Pierman, Donnelly, Clark, Peruggia Named Upper School Grade Chairs



The four grade-level chairs– Dr. Peruggia, Ms. Donnelly, Mrs. Clarke, and Mrs. Pierman– returned to campus earlier than normal this year to start their work at engaging student involvement, increasing school pride, and defining each Class’ unique identity.

Evan Liberman, Managing Editor

Although new teachers and staff arrive on Grandiflora Road every fall to fill open positions, it is not that common that brand new jobs are created for existing faculty. However, the administration has done just this for the 2021-22 school year by appointing four grade level chairs–one for each grade at the Upper School. This year’s chairs are Mrs. Amanda Pierman for the freshman class, Coach Alexandria Clarke for the sophomore class, Ms. Colleen Donnelly for the junior class, and Dr. John Peruggia for the senior class.

The position of grade level chair will be important to making sure that the School runs smoothly, according to Academic Dean and Social Studies teacher Mrs. Caroline Guzman: “The role of the grade level chair is really important in providing that extra level of support for Advisors, students, and parents,” she said. Mrs. Guzman also added that they will be responsible for “lending academic support, building community, and generally guiding each grade through the challenges unique to them.” However, the grade level chairs will be doing more than just supporting the Benjamin community in times of need. In fact, each chair will also be in charge of planning and curating grade-specific events like the annual senior Grad Bash and Prom. 

For instance, Ms. Donnelly is “delighted to be organizing prom with the forthcoming Prom Committee.” In recent years, the herculean effort of organizing Prom fell on the shoulders of Art and Innovation Department Chair Ms. Melissa Ford. Despite the changeover, Ms. Donnelly noted that Ms. Ford’s planning expertise when it comes to Prom “has been invaluable.” Ms. Donnelly added that she “feels fortunate and grateful for Ms. Ford’s continued support.”

Two grades below, Mrs. Pierman, who, in the past, was co-chair of the freshman class with Mrs. Salivar and head of student council, is hard at work. “I will be bringing back Freshmen’s got talent (fingers crossed with the pandemic) and hopefully a lot of other service-oriented fun projects too,” she shared. She also told The Pharcyde that her overarching goal is “helping to ease the freshmen onto this campus and alleviate any worries, confusions, or getting lost during the first few days.”

Moreover, one Upper School faculty member–Assistant Athletic Director Coach Clarke–will be returning to her roots as a grade level chair. Before coming to the Upper School, she taught at the Lower School for ten years, so managing many students simultaneously isn’t new. Coach Clarke applied to become a grade level chair in order to “connect with students outside of sports” and because she wants to make a difference in the lives of TBS students. She also noted that her skills as a teacher and coach of the volleyball team will aid her as she helps the sophomore class build a cohesive bond with one another and confidence in themselves.

Interestingly, the job of grade level chair existed in the past, but only in an informal capacity. Chairs would plan events for each grade behind the scenes. However, the growing Benjamin student body and an idea of what the role should do made this year the best time to make the position official in the eyes of the administration. In addition, “formalizing the position elevates the status of the role and those highly qualified teachers and faculty who are filling it,” said Mrs. Guzman. 

Commenting on the creation of the new position, The Pharcyde’s very own Dr. Peruggia said: “While I’ve been doing the job for the past several years without a title, I am interested to see how my role might evolve while working alongside a truly diverse group of faculty peers.”