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Walker’s Welcomes New Faculty

We are fortunate to have a talented group of new faculty joining the Walker’s family this year! Read more for an overview of the new members of our community:

Lara Dotson-Renta

Dr. Lara Dotson-Renta P’27

World Languages, Spanish Faculty

Lara joins Walker’s World Languages faculty as a Spanish teacher. She presently teaches Spanish 4, Honors Spanish 5 and Advanced Spanish: Literature and Cultural Studies. Prior to joining Walker’s, Lara held academic, pedagogical and administrative positions, including roles as a visiting scholar at Brown University in their Middle Eastern Studies Department, an Assistant Professor of Modern Languages/Assistant Dean at Quinnipiac University and an adjunct professor at Drexel University. Lara is a published author, having published work in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic. Her academic book, Immigration, Popular Culture, and the Re-Routing of European Muslim Identity, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in September 2012. Dr. Dotson-Renta is a Mellon Mays fellow, and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in Romance Languages and Literature and a certificate in African Studies.  Lara also holds an MA in French Language and Literature from New York University in Paris, and a BA in Spanish and French from Dartmouth College. Lara’s daughter, Catalina, is a seventh grader at Walker’s.

Patrick Durning

Patrick J. Durning

History Faculty

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 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.

Beatriz Gonzalez

Beatriz (Betty) Gonzalez

World Languages, Spanish Faculty

Betty joins Walker’s World Languages faculty where she will teach Spanish 1, 2 and 3. She has served as a bilingual tutor for several years for the Bristol (CT) Board of Education; she previously was a Spanish teacher in grades PreK-8 in Torrington (CT) and Bristol (CT) private schools and served as an English as a Second Language instructor. Betty holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Manizales (Columbia).

Kara Ingram

Kara M. Ingram P’28

Math Faculty

Kara comes to Walker’s from Jeju, Korea, where she founded the statistics program and served as a secondary mathematics teacher at Saint Johnsbury Academy. Previously, she taught math in China and Colorado. Kara is a Gifted Education Specialist, and was a certified Depth and Complexity trainer for the Colorado Department of Education. Kara is a TESOL-certified Teacher of English to speakers of other languages, and she holds a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction, Secondary Mathematics from the University of Denver and a Bachelor of Science in Business Economics from the University of Texas at Tyler. Kara is a member of the Smith Dorm faculty, and her daughter, Adalynn, will be in sixth grade this year.

Karim Mabrouk

Karim S. Mabrouk

World Languages, French Faculty

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. He 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.

Jeff Magnoli

Jeff Magnoli

Math Faculty

Jeff joins Walker’s Math Department as a member of its faculty where he will teach Algebra and Honors Algebra bringing with him many years of experience in independent school education. Jeff grew up as a faculty child at Rumsey Hall and then as a student at Kent so he knows first hand about the value of an independent school education. Jeff returned to Rumsey where he taught, coached, and contributed to residential life for 20 years. Jeff has served as a Math Department Chair, an Admissions Director, a teacher of theater, English, and Math, and he previously served as a Head of School. Jeff holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Central Connecticut State University and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Mathematics from Wesleyan University.

Erin Ott

Erin Ott

English Faculty

Erin joins Walker’s English department as a fall semester substitute teacher for English faculty department chair Megan Mulhern. She is an adjunct professor of English at Hartford’s Capital Community College and a writing instructor at  Goodwin University. Erin has worked extensively with students on composition and literature, and she has assisted students with honing their skills to write at the college level. Erin holds a Master of Arts in English Literature and  Bachelor of Arts in English, Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Hofstra University.

Jae Rice

Jae Kirkland Rice

English Faculty 

Jae joins Walker’s from Yale University where he is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature and an acting instructor for the Freshman Writing Seminar. Jae has also served as an invited lecturer and instructor, has published articles in peer reviewed publications and presented at conferences on topics including race, gender and identity. Jae has a Master of Arts and a Master of Philosophy in Comparative Literature from Yale University and a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from Brown University. Jae is a member of the Cluett dorm faculty and is coaching the Middle School Debate Club. He also is working with Walker’s Athletic director Kati Eggert to develop an advanced strength and conditioning program for our college-bound athletes.


New Staff

Carole Bernocco

Accounts Receivable and Billing Bookkeeper

Carole joined Walker’s Business Office in 2021. She has more than 40 years of accounting experience. Born and raised in New York, Carole enjoys walking, movies, and going to the gym.

Kelly DeVivo

Kelly Devivo

Special Events Manager

Kelly, a Connecticut native, started her 25-year event management career in Boston where she executed events for emerging tech companies. From Boston she moved to Los Angeles as an account director for an event marketing and promotions agency. After enjoying several years in the California sunshine, she and her husband moved back to the East Coast to start a family, and have lived in Simsbury for 18 years. For the past decade, Kelly has worked as a freelance event planner working with a variety of organizations including The Necker Cup, an annual Pro-Am tennis event hosted by Richard Branson on his private island, Necker. She is a graduate of Saint Anselm College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Kelly enjoys volunteering in her community and has done so for Simsbury Junior Woman’s Club, Gifts of Love, Dog Star Rescue and for her children’s schools. She has two teenage boys, two dogs, and loves yoga, reading and travel.

Regina Martin

Senior Accountant

Regina Martin joined the Business Office staff as a senior accountant in December 2020. She graduated from The University of Connecticut with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. Regina has spent the past 30 years in nonprofit accounting, specifically long-term care, healthcare, and child health and wellness. 

Beth McWilliams

Beth McWilliams

Chief Financial Officer / Chief Operations Officer

Beth joined Walker’s in November 2020 as the school’s chief financial officer and chief operations officer. She is the former chief financial officer at Shattuck St. Mary’s Educational Services in Bath, ME. Prior Beth worked at independent schools in the northeast in financial operations. She holds an MBA from Robert Morris University and a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Gannon University. She is a former board member for the Massachusetts Association for Non-Profit School and Colleges, a member of the Independent School Association of Northern New England and the National Business Officers Association.

Beth’s daughter, Gabby, is a sixth grader at Walker’s.

Courtney O'Connor

Courtney O’Connor

Trainer

Courtney joined Walker’s upon completing her graduate degree from The University of Findlay while working with their Hunt Seat IHSA Team. She has worked in many facets of the equestrian industry and brings this expertise to the assistant trainer position at Walker’s. Along with working with The University of Findlay’s nationally-ranked IHSA Team, Courtney has been involved in IEA since high school and also has experience at the A and AA level. She has worked for US Animo where she traveled extensively to the biggest show venues in the country, working closely with top riders and trainers. Helping young people gain confidence and excel in the sport is a huge motivator for Courtney and with the value she places on education she will excel here at Walker’s.

Lisa Rathbun

Campus Store Operations Associate

Lisa is responsible for managing the operations of Diddle’s, Walker’s school store, including the retail operations of the store as well as ordering supplies for departments, disbursement of allowances to students and other administrative functions. Lisa has an extensive background in retail operations and comes to Walker’s with a thorough understanding and experience in managing both the retail and back office operations.

Abi Robinson

Abi Robinson

Admission Associate

Abi joined the Admission Team in October of 2020 after working in Walker’s External Affairs Office as a Web Migration Specialist on the development of Walker’s new website. Abi graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2018, where she studied Communication and was able to spend a semester studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Prior to coming to Walker’s, Abi worked at UConn in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences planning and promoting events, curating social media pages, and editing departmental web pages.

Harrison Shure

Harrison Shure

Assistant Head of School/Dean of Academics

Harrison comes to Walker’s from The Loomis Chaffee School where he served as the History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies Department Chair and Associate Director of the Kravis Center for Excellence in Teaching. In addition to these administrative duties, Harrison was a  history teacher and the coach of Loomis’ IEA Equestrian Team. As Walker’s Assistant Head of School/Dean of Academics, Harrison will be the academic visionary voice on campus and will lead the continued development of curricula and innovative pedagogies that carry forward our strong academic vision for the School. He will oversee program evaluation and ensure alignment of a curriculum that reflects the School’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging. Harrison will partner with other administrators including Sarah Edson, Dean of the Faculty, and Isabel Ceballos, Head of the Middle School, on hiring a diverse and dynamic faculty and guide a teacher performance evaluation system which promotes professional growth. Harrison holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Virginia and a Master of Arts degree in American History from Pace University.

Leila Wetmore

Leila Howland Wetmore ’82, P’18

Director of Development and Annual Giving

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.


New Coaches

Jenna Rubin

Jenna Rubin

Varsity Volleyball Coach

Jenna played at Smith College for the 2014 and 2015 seasons before transferring to UConn and played on the women’s club team. Jenna specialized as a middle while at Smith, gaining recognition within the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) as one of the top five blockers in both of her two years in the conference. While at UConn, she competed in the 2017 National Collegiate Volleyball Federation (NCVF) Club National Championships in Kansas City, MO. Prior to college, Rubin played on high performance teams with Husky Volleyball Club (CT) for two years. Jenna graduated from UConn in 2019, where she studied English and Creative Writing. She continues to write as a hobby and read in her free time. She loves traveling and recently moved back to Connecticut from California with her puppy, Dunkin.