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An Episcopal, co-educational 100% boarding school in Middletown, Delaware for grades 9 – 12

Disciplines

 

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?

Summer Reading Discussions Kick Off the Academic Year

Each spring, St. Andrew’s faculty select a book for the school’s suggested summer reading list. Students are then required to read at least two books of their choosing from the list and come to school prepared to engage in a discussion about each book with the teacher who selected it and fellow students. (This year, all students were also required to read “Pack Your Parachute Well,” a Commencement address given at St. Andrew’s in 2011 by Sarah Atwater Abbott ’99.) Book discussions take place on the first Friday of the academic year, and serve to close out the first week of school by setting aside time and space for informal, but also intellectual, connection and conversation.
 
Click here to view this year’s suggested summer reading list.
 
“Reading a wide range of voices and genres—finding authors and subjects you enjoy—is an important piece of any student’s education,” says Dean of Teaching and Learning Gretchen Hurtt. “Summer break gives students time to pursue their own intellectual interests, and at St. Andrew’s, summer reading also becomes a way for us to connect as a community.”
 
Discussion-based learning is central to St. Andrew’s academic program. The goal of the summer reading program is to give students the opportunity to read or discover books, topics, and ideas they might not be exposed to in class at St. Andrew’s. Then, as the new school year begins, these first-week-of-school “book talks” allow both new and returning students to practice habits of discussion-based learning—listening, dialogue, and critical thinking—in a relaxed setting. What’s more: it gives all members of our community the chance to get to know each other a little bit better! 

“The book talks are another iteration of how we build community—by learning together and having conversations together,” Hurtt says.

Irene duPont Library Director Lisa Myers says she enjoys seeing what students choose to read each year. This year’s list included a variety of nonfiction titles, memoirs, and self-help books; classic novels, graphic novels, and science fiction; and even a cookbook (Everyone's Table by St. Andrew’s alumni Gregory Gourdet ’93).

“The book talks are such a great way for students to meet and talk with teachers they may not have previously had the chance to get to know,” Myers notes.

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Introducing Our 2022-23 New Faculty!

Head of School Joy McGrath ’92 announced and welcomed the new faculty who will join St. Andrew's in the 2022-23 school year. The school is grateful to Emily Pressman, Ana Ramirez, and the many department chairs and faculty members who engaged in the faculty hiring process this year. 


Photo of Adam Bitzer

Adam Bitzer joins St. Andrew’s as a biology teacher. Originally from Massachusetts, he comes to St. Andrew’s from Miami, Florida. He is a graduate of Salve Regina University, where he majored in biology. He holds a master’s in biomedical engineering and biotechnology from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he conducted research exploring the interspecific interactions within microbial soil communities.

After completing his master’s degree, he continued his research and served as an adjunct professor at Salve Regina University. In 2019, Adam made the transition to secondary school education, teaching and coaching squash at St. George’s School in Middletown, Rhode Island, for one year before moving to Miami to teach at Ransom Everglades School. There he taught advanced placement biology, chemistry, and biology. Outside of the classroom, he worked with the school’s young researcher program, served as the inaugural mentor of the synthetic biology team, and coached the middle school baseball team.

Outside of work, Adam likes to spend his time gardening, cooking, and reading. He is excited to be joining the St. Andrew’s community with his fiancée Abigail and their dogs Sage, Theia, and Ciana.


photo of Lizzie Brown ’08

Lizzie Brown ’08 joins St. Andrew’s as director of counseling. She is a licensed professional counselor-associate who supports teens and young adults navigating anxiety, depression, adjustments, and disordered eating. She is also an E-500 hour registered yoga teacher, so she sees healing through a holistic lens of mind, body, and soul. She holds a bachelor’s in business administration from William & Mary University and a master’s degree in mental health counseling from St. Edward’s University. 

Lizzie is passionate about helping individuals and communities access mental wellness and personal fulfillment. For nearly the past decade, she has been studying and working in wellness and mental health in Austin, Texas. She and her husband, Taylor Brown, graduated from St. Andrew’s in 2008 and are thrilled to be returning home to the community.


Neil Cunningham joins St. Andrew’s as athletic director, and brings to the school extensive experience in coaching, teaching, sports management, and athletics strategic planning.

Neil originally hails from the United Kingdom. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physical education and religious studies from Brunel University in London, England, and a master’s degree in sport leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

He previously served as assistant athletic director at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, where he was also the head coach of the women’s soccer team and the chair of the physical education department. Prior to joining Washington & Lee, Neil was the executive director of the Valley AFC Soccer Club in Roanoke, Virginia, and head coach of the men’s and women’s soccer teams at Savannah College of Art & Design in Savannah, Georgia.


photo of Kate Cusick

Kate Cusick joins St. Andrew’s as an English teacher and head coach of field hockey. She has been teaching English for 10 years, coaching field hockey for 14 years, and she is entering her twentieth year in education. 

Originally from Pennsylvania and most recently teaching and coaching at Moravian Academy in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Boston University, her master’s degree in education from Harvard University, and is pursuing a second master’s degree from Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English. At Bread Loaf, Cusick has studied critical essay writing, adaptation analysis, and fantasy fiction, and has conducted extensive research on the dynamic between literature and film within the English classroom. 

Along with her passion for language and literature, Kate is a life-long fitness enthusiast; she was a three-sport, four-year high school varsity athlete who went on to play Division 1 field hockey at Boston University. She was selected as All-Conference Tournament First Team, and First Team All-America East. Despite a knee injury her junior year, Cusick finished her collegiate career as a two-time conference champion and among the top record holders for career goals and points in Terrier history. 
 
In addition to reading and spending time with her family, she enjoys baking, hiking, paddle boarding, and gardening.


photo of Wilson Everhart ’95

Wilson Everhart ’95 is returning to St. Andrew’s as a history teacher. Wilson is a member of St. Andrew’s Class of 1995 and served as a faculty member at SAS from 2005 to 2015. Wilson is returning to St. Andrew’s after working for seven years as the head of upper school at The Country School in Easton, Maryland. In Wilson’s first stint at St. Andrew’s, he taught history, coached girls cross-country and crew, served as the director of boys residential life and III Form dean, and was an assistant college counselor.

Wilson majored in history and government at Colby College, where he earned All-New England honors in cross-country, indoor track, and crew. Immediately after college, he taught, coached, and led outdoor trips at the Holderness School in Plymouth, New Hampshire; worked as an instructor for NOLS; and earned a master’s degree from Wesleyan University.

At St. Andrew’s this year, Wilson will once again teach history and serve as head coach of the girls crew program. Wilson is married to a wonderful woman, Sarah, and they have two children, Christian and Campbell, and a dog, Cece. The Everharts will live on Pell Dorm, where Wilson will serve as dorm parent. When not working, Wilson enjoys spending time with his family, running, reading, and being outside.


photo of Danica Tisdale Fisher

Danica Tisdale Fisher joins St. Andrew’s as dean of inclusion and belonging. Danica is a native Delawarean who also calls South Carolina home. She is a graduate of Spelman College and Temple University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English, respectively. Danica earned her doctorate in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Emory University. Her research and teaching interests include 19th and 20th century African-American literature, feminist theory, and popular cultural studies.

Danica began her career in nonprofit development and youth programming with the Children’s Defense Fund in Los Angeles, California. After completing her Ph.D., she returned to higher and secondary education with appointments at Claremont McKenna College, Tufts University, Phillips Academy Andover, and the University of California, Davis. Prior to joining St. Andrew’s, Danica served as assistant dean for diversity in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Yale University. Her work at Yale included Title IX and discrimination and harrassment coordination; the implementation of recruitment, outreach, and retention initiatives; and driving the integration of inclusive and equitable practices throughout the graduate school. 

Danica will join the St. Andrew’s community with her spouse, Dr. Damany Fisher, and their two children, Asa and Anansa.


photo of Greg Guldin

Greg Guldin joins St. Andrew’s as a chemistry instructor. A New Jersey native, Guldin holds a bachelor’s in biochemistry and molecular biology from Dickinson College and a master’s in independent school leadership from the Klingenstein Center, Teacher’s College, Columbia University.

Prior to St. Andrew’s, Greg served as dean of students at The Webb School in Knoxville, Tennessee, and as the dean of V and VI Forms and swimming head coach at Woodberry Forest School in Madison, Virginia. At Woodberry, Mr. Guldin filled a variety of roles during his tenure, including science faculty, dormitory head, aquatic director, VISAA Swimming & Diving Committee president, and faculty sponsor to several student-led clubs and organizations. 

Greg is excited to join the St. Andrew’s community and to return to a residential, student-centered setting. He notes that the warmth and hospitality of everyone he has met so far has been truly remarkable! In his free time he enjoys reading, shooting sport clays and skeet, and going on walks with his dog, Tucker.


photo of Shelby Jackson

Shelby Jackson joins St. Andrew’s as a mental health counselor. Shelby is a native of Delaware who has lived in the state her entire life and currently resides in Middletown.

She attended the University of Delaware as an undergraduate and holds two master’s degrees; one in psychology (2019) and one in clinical mental health counseling (2021) from Wilmington University and Capella University, respectively. She is also currently obtaining her Ph.D. in general psychology.

Before arriving at St. Andrew’s, Shelby worked in a variety of counseling settings, including nonprofits, schools, and private practice. She is also versed in equine psychotherapy. In her free time, Shelby enjoys traveling and spending time with her family. Shelby is an avid animal lover and has four dogs, two cats, and two horses. She is a firm believer in the saying by Brené Brown, “We don’t have to do it all alone. We were never meant to.”


Photo of Grace Saliba ’12

Grace Saliba ’12 joins St. Andrew’s as assistant director of admission. As a 2016 graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, Grace earned her bachelor’s in sociology, was a two-time All-American lacrosse player and team captain, and helped lead the Diplomats to two NCAA Final Four appearances.

After graduation from F&M, Grace returned to St. Andrew’s, where she served as assistant dean of students, assistant athletic director, interim co-director of residential life, dorm parent on Pell, and assistant coach of girls cross-country, basketball, and lacrosse. Grace then sought a new challenge as director of high school placement for CitySquash in Brooklyn, New York. For three years, Grace supported students and families in the local and independent high school application process.

Grace is currently pursuing her master’s in counseling at the Family Institute at Northwestern University. In addition to her work with the Admission Office, she will again serve as a dorm parent and assistant coach for girls lacrosse. 


photo of Angela Vassallo

Angela Vassallo joins St. Andrew’s as a mental health counselor. She is a native of Delaware, born and raised 30 miles north of campus.

After graduating high school, Angela relocated to Pennsylvania to complete a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in Spanish, as well as a master’s degree in clinical counseling, both from University of Scranton. Soon after, she settled back in Delaware, where she completed her second master’s as well as a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Walden University. She is a Nationally Certified and Licensed Professional Counselor.

Vassallo has an array of experiences providing mental health services for all populations, groups, and families across outpatient, private practice, school-based, and community-based practices. She has served as a counselor, educator, supervisor, and consultant. Some of her counseling specialties include anxiety, depression, ADHD, trauma, interpersonal conflict, and adjustment challenges.

Outside of work, she enjoys cooking in the kitchen, spending time with her family, or sitting and reading any and every book she can find.


 
Valerie Vitalo

Valerie Vitalo joins St. Andrew’s as a Spanish teacher. She attended William Penn High School here in Delaware, where her captivating Spanish teacher inspired her to pursue language teaching. She went on to earn her bachelor's degree in Spanish education from the University of Delaware. During her study abroad at the Universidad de Granada in southern Spain, she fell even more in love with the Spanish language and culture.

Valerie began her teaching career at Smyrna High School, where she taught for eight years, covering Spanish levels 2 through AP. Throughout her tenure there, she created an honors program for levels 2 and 3, worked as a new teacher mentor, and was the head of the World Language Department. She left Delaware to move to Boston, where she worked in educational tourism, facilitating group travel to countries all over the world. During that time she accompanied a group of educators to explore several cities in northern Spain. Valerie has spent the last several years raising her young children and is thrilled to be rejoining the world of academics at St. Andrew's.

Valerie lives off campus in Wilmington, Delaware with her husband, Nick, their children, Luca and Mila, and their dog, Dave. Her favorite things to do are cook and go for walks with her family.


photo of Ann Wardwell

Ann Wardwell joins St. Andrew’s as chief advancement officer, and comes to SAS with a wealth of experience in advancement leadership, strategic planning, organizational development, and marketing and communications.

She previously served as the chief advancement officer at Hong Kong International School in Hong Kong, China. Prior to joining HKIS, Ann served as chief advancement officer at Fay School in Southborough, Massachusetts; director of advancement at Governor’s Academy in Byfield, Massachusetts; and director of development at Choate Rosemary Hall. Earlier in her career, Ann held various fundraising and management positions at the Children’s Hospital of Boston, American Express, and Marriott. 


photo of Kyra Wilson

Kyra Wilson joins St. Andrew’s as a history teaching fellow. She is originally from Sewanee, Tennessee. In May, she graduated from Wellesley College with a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in Africana studies. Her senior year, she was awarded the Ralph H. Bollard Prize for distinction in early American and United States history. Additionally, she was a Samuel and Hilda Levitt scholar and an F.A.O. Schwarz scholar, both of which supported her senior honors thesis on “Numbers,” a community lottery formed in Harlem, New York. The project specifically addressed adaptations of racial categorization, policing, the perceived use and morality of an illegal enterprise, and the legalization of the state lottery. 

Serving her home state, Wilson has worked with the Roberson Project On Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation at the University of the South, and interned with Tennesseans for Historical Justice last summer, where she built an interactive map and primary source database documenting over 1,000 instances of racial violence in the state. She also worked as a teaching assistant and counselor for the National History Academy in 2019. 

At Wellesley, she was very involved in the rugby team and the administration of the club sports program and loves staying active, baking, cooking, and reading.

 

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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.

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Math Team Wins State Championship!

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.”

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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)

You can watch all of these presentations here.

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." 

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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.

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