By: Sabrina Kreiss ’21
Originally from Vineland, New Jersey, Pine Crest School Choral Director Mr. Michael Testa moved to Florida in 2001 to work with the Florida Grand Opera.
During that time, a former faculty member introduced him to Pine Crest where he became a member of the Fine Arts faculty in 2005. Now, almost 20 years later, Mr. Testa oversees and teaches chorus for students in the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools on Pine Crest’s Fort Lauderdale campus, in addition to Advanced Placement (AP) Music Theory.
After graduating from Rowan University with his bachelor of arts in music education, Mr. Testa began performing all over the United States as an opera singer.
Mr. Testa began graduate school at West Chester University shortly after earning his bachelor’s degree. There, he studied music performance. Feeling drawn to education, he began teaching extracurricular classes in music throughout his collegiate studies. He landed his first teaching job at a K-8 public school while studying for his master’s degree.
I had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Testa to learn more about his career at Pine Crest and his passion for music and singing.
By: Sabrina Kreiss ’21
Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Barbara Becker has been a valued member of the Pine Crest community since her eldest child walked on campus more than 25 years ago.
She served as a parents’ association volunteer for many years before joining the Fort Lauderdale campus Lower School faculty in January 2007 as Mrs. Patty Schimpf’s teacher II in pre-kindergarten.
Alexis Peddy ’22 loves to read. As an avid reader, encouraging and helping children access books has been a longtime interest of hers.
Pine Crest School is pleased to announce the completion of renovations to the East Campus Athletic Complex, which includes Banks Field and the Elliot Family Track.
In the early afternoon of January 6, 2021, students in Mrs. Trish Everett’s Post-Advanced Placement (AP) Political Science Seminar cast C-SPAN to the smartboard and began watching the joint session in the U.S. House of Representatives chamber. As lawmakers made their way through a count of Electoral College votes in alphabetical order by state, students were enthusiastic about experiencing their classroom lessons coming to life.
When Joseph Tepperman ’99 started college at the University of Southern California (USC), he dreamed of working in a recording studio. However, he soon realized he was more interested in what was going on under the mixing console. He decided to change majors and began to focus on electrical engineering.
By Nina Hamuy ’21
Many Pine Crest School alumni get an early start at Pine Crest. Some even spend 14 years at the School, but John Mann learned a lot in one year transferring for his senior year in the Upper School.
As a graduate of the Class of 1977, John Mann looks back, takes us through his time at the New York Stock Exchange, and offers tips to students along the way.
John Mann’s grandfather began his career as a member of the “New York Curb Exchange” in 1933, which he renamed the “American Stock Exchange” when he became the Chairman. John’s father began his career at the Exchange in 1958, so becoming a clerk at the age of 14 came naturally to John, and he fell in love with his family’s history and dedication to the Exchange.
Working his way up in the family business, John became the Exchange’s youngest member in 1979. The camaraderie and excitement on the trading floor were a fascinating experience that compares to the way John felt about his senior year at Pine Crest.
“I made friends instantly with my classmates, and I remain friends with them to this day,” said John. “My classmates supported me even though they had only recently met me, and I was elected to the Disciplinary Committee.”
In 1986, John became Senior Partner of the Exchange at the age of 28 with a staff of 44 brokers and clerks. He in part credits members of the Pine Crest faculty to his success saying, “How could I have obtained my degree in Economics had it not been for Dean Ring and his dedication to his math students? I could make a very long list of how each teacher kindly and tenaciously sought to make their students succeed.”
John continued to pursue academic goals thanks to his love for Pine Crest. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Master of Arts in Religious Studies, and an MBA from Rollins College, the latter of which he received at the age of 48!
“[The Pine Crest] education enabled me to have successful careers in finance, theology, non-profit organizations, and my current role as Trustee [of the John Jay Mann trusts],” said John. “My relationship to my alma mater is very dear to me, and I strive to keep active in the Pine Crest community.”
John notes how much Pine Crest’s campus has changed over the course of time, but the dedication of students, faculty, staff, parents, grandparents, and alumni remain a cornerstone to Pine Crest’s success.
When I asked John to share something he learned from his career in finance that a student would not be able to find in a textbook, he referred to what he calls “American University” also known as the “School of Hard Knocks.” John went on to explain, “Nothing in a book can ever replace your own personal hard work and effort in whatever career that you choose. You will discover challenges and opportunities in ways that can only be experienced.”
John left me with some life advice like learning to balance a checkbook, keeping track of your expenses, and shared that the “the world changes; you have to continuously be learning.”
Today, John and his wife, Sandi, look forward to permanently living in their newly-renovated condo on the beach.
“Retirement is not attractive for me,” said John. “I really enjoy teaching theology, and I love my work as Trustee.”
John’s enthusiasm and work ethic have led him to receive three papal honors for his service to cardinals and bishops throughout the country via the John Jay Mann Foundation, a philanthropic organization established to serve charities throughout the world, for which he serves as treasurer.
As a final tidbit of advice, John reminds students that every interaction with teachers, staff, and fellow students will have an enormous positive impact that may not be apparent at the time.
“The interactions and classes that you have today are already shaping your future!”
Pine Crest Head of Upper School Joseph (“Joey”) Walters ’95 wears many hats: he is an alumnus, the proud parent of two Panthers, Leah ’24 and Nathan ’31, an educator, and a member of the senior administration team.
Tara (Monteleone) McGinn is a Pine Crest School alumna from the Class of 1988 and parent to three Panthers: Megan ’20, Ashlyn ’22, and Caitlin ’25.
Beginning her Pine Crest career as a freshman in the Upper School, she returned when her oldest daughter was ready for pre-kindergarten.
Admission season for independent schools is well underway. While families look forward to campus tours and face-to-face interviews during a school search, COVID-19 health and safety modifications require these activities to look a little different this year.
The Hudson and Bodenweber families have deep roots at Pine Crest School. The parents of third generation legacy students, alumni Steve Hudson ’87 and sister Holly (Hudson) Bodenweber ’88 are the nephew and niece of the late H. Wayne Huizenga ’55.
Captain Michael Zequiera ’08 is a decorated Battalion Intelligence Officer for the United States Army.
Serving several tours from East Europe to Afghanistan, Michael’s career today is not exactly what he thought he would be doing.
After graduating from Pine Crest, Michael attended Anderson University in South Carolina where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Economics in 2011.
It is never too late to find your passion. Just ask former “hummingbird” Jacqueline, or Jack, Perez ’82.
During her time in Upper School, Pine Crest alumna Hanna Colin ’10 was passionate about social advocacy, serving as a member of student government and volunteering across Broward County.
Megan (Howard) Zavertnik ’06 did not intend to become a national security advisor. As a Chinese language major while studying at the University of Florida, Megan planned to live and work in China after graduation. That changed after an internship with the House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services before her senior year.