An Episcopal, co-educational 100% boarding school in Middletown, Delaware for grades 9 – 12
Our academic program is built around a sequence of requirements in the core subject areas of English; history; science; mathematics; classical and modern languages; religious studies; and the arts. Course curriculums strive to be interdisciplinary: that is, in developing coursework, faculty consider what else a student is learning in that particular school year, and attempt to connect that work across classrooms, putting disciplines and methods in conversation with one another.
In all disciplines, coursework is intensely focused on the teaching of writing, critical reasoning and scientific investigation. Our course offerings reflect our goal of connecting students with contemporary issues, technologies, and innovations of the wider world, and our deep belief in the world's religious, philosophical and artistic traditions as a lasting source of wisdom and hope.
What's Going On In Our Departments?
Danica Tisdale Fisher Named Dean of Inclusion and Belonging
Earlier today, Head of School Joy McGrath ’92 announced to the community that Danica Tisdale Fisher has been appointed as St. Andrew’s dean of inclusion and belonging, effective July 1, 2022.
As dean of inclusion and belonging, Danica will be responsible for developing diversity and equity objectives for the school, and designing and implementing inclusion and belonging programs for all St. Andreans. This programming will support students in their formation as ethical, engaged citizens; engage employees in work around issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, cultural competency, anti-racism, and anti-bias; and provide our entire community with opportunities for learning, critical thinking, challenging conversations, growth, reflection, and action. In addition, Danica will manage the Leadership and Equity Program for new students; serve as faculty advisor to the Student Diversity Committee; and work with the Advancement Office to create alumni programming.
Danica comes to St. Andrew’s with a wide array of experience and academic accomplishments. She has served in leadership roles at a variety of colleges and independent schools, including Phillips Academy (Andover), University of California, Davis, Tufts University, Claremont McKenna College, and most recently, Yale University, where she currently serves as assistant dean for diversity in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Her work at Yale includes Title IX and discrimination and harassment coordination; the implementation of recruitment, outreach, and retention initiatives; and driving the integration of inclusive and equitable practices throughout the graduate school. She holds a Ph.D. in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies from Emory University, as well as a master’s in English from Temple University and a bachelor’s in English from Spelman College.
“From the moment I stepped foot on St. Andrew’s the campus, I knew it was a very special place,” Danica said. “I am honored to join the St. Andrew’s community as dean of inclusion and belonging and am thrilled to align with an institution that has centered access and equity since its founding. I am equally as excited to work with students and colleagues who are deeply committed to advancing inclusive practices and to building and sustaining a culture of belonging.”
“Danica’s contributions to the Yale University community have been many and invaluable toward creating a more inclusive and supportive campus environment,” said Dr. Michelle Nearon, senior associate dean and director of the Office for Graduate Student Development and Diversity at Yale University. “Her efforts have taken the Office for Graduate Student Development and Diversity to a higher level of visibility and accessibility. She has an amazing work ethic and promotes a culture of learning that graduate students and her peers respond well to. She will be greatly missed, but we wish her the absolute best in her future endeavors.”
“I’m delighted that Danica and her family will be joining our community. Everyone who met Danica during our search process said that they learned something from her in their conversations. It was clear that she is the educator, leader, and colleague St. Andrew’s needs to lead belonging and inclusion programs in the coming years,” said Head of School Joy McGrath regarding the appointment.
Danica was identified as St. Andrew’s next dean of inclusion and belonging from a talented field of applicants. She succeeds current Dean of Diversity Education Devin Duprey ’10 in the role; Devin will depart St. Andrew’s at the end of this school year to attend graduate school.
After a four-week regular season and a three-week playoff in the state's Ninth Grade Math League, St. Andrew’s defeated the Charter School of Wilmington in the finals to win the Math League State Championship. The team, seen here, went undefeated in head-to head competition this year.
Delaware’s math league is split into two groups of competition, one for ninth grade students, and one for students in grades 10-12. St. Andrew’s competes in both age groups; this year, the III Form team qualified for the playoffs, while the upperformer team did not. The math league’s regular season is four weeks, and St. Andrew’s competed against a different school each week. In competition, each student on the team has 40 minutes to individually solve a set of eight questions; the team with the most correct work completed in the shortest amount time is the victor. Subject matter in the ninth grade league includes geometry, probability, and algebra.
Having won all their regular season matches, the SAS III Form team qualified for the playoffs along with seven other teams. Each round of the playoffs is single elimination in head-to-head competition against one other school, and SAS won all three of its playoff matches to claim the ninth grade state championship crown on February 22.
“The ninth grade team used the problem-solving skills they’ve been developing in their math classes at St. Andrew’s to creatively attack these challenging problems,” said math team head coach Jon Tower, who is “substitute coaching” the team this year while longstanding head coach Eric Finch is on sabbatical. “Their commitment to the team and enthusiasm for the work made them a great group to take this journey with. They should all be proud of this remarkable accomplishment.”
Fourth Annual McLean Science Lecture Competition Explores "New and Emerging Science"
On November 12, the school community enjoyed the fourth annual Peter K. McLean Science Lecture Competition. In this competition, begun in 2018 by current Science Department Chair Ashley Hyde, students are invited to submit presentations on a STEM topic of their choosing in a variety of fields: physics, astronomy, chemistry, engineering, computer science, environmental science, biology, and medicine. Four student finalists are then selected to give their presentations to the school community in Engelhard Hall. This year’s finalists and their talks were:
Adele Auchincloss ’23, Nerve Detecting Prosthetics: Replicating Human Touch
Derek Ike ’23, The Future of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence at Boston Dynamics
Heidi Seo ’23, How Artificial Intelligence Revolutionizes Biology: AlphaFold 2
Sonal Bhatia ’22, Asteroid Orbit Determination (And Why On Earth We Should Start Caring About It)
The finalists' talks were then judged by a panel of science faculty, with Pearl Mallick ’22, last year's competition winner, as a student vote. Sonal Bhatia ’22 was selected as the 2021 winner, and her achievement was announced at the school’s Thanksgiving dinner on November 19.
"This year's competition offered a platform to young scientists in the Classes of 2022 and 2023 to put their passion for science on display for the whole community,” said Dr. Hyde. “Ten students entered the competition this year, each of whom offered exciting talks on cutting-edge science: selecting just four for the final was incredibly hard. Students were tasked with designing talks on topics they had not seen in a class, and the resulting variety and depth of what they produced is a testament to how inquisitive and driven our students are. In Engelhard on Friday, our finalists came meticulously prepared, having toiled away to refine and perfect their talks since the audition phase, and despite their nerves, they all blew us away! The audience, consisting of students from the 9th to the 12th grades as well as faculty (along with family and friends watching from home!) were captivated by each and every talk, offering curious and insightful questions to each speaker in the Q&A portions. Adele, Derek, Heidi, and Sonal should all feel triumphant for having inspired and enriched our collective minds. I and the entire Science Department thank them all for their hard work. As it is every year, my favorite part of the competition was learning about new and emerging science from our speakers: in Engelhard that night, we were not divided into students and teachers. We were all simply lovers of learning."
All-School Assignment Engages Students in Strategic Mathematical Thinking
Math faculty utilize a classic childhood game to give students the opportunity to work through elemental game theory
Each school year, the night before the first day of classes, St. Andrew’s kicks off the first evening study hall with an all-school assignment (since students have not had classes yet, they do not, in fact, have any homework to do during this first study hall). This all-school assignment has traditionally taken the form of an essay or reflection. This year, however, Head of School Joy McGrath wanted to try something new; she asked the math department to develop an assignment based on mathematical thinking that would be accessible for students at all grade levels. “We wanted to come up with an assignment that had multiple entry points,” says Dean of Math & Science Harvey Johnson reflect. “We wanted students to be able to relate the assignment without requiring a specific set of skills.” This led math faculty to design an assignment around tic-tac-toe—specifically, the version of the game known as “ultimate tic-tac-toe.” Ultimate tic-tac-toe is built on the classic 3x3 grid, but within each square is another tic-tac-toe grid. Players must win each smaller game in order to claim the bigger square as their own. Furthermore, each placement of an X or O determines which grid the opponent can play in for their next turn. Thus, ultimate tic-tac-toe turns a simple game into one that is more strategically complex. “There's a whole branch of math called game theory,” explains Dr. J. “Game theory can be applied to games like ultimate tic-tac-toe to see if there is a best strategy that you could use—and there's a mathematical definition for what ‘best strategy’ means.”
Although the all-school assignment might not be exactly the types of problems students typically solve in math classrooms, the goal of the assignment was for “students to feel like math is accessible and valuable,” notes Dr. Johnson. “Hopefully some of the skills that they practiced in this exercise will resonate with them throughout the year. Often we get a problem and we're trying to think: What's the best route? What's the most efficient way to get to the solution? And how can I show my work on the way? That's what we're doing in the math classroom.”
It appears that the all-school assignment was a success. “Ultimate tic-tac-toe seemed boring at first,” says senior Nick Oxnam ‘22, “but as I began playing I started to notice that it was very strategic and engaging. I played with my roommate against the hardest AI, analyzing it and hoping for a tie. When we started watching its moves, we noticed that the AI was sophisticated enough to run through a huge amount of possible moves and it used different strategies to beat its opponent. Our excitement about trying to simply tie with the computer, not even to win, felt exactly like the excitement of finishing a challenging problem in math class. We had to understand the rules, what was possible, and choose our best path, just like our math curriculum teaches us [to do]."
Nick was not alone in finding the game engaging; in a reflection survey students were asked to complete after the assignment, 80% of students responded that they would like to see an ultimate tic-tac-toe tournament at St. Andrew’s. Perhaps SWAG (the Student Weekend Activity Group) has some planning to do!
You can read the assignment here or view the video the Math Department produced to explain the assignment here.
Students Recognized for Achievements on National Latin Exam
Every year, St. Andrew’s Latin students take the National Latin Exam. While their classwork is not specifically aimed at preparing them for this standardized test, St. Andrew’s students consistently “achieve glory” for their high performance. Students who received this recognition for the 2020 or 2021 exam—many of whom were learning remotely during those school years—were honored in person at a recent School Meeting:
Jack Cross ’23, John Teti ’23, Harry Murphy ’23, Adele Auchincloss ’23, Cleo Ray ’22, Elizabeth Rainey ’22, Leila Warren ’21, Will Vogel ’22, Pearl Mallick ’22, Adelaide Dixon ’22, Sophie Xu ’23, Jack Vogel ’24, Sonal Bhatia ’22
Summa Cum Laude
Elyot Seger ’23, Jun Choi ’22, Helen Kerr ’23, Tracy Yuan ’22
“This is not an insignificant achievement because these National Latin Exams are [difficult and] we don't test to the exam," said Classics Department Chair Philip Walsh. "We don't prepare our students for the exam. That's not our business—these are just students who know Latin, love Latin, and achieve on a national standardized test.”
Walsh noted that, shortly after seeing students recognized for their achievement, a III Form in one of Walsh’s current classes set a goal to earn at least a 35 on the exam—a score high enough to win an award. “To me, that's a win,” he said. “As a teacher I want that enthusiasm. I want that excitement.” Ultimately, Walsh hopes that the study of Latin will “spark students' imagination and foster a fascination with a time, a place, and a culture that is so far away and yet so similar to our civilization.”
Head of School Tad Roach and Head-Elect Joy McGrath ’92 announced and welcomed the new faculty who will join St. Andrew's in the 2021-22 school year. The school is grateful to Emily Pressman, Ana Ramirez, Elizabeth Roach, and the many department chairs and faculty members who engaged in the faculty hiring process this year.
An Alabama native, Victor Cuicahua is a graduate of Pomona College and entering his fourth year of teaching. At Pomona he earned a bachelor’s in history and was awarded the John Hayes Beaver History Prize, and conducted graduate-level research at the University of Illinois focusing on the political attitudes and influence of the Chilean military prior, during, and after the toppling of President Salvador Allende. He subsequently received a master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania while teaching ninth grade world history, coaching soccer, and serving as a dormitory parent and advisor at Taft School as part of Penn's Boarding School Teaching Residency. Prior to becoming an educator, he was a nationally-recognized immigrant rights activist and appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 2012. Previously, Victor founded and led the first youth-led immigrant rights group in his home state into an organization affiliated with the largest immigrant youth-led network in the country; this organization was involved in multiple state and national campaigns. At St. Andrew’s, Victor will teach history.
Erin Hanson has a bachelor’s in English and comparative literature from Williams College and is completing a Master of Philosophy in English Studies at Cambridge University.
At Williams, Erin was a Ruchman Fellow at the Oakley Center for Humanities—where she wrote her senior thesis on debility, embodiment, and ecology in the work of Virginia Woolf and the philosopher Martin Heidegger—and also completed an independent study on literary pedagogy. She was a Williams Roche Research Fellow in the summers of 2016 and 2017. In 2016, she investigated the interarticulation of colonialism and feminism in the west, focusing on the Brontë sisters. The following summer, she immersed herself in the New York Public Library’s collection of literature and documents related to the AIDS crisis. She also acted in and directed the Williams parody Frosh Revue; led freshmen in an outdoor orientation trip; and participated in campus activism around mental health, disabled life, and racial and economic justice.
This summer, Erin will complete her master’s thesis on queer masculinity and racial capital in the work of Toni Morrison.
Outside of school and work, Erin sits zazen and enjoys theater, walking, and gardening. At St. Andrew’s, Erin will teach English. She is absolutely delighted to be joining the St. Andrew’s community with her partner, Bertie, and their puppy, Ernest.
Angelica Huang-Murphy was born and raised in Shanghai, China. She first came to the US for college at the University of Michigan. Coming from a family of educators with a genuine passion for learning languages, she pursued her master’s in teaching foreign language at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California. Since then, she has worked with students of all ages and in various capacities at multiple schools and programs, including the Middlebury Institute, Flint Hill School, Berwick Academy, and Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy. She spent the last few years raising her two daughters, who challenge and refine her teaching approach every day.
At St. Andrew’s, Angelica will teach Chinese. She is excited to return to the classroom next year, and her family are thrilled to become part of the St. Andrew’s community as well!
Will Kwon holds a bachelor’s in economics and mathematics from Yale University, and a master’s and doctorate in economics from the University of Southern California. He previously taught mathematics at Bellarmine-Jefferson High School in Burbank, CA; Wilbraham & Monson Academy in Wilbraham, MA (a boarding school); and Greenhill School in Addison, TX. He also taught economics at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas, NV and Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, MI.
At St. Andrew’s, Will will teach math. He is returning to high school teaching after ten years away, and can’t wait! Will, his wife Audrey, and their son Sam look forward to joining the St. Andrew’s community.
Bertie Miller is a member of the Class of 2014 at St. Andrew’s. In 2018, Bertie graduated from Williams College with a double major in geosciences and studio art. She specialized in climate science and conceptual art. She has done geoscience research in Alaska, the Bering Sea, Iceland, and Greenland. At Williams, Bertie was a four-year varsity member and captain of the women’s crew team. She was an all-NESCAC rower, a three time NCAA medalist, and won gold in the 2017 NCAA 1V Division 3 championship.
After graduating, Bertie joined the Juneau Icefield Research Program and conducted glacial geophysics research while living on the ice. She trained in crevasse rescue and mountaineering methods. Bertie went on to work as a barista before moving to the UK, where she worked as a Polar Logistics operative for the British Antarctic Survey. She also worked on the Juneau Icefield Research Program’s Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion steering committee.
At St. Andrew’s, Bertie will teach environmental science and serve as the Sustainability Coordinator. In her free time, Bertie enjoys skateboarding, cooking, making video art, and going on hikes with her partner, Erin, and their dog, Ernie.
Martha Pitts grew up in New Orleans, LA. She attended Princeton University, graduating in 2001 with a bachelor’s in English and creative writing. At Princeton, she studied poetry with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, who also directed her thesis, a poetry collection entitled “Glutton.” At Princeton, she wrote for The Daily Princetonian and published work with the Nassau Literary Review, the second oldest undergraduate literary magazine in the nation.
Martha earned her doctorate in English, as well as a graduate certificate in women’s and gender studies, from Louisiana State University. Since then, she has taught at Georgetown, Howard, Towson, and Fairleigh Dickinson University. She has been selected to participate in two National Endowment for the Humanities summer institutes and has presented papers at several conferences. Her work has appeared in edited collections and publications such as the Washington City Paper and The Times-Picayune.
Martha has served as a diversity practitioner at St. Paul’s School for Girls in Maryland, and she is a member of the University of Michigan’s Diversity Scholars Network.
At St. Andrew’s, Martha will teach English. She is the proud mother of Olivia and Abraham Perry and a dog named Bruno.
Elizabeth Preysner is a recent graduate of Yale University Divinity School and will be ordained in the Episcopal Church in early June. She previously taught Spanish at Tilton School in Tilton, NH and English at the University of New Hampshire. During the summers, Liz teaches writing and literature for the Royal Thai Scholars Program at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, NH. She has also taught online critical reading and writing courses for Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth. In addition to her Master of Divinity from Yale, Liz has a master’s in English literature from the University of New Hampshire and a bachelor’s in English and Hispanic studies from Trinity College. She has completed coursework abroad in Argentina and Spain.
At St. Andrew’s, Liz will serve as associate chaplain and teach religious studies and Spanish. Liz is an avid runner, and she ran both cross-country and track at Trinity. She also enjoys hiking, kayaking, and seeking the divine in nature. Liz plays the flute and piccolo in several community bands. Finally, she is an enthusiastic Postcrosser—she likes sending and receiving postcards from around the world!
Max Shrem has a bachelor’s in French from Washington University in St. Louis and a doctorate in French Literature from New York University, where he also taught undergraduate language courses. During his six years at the Chadwick School in Palos Verdes, CA, Max taught all levels of French, led a homestay trip to France, advised the Jewish affinity group, and participated in the annual outdoor education program. During the summer, he taught at Chadwick International in South Korea. At St. Andrew’s, Max will teach French. He looks forward to helping his St. Andrew’s students engage in French outside the classroom, broaden their sense of community, and foster a connection with the environment.
Max regularly publishes and lectures on the intersection of the fine arts and gastronomy. This summer, he’ll speak about France’s first restaurant critic at the European Institute for the History and Culture of Food, and will give a presentation on culinary maps at the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery.
Max also loves cheese. During his graduate studies, he worked at Paris’s renowned Fromagerie Trotté and continues to spend part of his vacation time working on an organic goat cheese farm in France’s Ardèche region. Most recently, he contributed to The Oxford Companion to Cheese.
Max currently lives in West Hollywood with his partner of 17 years, Tom Samiljan. In their spare time, they enjoy hiking, biking, and watching movies.