School NewsOct 9, 2023

updated Nov 13, 2023

Additions to the MHS Community

Miss Hall’s welcomes new faculty and staff

Each fall, MHS welcomes new adults who bring their energy, talents, and expertise to the MHS community. Our amazing adults are as interesting as our students — AND great at what they do!

This year, we welcomed new Dean of Teaching and Learning Meghan Smith, while three members of the community assumed new roles and responsibilities: Dean of Students Sarah Virden, Dean of Wellness Kristen Milano, and Academic and Advising Coordinator Rebecca Cook-Dubin.

We also welcome new faculty and staff members, and we look forward to the many ways our new adults will contribute to the community.

Chemistry Teacher John Doll, Ph.D., brings 19 years of independent school teaching, coaching, and administrative experience to MHS. John comes to Miss Hall’s from Moses Brown School, in Providence, Rhode Island, where he taught Science since 2019. From 2005 to 2019, he was a Science Teacher at Dana Hall School, in Wellesley, Massachusetts, serving as Science Department Chair for 11 years. John also has experience coaching softball, basketball, and other sports. He holds a Ph.D. in Biology (Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and B.A. degrees in Biochemistry and History from Rice University.

English Teacher Katelyn Ferguson comes to Miss Hall’s with more than a decade teaching and working in residential life at independent schools. Katelyn most recently taught English at The Brearley School, in New York, and previously taught at Hawai’i Preparatory Academy, in Kamuela, Hawaii, and Middlesex School, in Concord Massachusetts. She has taught American and Irish literature, English Composition, and general humanities courses at the high school and college levels and also has experience as an advisor, coach, and dorm parent. Katelyn holds a Ph.D. and a Master of Philosophy from Trinity College Dublin, and a B.A. in English from Vassar College.

Nicole Hayes is our new Ceramics Teacher, bringing two decades of experience as a working artist, teacher, and curator/exhibitions manager. The owner of Nicoceramics, in nearby Ghent, N.Y., Nicole creates functional studio pottery and drawings, which she exhibits and sells at local art galleries and craft festivals. Since 2013, she has been affiliated with Art Omi: Sculpture and Architecture Park, also in Ghent, holding several positions, including Curator, Project Manager, and Residency Coordinator. Since February, Nicole has also been the Program Manager for the Interlude Artist Residency in Hudson, N.Y. She holds a B.F.A., Ceramics, from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Matthew Labrador joins the School as a Math Teacher, bringing several years of teaching and tutoring experience. For the past seven years, Matthew taught Calculus and Physics at Church Farm School, in Exton, Pennsylvania, where he also coached the robotics team. For the past eight years, he has also taught mathematics courses for the Cushing Academy Summer Session, in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. In 2000, Matthew founded The Math King, LLC, providing one-on-one math tutoring to students of all levels and offering hiring, training, and evaluations for tutors. Matthew holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Elizabeth Legere is a new Spanish Teacher in the MHS Language Department, bringing two decades of experience teaching Spanish across all grade levels, from preschool to college. Elizabeth has taught Spanish at Oakwood School in North Hollywood, California, Nashoba Brooks School in Concord, Massachusetts, and most recently at nearby Richmond Consolidated School. Since 2013, Elizabeth has been a Spanish Adjunct Professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. She also has experience as a teacher of English as a Second Language and has taught in Spain. Elizabeth holds an M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury College and a B.A. in International Relations and Spanish from Bucknell University.

Noelle Lenski joined the School in January as an Academic Support Learning Specialist in the Leonhardt Academic Skills Center. Noelle was most recently a Special Education Teacher at Hoosac Valley Middle School, in Cheshire, Massachusetts, and a Reading Interventionist at Morningside Community School in Pittsfield. She transitioned into education and seeking to make a different kind of impact, after a decade in human services and law enforcement. From 2013 to 2020, Noelle was a Corrections Officer with the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office, in Pittsfield. She also has experience coaching softball and volleyball in the Lenox Public Schools and will coach the MHS volleyball team this fall and also serve as Advisor to the Bigs Program. She holds a B.A. in Criminology & Law Studies from Marquette University.

Pauline Levy Valensi, Ph.D. is the new French Teacher, coming to MHS from Falmouth Academy, in Falmouth, Massachusetts, where she taught all levels of French and was a Creative Writing Instructor. From 2016 to 2022, Dr. Levy Valensi was a French Instructor in the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at the University of Connecticut, while earning her Ph.D. and M.A. in French and Francophone studies. A native of France, Dr. Levy Valensi also holds an M.A. in General and Comparative Literature from the Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle and a B.A. in French Modern Literature and English Studies from the Université Toulouse Le Mirail/Jean Jaurès.

Olivia Martin has joined MHS as a Dance Teacher, bringing experience in ballet, hip-hop, modern contemporary dance, yoga, and fitness. In addition to her work at MHS, Olivia teaches yoga and dance throughout the Berkshires and coordinates dance events in the Pittsfield area and beyond. She is a Barre Instructor at Berkshire Yoga and Fitness in Pittsfield, and, since 2003, has been active as a Dance Faculty Artist with Community Access to the Arts in Great Barrington. After receiving a B.A. in Dance from the Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance at Dean College, Olivia has attended continuing education classes in a range of movement techniques, including becoming a Kripalu-trained yoga instructor.

Longtime MHS English Teacher Rebecca Cook-Dubin P’24 moves into two new roles — Academic Coordinator and Advising Coordinator. As Academic Coordinator, Rebecca works closely with Dean of Teaching & Learning Meghan Smith and academic department chairs to provide personalized academic advising to students, oversee the course selection and placement process, and support the design and implementation of curricular initiatives that advance our Strategic Design. As Advising Coordinator, Rebecca partners with Dean of Wellness Kristen Milano and advisors to envision and enact a holistic, supportive, and clear advising program. Rebecca joined MHS in 2013. She holds an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the Boston College Lynch School of Education and a B.A. in Theater from Dartmouth College.

Two new School Counselors have joined the MHS Health & Wellness Center.

Melody Blass Fisher, Ph.D. brings extensive clinical and educational experience, as well as a commitment to a community-oriented vision of health. Most recently, Melody was a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with Sullivan and Associates Behavioral Health, in nearby North Adams. From 2019 to 2023, she was an Associate Professor of Psychology at Berkshire Community College, in Pittsfield. Melody worked in a variety of clinical settings in New York City and Boston prior to moving to the Berkshires in 2019 and has also been trained in somatic healing techniques such as therapeutic breathwork. Melody holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Boston and a B.A. in Psychology and English from Brandeis University.

Mary Wilkes is a highly experienced Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. Over the years, Mary has worked in various settings, including inpatient psychiatric care, private practice, and college counseling. She most recently provided psychotherapy services via telehealth in Massachusetts and Colorado as a therapist with Sondermind. Prior to that, Mary was a therapist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she offered individual and group psychotherapy to CU students and trained social work interns. Mary's educational background includes an M.S. in Clinical Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.A. in Clinical Psychology from Tufts University.

Shawna Albright has joined the MHS Business Office as Payroll & Benefits Specialist. Shawna comes to MHS after 12 years at San Pedro, California, as an Administrative and Pricing Coordinator with Sprouts Farmers Market, an Arizona-based supermarket chain. Shawna brings to Miss Hall’s experience in payroll, budget management, human resources, employee onboarding, training, and scheduling. She holds a Bachelor of Science Business Administration: Management & Human Resources from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Jocelyn Hobart is our new Administrative Assistant to the Deans, serving as a liaison between the Deans’ offices and all school constituents, including families, for whom she is a main point of contact. Jocelyn works with each of the Deans, assisting with day-to-day functions, including scheduling, attendance, student records, and communicating Deans’ initiatives with students, adults, and families. Jocelyn comes to Miss Hall’s with extensive managerial experience in the hospitality industry, most recently at Wheatleigh, in nearby Stockbridge, where she was Assistant Restaurant Manager. She holds a B.A. in Art History/English from the University of Vermont.

Cathy Ingram joined MHS in May as Director of Development, coming from the Berkshire Museum, in Pittsfield, where she was Membership and Development Manager. Previously, Cathy served as Director of Donor Relations and Stewardship at Berkshire School, in Sheffield, Massachusetts, and served in several roles, including Director of Alumni and Parent Engagement, at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Cathy holds an M.A. in Student Personnel Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University and a B.A. in Mathematics and Teacher Education from the College of Mount Saint Vincent. She volunteers with the Berkshire County Development Alliance and the Board of Directors for Flying Cloud Institute.

Billie Jo Sawyer joins MHS as Controller, overseeing all functions of the Miss Hall’s Business Office. Billie Jo comes to the School with 25 years of accounting experience, most recently with Lombardi, Clairmont & Keegan, in Pittsfield, where she worked on audits, reviews, compilation engagements, and tax returns. Previously, from 2009 to 2021, she was owner and CEO of the Berkshire County-based accounting firm Sawyer, LLC, which she founded after four years as Audit Manager with Marlow & Co. in nearby North Adams. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Billie Jo holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Management.

Katarina Warner is the School’s Creative Content & Digital Marketing Manager, sharing the Miss Hall’s School story through the MHS website and social media channels. A marketing and communications professional with more than 10 years of experience in the U.S. and abroad, Kat comes to Miss Hall’s from the Norman Rockwell Museum, in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where she was Digital Marketing & Communications Manager. A native of Norway, Kat holds an M.P. in Environmental & Development Economics from the University of Oslo and a B.S. in International Business & Language, a B.A. in Economics, and a B.A. in Spanish from The University of Tulsa.