Read more about the accomplished group of new faculty and staff who joined Walker's this year.
Suzanne Buenaventura, Director of International Enrollment
Prior to joining Walker's, Suzanne enjoyed a thirteen-year career at Avon Old Farms School.
Suzanne brings a proven level of experience and enviable record of achievement in student recruitment. As a well-travelled admission professional in Asia and Southeast Asia, Europe, South and Central America, and the Caribbean, Suzanne is poised to continue her professional relationships with families, schools and consultants. "Single sex education, uniquely, allows for development of the whole person. I look forward to expanding that opportunity for young women all over the globe, and to further enriching the Walker's community by increasing diversity of perspectives, experiences, and countries represented," explained Suzanne.
Eager to undertake a senior level role in international and domestic student recruitment, she is also looking forward to acting as a student advisor and international parent liaison. In addition to being a firm believer in single sex education as an admission professional, all four children of her children attended single sex independent high schools.
Jade Dennett, Assistant Director of College Counseling
Jade comes to Walker's from Skidmore College where she has served as the assistant director of admissions for three years. In addition to representing Skidmore at school visits and college fairs in the southwest and mid-Atlantic, Jade has served on several admission committees, including the Filene music scholarship, the London experience program, diversity, and athletics. Her assigned application reading load included The Ethel Walker School and she was drawn to our school, in part, because of the academic strength and personal qualities she saw in our applicants.
Jade graduated from Colgate University with a major in sociology and a minor in Writing and Rhetoric. A four-year field hockey player for their Division 1 program, Jade also served as an intern in the Athletic Communications Department, and worked as an Admission Ambassador in the Admissions Office.
Kati Eggert, Aquatics Director/Sports Information Director
Kati comes to us from Westover School where she was the swim coach and assistant athletic director. She started at Westover in 2011 and was instrumental in maintaining the School's social media websites, leading the swim team to the school's first CISAC athletic conference championship in 2017, coaching field hockey and softball and working in the dorm. Prior to her tenure at Westover, she was a three-sport varsity athlete at Drew University. Her sports included field hockey, softball and swimming. While at Drew she earned All Academic Conference recognition, served as captain to the swim team and medaled in multiple Landmark Conference Championships. She earned her B.A. in Art and Secondary Education from Drew University and got her Master of Science in Sports Management from Southern New Hampshire University.
Noël Grisanti, Latin Teacher
A magna cum laude graduate of Amherst College with a B.A. in Classics, Noël comes to us from Phillips Exeter Academy where she was a Latin teaching intern. While at Exeter, Noël also advised the "Exonians Against Sexual Assault" group, coached basketball and served as a resident dorm faculty. She has a long-standing commitment to volunteering and has worked in India teaching English, preschool and in an afternoon program. While in college she also was the co-director for Peer Advocates for Sexual Respect where she directed a team of 16 peer educators in organizing on-campus programming regarding sexual respect and healthy relationships.
Brigitte Leschhorn, English Teacher
Brigitte taught Upper School English for eight years at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School. During her tenure, she designed curricula that purposely incorporated diverse narratives with robust reading, writing and media literacy to develop critical and knowledgeable global citizens. She also advised students, mentored teachers and worked on creating a more equitable school culture. With her B.A. in English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Missouri, Brigitte is a published writer.
Daniele Ness, Math Teacher
Daniele moved to Simsbury with her husband and three daughters from Maryland where she was teaching middle and upper school math. Daniele has a passion for math and has eight years of teaching experience in Texas and Maryland. She earned her B.S. in Civil Engineering from The University of Texas and worked as an engineer prior to becoming a math teacher. As a civil engineer, she was a consultant for a structural engineering firm designing foundations and rectifying foundation failures in commercial businesses and residences. She was also an engineer for the city of Houston, where she was responsible for coordinating utility relocations for highway expansions. She is excited about combining her love of math and her interest in engineering here at Walker's. She will be coordinating the robotics program as well as teaching math.
Lauren Palulis, History Teacher
Lauren comes to Walker's from Rising Tide Charter Public School in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where she taught 7th grade social studies and created a rigorous curriculum with an emphasis on critical thinking and literacy skills. While there, she also collaborated with peers to integrate social-emotional learning and civic engagement across the curriculum, coached cross country and served as running club advisor. Lauren graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in History and Spanish, and earned her Master's in Teaching from Simmons College.
Kathleen McNary Pillsbury, Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life
Kathleen is a career educator who comes to Walker's from the Hotchkiss School where she has served as director of student activities, human development instructor, dorm head and as a member of the School's senior leadership team. Prior to this, Kathleen was at the Dalton School where she was the assistant high school director for student activities, serving as dean of students, senior class academic dean and classroom teacher. Kathleen holds a Master's in Education in School Leadership with a concentration in Independent School Administration from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor's in Biological Sciences from the University of Connecticut.
Throughout her career, Kathleen has organized and supervised co-curricular activities, overseen orientation, coordinated student diversity conferences, and managed day-to-day student life. In addition to her administrative and classroom duties, Kathleen has been a softball and lacrosse coach.
Rebecca Rojano, Spanish Teacher
Rebecca join Walker's from The Master's School just up the road in West Simsbury, where she was a middle and high school Spanish teacher. While at The Master's School, Rebecca designed curriculum, taught a wide range of classes, was the faculty leader for student government and coordinated the Human Trafficking Awareness Club. Previously, Rebecca taught Spanish at the Enrico Fermi High School in Enfield, CT. A magna cum laude graduate of Keene State College with a dual degree in Secondary Education and Spanish, Rebecca studied abroad in Spain; Managua, Nicaragua; and Atenas, Costa Rica.
Laila Samy, College Counseling/Academic Support Coordinator, Squash Coach
Laila comes to Walker's from Wesleyan University, where she graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Data Analysis. She was also a four-year member of the squash team. Originally from Cairo, Egypt, Laila attended Westminster School in Simsbury, Connecticut before Wesleyan.
While at Wesleyan, Laila worked as a teaching assistant in the Data Science department and coordinated the tutors for the Wesleyan University Middle School Tutoring Partnership. As a squash player, she was the number one player on the team and graduated as the #4 ranked player in the United States in college squash. She was awarded the Bettey Richey Award which is given to the women's college squash player who best exemplifies the ideals of squash, a strong sense of fairness and excellence in play and leadership. Laila was named as a first-team All-American three times, and was twice the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Player of the Year.
Karl Schwoerke, Math Teacher
Karl comes to Walker's as a seasoned math teacher and coach. He spent the last three years at Wooster School in Danbury, Connecticut where he taught Geometry, Algebra II and high level statistics in addition to coaching. Prior to that, he taught every level of math and economics at the Chase Collegiate School in Waterbury, CT. Karl is also a dedicated coach of soccer, basketball and ultimate frisbee. His teams have won many championships. A real school person, Karl loves to be fully involved in the many facets of school life.
David Thacker, English Teacher
Dave comes to Walker's from Florida State University where he was completing his Ph.D. in Creative Writing and teaching English. He has enjoyed teaching for the past 11 years at the University level but is thrilled to be coming to Walker's where he can spend more time focusing on teaching and getting to know his students. A published poet, Dave earned a B.S. in English, summa cum laude, from Weber State University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from The University of Idaho. Dave is passionate about community partnerships and will be working on our community partnerships program.