Faculty Spotlight

Becker, Verne

Mr. Verne Becker
Joined SRDS Community: 2017
Degrees: B.A., Biblical Studies, Wheaton College, IL; Master of Arts, Journalism, New York University
Technology Integrator

1.  Tell us about your journey to SRDS and working in technology.  You have a background in Biblical Studies and Journalism, which is very unique!  2.  Who inspired you to become a teacher?    
I majored in biblical studies and minored in literature because I wanted to pursue a journalism career in the area of religion. Three of my professors -- a biblical scholar, a professional journalist, and a literature sage -- served as my inspiration. After college, I worked in editorial positions at several religious magazines, and then did freelance writing for nine years. During that time I published articles and several books, but I also began to grow more and more interested in the computer technology I was using for writing and editing. Mostly on my own, I learned how to build my own computer and troubleshoot software and hardware.

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Bieglecki, Amanda

Ms. Amanda Bieglecki
Joined SRDS Community: 2014
Degrees: B.A., Elem. Educ., SUNY Cortland; Master's, Reading & Literacy Educ., Univ. of Florida
Fourth Grade Teacher; Tennis Coach

1.  What are some of your fondest memories from teaching at SRDS?
There are so many to choose from! A few of my favorite memories have been from some of the ice breaker activities that the 4th graders complete in the beginning of the year. One in particular is when the students have to write down the steps to make a cream cheese and jelly sandwich. After they write down their directions, I follow each of their pieces exactly how they wrote them. I am sure many of the students would say that I follow the directions a little too literally. The activity gets a little silly and messy, but it shows the students the importance of detail, sequence, and to make sure they always indicate to use a utensil to scoop out cream cheese, otherwise, someone may just scoop it out with their hand! 

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Kettlewell, Robert

Mr. Robert Kettlewell
Joined SRDS Community: 2018
Degrees: B.A., History, Univ. of Richmond; M.A., Teachers College, Columbia Univ.
Upper School History

1.  What did you do your undergrad/grad research on, and why?
Much of my undergraduate research focused on Marxist-Leninist movements of the 20th century, and the role the Soviet Union, and its organizations such as the Comintern played, in encouraging a worldwide communist revolution. One project I particularly enjoyed was an exploration of how the leaders of the French Communist Party responded to the Comintern’s 1935 instructions to ally with Leon Blum’s Socialist Party, a radical departure from their party line. It was exhilarating to apply my French Language skills across the curriculum to better understand my study of history. Examining primary sources in French in order to address my historical research question was a memorable and authentic learning experience. 

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McCort, Yvonne

Ms. Yvonne McCort
Joined SRDS Community:  1988
Degrees:  B.A., Elem. Educ.,  Caldwell College; M.S., Educ. Technology, Long Island Univ.
Second Grade Teacher

What are some of your fondest memories from teaching at SRDS? 
What I love about teaching at SRDS has always been the strong sense of community between faculty, students, and families. One of my fondest memories was the end of the year Lower School picnic. The parents planned the picnic as a surprise each year. From the hot dogs and hamburgers grilled by the dads to the DJ to the relay race competitions orchestrated by the moms, faculty, students, and families had an amazing, fun-filled day full of surprises. Later in the day, dads would arrive with hundreds of photographs and “plaster” the upstairs hallway with them. The squeals of delight from the children filled the Lower School the next morning. It was a wonderful way to close out the school year! 

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Philipp, Kathy

Ms. Kathy Philipp
Joined SRDS Community:  1985
Degrees:  B.A., English & Theater; M.A., Teaching, Duke Univ.
8th Grade and US English (11-12 Hon and AP)


What are some of your fondest memories from teaching at SRDS?  
I love being a part of SRDS and participating in its evolution over the last thirty years. At the beginning of my tenure, I was not much older than the students, so my relationship was more like that of an older “wiser” sibling -- and I was one of the younger faculty members. Now I am the age of many of their grandparents and I hope they see me as still wise but more venerable! One memory that stands out is watching the son of one of my original students graduate...

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Rivers-Xin, Chantal

Mrs. Chantal Rivers-Xin
Joined SRDS Community: 2012
Degrees: B.A., Elementary Education; minor in Spanish Literature & Language, Montclair State University; M.Ed., Inclusive Education (K-6), Montclair State University; NJ CEAS Teacher of Students with Disabilities (K-8), Spanish (P-12), Elem/ Educ. (K-8)
LS and MS Spanish

1.  Why did you want to be a teacher?  What advice do you have for aspiring teachers?
There are several educators in my family, from elementary classroom teachers to college professors, who have been influential in my development as a teacher. My aunt was one of my biggest inspirations. She believed that as educators, we must inspire children to achieve their fullest potential, as well as provide them with the tools necessary to become ethical contributors to society. I can still remember playing “classroom” with my aunt and grandmother as a young child, in Spanish! My first-grade teacher, Mrs. Mulliken, also left a memorable impression. She welcomed me into her classroom and fostered my thirst for knowledge. Since then, I see the importance of helping students feel they are integral members of the classroom community in order for them to take intellectual risks. Once they do, it is truly amazing how much we learn from one another!

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Robinson, Vanessa

Dr. Vanessa Robinson
Joined SRDS Community:  2018
Degrees: B.A., Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; minor in Psychology, Boston Univ.; PhD., Cellular, Molecular, & Biomedical Studies, Columbia Univ.
US Biology

What did you do your undergrad/Ph.D. degrees research on, and why?
My undergrad research was on Retinopathy of Prematurity, a retinal disease that can blind infants. I used fluorescence microscopy to study the structure of rat retinas with a similar disorder. The goal was to learn more about the development of the disease, but I also learned quite a bit about the challenges of starting a research project. For my Ph.D. work, I chose a much broader question: what is the function of sleep?

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Warrener, Michael

Mr. Michael Warrener
Joined SRDS Community:  2019
Degrees:  B.S., Math & Physics, Union College; M.Sci. & M.Phil., Astronomy, Yale Univ.
US Physics and Geometry


How has your degree at Yale prepared you to teach at SRDS?  
Yale has a history of training up future leaders of the world, and that definitely has shaped the way I approach teaching. The scientific and mathematical literacy gained by students who pass through my classroom will affect future business leaders, government employees, entrepreneurs, and scientists. It is my privilege to help inspire a love and respect for analytical thinking in each and every one of them.

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