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Boarding life

Boarding School Life

Boarding at Walker’s builds relationships and memories that last a lifetime.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

We often hear similar questions from families thinking about a boarding school experience. At Walker’s, students have the opportunity to begin boarding in seventh grade and continue through twelfth grade and in the postgraduate year. Programming varies depending on whether students are in the Middle or Upper School. Because every family’s situation is unique, there may be other questions that you have about boarding at Walker’s. Please direct your additional questions to Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life Kathleen Pillsbury at kpillsbury@ethelwalker.org.

For new students, we will carefully match you with a roommate based on your responses to a roommate questionnaire which asks you to share your sleep patterns, study habits and interests. Returning students are allowed to choose their roommates before the end of the year.

Dorms range in size from 30 to 60 students.

Each student is provided with a desk, dresser, and a twin XL bed/mattress. Bathrooms in Smith and New Dorm are ensuite and are shared by two rooms (four students). In Cluett Dorm, there are hallway bathrooms that are shared by the adjacent rooms (four students). Each building has a common room and a kitchen.

Each building has a common room and a kitchen. All dorms have a supply of games and books that students may borrow. Cluett Dorm has a pool table and air hockey game. The New Dorm has a piano adjacent to a common space with a working fireplace.

Anything that makes your room feel like home! Students should bring their pillows, blankets, comforters, towels, shower caddy, desk lamp, fan, alarm clock, laundry bag, and lock box to store any valuables. Students should also bring learning materials, including any electronics and chargers. Please reference the “Boarding Student Packing List” page for more complete information. Irons are not allowed and refrigerators may be used with prior permission from the dean of students office.

Proctors are student leaders in the dorms who plan fun activities in your dorm, monitor study hall, and are available to help you navigate your schedule, as well as work as a mentor and friend. Proctors create inter-dorm competitions, themed weekly activities and evening fun. Along with residential faculty, proctors will celebrate your birthday and your many accomplishments.

A residential faculty member is a faculty or staff member who lives in faculty-designated apartments in the dorm buildings. Residential faculty members act as students’ go-to’s for anything they may need in the dorms outside of school day hours.

Dorm affiliates are faculty or staff members who live on or near campus, and are on call for different areas of student life, such as monitoring evening study hall in the library.

Residential Faculty and Dorm Affiliates

Corina Alvarezdelugo

Art Teacher and Gallery Director

860-408-4261

Corina Alvarezdelugo

Corina S. Alvarezdelugo is originally from Venezuela where she received formal training in drawing and painting with the Venezuelan master painter and sculptor, Luis Alvarez de Lugo. As a young adult, she studied at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, and later on earned her B.F.A. with Honors and Distinction from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven while raising her three children. Corina served as art teacher at St. Mary School in Branford for two years, where she designed their Visual Arts curriculum. While there, she earned the school a REGI Grant and was in charge of the project from beginning to fruition. Corina also led their Art Club and co-led their Arts Summer Camp.

Corina works in various media from drawing and painting to printmaking and sculpture. Her work has been shown in galleries and museums in South America, the Caribbean, and in the USA, including the prestigious Salmagundi Club in New York City. Her work has been published in numerous publications and she has been featured on Spotlight on the Arts on the TV Magazine, All Things Connecticut on CPTV. Corina has won awards from major organizations in Connecticut and New York, as well as an Artist-in Residency at the Vermont Studio Center with a merit-based grant. Corina is an accomplished gardener and a member of the Gardening Consultant Council of the Federated Garden Clubs of CT. She co-advises the Garden Club and runs the afternoon Arts Concentration program.

Melissa Bernardo

Science Faculty

860-408-4328

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.

Elisa Del Valle Cardona

Director of Social Justice and Inclusion, History Faculty, 9th Grade Class Dean

860-408-4287

Elisa Del Valle Cardona

Elisa Del Valle Cardona, a native of Brooklyn, NY, has lived in Connecticut for over a decade. Prior to joining Walker’s in fall 2016, she worked as the director of student activities and leadership development/new student orientation at Wesleyan University. While at Wesleyan, Elisa served on the Presidential Task Force for Equity and Inclusion and was an active voice on issues of Equity and Inclusion amongst her student affairs professionals. Elisa’s deep-rooted interest in women’s education is what brings her to Walker’s. Elisa attended an all-girls high school in New York City before attending Smith College in Northampton, MA where she majored in Government and minored in Spanish. While working at Mount Holyoke College, Elisa attended graduate school at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where she graduated with a Master’s in Social Justice Education. Elisa is an active Commissioner of the CAIS Commission on Diversity in Independent Schools, an educators network focused on diversity, as well as training and resources for diversity practitioners at CAIS member schools.

Todd DAlessandro

Todd David D'Alessandro P'19

Spanish Faculty, Director of Summer Programs

860-408-4312

Todd David D'Alessandro P'19

Todd graduated from The University of Connecticut and entered the business world. While working for name brands such as Hertz, Banfield, and Pfizer, he found that speaking two languages gave him a strong connection with the teams he managed and clients he called on. Todd has always had a strong desire to teach and guide tomorrow’s leaders, so he jumped at the chance to be a part of the Walker’s community. Todd also leads the varsity soccer program as head coach. He was an All New England player at Farmington High, All Big East selection at UConn, was drafted by the Boston Bolts of The ASL, and played semi professionally for The Lowell Red Devils of the LASA League.

Jade Dennett

Assistant Director of College Counseling

860-408-4217

Jade Dennett

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.

Scott Frey

English Faculty

860-408-4308

Scott Frey

Scott joined The Ethel Walker School community in 2012 after more than a decade of teaching English at the Landmark School in Prides Crossing, Massachusetts. In addition to teaching English, he coached basketball, worked as a dorm parent, designed new courses in creative writing and film studies, and taught in the school’s summer outreach program. While working at Landmark, Scott also earned a Master of Science in Education from Simmons College. Most importantly, he was truly amazed at the kindness and support of the Landmark community during his tenure there.

At Walker’s, Scott feels he has found another such community. Like so many of his colleagues, he is quite simply thrilled to learn and to teach. Scott is currently working on a second graduate degree in English at Trinity College, yet his greatest lessons come from the students and colleagues he works with each day. Their energy and brilliance continually energize him and renew his love for teaching.

Michelle Helmin P'19

Director of External Affairs

860-408-4393

Michelle Helmin P'19

Michelle has served as the director of external affairs at Walker’s since July of 2016 where she manages the school’s communications, marketing, media relations and community affairs. Previously, Michelle was the director of the Annual Fund for Walker’s for the 2015-2016 school year. Prior to joining Walker’s, she was the director of communications and marketing at the UConn School of Law where she managed the strategic communications program for the school, including as editor for the school’s alumni magazine, media relations, website development, event management and other outreach activities. Michelle has worked in the area of institutional advancement for several years including serving as special assistant to both UConn’s provost and president of the UConn Foundation/vice president for institutional advancement.

Nishette Isaac

Dean of Digital and Library Services/Assistant Dean of Students

860-408-4324

Nishette Isaac

Nishette comes to Walker’s from the Collegiate School in New York where she served as the school’s librarian for the past three years. She earned her B.A. in Anthropology from Hofstra University, her M.S. in Teaching from Fordham University, and her M.L.S. from Pratt Institute. Nishette began her career as a librarian for the New York City Department of Education where she served for four years at PS 305 and PS 256. There, she ran the library while being frequently called upon to perform classroom teaching duties. In 2011, she joined Dalton School as a volunteer librarian and spent the 2012-2013 year as a maternity leave replacement librarian at both Chapin School and Brearley School. Nishette was born in Saint Lucia and moved to the United States when she was 10. She is an active member of the Shelflives Book Club and has served as vice president of the Hudson Valley Librarian Association for the past three years.

Nathaniel Johnson

History Faculty

860-408-4266

Nathaniel Johnson

What was your favorite subject when you were in middle or high school? Why? I honestly enjoyed all of my subjects in high school, with the one noted exception of chemistry (apologies to Dr. Sheldon and Dr. B). I loved reading and talking about literature in English classes. I thrived in math classes where I was challenged to solve problems. Last, but certainly not least, history courses afforded me the opportunity to analyze the events of the past and develop a new lens for examining modern day issues. What is your favorite part about the subject(s) you teach now? Economics offers a unique perspective on how to analyze and understand the world we live in. Furthermore, women are traditionally underrepresented in economics, business and finance, so I take great pride in preparing young women to enter these arenas. What other role(s) do you hold on campus? Sophomore Class Dean, Faculty Head of Suns, Residential Faculty Member, Varsity Basketball Assistant Coach, JV Soccer Assistant Coach, JV Softball Assistant Coach What is the most rewarding part about working at Walker's? The relationships I am able foster with my students, athletes, and advisees.

Kathleen Minahan

History Faculty & Department Chair

Kathleen Minahan

Kathleen Minahan comes to Walker’s after teaching history at Cheshire Academy for six years. During her time at Cheshire, she designed a new school-wide advising program and served as advising program coordinator. Previously, she taught English at the Storm King School in New York and the Academy of New York in Warsaw, Poland. Kathleen earned a B.A. in History and Slavic Languages and Literatures with a minor in Russian and East European Studies from Indiana University and an M.A. from Yale University in European and Russian Studies. She is currently working on an Ed.M. in Private School Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. In addition to her teaching duties, Kathleen will also chair Walker’s history department.

Dr. Emma Mitchell

Physics Faculty

860-408-4334

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.

Megan Mulhern

Chair, English Department and English Faculty

Megan Mulhern

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.

Mallory Pasquariello

Administrative Assistant to the Dean's Office

860-408-4237

Mallory Pasquariello

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 assistant to the Dean’s Office and is the coordinator of student permissions and attendance in the Upper School. She is also a house faculty member in the New Dorm.

Suzanne Piela P’22

Chair, Science Department and Science Faculty

860-408-4336

Suzanne Piela P’22

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.

Kathleen Pillsbury

Kathleen Pillsbury

Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life

860-408-4239

Kathleen Pillsbury

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 Faculty

860-408-4311

Rebecca Rojano

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.

Important Phone Numbers

Main Desk
+1-860-408-4467

Nurse (Joyce McIntyre)
+1-860-408-4289

Dean of Students (Kathleen Pillsbury)
+1-860-408-4239

(8:15 a.m. – 3:25 p.m., Monday–Friday)

Cluett Dorm Faculty On Duty
+1-860-266-5863

Smith Dorm Faculty On Duty
+1-860-266-5864

(after 3:30 p.m. and weekends)

New Dorm Faculty On Duty
+1-860-266-5861

Administrator on Duty (AOD)
+1-860-821-3080

(after 3:30 p.m. and weekends)