Welcome to your home away from home.
Walker’s community is built on relationships that are nurtured and strengthened both in and out of the classroom. Our residential faculty create a healthy family atmosphere that allows our students to thrive, as they meet the challenges of adolescence head on. We provide a variety of shared experiences and expectations that enhance the building of these special relationships creating memories that last a lifetime.
At Walker’s, you are never more than a few steps away from someone who is an integral part of your daily life.
Friends, residential faculty and classroom teachers feel like family at Walker’s. Our dedicated residential faculty will take the time to get to know you well and will notice when you need extra support or encouragement.
Clarissa Basch P'15
Clarissa Basch has served as Walker’s director of college counseling since February 2004, where she guides students through the process of investigating, applying to, and selecting colleges.
Before joining Walker’s, Clarissa spent seventeen years as a college admissions officer at Drexel University, Endicott College, and Hampshire College. She was lured to “the other side of the desk” because of the opportunity to work directly with students on their post-Walker’s plans, and to be part of this vibrant boarding school community. With professional colleagues at colleges and universities all over the country, she loves to welcome them to Walker’s when they come to meet with her students in the fall.
Clarissa is an avid exerciser who swims and helps guard at the Walker’s pool on weekday mornings. She is an active volunteer for numerous organizations in the greater Hartford area and at Walker’s serves as one of the faculty advisors to the Community Partnerships Program. Clarissa put her college counseling know-how to use with her daughter (EWS ’15), and both survived the experience intact. Following graduation, her daughter enjoyed a wonderful gap year in England as an English-Speaking Union Scholar, before enrolling at Susquehanna University from which she graduated in 2020. Clarissa lives on campus with her family which also includes her husband and son, currently a senior at University of Connecticut.Read Full Profile
Dr. Melissa Bernardo
Melissa joined Walker’s in 2017 after completing her Ph.D. in Biology from Wesleyan University. Her dissertation dealt with nutrient-mediated manipulation of host-feeding behavior by a parasitoid. Melissa has taught a range of topics at the university level and brings her knowledge and enthusiasm to Walker’s chemistry, biology and environmental science classes. She also coaches volleyball and softball.Read Full Profile
After receiving her Master’s in Public Health from the University of Connecticut, Ashley joined Teach for America and taught in Hartford Public Schools for the last eight years as a science and STEM teacher. Ashley also served as science coach for new science teachers and taught science education courses through Teach For America and the John Hopkins Master’s program during this time. She was Teacher of the Year at Kennelly School and served on the Union Board in Hartford for two years. She is very passionate about partnering with the community and organizations to promote STEM education. She participates and encourages students to also be involved in service learning with Knox Community Gardens and the Aloha Foundation as well as works with CCSU, UCONN, TFA, CT Center for Advanced Technology and Manufacturing, LEGO, and Talcott Mountain. She additionally assisted with elementary and middle school running club, girls basketball and softball, after-school science programming, and has helped to organize and run middle school trips to Washington, DC and Vermont. Ashley has also been the STEAM Specialist and Lead Teacher for the Horizons summer program at The Ethel Walker School for the past two summers.Read Full Profile
Dr. Patrick Durning
Patrick joins Walker’s history faculty from The Kinkaid School in Houston, Texas where he taught World History, Philosophy, and Psychology, among others. At Walker’s, Patrick will teach Advanced Economics, American Identity, and Supreme Court Landmarks. He has an extensive teaching career including teaching in China and Korea as well as at other independent schools including St. George’s and Hotchkiss School. Patrick has also taught at the college level including at Tufts University, Brown University, and Suffolk University, among others. Patrick holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy and a Master of Arts in Philosophy from Brown University and a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University. He is a member of the Cluett dorm faculty, a coach for Middle School soccer, and an assistant coach for varsity basketball.Read Full Profile
Chris Hague graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South with a B.A. in Psychology and received his Master’s in Sports Psychology from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Chris’s research and thesis centered around coaching dynamics and athlete development, and he co-authored two peer-reviewed papers. Chris has taught mathematics for almost 10 years. For the past three years, he lived in Madaba, Jordan while on the faculty of King’s Academy. He and his wife, Carolyn, are excited to join the Walker’s community.Read Full Profile
Allie Harris '13
Allie Harris ’13 assists the Advancement office by supporting and growing technology and donor recognition programs. She graduated cum laude from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester in 2017 where she majored in English Literature and wrote for print magazines and social media. She won awards for her work including team MPVP in 2018 for managing business deals at Prolific 1. At Walker’s, Allie was head of day students and head of Cicerones as well as a member of the Varsity Equestrian Team.Read Full Profile
Tavia, a New England native, joined Walker’s in 2022 after serving many years as Director of Communications for an independent middle and high school in Houston, TX. In addition to her time in school communications and marketing, she has taught communications, film, theatre, and business & economics at the high school and college levels. She also spent five years directing an academic summer program for high school students. Tavia has an extensive film portfolio which focuses on short-form documentaries and also includes nationally distributed feature-length documentaries and television commercials. She and her family live on campus.Read Full Profile
Karim joins Walker’s faculty on a full-time basis this year as a member of the World Languages faculty specializing in French; previously he served on the faculty on a part-time basis. Karim will teach French 1B, 2, and 4 this academic year. He is fluent in French and Arabic and has focused some of his work on teaching French for diplomacy and international affairs. Previously, Karim was a Graduate Fellow and Visiting Lecturer at Trinity College (Hartford, CT), an instructor at Yale University, and he held various teaching and administrative roles at the University of Connecticut. He is a Ph.D. candidate (ABD) at the University of Connecticut in French Language & Literature. He holds Master of Arts degrees from UConn in both International Studies and French Culture Language & Literature and a Graduate Certificate in Human Rights Studies. Karim earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in both International and French Studies from Iona College. Karim is a JV soccer coach and will coach swimming in the winter.
Ms. Martinez is the Middle School administrative coordinator and activities coordinator and she joins Walker’s from her previous role as an assistant teacher for Horizons at The Ethel Walker School, and as our school’s art intern in past summers. She also joins as Walker’s newest dorm faculty member. Ms. Martinez is a recent graduate from the University of Hartford; she holds a B.F.A.
Ms. Martinez has an impressive portfolio of original artwork that has been accepted and shown in key exhibits including ARIE Magazine and the Goldfarb exhibition.Read Full Profile
Dr. Emma Mitchell
Emma received her Bachelor’s degree in physics from Vassar College in 2009, where she also was senior editor of the college newspaper. She taught physics and chemistry at her alma mater, Emma Willard School, before earning a Ph.D. in applied physics at the University of Virginia in 2016. Her Ph.D. research was in laboratory astrophysics and astrochemistry, focusing on thermal and radiation processing of frozen water in astronomical environments. As a graduate student, she was awarded fellowships by both the NASA Earth and Space Science Program and the NASA Virginia Space Grant Consortium. Emma lives with her rescue border collie, Davy.Read Full Profile
John Monagan grew up in Waterbury, Connecticut, where he attended Chase Collegiate School from 6th-12th grade. From Waterbury, John headed south to attend Johns Hopkins University, where he majored in history. After four enjoyable years in Baltimore, John’s years in private school led him to The Ethel Walker School, where he taught history and English. John spent his first four years at Walker’s teaching 6th-9th grade history and 6th-7th grade English. He has also spent time running student activities. John earned his Master of Science degree from Drexel University in Sports Management while working at Walker’s. He previously served as Walker’s Athletic Director for nine years and continues to teach in the history department. John is the head coach of the varsity basketball and softball teams and lives on campus with his wife and daughter.Read Full Profile
Prior to joining Walker’s, Megan (Danyliw) Mulhern taught several English courses at Westminster School and the YK Pao Secondary School in Shanghai, China. While at the YK Pao Secondary School she developed a school wide reading program. She also taught at The Lawrenceville School, The Emma Willard School and worked for the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University. Megan earned her B.A. in English from Brown University and her M.A. in Literature from Middlebury College.Read Full Profile
Mallory is a graduate of Roger Williams University with a bachelor’s degree in art history and a triple minor in architecture, business management and English literature. She also has an M.A. in Museum Studies through the distance learning program at the University of Leicester. Previously, Mallory served as teller supervisor and customer service representative for Northwest Community Bank in New Hartford where she has gained a wealth of experience in customer service and organization. Here at Walker’s, Mallory serves as the Director of Residential Life and Student Activities. She is also a housefaculty member in New Dorm.Read Full Profile
Dr. Suzanne Piela P’22, '28
Suzanne joined The Ethel Walker School in the fall of 2007 and since then has taught AP Biology, Advanced Biology, Honors Biology, General Biology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Honors Biochemistry, Equine Science, and an independent study in Microbiology. Suzanne earned her B.S. in Biology at the University of Notre Dame and her D.V.M. at the University of Minnesota. She also did a small animal internship in medicine, surgery, and emergency medicine at Rowley Memorial Animal Hospital in Springfield, MA.
Suzanne practiced as a small animal veterinarian for 10 years before transitioning to teaching. Prior to her role at Walker’s, she worked as a park naturalist and taught ecology at the elementary level, and worked as a middle and high school science and math tutor.
Suzanne is currently the Science Department Chair, coaches JV Tennis, and loves to ride at Walker’s barn when she has time.Read Full Profile
Two weeks after Ravi finished student teaching, he started in a sixth grade classroom midyear and has been teaching math ever since. Ravi has taught everything from regular grade six math to IB Analysis and Approaches HL, in public and private schools. If you have a math question, even if you aren’t in his classes, chances are he will be happy to help you. When he’s not working, Ravi likes making Indian food and playing Overwatch.Read Full Profile
Dr. Julia Sheldon P'20, '23
Dr. Julia Sheldon P’20, ’23 began teaching science at Walker’s in 1998. Her childhood fascination with the natural world led her to love science and eventually to pursue a degree in chemistry at the University of California at San Diego. During her time at UCSD, Julia became a certified SCUBA diver and worked in a research lab studying fish physiology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Julia also discovered a passion for teaching through serving as a teaching assistant and mentoring low income, first-generation college students in the Ronald McNair program at UCSD. After college, Julia continued her research and teaching at Yale University, where she earned a Ph.D. in bioorganic chemistry while studying the interactions between DNA and the proteins that begin the cellular process of transcription.
At Walker’s, Julia is passionate about engaging girls in science by encouraging them to observe the environment around them and to explore how science can help them understand and improve their world. A highlight of her career was being named a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, which allowed her to travel on an expedition to the Arctic and develop and teach an interdisciplinary elective course in Arctic Studies at Walker’s. Julia also co-developed and now co-teaches Honors Biochemistry, Walker’s research-based science course that allows girls to search for new antibiotics in response to the worldwide antibiotic resistance crisis. Julia has also held several administrative roles at Walker’s including science department chair and co-dean of faculty, and she currently serves as dean of studies.Read Full Profile
Randall Sho Northrop
Randall joins Walker’s from Beaver Country Day School in Brookline, MA, where he taught Global History and Social Sciences. At Beaver, Randall also served as the grade dean for 9th and 10th grades, facilitated students of color and affinity groups, and coached the BVR Model UN team. Raised in Okinawa, Japan, he is passionate that students see themselves as a part of an interconnected local and global community, full of rich and complex narratives.Read Full Profile
Dr. David Thacker P'24, '27
Dave joined Walker’s in 2018 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 was thrilled to join Walker’s where he spends more time focused 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 is the director of Walker’s Community Partnerships program.Read Full Profile
Graduating from UConn Neag School of Education, Mr. Way is thrilled to be part of the Walker’s community. To him, math is a lens to see the world, a language that connects disciplines, and a critical tool to our democratic participation. He is aspired to not only teach the students content, but also how to see the world through math!
Read Full Profile
Leila Wetmore '82, P'18
Leila was born and raised in New York City and came to Walker’s as a freshwoman in 1978. After graduating with degrees in political science, art history and French from St. Lawrence University, Leila returned to New York City and began her career in not-for-profit fundraising and management. Leila worked for and provided consulting services to organizations including Planned Parenthood of New York City, Lenox Hill Hospital, The American Field Service, and the National Academy of Design, among others. In 2001, Leila moved with her husband and two young daughters to Darien, CT and continued her not-for-profit career, most recently as the Executive Director of the Darien Nature Center. Leila’s daughter, Eliza, is a 2018 graduate of Walker’s.Read Full Profile
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