New Canaan Country School

welcomes several new faculty members and staff members this year. All arrive to the private day school with a range of experience from a variety of schools.

Holly Donaldson Casella, who graduated from NCCS in 2004, returns at the director of alumni affairs.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts with honors in public policy and a minor in environmental studies from Hamilton College. She has held several positions at Americares since 2011 including development officer of individual philanthropy, manager of donor engagement and special events and senior associate of leadership gifts.

Rebecca Comizio joins as a school psychologist, working with our students in Beginners through grade 5.

Comizio holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary English education and philosophy from Central Connecticut State University, a master’s degree in philosophy and education from Columbia University, and a master’s degree in school psychology from Iona College.

She was most recently a school psychologist and director of social-emotional learning for The Stanwich School in Greenwich. Her previous experience includes serving as a consultant for The Waverly Group and working with the Mamaroneck, N.Y. school district.

Mauricia Gardiner is a sixth-grade homeroom teacher.

She holds a master’s degree in childhood education from Hunter College and a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a major in finance from Bryant University. She was a fifth-grade teacher at Explore Charter School in Brooklyn, N.Y. and a third-grade teacher in Covington, Ky.

Pamela Ha-Stevenson joins NCCS as a database manager in the Advancement Office. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan and previously served as the development database manager at Person-to-Person in Darien.

Kisha Palmer will serve as the director of diversity and inclusion for the 2017-18 school year. Palmer was the director of women as global leaders at the Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bellevue, Wash. for eight years.

She holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and a Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College.

Lindy Toczko is a performing arts teacher.

Toczko holds a Master of Music Education from Columbia Teachers College and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from New York University.

Lindy was a preschool assistant teacher, after-school care supervisor and long-term substitute teacher at The Country School in Madison, Conn. Prior to that, she was a music teacher at PSMS 161 Pedro Albizu Campos School, in Brooklyn, N.Y. and the assistant director of the New York Universtiy children’s chorus.

Helga Tomala is a world language teacher, teaching French and Spanish.

Tomala holds a master’s degree in Latin literature from Wesleyan University and a Bachelor of Arts in classical studies and French from Hunter College. Mostly recently, she taught Spanish for grades 6-12 at Lyceum Kennedy International School. Prior to that she was an online Latin and Spanish teacher with Middleburyinteractive.com.

Wendy Root is a fifth-grade homeroom teacher. She holds an Master of Arts in Teaching in elementary education from Simmons College and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Bates College.

Root most recently was a fifth-grade teacher at Greenwich Country Day School; she has also taught fourth-grade at GCDS. She was previously an elementary school teacher in the Greenwich public schools for nearly a decade.

Alex Wellman joined July 1 as the Head of Upper School.

Wellman holds a master’s degree in English literature and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish Literature from Middlebury College.

Wellman was the assistant director of college guidance and sophomore class academic dean at Greens Farms Academy in Westport since 2008. He has held several other positions there over the years: freshman class dean, Upper School admission associate and English teacher. Prior to his work at GFA, Wellman taught English and Spanish for one year at Kimball Union Academy.

In addition, the school also welcomed 11 apprentices to the school’s Teacher Training Program.

St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. welcomed new students to the class of 2021, including two New Canaan residents. Fall semester classes began Aug. 30.

Campbell E. Armstrong attended New Canaan High School and Andrew F. Childs attended Proctor Academy.

About 100 people attended LiveGirl’s social media wellness event at the New Canaan Library on Sept. 16.

The featured keynote speaker was Laurie Wolk, author “Girls Just Want to Have Likes.”

LiveGirl also premiered their new video, “A Million Likes”, which helps teen girls navigate social media pressure. The video may be viewed at goLiveGirl.com.

Bates College, in Lewiston, Maine, graduated 460 students from 38 states and 36 countries on May 29, including New Canaan natives Kevin Franco, Cuyler Hedlund and Parker Nelson. Cumulatively, the class of 2017 performed 80,000 hours of community service, exemplifying Bates’ commitment to community learning and civic action.

The Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut, which serves children in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien and New Canaan, is seeking additional volunteers for its Youth, Empowerment, & Support Mentoring Program.

The YES Mentoring Program supports children, ages 6 to 18, who are involved in System of Care in Stamford and Norwalk. CGC’s System of Care program helps families access integrated services to meet complex needs and safely maintain children at home.

Through YES, youth will have the opportunity to interact and participate in fun, age-appropriate activities with a positive role model. While the mentor is spending quality time with the child/teen, parents will have some time to themselves.

Each YES session lasts 12 weeks, and youth will meet with their mentor for three hours a week. Every mentor will complete thorough interview, orientation, and background checks. The mentor and family will work together to develop a convenient schedule of enjoyable activities for the child.

To learn more about the YES Mentoring Program or to volunteer, contact Sheila Figueroa at sheila.figueroa@childguidancect.org or 203-517-3346.