Hotchkiss Honors Staff and Faculty, Presents First-Ever Safe, Seen, and Supported Award
Hotchkiss Anniversary Awards

The annual anniversary awards ceremony on April 30 honored staff and faculty members for their service and named the winners of three awards, including the new Safe, Seen, and Supported Award. (Watch a recording of the event at the end of this article.)

“Today, we gather to recognize the employees of the School, each of whom contributes in innumerable ways to the success of the Hotchkiss experience and the strength of the Hotchkiss community,” Head of School Craig Bradley said. “This work is done by 351 employees who have collectively provided 3,324 years of service.”

Staff Recognition Awards

Staff Recognition Awards

From left, Diana Jones, Kristin Allyn, Jay Fails.

Jay Fails Receives Safe, Seen, and Supported Award

Campus Safety & Security Officer Jay Fails received the first-ever Safe, Seen, and Supported Award. “This brand-new award is designed to highlight the fantastic ways in which adult members of the community contribute to the magic that is Hotchkiss,” Associate Head of School Amber Douglas said. “We received so many incredible nominations and greatly appreciate your enthusiasm and engagement. Your entries spanned the entire Hotchkiss community and recognized adults for both the big and the small, further emphasizing the immense impact that is made upon our students every day.”

Axel Nzi ’24 said, “Have you ever wondered how Mr. Jay Fails knows your name when you arrive at the crosswalk? He has been working on memorizing everyone’s name by studying the Names & Faces booklet. Whenever the cross-country team and I see him, he creates genuine conversations that brighten our days and make us feel like we belong at Hotchkiss. As a crossing guard, Jay always makes sure that the team and I are safe on the roads and never ceases to put a smile on our faces when we cross.”

Quisha Lee ’24 said, “I feel safe walking across their crossroad because of Mr. Jay Fails. He is always positive and kind and I am so happy he is here for us. As a senior who is about to depart this beautiful campus, I’ll never forget his words or his energy. I’m glad he is here for us. And like he has said to so many of us on so many days, ‘Be good now.’”

Honorable mentions for the Safe, Seen, and Supported Award include Sienna Brann, Walter Crain fellow, associate director of diversity recruitment and retention, and instructor in theatre; Jane Herold P'17,'20,'24, study skills coordinator and instructor in English; Mary Seymour, housekeeper; Danielle Turner ’03, head athletic trainer; and Pierre Yoo P'21,'23, associate director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, instructor in chemistry, head coach of boys varsity and JV cross country, and dorm head of Edelman.

Diana Jones Receives Margot Hooker Award

Diana Jones, administrative assistant to college advising, received the Margot Hooker Award. This award was established in 1996 in memory of Margot Hooker, a 28-year member of the Hotchkiss staff, and is presented annually to a member of the staff who best exemplifies those traits of character which distinguished Margot Hooker: thoughtfulness, reliability, attachment to the institution, cheerfulness, kindness to one’s co-workers, and the example one sets for others.

“To me, it is not surprising that Diana Jones has been awarded the Margot Hooker Award. She truly embodies the traits of character that we want to recognize with this award,” Director of College Advising Serena Oh Castellano said. “Not only is Diana detail-oriented in her work and unflappable in her demeanor, she realizes the importance of interpersonal relationships in a community like ours. As I was new to the Hotchkiss community last year, I consider Diana my guide of sorts. She knows exactly where to go and who to ask for help within Hotchkiss, but what strikes me most is how she knows all of the people in our community and their respective stories. Diana inspires me to be a better person.”

Jones began her Hotchkiss career as the administrative assistant for the Center for Global Understanding and Independent Thinking and Environmental Initiatives. Josh Hahn, assistant head of school and director of strategic initiatives, shared, “Diana has been critical to advancing the school's leadership in environmental sustainability. In her role in the environmental initiatives office for 10 years, she was a key contributor and inextricably linked to the starting of Fairfield Farm and the creation of the Biomass plant. Many environmental Initiatives at Hotchkiss would not have happened without her.”

Kristin Allyn P'18 Receives Robert and Candice Barker Staff Recognition Award

Kristin Allyn P'18, associate director of the Cynthia White Children’s Center and preschool room head teacher, received the Robert and Candice Barker Staff Recognition Award. Established in 2017, this award recognizes a staff member who, through personal commitment, dedication, loyalty, and willingness to go beyond the call of duty, has enhanced the sense of community at Hotchkiss.

“For nearly two and a half decades, Kristin has been a pillar at the Cynthia White Children's Center. Parents consistently describe her as a beacon of warmth, a guiding light for countless children, and a source of unwavering support for families and staff,” Chief Financial Officer Sandy Lynch said. “Whether it's ensuring a soft landing for new families, like helping them navigate the anxieties of transitioning to school, or celebrating victories with the children, no matter how big or small, her kindness and compassion are evident in all she does. Her ability to connect with children, even during the most challenging times like the pandemic, is a testament to her nurturing spirit and dedication.”

This award is sustained by the permanent endowment of the Robert and Candice Barker Staff Recognition Fund and honors Robert and Candice Barker, whose work, for over nearly four decades, exemplified dedication to the School. Robert taught history at Hotchkiss, with great distinction for 39 years, holding the E. Carlton Granbury Teaching Chair for two decades.  In addition to his teaching, Robert served in several administrative roles. In 2004, Robert was founding dean of the Summer Portals program and served as its director until 2010. Robert retired in 2014. Candy Barker joined Hotchkiss in 1988 as director of admission for the Summer Program and she served in several roles, including registrar, executive assistant to the head of school, and the director of events before retiring in 2011.

Milestone 25th Anniversary Honorees

Anniversary Awards 25 Years

From left, Marc Dittmer, Fabio Witkowski, Nate Seidenberg, Carita Gardiner, Tom Herold. Not pictured: Chip Lilley Jr.

Marc Dittmer, German Program Coordinator, Instructor in German, and Water Safety Instructor

 “As Marc and Liz have raised their family here, Marc has been part of the Hotchkiss fabric, from dorm to class dean, from college office to wrestling mats. Marc also loomed large during the glory days of JV football, out on Taylor Field where goal posts once stood,” said Charlie Frankenbach, the Russel Murray Bigelow Teaching Chair, Lufkin Prize recipient, interim Dean of Faculty, and instructor in English.

A former student wrote, “Herr Dittmer was one of the most memorable teachers that I had during my time at Hotchkiss. Herr Dittmer invests his time into each student so they may recognize their true potential, whether that is in German, another subject, or any aspect of their life. Since having left Hotchkiss, Herr Dittmer's support has only grown. Not only did I have a memorable experience in Herr Dittmer's class, but I gained a mentor for life.”

Carita Gardiner P'17,'20, Class of '42 Teaching Chair, Lufkin Prize Recipient, Dean of the Class of 2025, Instructor in English, Diving Head Coach

“It’s not just about the variety of sparkling shoes, the also sparkling daily grammar drills, nor the wonderful museum of photos from around this beautiful campus. No, it’s about the heart with which Carita Gardiner has taught, advised, coached, cooked for, and cared for Bearcats these past 25 years,” Frankenbach said.

A former student wrote, “Ms. Gardiner is a once-in-a-lifetime guide, mentor, and friend. We should all be so lucky to be held accountable by a teacher who cares as much about her students as Ms. Gardiner. I wouldn't be the person or the writer I am without her, and I'm so grateful our paths crossed when they did.”

Tom Herold P'17,'20,'24, Instructor in English

“Colleagues mention his warmth and thoughtfulness, and with such traits he has served the school for these 25 years as a dorm parent, coach, teacher, advisor, and class dean,” Frankenbach said.

A player of Herold wrote, “He has been my coach for four seasons in total (one varsity soccer, three JV lacrosse) and in both sports it has always been obvious that his understanding of the sports is instinctual—his coaching abilities come from high player IQ.”

Chip Lilley Jr., Mechanic

Director of Facilities John Bryant said, “Chip started here at Hotchkiss as a grounds worker in November of 1998. He almost immediately showed himself as a competent and fearless mechanic and was elevated to the assistant mechanic position, an aspect that was missing in the department at that time. More recently, he was named full mechanic. His peers say that he has an inherent curiosity and understanding of complex mechanical issues. Chip oversee the fleet of vehicles, trucks, sophisticated mowers, tractors, carts, an all manner of power equipment—hundreds of pieces.”

Nate Seidenberg, Instructor in History, Head Coach of Varsity and JV Track and Field

“He loves the study of history and the ancient, and he digs and digs into the ancient on many his trips around the globe,” Frankenbach said. “A trusted adult involved with Hillel, Nate has supported and nurtured students for years.  He has coached football, cross country, track, and basketball. He lends a ready ear and hand to his students, who have expressed gratitude for his care and candor.”

One of his colleagues wrote, “When I first proposed the Hotchkiss in Israel program, even though I didn't know Nate particularly well at that point, I knew that there was no one else I wanted to bring along as my co-leader. Our travel together, both with students and without them, has deepened our professional camaraderie, but more importantly established the bonds of friendship beyond our work together.”

Fabio Witkowski, The Joanne Eastman Sohrweide Chair, Head of the Visual and Performing Arts Department, Director of Music Technology, Instructor in Piano

“He and Gisele Witkowski were here from the start of the thrilling evolution of music and the arts at Hotchkiss out of the basement and into Elfers,” Frankenbach said. “And since then, Mr. Witkowski and Gisele have not only brought the world to Hotchkiss, but he’s also brought Hotchkiss to the world through his many travels abroad.  Fabio is a conductor and a pianist—and as he does in front of the orchestra, Fabio aims to bring the many parts of the arts into a whole, continuing to work at having the myriad brilliances of our Arts Department (theatre, studio art, visual art, dance, photo and related media, ceramics, all of it) into a collective force that is a signature of this great school.”

A former student wrote, “There were times when everything was overwhelming and chaotic and yet music was always a constant source of stability and security. And I just marvel at how lucky I was and how fortunate I am now to have had a teacher like Fabio who instilled in me a lifelong passion for music and who believed in me throughout my journey.” 

Anniversary Awards 25 Years

Additional Milestone Anniversaries Across Campus

The following faculty and staff were recognized for their milestone anniversaries this year. We congratulate them for their contributions to the Hotchkiss community. 

40 Years of Service

Jean LaChaine, Athletic Center Maintenance Technician

35 Years of Service

Charlie Frankenbach, the Russel Murray Bigelow Teaching Chair, Lufkin Prize Recipient, Interim Dean of Faculty, Instructor in English

Keith Moon, E. Carleton Granbery Teaching Chair, Lufkin Prize Recipient, Instructor in English, History, and Russian Language, Head Coach of Boys Varsity and JV Swimming

30 Years of Service

Andy Murphy, Housekeeper

15 Years of Service

Maggie Crain, Director of New Student Orientation, Prep Class Dean, Academic Coach

Fran Goodhouse, Campus Safety and Security Officer

Josh Hahn, Assistant Head of School, Director of Strategic Initiatives

Jane Herold, Study Skills Coordinator, Instructor in English

Diana Jones, Administrative Assistant to College Advising

Heather Mechare, Registrar

Chelsea Mendoza, Accounting Manager

Laurie Ross, Director of Human Resources

Ann Villano, Instructor in Film 

10 Years of Service

Steve Dodge, Campus Safety & Security Officer

Clark Eddy ’81, Academic Coach

Mike Fitzgerald, Instructor in History, Head Coach of Mountain Biking

Bill Kearns, Carpenter

Adam Lang, Instructor in Economics

Brian Murphy, Campus Safety & Security Officer

Michelle Repass, the Peter Jay Sharp '48 Chair, Instructor in English, Head Coach of Girls Varsity and JV Swimming

Phyllis Schneider, CWCC Preschool Teacher

Danielle Shippey, Director of Health Services

Darren Visconti, Associate Director of Information Technology Services

Melyssa White, CWCC Infant Room Head Teacher

5 Years of Service

Jeff Blevins, Instructor in English, Director of the MacLeish Scholars Program

Erica Julieth Bonet Arango, Housekeeper

Kelly Churchill, Academic Coach

John Dwan, Campus Safety & Security Officer

Katie Fleishman, Head of the English Department, Instructor in English, Dorm Head of Tinker

Ling-Fei Kang, Instructor in Oboe

Richard Katan, Ice Rink Associate, Groundskeeper

Kristen Lazarus, Mental Health Counselor

Sandy Lynch, Chief Financial Officer

Jamie Marci, Instructor in Brass

Colleen McGuire, Instructor in Visual Arts

Christina Miranda, Associate Director of Counseling

Sam Somera, Instructor in History

Robert Whitbeck, Campus Safety & Security Officer

Marcie Wistar, Director of Student Activities and Clubs


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