As a two-time Tony Award-nominated Broadway co-producer and practicing entertainment attorney, Class of 2010 graduate David Manella’s professional and personal lives revolve around theater. More than a decade after his high school graduation, David credits Pine Crest with sparking and nurturing his interest in this field.
By: Courtney Klar ’22
As she walked across the stage to receive her Pine Crest School diploma, Mrs. Michelle (Smith) Santarelli ’89 never imagined that her career path would one day lead her back to her educational roots. From a fourth grade student in the Lower School to a biology teacher in the Upper School, and a parent of two Pine Crest “lifers,” John ’21 and Jaden ’23, Mrs. Santarelli now cannot envision herself anywhere else.
After Mrs. Santarelli graduated from Pine Crest in 1989, she attended the University of Virginia, where she received a degree in biology. Upon graduating from college, she began her career as a marketing director for an educational tutoring company. While she did well in the position, she quickly realized that her true passions were for biology and teaching. “I never thought I wanted to be a teacher,” said Mrs. Santarelli. “I worked in an educational environment, which is what attracted me to that company. But I missed biology and wanted to find a way to combine biology and my love of public speaking. That was the first time I decided to become a teacher. I knew the only place I wanted to do that was Pine Crest.”
On teaching biology, Mrs. Santarelli says “science is the one field that always captivated me—living organisms are so complex. What I love about biology is that there is so much we don't know. Biology is exciting, and there are discoveries being made every day!”
When speaking about what keeps her at Pine Crest, Mrs. Santarelli says the students and her colleagues. “What is great about Pine Crest students,” she said, “is that if you are excited about something, they are excited about it too. My students love learning just as much as I do.”
Dani Pendergast ’13 is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist. After graduating from Pine Crest, she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from Syracuse University, ultimately deciding to stay and earn her Master of Fine Arts degree while building her portfolio and making the leap to work full time as an illustrator.
Coach Dave Smith may be the only faculty member at Pine Crest School who can say that he has worked under every School president and every Athletic Director in School history — including time spent on the original campus location on Broward Boulevard.
Coach Ruth Bresnahan, more affectionately known as “Coach B” around campus, has been a fixture of Pine Crest School athletics since 1988. However, her start at Pine Crest was actually in 1975 when she began working at Pine Crest Summer, known then as Pine Crest Day Camp.
“You never know where opportunities will come from. You just need to be prepared to meet them,” says David Clark to his students. Mr. Clark serves as Head of School on Pine Crest School’s Boca Raton Campus.
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.
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.
Jonathan Dobrinsky ’03 works tirelessly on the front line of the fight against COVID-19.
Following his parents’ footsteps into medicine—Dr. Dobrinsky’s father was a cardiologist and his mother is a nurse—he did not initially study to be a doctor.