Faculty & Staff Members New to the Episcopal Community
Episcopal welcomes our new faculty and staff for the 2017-2018 school year. We hope you will take the time to read their bios below and welcome them to our community!
Erin Dufour, Kindergarten Erin will be a member of our Early Childhood team. In 1992, Erin obtained a degree in General Studies from Southeastern Louisiana University. Following her calling to teach, Erin completed the Louisiana Resource Center for Educators (LRCE) and obtained certification to teach students in grades PreK to 3. She brings with her ten years of experience as a Kindergarten teacher, all of which were at St. Luke’s Day School in Baton Rouge. For the past three years, Erin has been the Director of Admissions at St. Luke’s. She is looking forward to being back in the classroom. Erin’s son, Nicholas, is a 2015 graduate of Episcopal. Samantha Oakley, Lower School Religion Sam will be joining our Religion team. She earned a Master of Social Work degree from Baylor University in 2007 and a Master of Divinity degree from Baylor in 2008. From 2009 until this summer, Sam was the Associate Director of the Center for Family and Community Ministries at the Baylor School of Social Work. Sam will teach religion to students in grades one through five, and she will work closely with Laura Portwood and Father Skully in planning and leading our daily Morning Meetings, Friday Chapel services, and monthly Eucharist celebrations.
Shyamala Alapati, Middle School Science Shyamala joins our Science Department to teach our 8th grade Physical and Integrated Science courses. Following her graduation with a degree in molecular cell biology from the University of California, Berkeley, Shyamala worked in dermatology research at the University of California, San Francisco and pharmacology research at Rush Medical College. She later became a programmer for a telecom company. After years at home to rear her three children, science education became a priority. Although she is new as Episcopal faculty, she is not new to the Episcopal community. She has served as a substitute teacher for several years and volunteered for Parents’ Guild for seventeen years. Her children have all attended Episcopal since Kindergarten. Shyamala is dedicated to preparing her students for high school and instilling the framework for a deeper comprehension and passion for science. Kristina St. George, Middle School Social Studies After three years of living in Jubail, Saudi Arabia for her husband’s professional work, Kristina is delighted to return home to Baton Rouge and to resume full-time teaching. She joins us with seven years of teaching experience in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, where she taught at both Westdale Middle School and McKinley Middle Academic Magnet School. In her previous schools, she has served as a grade-level Team Leader, Social Studies Department Chair, and an LSU Geaux Teach Program Mentor. She is certified in secondary teaching in both Social Studies and English Language Arts, and is completing her certification in Gifted Education. Kristina was the 2013-14 East Baton Rouge Parish Middle School Teacher of the Year. She holds a B.A. degree in history from Louisiana State University and a M.Ed. degree in education with a concentration in education technology leadership from Northwestern State University.
Emily Beckwith, Upper School Science Emily is an environmental scientist with a BS in Renewable Natural Resources from Texas A&M University and an MS in Environmental Science from LSU. After graduate school, Emily spent two years with a global environmental consulting firm where she worked on oil and gas remediation projects. After traveling the country for two years completing different projects, Emily decided to make a change in careers and pursue her passion for teaching the sciences. She is entering her second year of teaching and her first year at Episcopal.
Keely Criddle, Upper School Math & Science Keely is from Suffolk, VA, and is beginning her first year teaching physics and physical science at Episcopal. She comes to us from Atlanta, GA where she briefly pursued graduate study in Physics at Emory University after earning her B.S. in Physics from James Madison University. She taught both physics and astronomy courses at Emory in addition to coaching girl's lacrosse at a local high school. Keely is pet parent to both a dog and a cat, Broglie and Daedalus, and in her spare time she enjoys fountain pens, needlework arts, and reading.
Dyani Robarge, NuVu Design Fellow Before joining NuVu Studio, Dyani worked as an architectural designer for The Neighborhood Design Center and Triad Architects in Columbus, OH. She has a B.S. in Architecture from Ohio State University and a Master of Advanced Architectural Design from Carnegie Mellon University. Her areas of interest include building renovations, graphic design, model-making and data visualization. As an incoming NuVu Fellow she looks forward to working with students to develop creative and well-engineered studio projects.
Jennifer Vu, Upper School Social Studies Jennifer teaches 9th grade World History and History of Religion (U.S. and World). She attended Louisiana State University where she majored in History with a concentration in Secondary Education. She worked at Laser Tag of Baton Rouge where she implemented the educational field trip program. She started teaching at Episcopal in the spring of 2017 and is looking forward to her first full year.
Jiang Xiaoyue, Upper School Science Xiaoyue received a B.S. degree in Economic Mathematics from Renmin University of China, a M.Sc. in Applied Math from Chinese Academy of Sciences, a M.Eng. in Electrical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from University of Toronto. For the past 15 years, he has taught various courses in Engineering and Management Science in US universities and he is happy to join the science team at the Episcopal. For the last several years, his family has enjoyed living in Baton Rouge.
Joe Reynolds, Middle & Upper School Performing Arts Joe joins our community to teach middle and upper school drama courses. A Texas native, Joe studied acting at the University of Texas at Austin where he graduated with a B.F.A. He also holds an M.F.A. degree in acting from Yale University’s School of Drama. He comes to us with an extensive background as a professional actor, director, and producer in theatre, film, and television. His most recent professional experiences include teaching college level drama courses as an adjunct instructor at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas and at Texas A&M in Commerce, Texas; teaching high school drama classes at Lexington High School in Lexington, Texas; and work as an audition teacher at Southwestern University’s TAL’s Summer Camp, where he has taught audition for the camera and acting for film and television. Joe looks forward to contributing his expertise and enthusiasm to our thriving arts program
Madeline Blanchard-Gugich, Physical Education, Middle School and Varsity Volleyball Coach Madeline is a 2010 graduate of LSU and holds a B.S. in Human Sciences and Education with a minor in Kinesiology. Before joining the Knights, Madeline was the Physical Education Teacher, Head Volleyball Coach and Head Tennis Coach at Zachary High School for six years. Prior to Zachary, Madeline accepted a position out of college at McKinley Middle Magnet School as Physician Education Teacher, Assistant Basketball Coach, and administering the Fitness gram and NFL Play 60 programs. Madeline holds the position of Vice-President of La. Volleyball Coaches Association for LHSAA (20152017), she is a member of LAPHERD, she is a Certified Archery Instructor, a member of US Tennis Association, IMPACC certified, and a member of LHSAA coaching association. Madeline plans to not only bring a “work- hard” attitude to Episcopal but also develop a sense of pride and personal accomplishment through her leadership and experience. Go Knights! Bill Jones, Physical Education, Assistant Varsity Football and Assistant Track Coach Bill joins our Physical Education department and coaching staff. Prior to coming to Episcopal, Bill spent the last 33 years teaching and coaching in Ascension Parish Schools. Most recently, he was at Dutchtown High School for the past 13 years, and prior to that he spent 20 years at Donaldsonville High School. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Bill was recently the 2017 recipient of the Louisiana Track Coaches Association Lifetime Achievement Award.
Brenna Perez, Athletic Office Manager Brenna will join the Episcopal staff as the Athletic Department Administrator and the Head Girls Soccer Coach in the fall of 2017. She currently holds a United States Soccer Federation “E” License, National Soccer Coaches Association of America Level 1 Diploma, and a National Federation of High Schools Fundamentals of Coaching certification. She has previously held the position of Adult League Director at Baton Rouge Soccer Club and is the Co-Owner/Director of Extreme Performance Soccer Training and Development. She is a Louisiana Olympic Development Program coach and an Associate Staff Coach at Baton Rouge Soccer Club. We are excited to have someone with such an extensive soccer and sports administration background joining the Episcopal staff
Staff & Administration
Amy Delaney, Editor/Writer Amy will be joining our Communication & Marketing team as the school’s writer and editor. With over 10 years of marketing and public relations experience in the healthcare industry, she is excited to transition into the world of education. A graduate of McNeese State University, Amy has been awarded several prestigious honors within her professional community, including Ochsner Medical Center Baton Rouge Employee of the Year and the Public Relations Association of Louisiana Member of the Year. Aside from being a mom and wife, when Amy is not working she is lacing up her hiking boots for her next outdoor adventure. Kate McDuff '08, Development Operations Assistant Kate ('08 alum) is the newest addition to the advancement team. As the Development Operations Assistant, she offers support to donor services, event planning, alumni relations, and fundraising. Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Kate spent 10 years at Episcopal before graduating in 2008. She then went on to earn a B.S. in Psychology from Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL. Kate spent the next five years in St. Louis teaching and gaining skills in marketing, event planning and management. With a deep appreciation for the Episcopal legacy, she brings a unique perspective to the fundraising and development process.
Dana Messina, Admission Coordinator Dana returned to Episcopal last spring as a Coordinator in the Admission Office. If you visit the Alumni House, Dana will greet you as her office is located in the lobby. She is responsible for overseeing the day to day activities related to prospective family interaction and admission. Dana is a graduate of both Loyola University and Tulane University. After working for many years at Loyola University of New Orleans, College of Law, she moved to Baton Rouge in 2013. She enjoys spending time by volunteering for several non-profits, including school volunteer work, and spending time with her family and friends.
Megan Redfield, Business Office Assistant for Special Projects As the Business Office Assistant for Special Projects, Megan will be supporting the overall business management of the school. Her experience in management stretches from human resources policy and procedure development and implementation to business scheduling, planning, implementing, and tracking of projects. Megan earned her degree in Anthropology with a minor in Communication Studies from University of Texas at Austin before moving to Baton Rouge in 2016. She enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and pup.
Andy Spencer, Director of Advancement Andy is coming to us after having spent 17 years as the Chief Advancement Officer at the Lovett School in Northwest Atlanta. Under Andy’s direction, Lovett ran a $2.2 MM Annual Fund and completed a $94 MM capital campaign with an anticipated goal of $90 MM. Andy’s work in Advancement included oversight of Alumni Programs, Communications, Community Relations, and Development. New Parent Philanthropy, Stewardship, Legacy Giving, Board Development, Staff Development, Non-Alumni/Parent Constituent Relations, and the Annual Fund are programs and areas which were emphasized and matured significantly during Andy’s Lovett tenure. Prior to his time at Lovett, Andy spent 11 years as Director of Development at Virginia Episcopal School (VES), in Lynchburg, VA. He has also taught and coached during his career. Andy is a VES alumnus and graduate of the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar. His wife, Mary, will also be joining our community as Dean of Students. They have two children, both graduates of Lovett and UNC - Chapel Hill, and two dogs. Andy enjoys history, sports, classic cinema, gardening, backyard birding, fishing, canoeing and hiking, and the outdoors in general.
Mary Spencer, Dean of Students In her 38 years working in education, Mary’s greatest interest is in supporting students as they grow and define their individual voices. An experienced administrator, Mary has served as Assistant Principal and Dean of Students at the Lovett School in Atlanta since 1999. At Lovett, Mary contributed immeasurably to leadership development, strengthening of the honor code, and helped foster a welcoming, inclusive and caring community. Prior to her time at Lovett, Mary served at Virginia Episcopal School as Dean of Students and Director of Women’s Life. Though she has spent many years in administration, Mary considers herself first and foremost a teacher. At Lovett, she developed an innovative, highly popular course on ethical leadership. Described as a “go to” person on campus, Mary embraces the role of supporter and mentor, working closely with students, parents, and her colleagues. At Lovett, Mary was honored with The Surdyk Award for her exceptional support and care of students. Mary is a graduate of Lawrence University. In her spare time, she enjoys travel, reading, sports and the outdoors. Mary and her husband Andy have two grown children and two dogs.
In addition to these new hires, several of our existing faculty and staff members will be assuming other areas of responsibility in the upcoming school year:
Michelle Chenevert will be taking on the role of Director of Technology. She will oversee the Help Desk staff, Academic Technology Coordinator, and help guide decisions in technology. She will continue her work with procurement of technology orders, subscriptions and daily IT support.
Sara Fenske will be serving as the Academic Programs Special Projects Manager, while continuing to teach full-time. She will be working closely with the division heads, department chairs, and faculty to strategically advance the academic program.
Amanda Grace will be serving as our Associate Head of School for Enrollment and External Affairs. She will work closely with our Marketing & Communication Team while continuing to manage the school’s admission and enrollment efforts.
Alan Newton will be joining the Upper School full-time as the Director of the Writing Center and coordinator of the College Block Program. Alan joined the Episcopal faculty last year teaching Upper School Religion and Middle School Social Studies.
Russell Roper will be serving as Interim Chair for the Arts Department. Russell has been a member of the Arts faculty for 18 years and will continue to serve as our Middle School Art teacher.
Ashleigh Sweet will continue her work as Chief Business Officer in addition to assuming oversight of our Technology Department. Ashleigh will be working closely with Michelle Chenevert and the Help Desk Team.
Katie Thompson will continue her work in the Advancement Office and will now serve as the Director of Annual Giving and Stewardship. Katie is responsible for overseeing the school’s annual fund, called The eFund, and for stewarding gifts and donors to the school.