Day School, where she received the Franklin F. Justice Award for Service; led the Academic Council responsible for the strategic alignment of upper school department chairs and the academic program, including Honors, AP, and IB courses; and conducted yearly evaluation and coaching of upper school faculty with the Division Head. Ms. Flaxman has also served as the English Department Chair at Charlotte Country Day School and has taught English at Queens University in North Carolina, Collegiate School in New York, Bentley Upper School in California, and Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts. 

Sukie Flinn
Director of Facilities

Sukie Flinn joins the Sodexo team as the Director of Facilities on the RCDS campus. Ms. Flinn held a number of positions at the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, where she worked for more than 20 years. Her career grew from positions in programming to finance and operations. Her most recent position was the Chief Operating Officer for JCC Mid-Westchester. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Fitness from Springfield College. Ms. Flinn looks forward to joining and supporting the RCDS community.

Katy Fowler (Fall 2021)    
Kindergarten Leave Replacement 

Katy Fowler joins the Lower School as a maternity leave replacement for Ms. Davia. For the past three years, Ms. Fowler has been a kindergarten head teacher at St. David’s School where she developed, planned, and implemented a differentiated curriculum for their Omega program, which provides an extra year for students between kindergarten and first grade. A graduate of St. Lawrence University, Ms. Fowler has a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Manhattanville College.

Isabel Gonzalez
Assistant Director of Admissions

Isabel Gonzalez transitions into the role of Assistant Director of Admissions, having previously served as an Admissions Interviewer for the last few years (and the Admissions Seasonal Greeter prior to that). She is proud to be a school ambassador and wears many hats at RCDS. A parent at the School since 2008, she has been an avid participant in the Parents Association. She has chaired various committees focusing on diversity, inclusion, and community building efforts. She also has been appointed to serve on various task force committees at the School. She knows our community well, works collaboratively with the teachers and staff, and believes deeply in RCDS’s values and commitment to excellence. Ms. Gonzalez is tri-lingual and bi-cultural, and she has lived all around the world (a country in each continent). She is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Holly Hutcheson      
Middle School Science Teacher

Holly Hutcheson joins us as a Middle School Science Teacher, after serving as a faculty fellow at Nightingale Bamford, collaborating with the science department to conduct labs. Ms. Hutcheson holds an M.S. in Geology from the University of Georgia and a B.A. in Geology with an environmental science emphasis from Occidental College. She will bring fieldwork experience, which includes overseeing subcontractors for soil vapor probe installation as well as indoor air, groundwater, soil, and soil vapor testing and monitoring in Long Beach, CA, where she was a staff assistant geologist. Ms. Hutcheson also brings field experience with data analysis using R and Python.        

Dr. Kamauru Johnson    
Director of Counseling Support Services (Pre-K – Gr. 12); Upper School Psychologist    

Dr. Kamauru Johnson joins Rye Country Day as the Director of Counseling Support Services and Upper School Psychologist, a new role that will supervise all of the School’s counselors and psychologists and work closely with the Director of Learning Support Services. Dr. Johnson is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified school psychologist with over 15 years of experience working with young people at schools in the New York City area. He previously served as the Upper School Psychologist, Clerk of the All-School Guidance Committee, Director of the Horizons Program, and Middle and Upper School Learning Specialist at Brooklyn Friends School in Brooklyn, New York. He also is an adjunct professor of applied educational psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he supervises school psychology students as they work at fieldwork placements in various schools across the NYC area. Dr. Johnson brings sharp clinical skills, strong leadership experience, and a passion for supporting children to his work. He holds a Ph.D. in Applied Educational Psychology: School Psychology, an Ed.M. in Applied Developmental and Learning Psychology, and an M.Phil. in Applied Educational Psychology: School Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. He received his B.A. in Psychology from Morehouse College, where he graduated summa cum laude.

Dr. Kelly Jones
Middle School History Teacher (Leave Replacement)

Dr. Kelly Jones joins Rye Country Day as a leave replacement for Grade 6 History. Dr. Jones has recently served as professor of History and professor of American Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and Baruch College, CUNY respectively. She has developed and delivered courses in general American history, history of Modem Asia, and history of medicine.  She also brings experience in developing virtual content for K-12 schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Jones earned her Ph.D. in History from Stony Brook University (SUNY), her M.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science-International Relations from Ball State University.  She is additionally known to lead highly engaging historical walking tours of New York neighborhoods. 

Michael Kenny
Director of Security

Michael Kenny joins Rye Country Day School in the newly created position of Director of Security. Mr. Kenny recently retired from the City of Rye Police Department after 22 years of service. He was an integral part of the department’s Investigative Team and Youth Division. In addition he was the Principal Firearms and Defense Tactics Instructor. Prior to his service on the Rye police force, he served in the United States Marine Corps and had a brief career in investment banking. Mr. Kenny holds a B.A. from Iona College. He brings a wealth of safety and security knowledge and experience that will complement the School’s existing programs and protocols.      

Leiat Klarfeld
Coordinator of Human Development Programs and School Counselor

Leiat Klarfeld joins RCDS as the Coordinator of Human Development Programs and School Counselor. She will direct the Upper School’s Peer Leadership and Life Skills programs, in addition to teaching Introduction to Psychology and assisting with the counseling program in the Upper School. Ms. Klarfeld is a certified mediator and DASA trainer with a strong background in conflict resolution, and she has over 10 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations and in the public health sector. She has worked as a counselor at Martin Van Buren High School in Queens, Mahopac High School, and the High School for Language and Innovation in the Bronx. She holds a Certificate of Advanced Study in Mental Health Counseling from Alfred University, an M.S.Ed. in Counselor Education from Lehman College, a Master of Public Health and Community Organizing from Hunter College, and a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Oregon. 

Dr. Rachel Levey    
Upper School Psychologist 
   
Dr. Rachel Levey joins RCDS as a full-time Upper School Psychologist. She holds a Psy.D. in School Psychology from Rutgers University and a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Jewish Studies from Colgate University. She has served as a school psychologist at Fox Lane High School in the Bedford School District, Harrison High School, and The Lang School in Manhattan, in addition to being an executive functioning coach for Beyond Booksmart/Independent. She is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to support students with a range of issues, as well as school-based Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which is a skills-based program that teaches mindfulness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance. Dr. Levey looks forward to assisting the RCDS Upper School community with the transition out of the pandemic as a support services professional who is validating and warm, while also helping to build resiliency.

Pam MacAffer 
Assistant Head for Finance & Operations

Pamela Goldman MacAffer ’82 assumes the newly created senior administrative position of Assistant Head for Finance and Operations. For the past twenty years, Ms. MacAffer served primarily as the Chief Financial and Operations Officer at The Albany Academies (The Albany Academy and Albany Academy for Girls). In this leadership role, she was responsible for managing all aspects of the school's daily operations, annual budgeting, financial reporting, and human resources. During her tenure, she oversaw eight multi-million-dollar capital projects. In 2007, she played a major role in the successful merger of The Albany Academy and Albany Academy for Girls. Ms. MacAffer’s involvement in school life extends beyond business operations. During her time at the Albany Academy for Girls, she served as the Dean of Students, Director of Enrollment Management, and Chief Development Officer, and she was an advisor and a faculty member in leadership and economics.

Prior to her independent school career, Ms. MacAffer served in various fundraising roles at the Albany Medical Center. She also possesses communications and media relations experience from her work as an account executive at Sawchuck, Brown Associates in Albany. She attended RCDS from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 9, before leaving for boarding school. She earned her B.A. in Philosophy from Hamilton College and her M.B.A. from Boston University. 
    
Amy Man    
Middle School Social Studies Teacher

Amy Man joins us as a Social Studies Teacher in the Middle School. Ms. Man holds an M.A. in Education from Stanford University as well as B.A. degrees in History and Chinese Language and Literature from Wellesley College. Ms. Man is coming to us from The Elisabeth Morrow School, where she was the Social Studies Department Chair, overseeing the curriculum from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. She also spearheaded the Model UN program, preparing students for conferences at local schools. Additionally, she led various initiatives around DEI, including an integration of the DEI lens into the history curricula. Prior to her time at The Elisabeth Morrow School, she accrued teaching experience at other independent schools, including Friends Seminary, Kent Place School, Aragon High School, and Dana Hall School.

Meaghan O’Brien-Pollice
Upper School Science Teacher (Biology and Chemistry)

Meaghan O’Brien-Pollice joins the Upper School team as a Biology and Chemistry teacher. She holds a B.A. in Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology from the University of Colorado, as well as a M.A. in Biology Education from Touro College. Ms. O’Brien-Pollice has taught science at The Garrison School, Valhalla Middle and High Schools, and Fox Lane High School. She is excited to bring her love of technology and natural science to her work with RCDS students.

Rachel Schulte    
Drama & Dance Department Chair; Drama Teacher

We are excited to welcome Rachel Schulte to our community in her new role as Drama & Dance Department Chair. Ms. Schulte earned her B.F.A. from Emerson College with a concentration in musical theater. She has experience working with a variety of age groups and most recently was a drama teaching fellow at Greenwich Academy. In 2020-21, Ms. Schulte taught in the Upper and Middle School P.E. Dance program. She also taught the Upper School Public Speaking elective.
    
Dr. Stacey Sotirhos    
Lower School Principal

Dr. Stacey Sotirhos joins Rye Country Day School as the new Lower School Principal. She previously served as the Associate Division Head of the Lower Division at Avenues: The World School in New York City. At Avenues, Dr. Sotirhos was responsible for overseeing the interdisciplinary and inquiry-oriented learning experiences for students in a dual-language English and Spanish or Mandarin program. Her responsibilities included data-driven instruction and tailored interventions to ensure all 300 students in 16 classrooms achieve learning outcomes. She worked with 28 faculty members to build effective teams through coaching, feedback, and assessing growth and impact. She was also responsible for encouraging home-school connections through family engagement, presentations, and ongoing communications. A strong collaborator and effective team leader, Dr. Sotirhos is described as someone who is looking to balance tradition with forward thinking. 
 
An alumna of Miss Hall's School, where she later served as a trustee and board president, Dr. Sotirhos earned her B.A. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Rollins College in Florida. While teaching in the New York City Department of Education, she completed her M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and her Ph.D. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education at New York University. 

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