Our Faculty

Spotlight On...

ROB BREAKELL

Rob has been at Eagle Hill for 43 years. In that time, he has taught: tutorial, math, oral science, general science, earth science, life science, biology, and social studies. He's also been a coach and led the following teams: varsity soccer, varsity baseball, girl's softball, wrestling, JJV softball, and the women's faculty softball team. 

Rob has his Bachelor's Degree from Alfred University, where he majored in Marine Geology and Psychology. He has his Master's in Environmental Studies from Fairfield University. He is also certified to teach science and biology.

Q&A

Share a funny or touching memory.

Witches coven in the entrance tower in 1977...

What was it like to transition from a classroom teacher to administrator?

Teacher to Science Department Head to Duty Master to Advisor to Assistant Head of School. Just one day at a time.

What has Eagle Hill meant to you?

It has been my personal and professional existence.

What advice would you give to EHS faculty and to EHS students?

Faculty: Make the time and effort to regularly take a step back and see the big picture from 10,000 feet. Then zoom slowly in to observe without ego and make a plan.

Students: Deep breath cleanse and Take The Time To Think (T to the fifth) before responding.

What are your plans for retirement?

Lose my mind, find my soul, and whatever Wendy tells me.

WENDY BREAKELL

Wendy's career at Eagle Hill has spanned an impressive 43 years. When she joined Eagle Hill in 1976, she taught full time as a tutorial teacher. After the birth of her first daughter, she took on a part-time teaching schedule, sharing classroom and childcare duties with fellow teacher Annie Kates. Wendy spent time as a stay-at-home mother after the birth of her second child, but came back as Personnel Coordinator, Assembly Coordinator, and Parents Association Liaison after her third child started school.

Wendy has her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from Alfred University and her Master's in Literacy from the College of New Rochelle. 

Q&A

As Personnel Coordinator, you've helped shape the incredible faculty at Eagle Hill - what advice would you give them as they move forward here?

My advice would be to stay open-minded and soak up all the valuable learning experiences offered at Eagle Hill. The big picture of what Eagle Hill has to offer is a true gift.

Share a favorite funny or touching memory!

My favorite memory is how Rob ended up working at EHS. It was my first or second day working here (during training week) and Mark Griffin, then the Head of School, informed us that one of the hired teachers was a no-show and asked if we knew anyone that could teach. I raised my hand and said that Rob (my boyfriend at the time who was working as a crane operator at Yacht Haven in Stamford) has a degree in teaching science. His long career at EHS started with him teaching tutorial that year.

What was it like to transition from classroom teacher to administrator?

Taking time off in between the two positions made the transition easier.

What has Eagle Hill meant to you?

Gratitude is the word that pops in my mind first. Eagle Hill has offered me a career, a beautiful home and town to bring our family up in, and a mission statement that I have been proud to be a part of. I feel truly blessed.

What are your plans for retirement?

The first thing we are doing when we head out on July 1 is retreat, renew, and relax ... we are giving ourselves the gift of "living off the grid" and we're going to take our time in figuring out what comes next.

JANICE CURTIN

Janice began her Eagle Hill career teaching at Eagle Hill Hardwick with Dave and Lea Sylvestro. She started teaching at Eagle Hill Greenwich 40 years ago! She has primarily taught tutorial but has also taught literature, oral language, and oral social studies. For many years, Janice has led discussion groups designed to help our students develop an understanding of their learning differences, strengths, learning styles, and how to be a self-advocate. During her tenure, she has also served as an educational advisor and the Director of Education.

Janice received her Bachelor's Degree in English from Trinity College and her Master's in Special Education from Fordham University.

Q&A

As a long-tenured educator, what has it been like to see the growth and change in your students as well as EHS as an institution?

Promoting growth and change in our students is why we work here. We are afforded the opportunity to work in a setting which allows us to address the individual needs of each student. This enables children to achieve the success and develop the self-esteem each of them will need for their life's journey.

Share a favorite funny or touching memory!

I don't really have one memory to share, but rather, a collective memory. It involves students reaching out to help their peers who, prior to being at Eagle Hill, would not have had the self-confidence to think they had something to offer.

What has Eagle Hill meant to you?

What has Eagle Hill meant to me after 40 years? That's tough to put into words. I have had the opportunity to work with dedicated professionals and amazing children who show perseverance in the face of obstacles most children do not have to face. It has been a joy to participate in this endeavor and to be part of a school where every child feels safe, cared for, and supported. They are all encouraged to realize their potential and appreciate their self-worth. I am proud to have been part of this endeavor.

What advice would you give to current and future Eagle Hill students?

My advice to our students is to take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you here. You are being given an education that is designed especially for you and will help you achieve your goals for the future. Work hard, have fun, and enjoy the people around you!

What are your plans for retirement?

My plans for retirement are to spend more time with my husband, Jim. EHS is a demanding place to work, which sometimes affects family members. So, I'm thinking that instead of doing lesson plans on Sunday, maybe we'll go for a walk!

Previous Spotlights

Dan Baker

DAN BAKER

2018-2019 is Dan's ninth year of teaching at Eagle Hill, and his fifteenth year of teaching overall. He teaches math and tutorial in our Upper School. As a member of the Eagle Hill faculty, Dan has presented twice at the LDA (Learning Disabilities Association of America) Conference on anxiety and self-regulation. In 2019, he will present for a third time with Ms. Harkins. 

Dan has his Bachelor's Degree in Education from Oklahoma State University ("Go Pokes!") and his Master's of Education from Emporia State University. 

Q&A

What activities do you lead outside of the classroom?

In the fall, I lead the flag football activity with Mr. Delisle. In the winter, we strap on the headgear and I coach wrestling, and, in the spring, I swing the racket on the tennis courts with Mr. Leonard and the tennis team.

What do you like most about teaching at Eagle Hill?

I like that Eagle Hill is child-centered, individualized, and has small classes.

How are traditional subjects taught differently at Eagle Hill?

We have the freedom to seek out and try new methods with our students. We teach to the individual and their learning style. I feel we are able to use a variety of different methods to meet the students at their level and to help them continue using those strategies and skills.

What's your involvement in the Eagle Hill program in London?

I've been with the program in London since it's inception - I was a teacher for three years and this past summer I served as the Program Director.

We always have an incredible team of Eagle Hill teachers for the London Program. I'm honored and grateful for the opportunity to represent Eagle Hill abroad and to be able to help provide these students with the skills and strategies we teach at home in Greenwich.

What would you tell a prospective family about Eagle Hill?

I would tell them that we are an individualized learning program that meets each student at their skill level. We get to know the kids on a personal level and adapt our instruction to each child. Eagle Hill is a supportive community for the whole child, their parents, and for faculty and staff.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy playing golf, reading new and exciting books, traveling, cheering on the Red Sox, and spending time with friends and family.

Joe Baynes

JOE BAYNES

Joe has been teaching science and math in Eagle Hill's Lower School since 2011. He earned his Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Childhood and Special Education from Buffalo State College and completed his Educational Leadership Certification at the University of Bridgeport.

Q&A

How would you comment on the personalized instruction at Eagle Hill and its importance?

Personalized instruction at Eagle Hill is a key component to student success.  Teachers are able to gear the instruction towards student needs in a way that wouldn’t be possible at other schools.  Teachers are able to get to know their individual student needs, and then adapt their instruction in order to meet them. 

What can you say about the level of training and experience of the faculty?

Eagle Hill is dedicated to developing all faculty. The amount of professional development opportunities offered to teachers is something that I think many people outside the school aren’t aware of. Eagle Hill teachers are always learning and developing no matter what year they are in because the school makes sure it provides this opportunity. Every Friday we meet for teacher development and learning. Teachers are able to go on conference trips. The senior staff does an amazing job sharing their expertise with the rest of the school.

How do small classes and student-teacher relationships enhance learning?

Small classes allow teachers and students to form stronger relationships. Small class sizes allow teachers to focus on what motivates students.  Teachers can also learn what areas students are confident in, and where they aren’t as confident. At Eagle Hill we are trained to use what we know about the students to our advantage. We make sure the students feel safe, respected, and know they can trust us as teachers. We do that by having the ability to understand their individual needs.  We have many students that weren’t able to build strong relationships in their previous school experiences. 

How are subjects taught differently at Eagle Hill?

Teachers have the freedom to use the techniques that work for each student. Some of our students come to us after failing to be successful in math at a traditional school. Traditional schools need to use certain programs to teach their students. At Eagle Hill, teachers are able to seek out the method that works best for each individual. Many students struggle to meet common core math standards, but come to Eagle Hill and learn the same math in a way that's geared towards their learning style.

What would you tell a prospective family about Eagle Hill?

I have three students in my math class. I am able to spend one on one time with each student. I understand their strengths and weaknesses, and I am able to adapt my instruction towards each of their needs. None of them have the same learning style, but because of the class size, I am able to make the necessary changes to adapt to each of them. 

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy traveling, watching sports, and spending time with family (especially my new daughter Mia!) and friends.

David Blank

DAVID BLANK

The 2018-2019 school year is Dr. Blank's second year as the Director of Psychological Services at Eagle Hill.

He received his Bachelor's in Sociology from Binghamton University. After Binghamton, Dr. Blank completed his Master's Degree in General Psychology at Pace University, where he was also the Graduate Assistant Basketball Coach. Dr. Blank was the Director of the Respite Program for the Family Services of Westchester for five years, before earning his Doctoral Degree in School/Clinical Psychology.

Q&A

How does the Psychological Services Department work?

Our department attempts to seamlessly integrate psychological support and social-emotional learning into the existing academic framework of Eagle Hill. We offer a variety of services for students that include individual counseling, collaborations in the classrooms with teachers, need-based group (i.e. social skills, anxiety, etc), and school-wide initiatives (welcoming groups for new Lower School students, peer mentoring to Upper School students). 

Additionally, we provide services for our staff in the form case/class consultation and staff trainings (growth mindset, diversity, creating a supportive environment, anxiety, etc.). We also have a new role this year, as we are transitioning onto the new Advisory Team model. This change has facilitated a collaborative team approach that highlights the various strengths each member of our multidisciplinary team brings to each situation we encounter.

What can you say about the level of training and experience of the Eagle Hill faculty?

One of the factors that brought me to Eagle Hill was the experience and expertise of the staff. At every level of the school you find incredibly talented professionals who love what they do. Teachers like Abby Hanrahan, Gina Burke, Sharon Pearlman, and others helped me to understand the transformative nature that education and specifically, Eagle Hill, can have on a child's development. It makes it easy to come to work when you enjoy the people you work with and learn something new every day. 

What do you like most about being part of the Eagle Hill staff?

I have always felt that I am a positive person. I also believe in the power of "agency." Life can be challenging at times. However, as long as you employ a model of self-advocacy in life, you have the agency and ability to make life what you want it to be. Eagle Hill encapsulates that philosophy. There is an undeniable culture and soul at Eagle Hill that revolves around the emerging power of the "self". Hence, being immersed in that type of culture and feeling that "soul" is what I enjoy the most about being here. 

What would you tell a prospective family about Eagle Hill?

As Abraham Maslow posits, you must satisfy lower-level needs before you can satisfy higher-level ones. Eagle Hill understands that a student must feel safe and their self-esteem must be intact before they can be ready to confront challenges and take on that daunting task of learning. Every one of our students and families has gone through quite a bit to get here and we understand that journey can be demoralizing and traumatizing for many. I would tell prospective families at Eagle Hill to "trust the process" and let the wonderful people here work their magic.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Free time? I don't have any! My wife and I have three lovely children and a fourth if you count our English Lab, Hero. Professionally, beyond Eagle Hill I have a private practice and also teach Psychology courses at Pace University. I also try to coach as many of my kids teams as I can. When I am not doing any of those things I love to play basketball, attempt to play golf or fish.

Aimee Byrne

AIMEE BYRNE

Aimee has been a speech and language pathologist at Eagle Hill since 2006. In college, she studied in the field of Communication Science and Disorders and received her Master's of Science from MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston. She is certified through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and is licensed in both NY and CT.

Q&A

Can you describe how the Speech and Language Department works in tandem with the teachers?

In addition to providing pull-out services, the speech-language pathologists at EHS collaborate with teachers and provide services in the classroom with the goal of truly integrating our services. This model allows us to facilitate carryover of learned skills and to work closely with classroom teachers. Teachers meet with us regularly to discuss individual student goals and to create shared lessons. The speech-language pathologists also serve as a resource for teachers to provide additional insight pertaining to language development and instructional approaches.

What do you like most about being part of the Eagle Hill faculty?

The faculty at Eagle Hill School is passionate about the work that they do with their students each and every day. Teachers are an integral part of each student’s team and work together to understand the needs of all students. The Eagle Hill community fosters a sense of camaraderie where we celebrate each other’s accomplishments. In any given moment, it would not be surprising to see teachers willingly sharing ideas or resources.

What would you tell a prospective family about Eagle Hill?

Eagle Hill School offers a unique learning environment where students are empowered to reach their full potential. The multidisciplinary team recognizes each student’s individual strengths and areas of need. Small class sizes and our child-centered instruction allow for enriching opportunities for students to develop the tools needed to grow academically, socially, and emotionally. The collaborative team approach ensures that instructed strategies are generalized across a variety of contexts. This is all part of what makes Eagle Hill a “life-changing experience”.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I have 3 children, ages 15, 13, and 10. When I am not driving them to activities, I enjoy cheering on my son at his soccer games, watching my girls dance, and playing with my black lab. While free time is hard to come by, my husband and I enjoy listening to music, getting together with friends, and going on cruises with our family over the summer.

Tracy Cone

TRACY CONE

Tracy has been teaching at Eagle Hill for fourteen years. Since starting at Eagle Hill, she has always taught language arts, tutorial, and writing. Tracy has also represented Eagle Hill abroad for the past four summers - teaching in both our summer London and Singapore programs. Tracy's time at Eagle Hill started long before she started teaching here - for the first four years of her life, she lived on campus with her family!

Tracy has her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Learning Disabilities/Emotional Disturbance from Florida State University.

Q&A

Tell us more about the LA Program and preparing students for their next school?

The Language Arts Program at Eagle Hill is unique in that the students are graded (sometimes for the first time ever) and learn to manage a much more intense workload than they have had to previously. Additionally, there is much more of a focus on goal-setting and individual problem solving so that students are able to not only understand who they are as learners but begin to identify target areas to work on and implement specific action plans to make that happen. I love teaching LA because the kids are at a point where they are ready to be pushed, and it’s so much fun to watch them really take off!

Every year, students who have graduated come back to visit, and over and over again, I hear them admit that even though they may have grumbled about all the work at the time, language arts really did prepare them for their next schools.

What's the difference between an Upper School tutorial class and an US LA Class?

Reading comprehension and vocabulary skills are big focuses in both classes, but there are lots of differences as well. LA is broken into two classes, literature and grammar & composition, so the comprehension strategies are geared towards fictional texts, and there is a lot of written work as well. In tutorial, students are generally reading non-fiction articles and may also be working on their decoding and spelling skills.

How do your LA classes work with the Foundations classes?

This year, my LA class has partnered with the Foundations Program and become their “buddies”. It's been cute to see the older kids guide the little ones while creating projects together or celebrating holiday traditions. When one of our classes has something especially fun going on, we will invite the other group to join. The Foundations kids loved coming over to learn about the Guiding Eyes puppies when we hosted them in the fall, and we had a blast watching our buddies perform in their Thanksgiving play!

What would you tell a prospective family about Eagle Hill?

There really is nowhere else like Eagle Hill. Our teachers bring a level of expertise and dedication that is unparalleled in any other program I’ve seen, and all the children are given the targeted, individualized support needed to reach their potential. Seeing the transformation kids go though in terms of their skills and overall confidence in themselves during their time here is truly magical.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy traveling anywhere and everywhere and trying all different types of cuisines along the way. I also love skiing and doing yoga whenever I have the chance.

Alexandra Connolly

ALEXANDRA CONNOLLY

2018-2019 is Alexandra's 33rd year teaching at Eagle Hill. She is a multi-disciplinary teacher and teaches language arts, tutorial, writing, and study skills in the Upper School.

Alexandra attended Manhattanville College and has her Bachelor's in American Studies and Elementary Education. She also received her Master of Professional Studies Degree in Special Education and Reading, also from Manhattanville College.

Q&A

Tell us more about the LA Program at Eagle Hill and preparing students for their next school?

The Language Arts class is a transitional class geared toward preparing students for life beyond Eagle Hill. Students take tests and quizzes, do projects and write compositions, and receive grades. Children learn how to manage the integral parts of their various classes and their work load is gradually increased. In addition to the consistency of the language arts teacher, the program is built around a language arts team. This team consists of all of the child’s teachers, a member of their Advisory Team, the placement office, and members of the speech and language and psychological services departments. Members of these departments help students manage the stress that’s associated with increased expectations by pushing into LA classes to talk with students about the transition process.  The team meets every six weeks to collaborate and set global academic and affective goals. While the team sets global goals, students identify individual goals to work on and also develop action plans to achieve them.

In addition to the academic goals that the child’s LA team prepares for them, probably the most exhilarating aspect of the program is the status associated with being in the language arts program. This ‘rite of passage’ empowers students and sets the tone for a more rigorous academic year. Students engage in more interactive, project based learning and gain the listening and expressive language skills needed to negotiate these tasks. These cooperative activities are designed to strengthen interpersonal skills necessary for success and help foster the shift from teacher driven instruction to student inquiry based learning. 

What would you tell a prospective family about Eagle Hill?

Children who attend EHS are embraced and given the attention and nurture they need to develop confidence so they can become effective academic risk takers, problem solvers and self-advocates. Children learn how to be students and are given strategies so they can be successful long past their time here. Eagle Hill is not a short term investment. It truly is a life-changing experience. 

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Free time?! I am a mother of four ranging in age from 16 - 23, so life is fairly hectic going from one activity to the next with my family. I cherish my quiet time by going to long walks with my dog, reading, and drawing. I fashion myself a cook; although, my family might disagree!!

Jillian Davis

JILLIAN DAVIS

2018-2019 is Jillian's fourth year teaching at Eagle Hill. She teaches tutorial, writing, and literature (her three favorite subjects when she was in school herself) in our Lower School. 

Jillian received her Bachelor's in Communications from the College of Mount Saint Vincent but, shortly after graduation, realized that teaching was her passion. She went back to school and received her Masters in Elementary Inclusive Special Education from Hofstra University.

Q&A

What activities do you lead outside of the classroom?

I’m drawn to our fine and performing arts activity programs. I’ve taught many semesters of digital photography and assisted in our dance program. I love seeing our students express themselves in an artistic way, and it’s especially meaningful to see a student develop more confidence through art.

What's something you've learned as a teacher at Eagle Hill?

I have learned so much since beginning my career at Eagle Hill. Working alongside an exceptional and generous faculty has helped me to grow so much as a professional. Being able to collaborate with and learn from such amazing educators has helped me to become a better teacher and inspires me to continue learning each day.

What do you like most about being part of the Eagle Hill faculty?

The sense of community at Eagle Hill is unique to our school. Every member of our school is valued and respected. Being part of that community is very meaningful to me. Being part of the community that doesn’t just teach academics, but important life values such as such as respect, resourcefulness, acceptance, and responsibility to our students is incredible.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

During my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, theater, traveling, and playing the ukulele!

Mary Fay

MARY FAY

Mary is in her twenty-sixth year at Eagle Hill. She has been teaching tutorial in the Lower School for the past 15 years and, before that, taught a wide-range of subjects (oral language, writing, and CORE).

Mary has a dual Bachelor's in Elementary and Special Education from Curry College. During her time at Eagle Hill, she received her Master's in Special Education from Manhattanville College. Mary has also presented at a number of conferences, including LDA (Learning Disabilities Association of America) on reading instruction.

Q&A

Tell us more about teaching tutorial and how it's changed over your years at Eagle Hill.

The backbone of our reading program here at Eagle Hill remains the same as when I first began teaching tutorial. So much of the current research on teaching reading points to the model that we use as the best approach to reading instruction. We use diagnostic teaching to develop an individualized, comprehensive, and integrated plan to address all the components of reading instruction.

Technology has allowed us to enhance how we teach especially the use of ActiveBoards in the classroom as it makes the lesson more engaging for the students. Additionally, there are many websites and apps that we continually investigate to determine if it would be useful for our students. 

How do the small class sizes at Eagle Hill enhance learning?

Tutorial classes at Eagle Hill are put together based on skill level and kept small so that teachers are able to provide an individualized approach to instruction. Small groups allow for ample opportunity to practice skills and careful teacher monitoring as students apply skills and strategies. Tutorial teachers share goals and strategies with the rest of the child’s team. The small class size and personalized instruction allow children to feel good as they build their skills.

What's something you've learned as a teacher at Eagle Hill?

As a teacher here at Eagle Hill, I have developed the desire to be a lifelong learner - if an approach is not working I try other methods. I am always looking for new and different ways to improve my teaching. We, as a faculty, are encouraged to attend conferences and workshops so that we are aware of the latest research and how that could impact our teaching.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

My husband and I have three children and a Cockapoo. I spend a lot of time driving my kids to activities and cheering them on at field hockey, lacrosse or soccer games. When I do have free time like to read!

ABBY HANRAHAN

ABBY HANRAHAN

Abby has been teaching at Eagle Hill since 1986. Over the past 33 years, she has taught every subject! But, for the last 20 or so years, she has primarily taught tutorial. 

Abby graduated from Boston University with a degree in Elementary Education and then received her Master's Degree in Special Education from Teacher's College, Columbia University. Over the years, she has attended numerous workshops and training programs that focus on reading instruction. Most recently, she earned her Orton Gillingham Classroom Educator Certification.

Q&A

Tell us more about the Tutorial Program and how you personalize your classes?

Tutorial is the core of each child’s program at Eagle Hill (and I’m not just saying that because I teach tutorial!). The groups typically have the smallest student to teacher ratio to allow for individualized instruction. Teaching tutorial is a daily diagnostic process - we monitor how the students are doing with the instruction then we modify and adapt as necessary. We use a variety of multi-sensory approaches so that each child gets what he or she needs. We are a skills-based program, so this allows us to spend the time it takes to teach our students the skills and strategies they need.

What do you like most about being part of the Eagle Hill faculty?

One of the things I enjoy most about teaching at Eagle Hill is the opportunity to continue to grow and learn. As teachers, we are continually learning from each other. In this community, I have learned a tremendous amount from my colleagues, both veteran and new, and also in other departments, especially the speech and language department, learning new information and collaborating to make sure that the very best practices are used with our students. Professional development is a priority.

What would you tell a prospective family about Eagle Hill?

One of the things that is SO unique about EHS is the fact that teachers build extraordinary rapport with their students. We are with them almost all the time - not just in class - but also at juice break, lunch, in the hallways, during study hall, sports, activities, etc.

These constant interactions with students in classroom as well as informal situations throughout the day allow for endless opportunities to connect with kids on many levels. The relationships that we build allow students to trust us and so they are more willing to open up and take risks that they might not in other educational settings. The relationships we have with our students now and from the past are, after all, why we are here and why we stay!

I am still in contact with many of my former students ... the relationships we build don’t end when a student graduates. These relationships are lifelong. 

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

The beach - at any time of year - is my happy place. I like to take long walks with friends, go to the movies with Mr. H., stay connected with our children who live in Boston and Kansas, and of course, READ.

Packy Hanrahan

PACKY HANRAHAN

Packy has been a member of the Eagle Hill faculty for an impressive 34 years. He is the Motor Training Specialist and teaches physical education. Packy is also a coach during every athletics season - he coaches cross country, varsity basketball, and varsity and junior varsity baseball.

He has his Bachelor's of Science in Physical Education from Canisius College and his Masters degree in Physical Education from Southern Connecticut State University.

Q&A

How does motor training work at Eagle Hill?

Motor training is a pullout class focusing on ball skills, strength, endurance, social play, and a few basic life skills. In September, I screen all the new kids who are 10 years old and younger, as well as older kids recommended by advisors and teachers. From there I come up with a list of kids I think would benefit from motor training.

I have more than 30 students in my pullout classes and have larger groups during Callback focusing on social play. I probably see almost all of the students at Eagle Hill in a pullout, during callback, or on a sports team during the school year.

What other skills are students working on when they work with you (social, confidence, etc)?

Self-confidence is a big part of what I do. The first thing I focus on is just being comfortable in the gym, and working with others in small groups. The pullouts start with basic ball skills, some strength tasks, and working individually with the teacher - but woven into all of it is getting students comfortable working on things that may have been hard for them in the past, begin to trust the process, etc.

What would you tell a prospective family about Eagle Hill?

I've been around schools my whole life. I grew up on a prep school campus. My first "real job" before I went to Canisius was a PE aid at a school for "at risk" kids.

My mom used to say things were "super-mega-gorgeous." I guess that's beyond the best. Eagle Hill is an amazing place. There is a reason I've worked here so long. It's all about the kids and what each student needs. The teachers work so hard to make sure each student gets what he or she needs.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I like to spend time with family and stay involved with sports. Whether that's following my favorite teams (Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics), keeping active playing softball and basketball, biking, or working out (including upkeep and updating the Cross Country path!).

Nicole Kumar

NICOLE KUMAR

Nicole has been teaching tutorial, literature, and study skills in Eagle Hill's Lower School since 2014. She graduated summa cum laude with her Bachelor's of Science in Childhood and Special Education from New York University. During her time at NYU, she was a member of the Pi Lambda Theta National Honors Society and the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education.

She then completed the Reading Specialist Master of Arts Program at Columbia University's Teachers College. She is a certified reading specialist in both NY and CT.

Q&A

What activities do you lead/what sports do you coach?

For over twenty years, I studied and then taught many different types of martial arts. Subsequently, I have been running the karate activity at Eagle Hill for the last four years. As of last year, I also assisted in coaching the Eagle Hill wrestling team. I love bringing martial arts to Eagle Hill; karate builds confidence and teaches self-discipline, which helps students succeed in all facets of academic and social life.

What do you like most about teaching at Eagle Hill?

I love how Eagle Hill’s small class sizes and individualized curriculum allow students to flourish. I also love the creative collaboration among colleagues; I’m always learning something new!

What would you tell a prospective family about Eagle Hill?

I would tell a prospective family that Eagle Hill provides an individualized learning experience to best meet the needs of each child. Eagle Hill is a respectful, accepting and supportive community of students, parents, administrators and teachers.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Outside of the classroom, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, hiking with my dog, reading, kickboxing, traveling and photography. 

Sharon Pearlman

SHARON PEARLMAN

Sharon has been teaching at Eagle Hill for an impressive 34 years. She currently teaches tutorial and math in the Upper School, but in her early years at Eagle Hill she taught most subjects (except science and history) to a range of ages. Sharon is the Co-Head of the Upper School Tutorial Department.

During her tenure at Eagle Hill, she has held a number of other positions in addition to teaching. These include Dorm Duty Master (before EHS had a separate dorm staff!), Advisor, Co-Director of the Summer Program, Cross-Country Coach, Assistant Basketball Coach … the list goes on!

Sharon has her Bachelor’s Degree from Bucknell University in Elementary Education. She also has her Master of Professional Studies Degree from Manhattanville College in Special Education and reading.

Q&A

Two of the most important, and perhaps most challenging, subjects to teach at Eagle Hill are math and tutorial - and you teach both! What's your "secret" to success in the classroom?

Every year is new, every kid is different, and I love that about teaching my students. I would never want a job that gets routine – pull out the yearly lesson plans and robotically administer the lessons… Instead, I get to know my students, both academically and personally, and then determine goals based on that knowledge. Then we set about taking the steps (often very small ones) toward achieving them.

That personal connection is extremely important, especially with older students who have “learned” that they can’t learn and often feel that they can’t trust the adults and the system to teach them. Why should they trust me, believe in me? And, more importantly, why should they trust themselves and take the risk of trying one more time? So, I spend a lot of time and focus on relationship-building, letting them know I care about them, that I “see” who they are and can be, that it’s safe to let down their guard.

As a teacher, you have to believe that our students want to learn, and that they CAN learn. So many LD students have developed dysfunctional coping strategies (acting out, hide, learned helplessness, etc.) from struggling in school, but they still WANT to learn, and my job is to break through the barriers, help them believe it’s possible, and then find the ways to teach them that click and bring them success. It is such an important job, and I take it very seriously, and it is SO amazing when I am blessed to witness it happen!

I am very passionate about teaching, EHS, and my job as an educator!

What would you say about the level of training and experience of the Eagle Hill faculty?

I came to EHS in 1986 without formal special education training (my undergrad was in regular Elementary Ed), and learned so much through administrator/advisor training, professional development, informal interactions with colleagues, and from the kids themselves. By the 1990s, when I studied Special Ed and Reading for my Master’s Degree, I found that so much of the information I was being taught at Manhattanville was information I had already learned from teaching at EHS.

And the learning continues – the educators at EHS are generous with their knowledge, experience, ideas, and expertise. We’re all in it for the kids, so sharing is a given. It’s my understanding that at some other schools, teachers can be very closed and territorial with their ideas, materials, etc., but that is certainly NOT my experience here at EHS.  And there is a wealth of expertise and some very creative thinkers amongst our faculty, and I feel so privileged to be able to pick those talented brains!

What would you tell a prospective family about Eagle Hill?

A family coming to Eagle Hill doesn’t just send their child to a great school - they are joining a community of people who all care about that child and who will work together to discover and help bring out the best from within him/her. There is a real nurturing feel here, and parents will have a sense that their child is finally “seen” and understood, and that these professionals will allow their child to become who he/she is capable of being.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love reading (but, ironically as a reading teacher it’s hard to find any time to read unless we are on vacation!) and playing tennis – I compete on a couple USTA tennis teams each season. I am very close to my children, one being nearby in CT and the other out in California, but I stay in close touch with them either in person (including some long flights out to the West coast) or by phone. I am a real nerd, too – I love doing word and number puzzles for relaxation (Ms. Chase saves me the NY Times crossword puzzle every day!).

Allie Shabman

ALLIE SHABMAN

2018-2019 is Allie's fourth year teaching at Eagle Hill. She teaches LA, tutorial, and writing.

Allie received her Bachelor's in Elementary Education and Special Education from American University. She received her Masters in Education from Johns Hopkins.

Q&A

What activities do you lead outside of the classroom?

I teach the afternoon computer coding activity. 

Tell us more about computer coding as an activity.

Many of our students are unbelievably creative. Exposing students to computer coding allows me to provide them with a new medium to express their creativity. 

We use CodeCombat and Scratch - two programs to facilitate learning computer coding - both of which are designed for students.

What do you like most about teaching at Eagle Hill?

The passionate, creative, and hardworking students!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I like to read, do puzzles, crochet, cross stitch, hike, and fish!

Steve Stern

STEVE STERN

Steve is an alumnus of Eagle Hill and has been teaching here for 28 years. Over his nearly three-decade tenure at EHS, he has taught many subjects - but mainly literature and social studies in the Lower School.

Mr. Stern graduated from Eagle Hill in 1983. After high school, he studied Real Estate and Urban Development from American University Business School. In the early days of his Eagle Hill career, he earned his Masters in Special Education from the College of New Rochelle.

Q&A

Being an Eagle Hill alumnus, what do remember most about your time as a student here?

My time spent going to Eagle Hill was very special to me.  I remember feeling confident for the first time in my life. There were teachers who understood me, friends that didn’t judge me, and an atmosphere of family that made me feel extremely safe and cared for. 

What made you want to come back and teach at Eagle Hill?

I was not sure what I wanted to do after I graduated from college, so I was naturally drawn back to Eagle Hill. I met with Rob Mullen, a teacher from the old days, and he suggested I come back and try subbing at Eagle Hill while I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. After a year and a half of subbing, my path was clear. I had the same feeling as an adult as I did as a kid. As a teacher, I would be able to help students feel safe and cared for just as I was 10 years before. 28 years later, here I am and have never regretted one single moment. 

What do you like most about being part of the Eagle Hill faculty?

Being a teacher at Eagle Hill is like having a second family. I have grown up here, watched my friends' children grow up, and made life long friends. The group of people who work at EHS are some of the most dedicated and supportive teachers and friends you will ever encounter. There is nothing I like better than being a part of this special place and the special people who work here. 

What would you tell a prospective family about Eagle Hill?

I would tell anyone who thinks EHS might be a place for their child that Eagle Hill will change their child's life and their family's life. That we build a foundation of learning, self awareness, and compassion that is unparalleled.  I have talked to countless number of alumni - both older and younger - some who were successful outside of Eagle Hill and others who struggled in life after Eagle Hill. It's overwhelming how many people say that Eagle Hill was the time in their lives that they remember the most, and that Eagle Hill was the game changer in their successes in life.  

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I enjoy traveling, going to Yankee games, listening to music and going to concerts.

Chris Sweeney

CHRIS SWEENEY

Chris started teaching at Eagle Hill in 1993 and was a full-time teacher here for five years. She returned to Eagle Hill in 2005, after taking some time to stay home with her young children. The 2018-2019 school year makes her twentieth year of teaching at Eagle Hill. She primarily teaches Lower School tutorial, but she has also taught writing, literature, and science. In her time at Eagle Hill, Chris has served as a mentor for new teachers and has presented three times at LDA conferences on the topic of metacognition.

Chris studied psychology and special education at SUNY Geneseo. Her Bachelor's of Science is in Special Education, and she completed her Master's degree in Special Education and Reading at Manhattanville College.

Q&A

What activities do you lead outside of the classroom?

The activities I lead are predominantly in nature study and gardening. I taught nature study when I first started here in 1993, exploring our beautiful campus and I love to continue finding ways to explore the outdoors with students. 

I've also been co-leader of Eagle Hill's Earth Day for the past seven years with Jeanette Glover. In addition, I've been in charge of our school vegetable garden!

How involved are you in community service projects and why is community service an important part of life at Eagle Hill?

I work with the Sweet Readers program and bring in pups from Guiding Eyes for the Blind for home socialization in our classrooms.

Community service develops bonds. Working together at EHS towards positive common goals provides students with a sense of accomplishment. Placing value on even the smallest act like holding a door for someone leads to bigger projects like making cards for those in need during callbacks. Ultimately, our students learn that volunteering feels good. They deepen their respect, pride, and compassion while having fun together.

What do you like most about teaching at Eagle Hill?

I love teaching at Eagle Hill for a wide variety of reasons. One of our greatest strengths is student-centered thinking and teaching. The power of our collective mission to collaborate has kept me striving to learn more and teach with unwavering conviction and passion.

What would you tell a prospective family about Eagle Hill?

Prospective families can expect the best and most committed people to teach their children at Eagle Hill. We strive to create successful school experiences.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time I love to be with my three children, our dog Blue, and outdoors. Kayaking, hiking, and gardening are some of my favorite activities and I enjoy baking, making jam, listening to audio books, and traveling with family and friends.

Our Teachers, in Our Own Words

Faculty and Staff Directory

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Conrad Aamodt

Conrad Aamodt

Titles: Teacher
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Deanna Abbondola

Deanna Abbondola

Titles: Teacher
Email:
Margie Alley

Margie Alley

Titles: School Social Worker
Email:
Daniel Baker

Daniel Baker

Titles: Teacher
Email:
Joseph Baynes

Joseph Baynes

Titles: Teacher
Email:
David Blank

David Blank

Titles: Director of Psychological Services
Email: