By Juliette Gaggini ’20
This year we have nine new faculty members at The Gunnery. The Highlander interviewed each of them to learn a bit about their background, why they decided to come to The Gunnery, and how their transition has been so far this year. We also made sure to ask them the most important questions of all – if they have any dogs on campus and what their favorite food is.
Ms. Rimany is a former Gunnery student originally from Kent, Connecticut. She graduated from Connecticut College last May. She now lives in Teddy House but does dorm duty in Gibson on Wednesday nights. Ms. Rimany teaches English I, is the assistant coach for Varsity Field Hockey in the fall and will be the assistant coach for Girls Crew in the spring. She was drawn back to The Gunnery by the strong sense of community she felt in her four years as a student here.
Ms. Rimany described The Gunnery as, “The right place for me at this time in my life.” When asked about her transition so far this year she said, “I give a lot of credit to new and returning students because these first few weeks are a lot for everybody on campus, so I’m certainly having a lot of my own adjustment issues, being awake for this amount of time each day is a lot but everybody in the community has been really kind and thoughtful and asking me how I’m doing and how they can help with my transition!”
She emphasized how students and teachers alike have to deal with a significant transition during the first few weeks of school, but how the community is always there for you. Ms. Rimany’s favorite dining hall food is the vegetable risotto and her favorite food in general is Dottie’s Diner doughnuts.
Mr. Cox is from Indiana, but has spent the last twelve years living in Boston. Before The Gunnery, he taught at Sacred Heart, a small Catholic school in Kingston, Massachusetts. Prior to that, he worked in construction management and architecture. At The Gunnery, he teaches Geometry, Algebra II, and Precalculus. He lives in Emerson but is a dorm parent in Browne, and will be the JV Boys Hockey head coach and Varsity Boys Lacrosse assistant coach.
“Just by visiting the campus it seemed like a really good community. People seemed like they enjoyed being here and it seemed like my philosophy on education fit in with what was already in the culture of the school,” said Mr. Cox. His transition so far has been good, but he brought up being a dorm parent and seeing the students in their “home life” as the biggest difference between working at The Gunnery and teaching at a day school. Mr. Cox’s favorite food is pizza – a classic.
Ms. Abelson is the new Associate Director of Admissions, from North Branford, Connecticut. Before The Gunnery, she worked in admissions at Emmanuel College, where she went to college, and she has also worked in admissions at Georgetown University and at Syracuse University. She lives in the Field House, and is a dorm parent in Gibson. She also serves as the assistant coach for Girls Soccer and will be the assistant coach for Girls Lacrosse this spring.
When asked about her decision to work at The Gunnery, Ms. Abelson said, “I love helping students and in my role in college admissions I didn’t have any connections with students after they got into the school, and I just love the admissions of The Gunnery, and also Frederick Gunn. I’m obsessed with history so finding a place that really lives out what Frederick Gunn did 200 years ago is such a special thing because you don’t find that in many places.” Ms. Abelson has a golden retriever named Lily and her favorite food is Korean barbeque.
Mr. Gonzalez is from Ponce, Puerto Rico. He came to the US 30 years ago with his family looking for better opportunities. He began taking ESL classes in Waterbury when he was 20 years old, and he was soon accepted to Naugatuck Valley Community College. From there, he joined the army and was based in Missouri. He then went to San Antonio for advanced training, later returning to Connecticut to finish school at the University of Connecticut and start his teaching career.
For the past ten years he has been at the St. Thomas More School, and here at The Gunnery, he is teaching Chemistry and Biology and is also a tutor in the CAS. Additionally, he hopes to start a Latino club.
On being new at The Gunnery, Mr. Gonzalez said, “My transition has been smooth, this is a family right here. I couldn’t be any happier to be here, this school has shown me that they care for the individual and they have shown me that you’re not just a number. I’m really lucky to be part of this community.” In terms of favorite foods, Mr. Gonzalez likes to get back to his roots with Puerto Rican food such as empanadas, relleno de papa, and other yummy fried foods. He also loves watching March Madness.
Mrs. Gum is the Assistant Head for Teaching and Learning, and she also teaches Philosophy, leads Model UN, and is a dorm parent in Emerson. She is originally from outside Philadelphia, but has lived in Charlottesville, Virginia for the past 13 years. Before coming to The Gunnery she ran a nonprofit organization. She was drawn to our campus by, “The intentional community and the tradition of learning and living together.”
She now lives in a faculty home on campus with a dog named Finn. She is thankful for her smooth transition so far and how her family has been warmly welcomed. And finally, Mrs. Gum’s favorite food is chocolate ice cream from Arethusa Farms.
Mr. Visentin grew up in Rhinebeck, New York, and attended the Kent School. He teaches English IV and English III, and lives in and is a dorm parent in Brinsmade. He also coaches the novices on Boys Crew. Having attended a school similar to The Gunnery, Mr. Visentin has always loved the lifestyle and atmosphere around boarding school. He also loves English literature, which is what he studied in college and graduate school.
Before The Gunnery, he lived in Philadelphia as a freelance writer; he wrote articles for different online publications and reviewed some theatrical productions, advertising himself as a “jack of all trades in the figurative writing department”. He was inspired to look for a job relating to what he is passionate about, which is literature.
So far, his transition has been, “relatively smooth, even living in a dorm full of noisy sophomore boys, but it’s still not any noisier than Philly!” Mr. Vicentin described the atmosphere and culture of the school as familiar to the one he attended, but he also said The Gunnery has its “own feel, traditions and personality”. He has a rescue pitbull named Winnie who unfortunately does not live on campus, and when asked about his his favorite food he said he’s hard-pressed to find a food he doesn’t like, but especially enjoys steak tartare.
Although it is not his first year living on campus, it is Mr. Cotter’s first year teaching at The Gunnery. He is originally from New York and was in the military for seven years, five of which were spent in a submarine.
Even as a first-year teacher, Mr. Cotter has taken on a lot. He is the Dean of Freshmen, Director of Freshman Programming, Co-Chair of the LEADs department, and a Senior Service Project advisor. He also teaches AP U.S. History, Pathways, Ethics, and Newspaper. In addition, he coaches X Term in the fall and will coach Highlander Hockey in the winter.
“I was really drawn to the fact that the emphasis at The Gunnery is community,” said Mr. Cotter, who also described our school as having a small communal feel where you really get to know people. Mr. Cotter’s transition into the community this school year was eased by his previous roles of being a dorm parent, coach, and tutor last year. Mr. Cotter has two dogs living with him and Dr. Matthews on campus named Calista and Frank, and his favorite food is dumplings.
Ms. Lyon is the World Language Chair and also teaches Spanish II, Spanish II Honors, and AP Spanish. She is from New Milford, Conn., but previously lived in New Hampshire, where she was teaching at a therapeutic boarding school. Although she does not live on campus, Ms. Lyon is a dorm parent in Emerson and also coaches Boys Highlander Soccer.
When asked about her decision to be a faculty member at The Gunnery, Ms. Lyon said, “I really liked the community on campus, and for me when I was touring and interviewing I really liked that I could have my family on campus and it was really important to me that I could have them as part of the community here.” Ms. Lyon has two dogs, Jack and Stella, and she said that if she had to choose one thing she had to eat for the rest of her life, it would be pizza.
Mr. Swenson is from East Lyme, Connecticut, and recently graduated from Drew University, where he studied Economics and History. Here at The Gunnery, he teaches AP Economics and Public Speaking, and is helping out with some U.S. History classes as well as in admissions. His coaching plans are Varsity Boys Soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and lacrosse in the spring. He’s also a dorm parent in Bourne, but lives in the apartment next to the PO.
“I think coming here over the summer and meeting the faculty and getting a sense of community from them and being very open (not necessarily what you would think a boarding school type of faculty is), it’s very different here. That’s what kind of drew me, that I had the necessary resources to grow here throughout the year.” He said he has been having a good transition so far. Mr. Swenson does not have one particular favorite food, but is open to and enjoys trying all kinds of food, especially what he sees on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.