New members of Ransom Everglades' faculty and administration gathered on the Ransom Campus Aug. 12 for a day of introductions and orientation. Head of School Penny Townsend, Associate Head of School John A. King, Jr., department chairs and others assembled to greet the accomplished new additions to the RE community, who showed up with energy and enthusiasm for the start of classes on Aug. 19.
Meet the new talent:
Scott Berman, Assistant Athletic Director and head boys’ varsity basketball coach, arrived to RE after rebuilding the basketball program as head coach at Hebrew Academy in Miami Beach. There, he also served as assistant athletic director, coached tennis, taught government and economics and sponsored the school’s Model UN team. Mr. Berman previously worked as head boy’s varsity coach at Maccabi USA, leading teams in the Pan American and European Games and on an exhibition tour of Europe. He also served as director of basketball operations and assistant coach at Hawaii Pacific University. He earned his BA at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and his master’s in secondary education at Hawaii Pacific University.
Rick Bernasco, Chief Financial Officer, came to Ransom Everglades from the Winsor School in Boston, where he spent a decade as chief financial officer overseeing the school’s $28 million annual budget while also serving as a member of the finance, audit and risk and investment committees of the board, and co-leader of the school’s building project team. He previously served as CFO at the Vermont Academy and The Pennington School, an assistant controller at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, N.J., and as an adjunct accounting professor at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. He also founded and directed Bernasco & Co., certified public accountants that provided accounting, audit, tax and consulting services. Mr. Bernasco earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Rider University.
Jacob Caron arrived from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, where he served on the strength and conditioning staff for the football team while also working in the private sector at various training facilities. Prior to his tenure at UNLV, Mr. Caron worked as an assistant football coach at the University of Redlands and Passing Game Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach at Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in Claremont, Ca. After earning his BA at Pitzer College, Mr. Caron was a professional football quarterback for four years in the International Federation of American Football (in Bern and Stockholm) and the Arena Football League (Utah Blaze). While at Pitzer, he was Student-Athlete of the Year in 2011 and was a two-year team captain. Mr. Caron attended Cheshire Academy in Connecticut.
Daniel Creasy brought 20 years of experience in college admission offices to RE, where he serves as Senior Associate Director of College Counseling. Mr. Creasy most recently worked as Associate Dean of Admission and Director of Admission Communication at Hamilton College where he was responsible for the first review of some 400 applications annually. He also worked in admissions at Emory University, Johns Hopkins University and American University. During his career, Mr. Creasy has presented at myriad conferences with the National Association of College Admission Counselors and regional college counseling associations. He graduated from Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
Victoria Druehl came to RE from IMG Academy in Bradenton, where she served as a strength and conditioning coach. During her IMG tenure, she oversaw the strength and conditioning program for the girls’ basketball and girls’ soccer teams, as well as the Chinese Soccer Residency Program through Beijing Sport University and the General Administration of Sport of China. She previously worked at Palmer Trinity School and Harvard-Westlake School outside of Los Angeles. Ms. Druehl earned her undergraduate degree in exercise science at the University of Connecticut and her MSEd in exercise physiology at the University of Miami.
Brittney Ellzey came to Ransom Everglades from the University of Miami, where she served as a lecturer in the mathematics department and earned the school’s Math Department Excellence in Teaching Award. She also taught math at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School and as an adjunct instructor at Miami Dade College. While a graduate student, Dr. Ellzey founded and served as president of the University of Miami Graduate Student Chapter of the American Mathematical Society, and her work on chromatic quasisymmetric functions is published in the journal Seminaire Lotharingien de Combinatoire. She has also presented her work at American Mathematical Society special sessions, seminars and conferences. She earned her master’s degree and PhD in math at the University of Miami, and bachelor’s degree in math with minors in Spanish and computer science at Louisiana Tech University.
Aleny Garcia joined RE as Associate Director of College Counseling after serving as director of counseling and guidance at Cardinal Gibbons High in Fort Lauderdale, where she introduced and fine-tuned relevant and compelling programming for parents and students. She also worked as a Network Master Counselor for Chicago’s public schools; as a Counselor Department Manager for a Chicago-based high school; and in the counseling office of Nova High in Broward County. She has been frequently invited to give presentations at the annual conferences of the Southern Association of College Admission Counselors and served as a reader for national and regional college scholarship programs. Ms. Garcia earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Florida International University and Nova Southeastern University, respectively.
Patrick Hession came to RE’s World Languages Department from Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he taught French for four years. An accomplished sailor, Mr. Hession will teach sailing in the freshman physical education curriculum and serve as an assistant sailing team coach. An all-conference and all-American competitive sailor who holds a U.S. Sailing Level 1 Certification, he served as senior sailing instructor and coach at the Devon Yacht Club, West Dennis Yacht Club and Manhattan Yacht Club. Mr. Hession earned his bachelor’s degree from Boston College and his master’s at the Middlebury College Graduate Language School in Paris.
Carla Hill, RE’s new Director of Inclusion and Community Engagement, will work with all members of the community on diversity, equity and inclusion and be especially focused on work in the admission office this year. She arrived from the Department of Mental Health Services at the Miami-Dade County Public Schools district office, where she supervised a team of mental health coordinators and provided district-wide support for students and school staff. She previously worked at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center as Education and Outreach Manager; the National YoungArts Foundation as Director of National Programs; and Family Counseling Services of Greater Miami as Program Manager. She also worked as a language arts teacher at New World School of the Arts and Hammocks Middle School. She attended New World School of the Arts then obtained her bachelor’s degree at Florida State University and master of science in mental health counseling at Barry University.
Alissa Hirschl joined RE’s Humanities Department from Evanston (Ill.) Township High School, where she taught world history and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) classes and was actively involved in the life of the school. She served as a mentor for new teachers, junior board sponsor and member of the school improvement team and summer humanities curriculum committee. For four years, Mrs. Hirschl served as Assistant Superintendent Special Project Assistant for Evanston Township, focusing on improving the four-year and post-secondary trajectory for striving students, and empowering and connecting diverse groups of students to decrease the marginalization of some youth. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and MSEd from Northwestern University.
Clinton Hough works in the History and Social Science Department and as an assistant coach with the sailing team. Prior to arriving to RE, he taught AP U.S. History at the University School at Nova Southeastern University, and he has also taught government, economics, AP Human Geography and holocaust studies. He is pursuing his doctorate in history at Florida International University, focusing on business history and Latin American history with a dissertation on trade in colonial Florida. To advance this work, Mr. Hough has been awarded grants and fellowships to support research in Seville, Valladolid, Madrid, Spain, and Gainesville, Fla. He is an AP U.S. History reader and previously served as accreditation chair. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from The Citadel, and master’s with a focus on Florida history from the University of South Florida, and he is a U.S. Sailing Association-certified sailing instructor.
Xiu Huang joined RE's World Languages & Global Studies Department from the Chinese Learning Center of Miami where she taught elementary school children, college students and business professionals. She previously served as a translator at Beijing Normal University, providing translations in spoken and written formats for a visiting professor from the United States. She worked as an administrative assistant at Yiduoyun Science and Technology, LTD., in Beijing and as a school principal and English teacher at Wenxin Education in Beijing, where she taught English. She earned her bachelor's degree in English at Hankou University.
Franz Huggins serves as RE’s Assistant Aquatics Director and head coach for boys’ and girls’ middle school swimming, and also teaches physical education classes. Mr. Huggins arrived to Ransom Everglades from Trinidad and Tobago, where he was founder and head coach of the Areios Aquatechs in Port of Spain. He coached a number of swimmers to the Olympics, Pan American Games, South American championships and Carifta swim championships. An American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA)-certified Level 3 coach, Mr. Huggins has also served as a national governing body executive, paralympic swimming technical director and compliance officer at Guardian General Insurance. He was a Ministry of Sport Spirit of Sport Award nominee for Coach of the Year in 2013. He earned his bachelor of arts from Florida Atlantic University and attended Plantation High, and was honored as "Swimmer of the Year" at both schools.
Raheem Jackson teaches World Civilizations and U.S. History at Ransom Everglades, and also serves as an assistant varsity football coach. He most recently worked as an Independent School Teaching Residency Fellow at his alma mater Northfield Mount Hermon School, where he taught world history, traveled with students to Spain, and served on the school’s faculty of color working group. He served as a student tutor at JoyBell’s School and Orphanage in Dehradun, India, in 2013. Mr. Jackson wrote a first-person column in the “Independent Spirit” section of the summer 2019 issue of the National Association of Independent Schools’ magazine. He earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology and black studies at Amherst College, where he played football for four years, and his MSEd at the University of Pennsylvania.
Brandon King is teaching economics and history and helping to coach baseball at Ransom Everglades. Mr. King has taught on three continents – Asia, Europe and the United States. He most recently served as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania after earning his PhD in Chinese Studies at Chinese University of Hong Kong. There, he served as Project Coordinator and Lecturer. He earned a master’s in Chinese at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a master’s in Chinese law at the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies. He received bachelor’s degrees in economics and Chinese language and literature at Swarthmore College. Mr. King grew up outside of Orlando and attended high school at Lake Brantley High.
Ashleigh Lindenauer ’94 joined RE’s Admission Office after more than a decade running her own business, Lindenauer Design, a firm that specializes in communications, design and branding, and investing heavily in community service. Mrs. Lindenauer worked extensively with RE’s admission office for materials creation, helping assemble an extensive viewbook and other information pieces. In her fourth year as a board member at the Children’s Bereavement Center, she has done pro-bono design work for a variety of charities and start-ups, including the Adrienne Arsht Center, Children’s Bereavement Center and Temple Beth Sholom. She previously worked as a senior designer at Suissa Design in Hollywood, Fla., and as a designer at Louey/Rubino Design Group in Santa Monica, Calif., and Kym Abrams Design in Chicago. Her work has been featured in various editions of multiple branding and graphic design periodicals including Communication Arts and How Design. She earned her bachelor of fine arts at Washington University in St. Louis.
James S. Monk returned to RE as World Languages and Global Studies Department Chair after having served in that role at RE from 2005-07. During his 12-year hiatus from Ransom Everglades, Dr. Monk worked on curriculum and assessment at the College Board, International Baccalaureate and American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. As Director of Curriculum and Content Development for World Languages at the College Board, he oversaw the redesign of AP exams in Spanish, French and Italian. At International Baccalaureate in The Hague, Netherlands, he served as Head of Curriculum Development and Head of Diploma Program, overseeing curriculum, assessment and professional development. At ACTFL, Dr. Monk worked as Senior Manager of Quality Assurance and Certification Programs, designing new proficiency assessments and supervising the work of more than 2,000 examiners across the country. Dr. Monk earned his BA at Wabash College, his MA in Spanish and PhD in Romance Languages from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Monk speaks English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch and German.
Scott Thomas O’Donnell arrived to Ransom Everglades from the performing arts world. Mr. O’Donnell most recently served as principal violist with The Symphonia at Boca Raton and assistant principal/principal violist with Florida Grand Opera. He also worked as principal viola with the Palm Beach Opera and Palm Beach Pops, and was a viola soloist with the Palm Beach Symphony. He has served as a string coach for the Greater Miami Youth Symphony and Arvida Middle School, Coral Reef Senior High. He previously worked as a private music theory tutor, private viola studio teacher, music theory teacher at Miami Dade College and viola instructor at St. Andrew’s School, the Dreyfoos School for the Arts and Greater Miami Youth Symphony summer camp. He earned his bachelor’s degree in violin performance from Stetson University and a master’s from the University of Miami.
Renée Rodriguez arrived to RE’s World Languages and Global Studies Department after living in Spain, Switzerland and Colombia, and developing her passion for teaching in the Northeast. She most recently worked as Upper School World Languages Department Chair at Sacred Heart Greenwich, and prior to that as a language teacher at Avon High School and King Philip Middle School in Connecticut. She earned her master’s degree at Middlebury College Spanish School, where she spent a summer in Guadalajara, Mexico. She also studied at the Institute of French Language and Civilization at the Université de Neuchâtel in Switzerland. She earned her undergraduate degree with highest honors from Johnson and Wales University, where she studied international hotel and tourism management.
Michele Rydborn arrived to RE’s STEM Department from Immaculata-La Salle High, where she taught chemistry and algebra II, and the International English School in Halmstad, Sweden, where she prepared lessons and labs for various math and science courses. Mrs. Rydborn also served as a math and science teacher at the Summit Questa Montessori School in Davie, Fla.; The Pine School in Hobe Sound, Fla.; Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield, Maine; and in the Springfield (Pa.) Area School District. A member of the Miami Surf Field Hockey Club, she also served as a field hockey coach for three years. Mrs. Rydborn earned her BS in chemistry with a minor in mathematics at Gettysburg College. She earned her MEd at Villanova University.
Patricia Sasser joined Ransom Everglades as Head of the Upper School, arriving from The Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Conn., where she served as dean of the senior class. She also led the development of the school’s first Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Plan and taught Freshman Seminar in the Common Good, public speaking and diversity, and English for Speakers of Other Languages. She previously worked at The Madeira School in McLean, Va., where she was a major gifts officer; served on the board of Grace Academy, an independent, inter-faith, tuition-free middle school for girls from underserved families in Hartford, Conn.; and worked on the editorial board of DiversityIS magazine, a publication highlighting the efforts of independent schools to increase diversity equity, inclusion and access for students and employees. Mrs. Sasser also worked as an associate producer at ESPN in Bristol, Conn. A graduate of the Madeira School, she earned bachelor’s degrees in English and African-American Studies at the University of Virginia and an MA in Educational Leadership and Administration at The George Washington University. A daughter of a U.S. Foreign Service officer, Mrs. Sasser grew up in Washington, D.C., Nigeria, Haiti, Niger and other U.S. cities.
Debra Savino, Assistant Athletic Director at the RE Middle School, arrived to Ransom Everglades from Charlotte Latin School in North Carolina, where she served as assistant athletic director, a state champion coach and a physical education faculty member. She previously worked as assistant basketball coach and associate professor at Wingate University; teacher and coach at Charlotte Country Day School; assistant women’s basketball coach at Queens University in Charlotte; and coach at Providence Day School in Charlotte. She also served in directorships at three non-profit agencies that provide support and care to people with disabilities. A seven-time state champion field hockey coach, she won numerous coach of the year awards. Ms. Savino earned her bachelor’s degree from Clark University in Massachusetts and master’s from Winthrop University in South Carolina.
Samuel Steele joined RE’s athletics and physical education staff from Alexander Montessori Schools, where he served as a computer education instructor, physical education teacher and summer camp director. He previously worked at a YMCA in South Florida as an aftercare coordinator, youth government coordinator and sports director. Mr. Steele acquired coaching experience with Miami Palmetto Senior High, Miami Premier Soccer Club, Eleetsoccer PC and Pinecrest Premier Soccer Club. Mr. Steele, a Jamaica native who has a U.S. Soccer Federation “E” license, earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Florida International University.
Joe Supple joined Ransom Everglades from Oceanside High School in New York, where he taught physical education for a decade and served as head varsity coach for the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams. Mr. Supple previously coached a number of sports at Lawrence High School, including varsity basketball, softball and football. He led his softball team to a Nassau County championship in 2015 and earned conference coach of the year honors in basketball in 2012. Mr. Supple generously volunteered his time in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, earning “Community Hero” recognition for his efforts. He earned his BS and MS in health education from Hofstra University in Long Island.
Samuel H. Upton, a member of RE’s Humanities Department, will teach history and English at the Middle School. He arrived to Ransom Everglades from Lee M. Thursday High School in Redford, Mich., where he taught ninth-grade English. He previously served as a student teacher at Lincoln High School in Ypsilanti, Mich., where he taught 10th-grade American Literature and 12th-grade AP World Literature; and Scarlett Middle School in Ann Arbor, Mich. He also served as an assistant account executive at Ogilvy & Mather in New York, where he assisted in the management of advertising projects and financial aspects of client projects. Mr. Upton has participated in various service projects, including working as an assistant coach for a ski team of adults with special needs known as the Upper Valley Hawks in Hanover, N.H.
Amanda Zamani, who will serve as an athletic trainer, came to RE from the Brentwood School in Los Angeles, where she worked as head athletic trainer and director of sports medicine. She also organized the school’s concussion testing and protocols, and emergency action plan. She previously worked as an athletic trainer at Loyola High School in Los Angeles and Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, Calif., and as head athletic trainer at Calabasas High in Calabasas, Calif. Ms. Zamani received her Bachelor of Science in kinesiology at California State University - Northridge and her Associate of Arts at Moorpark College in California.