If you’ve ever been to a running race, you know about the energy that precedes and builds prior to the start. When the race officials arrive in the predawn light, there’s a quiet hush and maybe even a bit of morning fog, rolling across the wide expanse of the parking lot, or field.
As they mark the start and finish and set up the registration tent, the officials speak in close, intimate voices. Then racers arrive, slowly at first, often with their heads bowed, hoods up, focusing inward. They cross the parking lot as the fog lifts, jogging in all directions, increasing their pace as the minutes tick away to the start. It’s organized chaos as each runner focuses on their own preparations––pinning their bibs to their shirts, lacing up their racing shoes, and fueling with energy gels and hydration drinks.
Then someone flips a switch and “Eye of the Tiger” pulses from loudspeakers at the start. The air becomes electric as runners high kick, sprint, and bounce their way to the start line, barely holding back their energy until the gun goes off.
For the past month, the Cardigan campus has been much the same. August begins quietly with faculty returning to campus; they meet in small groups, planning lessons, setting goals, and strategizing for the new school year. But as the August calendar dates reach the double digits, the energy builds. Summer projects, like the renovation of Greenwood House, are near completion, and the signs for registration come out of storage. When the new faculty members arrive, that switch, the one that cues the loud music, flips. The anticipation of the students’ arrival builds, and the academic buildings come alive as faculty decorate their bulletin boards and don class dress for the first time since June.
The new faculty members contribute their own energy and enthusiasm to the pre-race preparations. Their vibe is fresh, adding a new track or note sequence to the school’s traditional melody. Hailing from Cambridge, MA, to Boulder, CO, and many points in between, the new faculty members bring significant teaching credentials and a wide range of personal experiences that have already shaped and impacted the school.
Take for example, Joe Doherty, Cardigan's new assistant head of school and dean of faculty, who is returning to The Point after four years away. During his first years of service to the school, he was the director of the Gates program, director of studies, and Science Department chair. In the intervening years, Mr. Doherty has worked at multiple independent schools, most recently at State College Friends School, where he was the head of school. He also received a graduate certificate in mind, brain, and teaching from Johns Hopkins University and a certificate of school management and leadership from Harvard University. In addition to his administrative duties, Mr. Doherty will be teaching math.
“I’m excited to rejoin the Cardigan community,” he says. “I’m passionate about all-boys education and believe the middle school years are instrumental in providing students with the skills, knowledge, and passion to be successful in our dynamic and ever-changing world.”
Also new to the administrative team is Leo Connally who is the school’s dean of academics. Mr. Connally has been teaching since 2008, most recently at the Field School of Charlottesville in Virginia, where he taught English and served as the assistant head of school. Mr. Connally has a Master of Education in private school leadership from Columbia University’s Klingenstein Center at Teachers College, an MA in English literature from Middlebury College, and a master’s in teaching and a BA in English literature from Virginia Commonwealth University.
“My favorite thing about Cardigan,” says Mr. Connally, “is the warm, welcoming community setting amidst the lakes and mountains of New Hampshire. It is the perfect community and environment to foster the academic, athletic, and social development of our students.” In addition to serving on the administrative team, Mr. Connally will also be a part of the Wellness Department.
Jenny Sabados made several visits to campus last spring during the Gates Invention and Innovation Competition as she will be the director of the Gates program this year. Passionate about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Ms. Sabados has over a decade of experience in working with young entrepreneurs, guiding them through the innovation and design process. Most recently, Ms. Sabados worked at Bay Farm Montessori Academy in Massachusetts, where she built a maker lab for sixth through eighth-grade students, cultivating and fostering skills in design thinking and empathy in a low-stakes, judgment-free environment. Ms. Sabados’s experience with circuit and electronics building, laser cutting and 2-D modeling, video production, basic robotics and coding, as well as crafting and fabrication, will all come in handy as she greets a new class of inventors and innovators this fall. Ms. Sabados will also be coaching cross country running this fall.
Cardigan is fortunate to have two additional faculty returning to Cardigan: Donna Fedele and Corey Lawson. Ms. Fedele, who previously taught at Cardigan from 2017-2021, has spent the past two years teaching history, language arts, and math––as well as advising the Model UN team, and coaching field hockey and basketball––at the Dutchess Day School in Millbrook, NY. Ms. Fedele, who has a master’s from Ashland University and a bachelor’s from Colgate University, is returning to Cardigan’s History Department and will be coaching and living in French Hall.
Corey Lawson, a member of Cardigan’s faculty from 2011-2019, was most recently on the faculty at Berwick Academy in Maine. At Berwick, he was the residential life coordinator and the assistant director of auxiliary programs, while also coaching varsity baseball. He spent the three years prior at Christ School in Arden, NC, where he coached baseball, was a head of house, and taught U.S. and world history. Mr. Lawson has a MEd in curriculum and instruction from Franklin Pierce University and a BS in elementary education and history from Keene State College. He is teaching sixth grade and coaching junior varsity football and varsity baseball, while also serving as a dorm parent in Hinman 1.
Working with Mr. Lawson and the rest of the sixth-grade team will be Courtney Bliss, who comes to Cardigan from the Applewild School in Massachusetts, where she taught language arts and coached lacrosse. Ms. Bliss has a master’s in education from Lesley University and a BA from St. Lawrence University, where she majored in history and minored in educational studies. In addition to teaching sixth grade, Ms. Bliss will be coaching and living in Hinman Hall.
There are also two new members of the Math Department: Matthew Kinney and Brianna Lynch. Matthew Kinney is also a St. Lawrence University graduate, and he majored in economics and minored in educational studies. Mr. Kinney began his teaching career in the math and history departments at the Hyde School in Maine, rising to assistant dean of academics in January of 2021. Last year, Mr. Kinney studied and received a master’s in educational leadership from Harvard University. At Cardigan, Mr. Kinney will continue teaching math, will coach snowboarding and lacrosse, and will live in Hinman Hall.
Brianna Lynch is a recent graduate of New England College, where she earned a BA in secondary school education. Ms. Lynch is already familiar with the Cardigan campus as she taught during Summer Session in July. She will be coaching this fall and will be living and advising in Hinman Hall.
Early in his career, David Kells worked as a teacher, house parent, and coach. For the past twenty years he has worked as a counselor in a variety of settings, including private schools, colleges, and private practice. As the new wellness coordinator, he will be helping to lead wellness efforts on campus for faculty, staff, and students––meeting with individual students, planning campus-wide events, visiting wellness classes, and working with athletes and coaches. In addition, he and his business partner (Erin Terry LCMHC), as part of Northern Trails Counseling Services, will continue to work with students who want longer-term counseling and with faculty and staff as part of their employee assistance program. Dave also maintains a small private practice and provides counseling services to University of New Hampshire athletes.
In the World Languages Department, Charlotte Berry will be teaching Latin. Ms. Berry graduated from Harvard University with a BA in classics and government, and she competed on the Radcliffe Varsity Heavyweight Women’s Rowing Team. On campus, Ms. Berry was a tour guide in the admissions office, a student mentor in the Harvard-Radcliffe Institute's Emerging Leadership Program, and participated in numerous programs at Harvard's Institute of Politics. Ms. Berry is returning to New England after serving as an AmeriCorps member in Helena, Montana. In addition to teaching Latin, Ms. Berry will be coaching cross country running and living in Hayward Hall.
Kevin Collins, who is also a graduate of Harvard University, will be joining the PEAKS Department as a ninth-grade coach. Mr. Collins has spent much of his career in leadership development, both in the United States and in Spain and Latin America. He has worked at the Tuck Business School and with undergraduate students at Dartmouth College, as well as at the Harvard-Westlake School in California and the American School of Madrid. Mr. Collins will be an assistant coach of the Varsity Football Team and working as an affiliate in Funnell House.
Steven DeVellis, who will be an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, is fluent in Chinese and studied Italian in college. He has a BA in international relations from Colgate University and a master’s in Chinese language and culture from the University of Massachusetts. Mr. DeVellis interned on the 2018 Campaign to re-elect Massachusetts’s Governor Charlie Baker, is an Eagle Scout, has participated in multiple community service trips throughout the United States, and was president of the Masque and Triangle Student Theater at Colgate. Most recently, Mr. DeVellis was a teaching assistant at the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School in Massachusetts. In addition to teaching, Mr. DeVellis will be coaching wrestling and lacrosse.
And lastly, we are fortunate to have two alumni returning to The Point. Zach Wennik ’15, who has experienced Cardigan as a faculty child (son of English teacher Marty Wennik P’15,’16), as a student, and as a Summer Session teacher, will be joining the History Department. Mr. Wennik recently earned a BA in economics from Goucher College and is coming to Cardigan from Dublin School in New Hampshire, where he was an assistant director of admissions, dorm parent, and ultimate frisbee coach. Mr. Wennik will also be coaching and living in Proctor House.
Also a member of the Class of 2015, Jack Kavanaugh ’15 will be a teacher’s apprentice in the PEAKS Department. Mr. Kavanaugh is a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder, where he received a BA in psychology and minored in political science.
With all the faculty back on campus, the back beat intensified. And when the students arrived, The Point became infused with eager anticipation and nervous hesitation, fuel for the miles ahead. The start of the school year may not resemble a traditional running race in which there is only one champion and one path to take. (The traditional Sneaker Game and Cardboard Boat Regatta held during the first days on campus are evidence of the silliness and fun that is infused into everything we do.) But on Tuesday, when classes began, students, faculty, and all of Cardigan’s support staff lined up at the starting line of the school year and set off, working together toward a common goal––building a strong and respectful educational community.