Summer Programs

Here’s the Deal

Hotchkiss Summer Portals is all about learning through doing. This summer we hope you'll learn some excellent music, or awesome environmental science work. If you're between twelve and fifteen years old and you're interested in piano or environmental science, then you should consider joining us this summer in the beautiful hills of northwestern Connecticut. You'll learn from and live with teachers and students from around the world.

Great classes:

  • A student-teacher ratio of just 5:1
  • A student body of just about 215 kids from diverse backgrounds
  • Individualized attention for each student from terrific teachers
  • A distinguished faculty supplemented by visiting speakers, guest scientists, guest performers, resident musicians, and graduate students
  • Classes that revolve around action—playing in ensembles, practicing pieces, discussing topics and assignments, conducting labs, traveling on field trips, and exploring nearby ecosystems

Great people:

  • Become friends with faculty and resident teaching fellows. They'll be your teachers, advisors, and mentors, and they’ll help you adjust to life at Portals.
  • Meet kids from all around the world and from all sorts of different backgrounds. Portals graduates tell us how they stay in touch all year long with their friends from the summer. Come and make new connections!

View our Catalog

Click on the image above to see a full-size version of the catalog. For a PDF version click here.

Portals Administrative Faculty


Stephen C. McKibben

Dean of Summer Programs

A recent addition to The Hotchkiss School faculty, I have served as teacher, coach, consultant, administrator, and headmaster in independent schools, colleges, and public schools since my graduation from Wesleyan University in 1984. Along the way, I have been recognized by my teachers for contributions to the classroom, honored by my students for the quality of my teaching, awarded a Klingenstein Fellowship for Independent School Leadership from Teachers College (Columbia University), and coached the number-one-ranked high school lacrosse team in the country. A life-long student, I have earned graduate degrees from Springfield College, the Bread Loaf School of English (Middlebury College), and Teachers College, and am currently completing doctoral work at Columbia.

At The Hotchkiss School, in addition to working with Portals, I teach in the sophomore Humanities program, serve as an affiliate in an upper-school boys dormitory, and coach basketball and lacrosse. I and my partner, Andrea Baier, a former Dean at Middlebury College, are the proud parents of Cady Scout, an elementary school student who loves chocolate, climbing trees, and cats. I grew up in Maine and, with the exception of a five-year tenure as Headmaster of Lake Tahoe School, have spent most of my life in New England; however, my family and I are inveterate travelers and have trekked and biked through Canada, the United Kingdom, Eastern Europe, Vietnam, and Cuba. In addition, as a passionate environmentalist, I spend as much time as I can outside of school hiking, climbing, biking, and backcountry skiing.

The child of two teachers, I live my professional life committed to schools, to the liberal arts, and to educational leadership. I am honored to be a part of the Portals community because I believe our exceptional teachers and world-class artists transform the lives of our students. I believe in the power of Portals innovative and distinctive programs to inspire students to take action, whether it’s through environmental activism, making music, or making new friends from around the globe. Join us here at Portals and see what change can do for you and the world.

Christie Rawlings

Director of Admission and Residential Life

In May, 2003 Christie Gurney Rawlings was appointed the first Director of Admission and Residential Life for the Hotchkiss Summer Programs. Mrs. Rawlings came to Summer Portals after seven years in the Hotchkiss Admission Office as an Associate Director. During her tenure in the Admission Office, she was responsible for reviewing files for the Prep and Lower-Mid classes (9th & 10th grades), interviewing over 1,000 candidates for admission, managing the admission office travel schedule, overseeing the annual Orientation program, planning the daily interview schedule, and coordinating the efforts of the Regional Council. Before her work in admissions, Mrs. Rawlings was Director of the Hotchkiss Annual Fund, a position she held for two years. Her interaction with alumni class agents helped her reach the highest annual giving figure up to that time in Hotchkiss history. In addition to her responsibilities with Summer Portals, Mrs. Rawlings is a duty administrator. She is the assistant varsity volleyball coach and the head varsity softball coach. She has served on a number of committees including the Student Assistance Team. As a member of the Student Assistance Team, Mrs. Rawlings and her fellow faculty members helped students with life decisions in a confidential and nurturing way. She now serves on the Student Assistance Team’s Advisory Board.

Mrs. Rawlings was educated at The Hotchkiss School, the University of Colorado, and UCONN, where she received a Bachelor of General Science. Mrs. Rawlings lives on campus with her husband, Roger Rawlings, and their three children Alexandra, Parker, and Bradford.

Christopher Shepard

Music Director

Chris Shepard is a conductor with a special interest in the choral music of J.S. Bach. He founded the Sydneian Bach Choir & Orchestra in Sydney, Australia in 2001. With that ensemble, he conducted all of Bach’s major choral-orchestral works, and directed nearly eighty of Bach’s cantatas.

Chris has presented two nationally televised documentaries in Australia: a program about Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and From Mozart to Morrison with jazz trumpeter James Morrison. He has also been guest conductor of many choirs and orchestras in Australia and America.

Chris was Director of Music at Sydney Grammar School from 1996 to 2008, after having served as Head of the Arts Department at the Taft School in Connecticut for nearly a decade. He is Artistic Director of the Dessoff Choirs in New York City and the Worcester Chorus in Massachusetts. Chris holds a bachelor's degree in music education from the Hartt School, a master's degree in choral conducting from Yale and a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Sydney.

James Serach

Environmental Director

Currently a Master Teacher who holds the Aldo Leopold Chair for Distinguished Teaching of Environmental Science and Ethics at The Lawrenceville School, Mr. Serach’s teaching experience ranges from Advanced Placement Environmental Science, biology, chemistry, along with electives in microbiology, geology, tropical biology, and limnology. Jim has the privilege and opportunity to work closely with other teachers to develop curriculum, discuss teaching and learning, and to observe, reflect on, and critique teaching methods.

He received a B.A. in Chemistry from Potsdam College of Arts and Sciences in New York (1980) and a M.S. in Biology from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (1985), with an emphasis on the physiological ecology of bats. He held a New York State teaching certification in biology, chemistry, and general science from State University College in Buffalo, New York. He partially completed a Ph.D. program in biology at Boston University.

Involved with the A.P. Environmental Science curriculum as a workshop consultant and instructor, table leader and question leader for the exam reading, Mr. Serach currently serves on the test development committee. He redesigned Lawrence Academy’s science curriculum and conceived several tropical field study courses at Lawrence Academy and The Lawrenceville School.

A scholar of tropical ecology and bat biology for many years, Jim has conducted numerous workshops and presentations. His academic travels, for research and leading groups of students, include much of Central and South America, Ghana, Australia, Thailand, Japan, and Papua New Guinea. Courses are designed to emphasize skill development and genuine inquiry. He aspires to achieve scientific literacy in all students while including significant laboratory and field components, emphasizing inquiry-based learning, interpreting and collecting data, and using case studies.

Susan Kinsolving

English and Theater Director

Susan Kinsolving is Poet-in-Residence at The Hotchkiss School. Her poems appear in numerous journals, newspapers, and anthologies. Her three books of poems are: Among Flowers, Dailies & Rushes, and The White Eyelash. A new collection, entitled My Glass Eye, is forthcoming.

Her books have been critically acclaimed by The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, The Library Journal, Vanity Fair, Poetry, The Los Angeles Times, and American Poet, among others.

Ms. Kinsolving has taught in The Bennington Writing Seminars, The University of Connecticut, Chautauqua Institute, Southampton College, and California Institute of the Arts.

Among the places she has been invited to read and lecture are: Harvard University, The National Arts Club, The New York Public Library, Printemps du Livre of France, The Yeats Society, Dunvegan Castle Arts Festival of Scotland, The French Consulate of New York, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Riding Foundation of Florida, Yale University, The Harman Center of Washington, D.C.

The Poetry Society of America presented its 2009 Lyric Award to her. She has enjoyed fellowship residencies in France, Illinois, Italy, New York, Scotland, and Switzerland. She was a finalist for The National Book Critics Circle Award. She has received the Friends of Literature Prize in Chicago and a Bingham Teaching Fellowship in Massachusetts. Her poem “Dance Steps” was presented to Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands in a televised ceremony.

As a librettist, Ms. Kinsolving has works commissioned and performed by Glimmerglass Opera of New York, The Marin Symphony of California and The Baroque Choral Guild in Italy. Carl Fischer Music published her cantata and song cycle. In 2011-12, Oakland Symphony and Santa Rosa Symphony will perform her recent piece, The Promise of Time, in collaboration with composer David Carlson.

Ms. Kinsolving received her B.A. from the University of California at Los Angeles and her M.F.A. from California Institute of the Arts.

Cornelia Cannon Holden

Director, Portals Leadership & Social Change Program

Cornelia Cannon Holden has taught or implemented leadership and team building programs at Bowdoin College, Boston College, Middlebury College, Georgetown University, and Yale University. She served as the sports psychology, team building, and leadership consultant for four years with the U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey Team and helped guide it to two consecutive World Championships (2008, 2009), gold medals at both the 2009 Four Nations Cup and 2009 Hockey Canada Cup, and its first-ever No. 1 world ranking entering the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where it won the silver medal.

Cornelia graduated summa cum laude from Bowdoin College, where she was a NCAA Division II giant slalom ski racing champion and a member of both the varsity tennis and crew teams. She also holds a Masters of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, where her program of study included courses at Harvard Business School. The founder and CEO of Mindful Warrior (, her approach has also been influenced by her tenure as a non-profit consultant, and a decade in private practice as a body-centered psychotherapist and complementary and alternative medicine consultant. Employing a spectrum of mindfulness practices and citizen-leadership models, Cornelia has spent her career helping individuals and teams achieve remarkable value-driven performances. Still an avid skier and outdoorswoman, Cornelia lives on Hotchkiss's campus with her husband, Kevin Hicks, the Head of School, and her daughter, Zuleika Alice.

Pamela Mindell

Artistic Director

Pamela Mindell, conductor, is Acting Director of Choral Activities at Clark University (MA) this year. She also conducts the oldest singers of the Worcester Children’s Chorus, Tour Chorus. From 2004-2011, Pamela was Director of Choral Programs at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Under her direction, the Holy Cross choirs traveled to Italy and Spain, as well as throughout the Northeastern United States, singing in such venues as Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Recent performances include a concert of Sacred Latin American music with renowned soprano Dawn Upshaw, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Beethoven’s Mass in C Major, and Osvaldo Golijov’s Pasion segun San Marco.

Prior to her work at Holy Cross, Pamela taught at Smith College (MA) and spent a year in Sydney, Australia, conducting and singing professionally. Since that time, she has been invited back to Sydney as guest conductor and soloist for the Sydney Grammar Bach Festivals. Pamela has worked with a number of children’s choirs, including the Litchfield County Children’s Choir in CT and the Paradise City Children’s Choir, which she founded in 2001. As a soprano, Pamela has performed in several recitals with mezzo-soprano Justina Golden. She has sung with The Boston Secession and with Emmanuel Music in Boston. Pamela has served as Artistic Director of the Hotchkiss Summer Portals Vocal Chamber Program for high school singers since 2005.

Pamela received her doctorate in Choral Conducting from Yale University, where she studied with Marguerite Brooks and David Connell. She holds a master’s degree in Music Education from The Hartt School as well as a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Princeton University.

Sam Prouty

Paul Oberto

Fabio Witkowski


Portals welcomes Fabio Witkowski back as for the 2014 Chamber Music Portal. As both Chair of The Hotchkiss School Music Department and an accomplished professional pianist, Fabio's commitment to developing musical students of all levels while simultaneously challenging exceptional musicians to continue to grow as artists and performers has made Hotchkiss a leader in attracting exceptional musicians and teachers. Fabio will coach piano ensemble, teach private lessons, and play a formal four-hands concert along with his partner and wife, Gisele.

A native of Brazil, Witkowski began his piano career at the age of six. Since then, he has been performing extensively throughout the world. Mr. Witkowski has given solo recitals in the Czech Republic, Brazil, Italy, China, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Boston, Hartford, Chicago, New York and Washington, DC. He has also appeared as a soloist with the Santo Andre Symphony Orchestra, Orquestra L’Estro Armonico, the Hartt Symphony Orchestra, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, the São Bernardo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Paulista Symphony Orchestra. In Brazil, he received the first prize at the renowned Villa-Lobos Piano Competition, as well as the Lorenzo Fernandez Piano Competition. He has been awarded the first prize at the Connecticut State Music Teachers Association’s Young Artist Piano Concerto Competition, and received third prize, as well as an award for the best Stravinsky performance, in the Ibla Grand Prize International Piano Competition, in Italy.

He has performed at the Tanglewood Institute, the Liszt and Wagner International Festival, in Italy, the Prague International Piano Festival, Festival de Musica de Girona, in Spain, and the Liszt Festival, in Rio de Janeiro. For the past four years he has been a guest artist and piano faculty at the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Italy, having shared the stage with renowned pianists such as Bobby Roux, Ian Robson, Luiz de Moura Castro and Paul Badura-Skoda. He appeared in chamber recitals with the Grammy-Award winning Emerson String Quartet, the Fine Arts Quartet, the Adaskin Trio, and with Mr. Robert deMaine, principal cellist of the Detroit Symphony.

Mr. Witkowski holds a cum laude BM and MM from the Hartt School of Music, where he studied under the guidance of Luiz de Moura Castro. He is currently the Chairman of the Hotchkiss School Music Department, where his teaching efforts have included him for three years in the “Who is Who Among America’s Teachers” publication.

Some of his past engagements include concerts at Bryant Park and Union Square Park, in New York City, both sponsored by the New York Times’s Young Performers Series. Mr. Witkowski also performs regularly with his wife, pianist Gisele Nacif Witkowski. They have appeared together in prestigious settings such as the Gardens of Villa Rufolo, in Ravello, Italy, at the Kennedy Center, in Washington, D.C. and at Carnegie Hall, in New York City. According to the New York Concert Review, the duo “shows marvelous rubato and tremendously clean playing, with a lovely sense of tone.”

Mr. Witkowski has been acclaimed by the critics as “One of Brazil’s most promising talents,” who “never fails to impress the audience,” and whose playing “is able to conjure up the devilish colors of an inferno as well as portray an ethereal paradise...” According to the Hartford Courant, “Mr. Witkowski revealed himself as an accomplished pianist, providing many passages of bravura, sensitivity, and pearly agility.”




Stephen McKibben
Dean of Summer Programs

Christiana Gurney Rawlings
Director of Admission and Residential Life

Phone:   (860) 435-3173
Fax:   (860) 435-4413

Summer Portals
The Hotchkiss School
11 Interlaken Road
Lakeville, CT 06039