Faculty & Staff

Teaching Titans



Faculty & Staff Directory

Mark Aimone

Administrative Team, Advancement

David Allen

WMA Middle School

Maryann Asta-Ferrero

WMA Middle School, Learning Center

Josh Bain

Information Technology

Paul Bloomfield

Fine & Performing Arts

John Boozang

Administrative Team, College Counseling

Jon Brook

World Languages, WMA Middle School

Durelle Brown

Admission
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Faculty Fun Facts

WMA's outstanding faculty also thrive outside of the classroom. Here are a few featured in our Spring 2019 edition of Academy World.

David Allen

Faculty, Middle School History 

Mr. Allen spent Christmas in Gilmanton, New Hampshire, where Grace Metalious wrote “Peyton Place,” which was based on that town. The murder that was part of that famous book actually happened there. Also, America’s first known serial killer, Herman Webster Mudgett, was born in Gilmanton and claimed his first two victims in the town. Mr. Allen said, “I don’t always plan holidays around murder sites, but everybody needs 
 a hobby.”

Fabienne Dubois

Faculty, World Languages 

Madame Dubois welcomed French-speaking Togolese writer and performer Brice Kapel to WMA in November during National French Week for a school concert and workshop for French students. 

Brian Easler

Head of School

Mr. Easler mapped out and constructed a single-track, running and mountain biking trail that connects the Lower-to- Upper Reservoir Trail to the Sunset Rock Trail network on top of the ridge behind campus. Mr. Easler was also surprised with his own 50th birthday celebration in February.

Jim Irzyk

Faculty, CEGS  
Varsity Baseball Coach 

Coach Irzyk attended the Mohegan Sun Baseball Coaches Convention in January, where he partook in 15, one-hour sessions on various topics.

John Lombard

Faculty, Mathematics 

Mr. Lombard and son Luke ’22 went to the Snow Farm Craft School in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, during the summer and worked on several welding projects. Mr. Lombard said, “I love that part of my brain that gets tapped into when I start creating things. Even the mere attempt at trying to make something is an act that I believe makes us much more human.”

Mathematics Department

Wilbraham & Monson Academy 

Mathematics Department Members of the Wilbraham & Monson Academy Math Department attended the regional conference for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in Hartford, Connecticut, in October. The NCTM is the largest organization in the world in regards to mathematics education.

Luke Pelletier 

Faculty, Middle School Science

To prepare for the new Exploring Computer Science course at WMA, Mr. Pelletier participated in a weeklong Massachusetts Exploring Computer Science Partnership at Framingham State University during the summer of 2018.

Bill Rosenbeck

Faculty, English  

Mr. Rosenbeck completed Meditation Teacher Training through The Boston Buddha in hopes of adding it to the WMA curriculum next school year.

Drew Shea ’08

Faculty, World Languages  
Boys’ Varsity Soccer Coach 

Coach Shea completed a weeklong coaches’ clinic hosted by United  Soccer Coaches during the summer, where he earned his national-level coaching license. 

Clark Seibold

Faculty, Fine & Performing Arts

Mr. Seibold performed on drums at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton for the opening act, Juke Joint Jazz, and the headliner, The James Argiro Quintet, in June.

Elizabeth Squindo

 Dean of Students

Mrs. Squindo graduated from Columbia University’s Klingenstein Program in May.

Jeff Vartabedian

Faculty, Middle School & Health  

Mr. Vartabedian attended “Innovative, New Activities for Strengthening  Your Physical Education Program,” a one-day physical education conference in December.
Erika Whipple

Assistant Director of Athletics Athletic Trainer 

After attending a Kinesio Tape Conference in the summer, Ms. Whipple went to a sports psychology conference at Boston Children’s Hospital in the fall. 

Golf future is wide ‘Open’ for Matt Naumec ’15

It was the “bucket list of bucket lists” for Matt Naumec ’15, when the whirlwind start to his professional golf career in June landed him on the biggest of stages — at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

By Russ Held, Director of Electronic Communications

It was the “bucket list of bucket lists” for Matt Naumec ’15, when the whirlwind start to his professional golf career in June landed him on the biggest of stages — at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

“Playing in the U.S. Open, at Pebble Beach . . . that week I’ll remember for the rest of my life,’’ Mr. Naumec, 22, said. “Those nine days there, with my family, friends, grandparents? About 20 people there to support me? I got to share something I had dreamed about for 22 years, and I got to share it with my entire family. That made it so much more special.’’

So there he was . . . a “kid” from Wilbraham, Massachusetts, playing golf on Father’s Day Weekend.

At Pebble Beach.

At the U.S. Open.

Mr. Naumec was born eight days after Tiger Woods made his professional debut in 1996, and there he was hitting balls on the range — one spot away from Woods — as he prepared for his fourth professional start.

“I played with Rickie Fowler, Tommy Fleetwood, Ian Poulter, Jon Rahm . . . ,’’ Mr. Naumec said. “Growing up, it was always a dream to be out there playing with guys like that,  and now I can put it in perspective.”

On the course at the 119th U.S. Open, Mr. Naumec was one of 156 golfers of the best golfers in the world vying for the national championship.

“I played great on the first day, I was 3 over (par),’’ Mr. Naumec said. “I hit the ball great and I can’t hang my head.

I had a couple of good putts . . . I was really, really close to putting together a very good round.’’

Mr. Naumec needed a second round score of a couple shots under par to make the 36-hole cut, but said, “I could have done that on a really good day. But the cards didn’t fall my way. Coming down the stretch, I knew I wasn’t making the cut so I was able to really enjoy it and soak it all in.’’

The round and his U.S. Open experience ended with an 18-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

“I used a (local) caddie for the week, but on the last hole I had my dad (Mike) take the bag,’’ Mr. Naumec said. “I was in the last group, the last person on the course for the day. I ended up making birdie there, so my dad has told me that he’s one-for-one.”

For the record, rounds of 74 and 79 did not advance him to the weekend on which Gary Woodland was crowned champion. But for Mr. Naumec, it was the crowning moment to date of a budding career.

“I wondered how good am I, really?’’ Mr. Naumec asked. “Being there really showed me how much of it is all confidence. I can hit it just as well as everyone, I’m throwing it out there just like the rest of them. The difference is just a few shots. Yes, that’s a lot. But we can figure it out. I could see how close I am,  it’s not that far away. If I put my head down and work as hard as I ever have, this is something that could potentially happen. I came out of it knowing that it was inspiring in that aspect.’’

Doug Hutcheson, Naumec’s golf coach at WMA for three years, said it succinctly that “it’s the bucket list of bucket lists . . . of where you want to play and it’s at the U.S. Open.’’

Mr. Hutcheson recalled Mr. Naumec arriving on campus for his sophomore year “on the cusp of becoming a top junior player. He started playing a broader tournament schedule and against top players. He found that everyone he was playing against were guys who were at prep schools. He knew if he could match up well against those guys . . .’’

Mr. Naumec did more than that when he won the New England Prep School Championship in 2013.

“So much of what I learned at WMA, that mentality of being able to concentrate only on what’s in front of me, on what’s most important at that moment . . . that has made all the difference,’’ Mr. Naumec said. “When it was academics, WMA helped me learn how to concentrate on academics and nothing else. In golf, there is nothing on my mind except my next shot. It’s that mindset that has helped me so much.’’

Mr. Hutcheson said it’s no secret that WMA was a springboard for Mr. Naumec.

“At WMA, he focused his life on athletics and academics,’’ Mr. Hutcheson said. “He was always able to stay on task. That put him in the frame of mind to compete like he does. He’s an elite athlete, and you have to have an ordered life. It can’t be haphazard. The work he put in at WMA, that has gone a long  way to helping him get this far.’’

Mr. Naumec played at Division I Boston College, where he finished his stellar playing career as captain and with All-Northeast region honors for the third straight year. He graduated with an economics degree in May, turned professional and qualified to play on the Mackenzie Tour/PGA Canada Tour.

To reach the U.S. Open, he advanced through two stages of qualifying, including a 36-hole sectional qualifier in Walla Walla, Washington.

“I’ve never been to a U.S. Open, I’ve never played Pebble Beach . . .’’ Mr. Naumec said after qualifying. “I feel great about my game, and to think I might be hitting balls on the range or playing next to guys like Phil (Mickelson), Tiger (Woods), Rory (McIlroy), DJ (Dustin Johnson) or (Brooks) Koepka . . . that’s just crazy.”

The U.S. Open drew almost 9,000 entries, and Mr. Naumec was one of only 75 to advance from nearly 1,000 golfers who had reached sectional qualifying.

 

Some accomplishments from Matt Naumec’s golf career:

·      New England Prep School individual champion, 2013

·      Massachusetts Junior Amateur champion, 2014

·      New England Amateur Championship winner, 2015

·      Francis Ouimet Memorial tournament champion, 2015

·      Three-time All-Northeast and All-New England selection at Boston College

·      Competed at the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Four-Ball championships

Unprecedented  Legacy

With a historic gift to endowment, William “Wilber” E. ’64W  and Janet James honor Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s past and present, while paving the way for its future.

Strolling down the immaculate stone driveway of the home of Wilber ’64W and Janet James in Rockport, Massachusetts, one’s eyes alight on a cluster of old-growth trees from which emerges . . . a giant giraffe. The friendly-looking bronze sculpture is one of a number situated on the mid-20th century property and is a hint to the visitor of the personal and carefully curated art collection inside.

Wilber (spry, trim, sporting his signature mustache) is, as always, eager to share the collection, to outline the history of each piece, to draw connections. He points to an Ashcan School painting here, a Han Dynasty vase there. On one wall hangs a portrait by Gilbert Stuart — yes, that Gilbert Stuart — of Wilber’s distant relative. This is apropos given that Wilber and Janet’s art tells the story of their lives, individually and together, and because that story now includes a record-breaking gift, in the form of a $10 million unrestricted bequest, from the couple to Wilbraham & Monson Academy.

With a historic gift to endowment, William “Wilber” E. ’64W  and Janet James honor Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s past and present, while paving the way for its future.

By Melanie Sage Nelson

Strolling down the immaculate stone driveway of the home of Wilber ’64W and Janet James in Rockport, Massachusetts, one’s eyes alight on a cluster of old-growth trees from which emerges . . . a giant giraffe. The friendly-looking bronze sculpture is one of a number situated on the mid-20th century property and is a hint to the visitor of the personal and carefully curated art collection inside.

Wilber (spry, trim, sporting his signature mustache) is, as always, eager to share the collection, to outline the history of each piece, to draw connections. He points to an Ashcan School painting here, a Han Dynasty vase there. On one wall hangs a portrait by Gilbert Stuart — yes, that Gilbert Stuart — of Wilber’s distant relative. This is apropos given that Wilber and Janet’s art tells the story of their lives, individually and together, and because that story now includes a record-breaking gift, in the form of a $10 million unrestricted bequest, from the couple to Wilbraham & Monson Academy.

When it is eventually realized, the historic gift, which they have directed to unrestricted endowment, will strengthen the financial foundation of WMA while preserving the original tenets of diversity, public service and achievement that both they and the Academy hold dear. Meanwhile, to support WMA’s current initiatives, the couple has made a significant gift to the Athenaeum project. “This is a true vote of confidence in the school’s leadership and their vision for an institution that we feel is important, impactful and unique,” Wilber says candidly.

For Wilber, whose passion for his alma mater is palpable, making such a consequential gift to WMA has been a natural outgrowth of his lifelong connection to the school and of his and Janet’s belief in the unique value proposition of a WMA education. There is, he acknowledges, a bit of irony in such outsize affection from a man who started out as a “shy, tiny kid.”

William “Wilber” Ellery James grew up on Cape Ann, on Boston’s storied North Shore. Perhaps imbued with some of the spirit of the early settlers of that area, he was, he says, a scrappy child, defensive in part due to his slight stature and in part to learning difficulties that hindered him academically. For pre-prep, Wilber’s parents sent him to The Fessenden School in West Newton, Massachusetts, and it was there that he first learned about Wilbraham Academy, where the legendary W. Gray Mattern Jr. was then serving as Headmaster.

“We had an immediate connection,” Wilber says of his first meeting with Mattern. “That was true for many, many boys of that era. He saw us as something more than the nonconformists that we were. Gray and his wife, Ginnie, who remains a dear friend, ensured that Wilbraham was both our proving ground and our home.”

Indeed, through the rigorous instruction of the cadre of dedicated and adroit young teachers Mattern had hired, and under his watchful eye, Wilber and his cohorts blossomed. “We learned grammar, manners, how to study, how to dress, the importance of public service, and especially of loyalty, friendship and teamwork,” he recalls affectionately. “In that crucible, our motley crew became a band of brothers and left with a sense of purpose, camaraderie and pride. To this day, I remain very close to many members of my class, who have gone on to become captains of industry, carpenters, artists, musicians, teachers, and even a minister of defense and a deputy prime minister.”

The Academy’s strong focus on altruism and its pioneering role as an international school, in particular, resonated with Wilber, who would go on to graduate from Colorado College with a degree in history before spending three years in Kenya with the Peace Corps.

“My first meaningful exposure to non-Americans came at Wilbraham,” he explains. “When I was there, we had students from Thailand, Congo, Austria, England, Switzerland and Honduras, among others. That global milieu, coupled with the sense of service that Wilbraham instilled from Day One, really propelled me into the Peace Corps. In fact, I trace my lifelong fascination with all things international directly to my student experience at Wilbraham.”

Diverted from his original Peace Corps destination of Libya by Muammar al-Gaddafi’s 1969 coup d’état, Wilber eventually landed in the semi-arid Eastern Province of Kenya, where he began his remarkable three-year odyssey with the country’s Watharaka tribe. Not content merely to teach, Wilber befriended a farmer with whom he founded a school. Built one homemade brick at a time by the two men, its population, in the past 50 years, has grown from 18 to 600 students.

“At that time, in the early days of the Peace Corps, individuals often were presented with opportunities way beyond their experience and knowledge, and you either rose to the occasion or you didn’t,” Wilber explains. “I think one of the main reasons I felt confident enough to start the school was because of the way Wilbraham had encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone and take risks. There was this entrepreneurial spirit about the place that really permeated students’ lives and thinking and that I have always carried with me, to Kenya and beyond, in terms of how I have conducted my national and international business dealings.”

Returning to the U.S. in 1972, Wilber again gravitated to entrepreneurial service work, this time joining Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) as a deputy director of the Program for Local Service, the prototype for AmeriCorps. In 1974, he settled on Bainbridge Island, in Washington’s Puget Sound, and was soon drawn to Seattle’s burgeoning arts scene as an avid patron and collector. (In 2017, Wilber and Janet donated a varied collection of African photographs, artifacts collected while in the Peace Corps, and several paintings from Wilber’s years in Washington state to Wilbraham & Monson Academy.)

An East Coaster at heart, Wilber eventually made his way back to Boston, where, in 1979, he co-founded Citizens Energy Corporation, an independent, not-for-profit energy company that offered subsidized heating oil to socioeconomically disadvantaged Americans. Bolstered by the success of this and other business forays, Wilber, in  1998, co-founded RockPort Capital Partners, a venture capital firm that invests in the areas of alternative and traditional energy, including clean technology. Along the way, he met Janet Burrows, an expert in international energy finance, whom he hired as Chief Financial Officer of Citizens and later married. In addition to serving on numerous corporate and non-profit boards, the two continue as General Partners  of RockPort Capital.

Throughout his years as an entrepreneur, Wilber has remained a devoted alumnus of WMA, both as a volunteer and a donor. “All along, I’ve had a sense of the importance

of giving back my treasure and my time,” he emphasizes. Indeed, during the early to mid-1990s, when the Academy faced serious financial difficulties, Wilber joined the Board of Trustees, playing a key role, along with alumni parent Eric W. Anderson (aka “The Silver Fox”), alumni parent Fred Rothery and Douglas J. Hannah ’71W, in helping then Head of School Richard C. Malley raise funds to offset the school’s operating deficit along with $1 million toward professional development for teachers. With the appointment in 2014 of Brian P. Easler as WMA’s sixth head of school, Wilber and Janet’s connection to the Academy was renewed, and in May of 2018, they decided to make a significant gift as an expression of their admiration for and confidence in the Academy and its leadership. Wilber is quick to credit his wife with determining the size and scope of the donation.

“Janet knows the importance of this school to me,” he explains, “but this gift is not just about my memories. It’s about standing behind Wilbraham & Monson Academy and honoring its history and current leadership and programs, while also looking ahead to a bright future.” Adds Janet: “It’s also very much an endorsement of Board Chair Scott B. Jacobs ’75 and Head of School Brian Easler, whom we see as a principled, committed leader and an exceptional role model for students. Brian is very mission-driven and forward-thinking and will ensure that Wilbraham & Monson not only survives . . . but thrives for generations to come.”

The couple also credits the largesse of other WMA alumni and friends with inspiring their own. “We really took our lead from people like [Board of Trustees Vice Chair] Mark Shenkman ’61M, who has served WMA as a trustee for more than 50 years and is the embodiment of generosity,” Wilber says. “The same goes for [Friendly’s co-founder and centenarian] Pres

Blake and his wife, Helen,” Janet adds. “Their devotion to the school decade after decade is both impressive and humbling.”

Most recently, Janet and Wilber have been galvanized by the philanthropy of WMA’s other Board Vice Chair Jim LaCrosse ’50W and his wife, Pat, who in early 2018 designated the Academy as the beneficiary of a $7.5 million bequest.

 “Announcing our gift during our lifetime, and with these fellow alumni and friends as role models and guides, makes us feel part of something bigger, part of a winning team,” Janet stresses. While they generally prefer to remain anonymous, the couple says that by announcing their bequest, they hope to inspire others to consider how they may also support the school through the annual fund, capital campaign and estate planning. In fact, they hope to be outdone.

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