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Pittsburgh Parenting Blog by Sewickley Academy

Sewickley Academy: Resource Blog for Parents

Q&A with SA's New Kindergarten Teacher Holly Seifert

We are pleased to welcome Holly home to Sewickley Academy! A lifer member of the Sewickley Academy Class of 2001, Holly went on to earn her B.S. in Early Childhood Education at the University of Vermont and an M.S. in Education at Nova Southeastern University.

Since 2008, Holly has taught kindergarten at the Gulf Stream School in Florida, serving as a lead teacher and also coaching middle and high school lacrosse. Holly began her career at the University of Vermont Children’s Campus Center and subsequently worked at the Burlington Children’s space as a head preschool teacher.

Holly is committed to a hands-on, multi-sensory approach to learning that integrates ideas from Reggio Emilia and supports independence and autonomy with the support and guidance of highly skilled teachers. She is happy to partner with Karen DiMaio to co-teach one of our two Kindergarten sections.

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Topics: Faculty

Q&A With SA's New Director of After Ours Khala Wade

Khala Wade comes to Sewickley Academy with a wealth of experience working with children and managing programs. She has worked with children in support of their academic, social, and emotional needs at the Sewickley Valley YMCA, and at The Children’s Community, where she served as Assistant Director providing organizational oversight as well as a lead teacher. Khala has a B.A. in Spanish from Slippery Rock University and is currently working on her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education at Edinboro University. Khala looks forward to making good use of her skills and experience in her work with our After Ours students and their families.

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Topics: Faculty

Q&A With Breakthrough Pittsburgh's New Coordinator of Student and Family Support Lawrence Gunter

Lawrence Gunter began in May as Breakthrough Pittsburgh's Coordinator of Student and Family Support. This part-time but critically important role ensures that the needs of our Breakthrough students and their families are being met as they navigate the demands of the program over the six years of their participation.

Lawrence earned his B.S. in Finance and his MBA, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He has been an administrator and an educator, with experience as a retirement plan administrator with American Pension Benefits and as a business analyst with Casco Bay Benefits Group. He has also served as a substitute teacher in the Pittsburgh Public Schools and as a direct support professional at Verland, providing direct care to clients with physical, developmental, and intellectual disabilities.

With his extensive experience and professional qualifications, Lawrence is a most welcome addition to our Breakthrough Team. Lawrence and his wife, Aisha, are the proud parents of current SA student Lawrence Gunter.

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Topics: Faculty

Q&A With SA's New Senior School Math Teacher Seamus Coons

Seamus launched his career as a mathematics teacher in the Palm Springs Unified School District in California, serving as a Grade 7 math teacher and spurring his students on to earn the highest scores in the district on California’s Assessment of Student Performance and Progress. Returning east, Seamus spent a year with the Quaker Valley School District as a long-term substitute, teaching high school geometry, and then a year at Propel Hazelwood teaching mathematics to students in Grades 7 and 8. His goal as a teacher is to inspire students to be curious about math in an environment that is collaborative and in which it is safe to take risks.

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Topics: Faculty

Q&A With SA's new Senior School Latin Teacher Joel Svensson


We are pleased to welcome Joel to Sewickley Academy. Joel comes to us from the Ellis School, where he taught both Spanish and Latin having previously taught these languages at Winchester Thurston School. A polyglot who speaks Swedish in addition to Spanish and English, Joel revels in the study of language and the entrée such study provides into culture. 


Joel holds the equivalent of a B.A. in Education in History and Spanish, from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Additional study includes coursework on the issues of Latin American masculinity at the Centro Bartolomé de las Casas in San Salvador, El Salvador; and Spanish Language and Literature, Ethnology, Philology, and History of Latin American Culture at the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (Spain). When not engaged in language study, Joel enjoys playing ice hockey and guitar.

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Topics: Faculty

Q&A with SA's New Middle School English Teacher Chelsea Begg

Chelsea is happy to return to the region after spending the last several years teaching middle school English at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville in Florida. In addition to her school-year teaching, Chelsea also taught for two summers with Rustic Pathways as a program leader in Thailand and Cambodia, building on her Rustic Pathways experiences as a volunteer in Costa Rica, Peru, and Cambodia.

A graduate of Shady Side Academy, Chelsea has a B.A. in Writing & Rhetoric and English, magna cum laude, from William Smith College in Geneva, New York. She also attended the Exeter Humanities Institute at Phillips Exeter where she was introduced to the Harkness method of instruction, which seeks to empower students to lead class discussions and take greater responsibility for their learning. Chelsea is a great believer that it is important for students to understand that their voices matter.

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Topics: Faculty

Q&A with SA's New Senior School Science Teacher Mary Brayer

 

We are very pleased to welcome home Mary (Harbist) Brayer, Sewickley Academy Class of 2006! Mary went on from Sewickley Academy , where she was a star athlete and member of the Cum Laude Society, to the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned her B.S. in Biological Sciences and a B.A. in History magna cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. 

After serving as a Summer Science Teaching Fellow at Phillips Andover, Mary was awarded a Science Teaching Fellowship at St. Paul’s School (New Hampshire), where she taught biology. Subsequently, Mary was a member of the science faculty for seven years at the Pingree School in Hamilton, Massachusetts, where she taught biology, chemistry, and AP environmental science.

In addition, Mary coached varsity field hockey and was the head coach of junior varsity lacrosse. She was also regularly recognized by her colleagues, who routinely nominated her to mentor faculty new to Pingree. Mary is delighted to be returning to Pittsburgh and her alma mater!
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Topics: Faculty

Q&A with SA's New Dance Teacher Heidi Murr

Heidi Murr joins the Performing Arts Department as our new dance teacher. Heidi has spent the last several years as a dance instructor and coordinator at Westinghouse Arts Academy Charter School in Pittsburgh, where she developed their dance program from scratch. Skilled in modern, ballet, and jazz, Heidi has also been a guest artist at Shady Side Academy’s Junior School, working with students in their after school program. She is also the founder of her own Modern dance troupe, MURRdance, and has performed locally in the Kelly Strayhorn NewMoves Festival. Heidi holds a BFA in Dance, magna cum laude, from The Ohio State University.

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Q&A with SA's New Senior School Math Teacher Christy Fairman

Christy arrives at Sewickley Academy after nine years of teaching boys at St. Paul’s School for Boys in Brooklandville, Maryland.  Earlier in her career, she taught girls at the St. Catherine’s School in Richmond, Virgina, teaching science as well as math. She is pleased to teach boys and girls together here as she joins the Senior School Math Department.

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Q&A with SA's New Director of Human Resources Robert Allison

Robert "Bob" Allison arrived on Sewickley Academy's campus on May 13, 2019, from Washington & Jefferson College where he served as the Director of Human Resources. He started that role in 2013 and served as a Human Resources Specialist for seven years prior to that. As a complement to his extensive experience working at the college level, Bob also has corporate experience from his time at Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc., where he served in the local Pittsburgh office as a Human Resources Clerk and Recruiter.

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Topics: Faculty