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RE honors faculty, names endowed chairs

During an end-of-year celebration in the Lewis Family Auditorium on June 2, Ransom Everglades honored retiring teachers and recognized long-serving faculty and staff, and also announced two appointments to prestigious endowed teaching chairs.

Kathryn Bufkin was awarded the inaugural Dan Leslie Bowden English Endowed Chair; and Mike Becker was named the first Ann Goesel Mathematics Endowed Chair. Their appointments, announced by Associate Head of School John A. King, Jr., elicited standing ovations. King explained that Bufkin and Becker were honored for their “exemplary” service and “distinguished” careers at RE.
The teaching chairs were established in honor of two of RE’s most celebrated former faculty members; the Bowden chair was established in 2008, and the Goesel chair, in 2007. A favorite among students, Bufkin has been at RE for 14 years, and in 2017 students voted to dedicate the yearbook to her. A former college associate athletic director, Becker arrived to RE in 2006 and was the yearbook dedicatee in 2016. 

Those awards followed the recognition of Spanish teacher Bobbie Bassuk, who retired after 28 years and became the latest faculty emeritus at Ransom Everglades. World Languages Department Chair James Monk introduced Bassuk, who arrived as a full-time teacher at Ransom Everglades in 1994, lauding her for compassion, kindness, patience and teaching excellence.

“As a teacher and mentor, that’s where the magic of Bobbie shines through and has made her so beloved – literally beloved – by three decades of students and colleagues,” Monk said, noting that she possessed “the skills of a master language teacher and the patience of a saint.”

RE also honored Lilliam Fernandez, who retired from the world languages department after 16 years, and Greg Cooper, who departed after 13 as a history and social sciences teacher who recently became Dean of Studies.

Monk described Fernandez as an extraordinary hire in 2006 and “true professional” who “set a high standard” in the world languages department. Fernandez, an expert at the salsa and Zumba, cared deeply for her students, evidenced by her willingness to travel with them to Salamanca, Spain, this summer, Monk noted.

Humanities Department Chair Jen Nero described Cooper as an “amiable, organized scholar” and “breathtakingly efficient meteor” that crashed into Ransom Everglades in 2009. “It’s really difficult to absorb the magnitude of his accomplishments and the imprint that he left on this school,” Nero said.

King announced that the annual Arthur Moses Faculty Award was awarded to the entire RE faculty for its phenomenal work over the past three years. The school also recognized other departing faculty and staff, including Head of the Upper School Patricia C.A. Sasser (three years), Chinese teacher Yuping Yang (nine years), strings teacher Jessica Carrasquillo (eight years) and Claudia Ochatt (eight years).

Sixteen faculty and staff were honored for their years of service.

Karen Thompson, who will serve as Interim Head of the Upper School in 2022-23, was recognized for reaching 40 years of service; math teacher Greg Siegler, 35 years; Nero and RE Director of Instrumental Music Jon Hamm, 25 years; and Director of Admission and Enrollment Management Amy Sayfie Zichella ’93 and physical education teacher Ramona Miller, 20 years.

Jorge Guzman, Kimberly Pineda and Matt Stock were honored for 15 years of service; and Abby Berler, Robin Escobedo, Myriam Gollan, Suzanne Kores, Taber Sanderson, Norma Torres and Yuping Yang, 10 years.
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Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.