Darlington School: Private Boarding School in Georgia Darlington welcomes new faculty and staff, recognizes those with new roles
Darlington School: Private Boarding School in Rome, GA
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Darlington welcomes new faculty and staff, recognizes those with new roles

August 18, 2022 | 5206 views

Darlington is pleased to welcome the following new faculty and staff members for the 2022-2023 school year:

Breonna Blankenship will teach Upper School math and serve as assistant girls' lacrosse coach. She holds a B.S. in Mathematics from Reinhardt University as well as her Secondary Math (6-12) Certification and Gifted Endorsement. Most recently, she has been teaching math at Cass High School in Bartow County, where she also sponsors National Beta Club and serves as an SAT proctor.

Dawn Brock will serve as director of library services. She holds a B.S. in Middle Grades Education from Shorter College, an M.S. in Middle Grades Education and Gifted Certification from West Georgia College, an M.S. Ed. in School Library Media from the State University of West Georgia, and an Ed.S. in Educational Administration and Supervision from Lincoln Memorial University. Brock has more than three decades of experience in education, serving elementary, middle, and high school students throughout the course of her career. Most recently, Brock has served as the media specialist at Cass Middle School. She and her husband, Harry, are the parents of Bailey ('13) and Cooper ('17). 

Cassidy Carter will be director of development in the Advancement Office. She holds a B.S. in Health Promotions from the University of Georgia and has 15 years of experience working in development for nonprofits. She has spent the last 11 years with Floyd Healthcare Foundation, where she served as donor relations coordinator, annual gifts coordinator and, most recently, development officer.  Previously, she was senior special events manager for Special Olympics Georgia. A graduate of Leadership Rome and soon-to-be graduate of Leadership Georgia, Carter is also a former commissioner for the Georgia Commission for Community Service and Volunteerism.

Courtney Cescutti will teach second grade. She holds a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from the University of West Georgia, T-4 Early Childhood Education certification, Mathematics Endorsement K-5 and Gifted Endorsement. Cescutti has 11 years of experience teaching, most recently serving as second-grade teacher at West End Elementary School, where she also served as teacher leader and mentor. Previously, she was a response to intervention paraprofessional at West Central Elementary School. She is married to Blake Cescutti ('00, LD '19). 

Mallory Collier will teach Upper School English and serve as head girls' lacrosse coach. She holds a B.A. in English from Berry College and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from Liberty University. She is currently pursuing her Ed.D. in Counseling and Care with an emphasis in Traumatology at Liberty University. Collier has four years of experience in the classroom and currently teaches English to ninth- and tenth-grade students at Pepperell High School. At Berry, she played lacrosse and held numerous student work positions within the college's athletic department. 

Garvin Edwards will serve as academic support coordinator in the Teaching and Learning Center and as head wrestling coach. He holds a B.S. in Physical Education and Health K-12 from Berry College and has more than 30 years of experience teaching and coaching. Most recently, he has been teaching P.E. and coaching football at Opelika Middle School. He also spent 15 years teaching and coaching at Armuchee Middle School and Armuchee High School. Edwards has racked up numerous coaching accolades, including several Coach of the Year honors, and was inducted into the Georgia Chapter of the National Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2021. In wrestling, he has coached 22 individual state champions and one state championship team. He also founded and operated a K-5 youth wrestling program. 

Mary Kate Fowee will serve as Pre-K to 8 librarian. She holds a B.A. in Studio Art and a Master of Library and Information Services from Florida State University. Fowee has nearly a decade of experience working in libraries, most recently serving as librarian and media specialist at Unity School of Delray Beach, a small private school in Florida. There, she developed a new, student-centered library curriculum and expanded library-based classes and electives. She is a member of the American Library Association and the American Association of School Librarians. 

Julia Houston will serve as learning specialist for grades pre-K to 2. She holds a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Shorter College, an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from Berry College, an Ed.S. from the University of West Georgia and a Doctorate from Liberty University. Her certifications include Georgia Teacher Certificate T-6, Reading Endorsement, Special Education (General Curriculum) and Dyslexia Endorsement. Houston also recently completed the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education's Comprehensive IMSE Orton-Gillingham Training. She has 32 years of experience in education, serving most recently as special education resource teacher at Alto Park Elementary School. 

Tracy Hoza will serve as head coach of the girls' Soccer Academy team. She holds a B.S. in Sports Medicine from Mercyhurst University and a Master of Liberal Arts in Wellness and Health Promotion from Lock Haven University as well as a USSF "B" License. Hoza has over 20 years of experience in collegiate coaching, most recently serving as assistant women's soccer coach at Austin Peay State University (DI). Previously, she was head women's soccer coach at Northwest Missouri State Univesity (DII), where she also taught several courses in the School of Health Science and Wellness. A four-year letter winner during college, Hoza's playing career included two NSCAA All-American recognitions. She is also a three-time All-Region honoree, serving as captain in the team's 1994 run to the NCAA Division II Final Four. For her distinguished accomplishments, Hoza was inducted into Mercyhurst's Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015. A native of Limerick, Ireland, Hoza played for the Irish junior and senior national teams before moving to the United States for college. She and her husband, Matt, will live on campus with their daugher, Cora, who will be in sixth grade at Darlington this fall. 

Carmen Gonzalez Jiminez will teach Upper School Spanish. She holds a B.A. in Spanish from the University of San Diego and an M.A. from Middlebury College. A native Spanish speaker originally from Mexico, Jiminez has 13 years of experience in the classroom. Most recently, she served as world language department co-chair at Oak Grove High School in San Jose, Calif., where she taught multiple levels of Spanish from Spanish one to AP and also served as advisor of the Latino Student Union. She has also served as a translator and an ESL teacher to adults. 

Jessica Laliberte will serve as director of the Teaching and Learning Center. She holds a B.A. in English Teaching from the University of New Hampshire, an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Lesley University, and an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from American College of Education. She also holds the American Montessori Lifetime Credential from New England Montessori Teacher Education Center and an MBA-Level Marketing Strategy Certificate from Cornell University. Laliberte has more than two decades of experience in education, serving elementary, middle, and high school students throughout the course of her career. Most recently, she has served as head of the academic learning support department at Christ the King Catholic School in Daphne, Ala. She is also an independent educational consultant and instructional coach. 

Alan Liow will teach Upper School history. He holds a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Georgia and is finishing up his M.Ed. in Secondary Education from The College of New Jersey. Liow has five years of teaching experience at Pacific American School in Zhubei City, Taiwan, where he taught history, English and photojournalism. He has also served as the photography counselor at Camp Androscoggin in Maine for eight summers.

Skip Matherly will teach middle grades English and coach middle grades boys' basketball. He holds a B.S. and an M.Ed. from East Tennessee State University as well as certification in English (6-12) and Gifted. Matherly has more than 30 years of experience teaching and coaching, most recently at Ashworth Middle School in Calhoun, Ga. He has been nominated three times for Teacher of the Year and has won numerous Coach of the Year honors. As a head coach, he has won four state championships, two in cross country and two in boys' basketball. Matherly is also a veteran of the U.S. Navy. 

Aaron McCollum will teach Upper School math. He holds a B.S. in Mathematics and an M.A.T. in Secondary Education with a Math Concentration from Augusta University as well as certification in Mathematics (6-12) and Gifted. Prior to becoming a teacher, McCollum spent five-and-a-half years studying and working as a mechanical engineer only to be reminded that his true passion is education. Most recently, he has been teaching math and computer science courses at Westside High School in Augusta, where he also coached the Math Team and served as assistant coach of the Robotics Team. 

Kerri Nagle will serve as dean of residential life. She holds a B.A. in Communication Studies from Bridgewater State College and an M.S. in Organizational Leadership from Nichols College. Nagle has 15 years of experience in independent schools, having served in a variety of administrative roles. She has spent the last two years as an admissions specialist for devCodeCamp but previously worked in admissions, advancement and student/residential life at The Woodstock Academy and The Rectory School. At Rectory, she created oversaw the day-to-day operation of the residential life community, created a residential life curriculum and served several years as a dorm parent. 

Ethan Pender ('16) will serve as communication arts teacher. He holds a B.A. in Political Science, a B.A. in Spanish and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. After serving as editor-in-chief of Darlington's three student publications (Jabberwokk yearbook, The Darlingtonian online newspaper, and Inkslinger literary magazine) in high school, Pender looks forward to returning to Darlington as a teacher and advisor to students interested in communication arts. Since college, his work has been focused in the field of political communications, most recently serving on the communications team for Greater Georgia Action Inc. Active in the community, Pender is a member of the Rome Rotary Club and the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, serves as director of public relations for the Floyd County Republican Party, and was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to serve on the Georgia Commission for Service and Volunteerism (Georgia Serves). 

Kimi Pichardo will teach Upper School Spanish. She holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Brenau University, GA TAPP certification for PK-12 Spanish, and completed additional studies at Oxford University in England. Pichardo has more than two decades of experience in education, most recently teaching theater and Spanish at Yokohama International School Japan. Her international experience has also included schools in Bangladesh and the Dominican Republic. Pichardo is no stranger to Darlington, having taught Spanish and serving on the residential duty staff from 2004 to 2006. Her daughter, Seidy, will be a junior at Darlington this fall. 

Rana Pyle ('86) will serve as school store associate. She holds a B.S. in Biology from Kennesaw State University and has spent the last 12 years coaching competitive gymnastics at the state, regional and national levels. She is the mother of Trinity ('21) and Maddox ('24). 

Andrea Shiera will teach Spanish in grades pre-K to 5 and coach middle grades swimming. She holds a M.S. in Psychology from Universidad Rafael Urdaneta - Zulia and has taught Spanish for the last three years. Most recently, she taught pre-K students at The Quadrilingual Academy in Smyrna, Ga., and elementary-aged students at Tabula Rasa - The Language Academy in Sandy Springs, Ga. Shiera also owned and operated a home-based swim academy for five years.  

Heather Shores will teach Upper School history. She holds a B.A. in History and an M.A. in History from the University of West Georgia. Shores has 20 years of experience in the field of public history, 16 of those in teaching college-level courses. Most recently, she served as executive director of Chieftain's Museum in Rome, program specialist and bookkeper for Georgia Career & Technical Instruction, and part-time history faculty member at Georgia Highlands College. She received Georgia Highlands' "Thank a Teacher" Award in the spring of 2020 and the spring of 2021. Shores has also taught at Dalton State College and Kennesaw State University and worked as a coordinator at several museums and history centers. 

Chris Stapler will serve as head coach of the boys' Soccer Academy team. He holds a B.S. in Kinesioloty from University of The Incarnate Word, a USSF "B" License, and is currently working on his M.S. in Sports Leadership from Concordia University of Chicago. Stapler spent seven years in sports marketing and sales before transitioning to the coaching world. He spent two years as P.E. and Nutrition & Fitness teacher as well as boys' and girls' soccer coach at The Carmel School, an independent school in Virginia, before being named director of coaching at SOCA in Charlottesville, Va. As such, he was responsible for player development, coaching development, and general operations. 

Caitlyn Terry will serve as Pre-K to 8 music teacher. She holds a B.M.E. in Music Education from Reinhardt University. In college, Terry served as Chorus president and historian as well as Drama Club president, dance captain for "Hairspray," and assistant conductor for the Reinhardt Chamber Choir. She is also a K-5 Kids' Church leader, youth coordinator and worship director at Westgate Church. She plays piano, guitar, recorder and ukulele.

Jordan West will serve as Upper School librarian. She holds a B.A. in English from Truett McConnell University and an M.Ed. in School Library Media from the University of West Georgia. For the past five years, West has served as a dormitory counselor at Tallulah Falls School, an international boarding and day college-preparatory school for middle and high school students. Previously, she worked in communications at Valdosta State University and Truett McConnell University.

Abby Wiseman will teach middle grades science and coach middle grades volleyball and soccer. She holds a B.S. in Biology from Berry College, where she was the Pre-vet Club Student Government Association (SGA) representative. Wiseman is particularly passionate about wildlife biology. She has worked with Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center in Alajuela, Costa Rica, and as a coyote intern Dewees Island, S.C. She was also a youth intern at First Baptist Church of Rome. While in high school at Mead Hall Episcopal School, Wiseman was twice named Upper South Carolina Region Volleyball Player of the Year.

The following current faculty and staff members will move into new roles in 2022-2023: 

Ivy Brewer has been named dean of college guidance. She has served as associate dean of college guidance since 2007 and holds a B.A. from the University of Georgia, an M.A. from Florida Gulf Coast University, and graduate certificate in college counseling from University of California Los Angeles Extension. Brewer has visited more than 200 college campuses and has been designated a Certified Educational Planner. She is also a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and serves on the Board of Directors for the Southern Association for College Admission Counseling (SACAC). Last year, Brewer was selected as a faculty member for the inaugural SACAC Leads program and in 2015, she was honored with SACAC’s Garrett Klein Award, which recognizes emerging leaders in the college admission profession. She is the mother of Molly ('20). 

Justin Bruce has been named registrar and will continue to serve as a learning specialist. He has served as a learning specialist at the Upper School since 2016 and holds a B.S. in Collaborative Special Education from Auburn University, a Masters in Special Education Adaptive Curriculum from the University of West Georgia, and an Ed.S. in Curriculum and Instruction from Lincoln Memorial University. He and his wife, Head of House Elizabeth (Collier) Bruce ('03), are the parents of Annie Ruth ('31) and Rosie ('34).

Natalie Ferguson has been named interim chief financial officer. She has served as controller since 2019 after a brief stint as assistant controller. Ferguson holds a B.S. in Accounting and an M.B.A. from Berry College. She is also a Certified Public Accountant. She has more than two decades of accounting experience, including public companies as well as non-profits. She and her husband, Brian, are the parents of Brock ('25) and Grady ('27).

Cindy Gordon will serve as director of stewardship for the Advancement Office. She joined the advancement team in 2007 and her previous roles have included director of strategic initiatives, strategic initiatives coordinator, and executive assistant to the chief advancement officer. A graduate of Georgia Northwestern Technical College, Gordon earned her certification in graphic design from Emory University and has more than 30 years of experience in corporate operational support in the medical, insurance, and education fields. She and her husband, Kerry, have two sons, Matt and Tyler.

Lauren Loy will serve as interim controller. Serving as assistant controller since 2019, she holds a B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences from the University of Georgia and a B.B.A. in Accounting from Shorter College. Loy has 17 years of experience in public accounting and is CPA certified. She and her husband, Shannon, are the parents of Jackson ('27), Jillian ('29) and Ansley ('32). 

Kurt Luitwieler will work with the boys' Soccer Academy teams and continue to teach math at the Upper School. A teacher and coach at Darlington since 2016, he holds a B.S. in Anthropology and History from Carnegie Mellon University and numerous coaching certifications. Luitwieler has held a variety of coaching roles with the Soccer Academy and varsity soccer programs since his arrival, most recently serving as head girls' coach for the Soccer Academy last year. He taught and created a variety of different math courses at Holland Hall School in Tulsa, Okla., for 17 years before moving into a role as director of coaching education and player development for the Oklahoma Soccer Association. He and his wife Jennifer, an Upper School learning specialist and English teacher, are the parents of Abigail, Bronwyn ('18), and Elliot ('22).

Sam Moss ('63) has been named historian after retiring as dean of college guidance this spring. A member of Darlington's faculty since 1982, he holds a B.A. from Sewanee: The University of the South and an M.A.T. from Jacksonville University with additional study at Oxford University in England. He has served on a number of admissions advisory boards at various colleges throughout the Southeast and has served as president of the Southern Association for College Admission Counseling (SACAC), chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Association for College Counseling in Independent Schools (ACCIS), and as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), among numerous other professional positions.

Matt Peer has been named assistant head of school for enrollment management. Since being named director of enrollment management in 2020, Peer has worked with his team to develop a long-range strategic enrollment management plan that has resulted in an increase in both enrolled students and net tuition revenue. In this expanded role, he will continue to lead the school’s enrollment and retention efforts while also overseeing the school's signature year-round athletic academies. Peer’s previous roles at Darlington have included serving as director of upper school from 2014-2020 and director of student life from 2010-2014. He holds a B.A. in Sociology from St. Lawrence University and an M.A. in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University. He and his wife, Jessica, first-grade teacher at Darlington, are the parents of Jackson (’24) and Ella ('27).

Melissa Smyly will serve as chair of the English department. She replaces John Cox, who will continue to teach Upper School English at Darlington. Smyly has taught English and coached cheerleading and girls' lacrosse at the Upper School since 2017. She holds a B.S. in Secondary Language Arts from Auburn University and an M.A. in Library Media Technology from the University of West Alabama. Smyly has more than two decades of experience teaching literature, grammar, and writing to students in grades 7-12, and served as language arts department coordinator at The Donoho School in Anniston, Ala., prior to her employment at Darlington. She is the mother of Emily Anne Trebus ('22), Jake Trebus ('24) and Loftin Smyly ('33). 

Carrie Watterson will teach fourth grade. This will be her second year at Darlington after having taught second grade in 2021-2022. With more than a decade of experience in the classroom, Watterson holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Shorter University and an M.S. in Early Childhood Education from Kennesaw State University as well as a Gifted Endorsement, Math Endorsement, and Special Education General Curriculum Certificate (P-12). Prior to Darlington, she spent eight years at West End Elementary School, where she  taught pre-K; second-grade math, science, and social studies; and third-grade math, science, and social studies. She was instrumental in the development of West End's STEM program and served as a grade-level leader, a new teacher mentor, and as the school's Student Support Team (SST) coordinator. She is the mother of Tripp ('25) and Annie ('28). 

Becca Wood will serve as director of events and engagement for the Advancement Office. She joined the advancement team in 2015 as administrative assistant and has served as assistant director of alumni relations since 2016. She holds a B.S. in Sports Management from Kennesaw State University. She and her husband, Tyler, are the parents of Emi Grace ('25) and Ty ('27).

Lindsay Woods will serve as assistant controller. Serving as bookstore manager since 2015, she holds a B.B.A. in Marketing from the State University of West Georgia. Woods is a graduate of the Polk County Adult Leadership Program and Georgia Academy for Economic Development. She and her husband, Director of Upper School Chad Woods, are the parents of Ava Ann ('26) and Barrett ('29).

This page will be updated as new employees are hired. Click here to see the most up-to-date list of employment opportunities at Darlington.