Watching Pine Crest Students Grow, From the First Day to the Last: Lisa Weihe

Posted by Pine Crest School on June 1, 2022 at 12:59 PM

For 37 years, Mrs. Lisa Weihe has been driving the same route from home to Pine Crest School. A beloved pre-kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Weihe began her tenure when her eldest daughter started pre-kindergarten in 1985. 

Read More

Topics: Lower School, Faculty, Pre-kindergarten, 2022

Mrs. Janice Reich: A Teaching Career in Service and Gratitude

Posted by Pine Crest School on June 1, 2022 at 10:19 AM

Mrs. Janice Reich may not have taken a traditional path into teaching third grade on Pine Crest’s Boca Raton campus, but it is one that is unique and marked by true dedication and service. Born, raised, and educated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mrs. Reich attended Temple University where she majored in accounting as an undergraduate.

Read More

Topics: Lower School, Faculty, Academics, 2022

Mr. Kenneth Ashjian: Positivity In and Out of the Classroom

Posted by Pine Crest School on May 5, 2022 at 9:49 AM

By: Danielle Snyder ’23

Read More

Topics: Faculty, Middle School, 2022

From the Newsroom to Classroom: Mrs. Jaimee Rashbaum

Posted by Pine Crest School on May 4, 2022 at 3:45 PM

By: Danielle Keyes ’24

Read More

Topics: Upper School, Faculty, Academics, Digital Media Production, Social and Emotional Learning, 2022

A Passion for Learning and Leading: Mrs. Francine Savoca

Posted by Pine Crest School on May 4, 2022 at 9:44 AM

By: Lindsey Keyes ’24

Read More

Topics: Lower School, Faculty, 2022

From Student to Teacher: Mrs. Michelle Santarelli ’89

Posted by Pine Crest School on April 28, 2022 at 10:24 PM

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.”

Read More

Topics: Upper School, Alumni, Faculty, Science, 2022

A Conversation with Pine Crest Upper School Science Instructor Mr. Andrew Schwartz

Posted by Pine Crest School on April 28, 2022 at 3:53 PM

By: Spencer Davimos ’22
 
Mr. Andrew Schwartz has been a member of the Pine Crest Upper School Science Department since 2007. Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mr. Schwartz had not considered a career in education until serving as a teacher’s aid as a graduate student. Now, after 20 years of teaching, Mr. Schwartz can’t imagine doing anything else! 


I sat down with Mr. Schwartz to learn more about his teaching career and what he loves about being an educator at Pine Crest. 
 
Spencer Davimos ’22 (SD): Did you always want to be an educator? Did you have a career doing something different before you started teaching? 
 
Andrew Schwartz (AS): I never really thought about teaching until I spent time as a teacher’s aid in graduate school teaching a zoology lab. I was struck with how rewarding it was to help students learn the biological concepts I found so interesting. After three years of doing research for my master's degree, I realized I didn't have it in me for another four years of field and lab work to get my doctoral degree. When I moved to South Florida, I needed a job and took a position teaching seventh grade science. This was quite an adjustment and much different than teaching college students. I found this experience very challenging, and immediately I knew that if I was going to continue my teaching career, it needed to be with older, more independent students.
 
SD: What brought you to Pine Crest and how long have you been teaching here? 
 
AS: After my first teaching job, I moved to another local school where I taught high school biology. I stayed there for four years honing my craft and gaining valuable experience in the classroom. During that time, I was working at Pine Crest Summer Camp waiting for an opportunity to join the Pine Crest faculty. That opportunity came in 2007 and I jumped at it. The rest is history.
 
SD: Have you always enjoyed the sciences? What drew you to teaching biology as opposed to the other sciences? 
 
AS: It has always been biology for me. Going back as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated with the natural world. In my elementary school yearbook, I wrote that I wanted to be an underwater shark scientist. I never thought about teaching biology but I knew that biology had to be part of my life. I entered college as a pre-veterinary student but quickly realized that medicine wasn't for me. I enjoyed learning and doing research, but I just wasn't into medicine. I minored in chemistry and after graduating from college, I thought about working in a lab. I ultimately went to graduate school to earn a masters degree in biology.
 
SD: What do you love about science and biology in particular? 
 
AS: Science, especially biology, is amazing! Learning about how the universe works (physics, chemistry, biology) fascinates me. The quest for knowledge is never-ending; answers to questions only beget more questions. There is so much still to discover about the natural world and how organisms function, and I love that I get to be part of this discovery.
 
SD: What do you enjoy most about teaching high school students? 
 
AS: High school students are the perfect blend of child and adult. Pine Crest Upper School students, in particular, are well-read, well-traveled, and quite interesting. You can have an intelligent conversation with them about everything from sports and current affairs to genetic engineering and astronomy.
 
SD: What has been one of the highlights of teaching at Pine Crest? 
 
AS: I can't pinpoint one specific highlight, but working at Pine Crest has given me the freedom to grow as an educator and scientist that I'm sure I wouldn't have had at another school. We have so much autonomy in the classroom, support from administration and parents, and almost unlimited access to resources. Coupling that with smart, dedicated colleagues makes coming to work such a rewarding process. So many people are miserable in their jobs, hate getting up in the morning, and are just going through the motions. Since I started teaching at Pine Crest, I've never felt that way, and I'm so thankful for that.
 
SD: What are your hobbies beyond teaching in the classroom? 
 
AS: I like going to the gym, riding my bike, and running. Fitness and health are very important to me. I love fantasy football and all things Philadelphia. I enjoy cooking and reading “nerdy” science books. 
 
SD: What would students be surprised to learn about you? 
 
AS: I wrestled and did gymnastics as a kid (through high school) and can probably still do a couple tricks if my old body would let me.
 
SD: Do you sponsor any clubs at Pine Crest? What do you like about working with students in this capacity? 
 
AS: I was asked this year to sponsor the Middle Eastern Heritage Club. Not sure how I fit in, but I am happy to help in any way I can. I was also the sophomore class sponsor for years. As I said previously, our students are great, and being able to interact with them in different capacities (club sponsor, coach, etc.) helps to build strong relationships that are important to them and to me.
 
SD: What is the most gratifying part about being a teacher? What has been your proudest moment? 
 
AS: The most gratifying part about being a teacher is knowing that you are contributing something positive to society. Seeing the wonderful things our students accomplish in college and beyond and knowing that you've had a part in it, even if it was a very minor part, is extremely fulfilling.
 Upper School Science Instructors Megan O'Brien, Andrew Schwartz, and Michelle Santarelli ’89

Read More

Topics: Upper School, Faculty, Academics, Science, 2022

Coach Dave Smith Reflects on 55 Years of Educating Students at Pine Crest School

Posted by Pine Crest School on June 10, 2021 at 12:20 PM

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.

Read More

Topics: Upper School, Athletics, Alumni, Faculty, Middle School, 2021

A Career Well-Lived with Pine Crest Coach Ruth Bresnahan

Posted by Pine Crest School on June 8, 2021 at 1:29 PM

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.

Read More

Topics: Upper School, Athletics, Alumni, Faculty, Middle School, 2021

Motivating Through Math: Ms. Maria Marcello's Passion for Teaching

Posted by Pine Crest School on May 5, 2021 at 11:34 AM

By: Courtney Klar ’22

Read More

Topics: Faculty, Middle School, 2021

Soundtrack of an Educator: A Q&A with Choral Director Mr. Michael Testa

Posted by Pine Crest School on May 5, 2021 at 10:23 AM

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.

Read More

Topics: Student Life, Faculty, Fine Arts, Music, 2021

Barbara Becker: Teacher, Parent, and Beloved Member of the Pine Crest Community for 25 Years

Posted by Pine Crest School on May 3, 2021 at 11:42 AM

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. 

Read More

Topics: Lower School, Faculty, 2021

Taking an Inquiry-Based Approach to Civics in the Classroom

Posted by Pine Crest School on February 16, 2021 at 4:12 PM

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. 

Read More

Topics: Upper School, Student Life, Faculty, Academics, 2021

10 Questions with Upper School Head Joseph Walters ’95

Posted by Pine Crest School on November 5, 2020 at 4:39 PM

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.

Read More

Topics: Upper School, Alumni, Faculty, 2020, The Magazine

10 Questions with Richard Palmaccio ’08H

Posted by Pine Crest School on August 31, 2020 at 1:15 PM

Beloved mathematics instructor Richard Palmaccio ’08H taught at Pine Crest for 28 years. Now entering his 52nd year as a teacher, Mr. Palmaccio shows no signs of slowing down.

Read More

Topics: Alumni, Faculty, The Magazine

Pine Crest School Welcomes New Faculty for the 2020-21 School Year

Posted by Pine Crest School on August 21, 2020 at 3:56 PM

 

It has long been said that adversity does not change who we are — it reveals who we are. This year, our lives have been disrupted in countless ways by economic instability, social unrest and the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Read More

Topics: Faculty, Academics

Joe Kelley: Retiring After 22 Years of Service to Pine Crest School

Posted by Pine Crest School on August 14, 2020 at 10:07 AM

Longtime educator Joe Kelley has retired after 43 years of teaching, 22 of which he spent at Pine Crest School.

Read More

Topics: Innovation, Faculty, Science, STEM, 2020

Pine Crest Band Director Takes His Talents to New York City

Posted by Pine Crest School on June 4, 2019 at 4:37 PM

Pine Crest School Band Director, Dr. Dannel Espinoza, was invited by The Academy of Arts and Letters to New York City to record with his saxophone quartet Project Fusion.

Dr. Dannel Espinoza, or Dr. E. as he is known by many of his students, can be found on the Pine Crest School Boca Raton campus. Dr. Espinoza joined the Pine Crest Fine Arts Department  as the Band Director during the 2018-19 school year. 

Read More

Topics: Faculty, Fine Arts, Pine Crest School, Music

Pine Crest School Faculty Summer 2019 Reading List

Posted by Pine Crest School on May 13, 2019 at 2:27 PM

Summer is right around the corner, and it is the perfect time for teachers’ reflection, professional growth, and the chance to dive into a good book. Inspired by Pine Crest School’s 2019-24 Strategic Plan, “The Future is Here,” this year’s faculty summer reading supports themes that are reflected in the overarching, guiding question:

Read More

Topics: Faculty, 2019, Academics, Pine Crest School, Pine Crest Summer

Pine Crest School Science Classrooms Receive Anatomage Tables

Posted by Pine Crest School on March 22, 2019 at 8:25 AM

Pine Crest School received three Anatomage Tables recently.

Anatomage Tables are virtual dissecting tables that are generally used by medical schools such as the Mayo Clinic to allow medical students the opportunity to perform virtual autopsies. One Table is located in an Upper School Huizenga Family Science Building classroom. The additional Tables are located in the Middle School life science classrooms — one on the Boca Raton campus and one on the Fort Lauderdale campus.

Read More

Topics: Upper School, Faculty, Admission, Middle School, 2019, Academics, Science, STEM, Pine Crest Summer