Greetings from Justine Hoffman

Dear TPS Families,
As August draws to a close, I hope you share my excitement about the soon-approaching school year. In a few days, Matt Eskin and Carlye Nelson-Major, our associate heads, will be emailing families about classroom assignments and first-week-of-school information.
Contrary to what might be popular belief, summer is a busy time for educators. TPS teachers took advantage of myriad professional development opportunities, ranging from taking the Stanford University online course “How to Learn Math: For Teachers and Parents” to attending the week-long National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship workshop “From Immigrants to Citizens: Asian Pacific Americans in the Northwest” in Seattle.

We also have been busy here at TPS getting ready for the start of school. Along with the unveiling of a fabulous all-school theme, a new initiative relating to student health will greet our community this fall. Snack time will be healthier this year at TPS. We will be offering students fresh fruit for their mid-morning snacks; fruit will also be available throughout the day.  Although I expect to hear a few grumbles from some children about this change, I am confident that they will soon embrace our efforts to fuel them with more nutritious snacks.
We are also extending our efforts to eat healthy to the way we celebrate birthdays at TPS. Classrooms will continue to celebrate birthdays but, except in preschool and kindergarten, in a “food-free” manner. At the close of each month the Student Council will once again host Birthday Breakfasts featuring nutritious treats for children in grades 1-8.
Also welcoming students in September will be several new and renovated spaces.  A highlight at Lombard Street is the enlarged and better equipped Middle School science room on the first floor – designed by our very own teachers Neesa Becker-Procaccino and Rick Jacobsen.  Students enrolled in the After School Enrichment Program have some surprises awaiting them in the ASEP room.
There also are several new faces that will greet the children in September. One will belong to our school’s first full-time nurse!  The addition of a health services professional – with a dedicated space - is a long-dreamed-for milestone in our school’s history.
I am delighted to introduce you to this year’s new faculty and staff. Before I do that, I wanted to let you know about some internal faculty changes: Noelle Kellich has moved from 7th grade to the Junior Unit, and Jim Bumbulsky from 8th grade to communications and web design. Now to our new community members.
School Nurse:

  • Olutosin (Tosin) Efunnuga has been hired as our full time school nurse. Tosin, who has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Howard University, has several years experience as a pediatric and adolescent nurse at Children’s Hospital. She has also worked as a public health nurse home visitor and as a summer camp nurse at Friends’ Central School.


  • Marisa Block is joining Elizabeth Zack’s and Carrie Fafarman’s kindergarten classroom as an assistant teacher. Marisa did her student teaching at TPS (and attended TPS herself), and earned a B.A. from Temple University’s School of Communication and Theater, and an M.S.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania.  Most recently, Marisa was an assistant teacher at Plymouth Meeting Friends School. 
  • Emily Greenspan Light will be teaching in Carrie Fafarman and Elizabeth Zack’s kindergarten room as Carrie’s maternity leave substitute. Emily will be in the classroom for the entire school year. Carrie will start the year with Emily and Elizabeth and then leave in November for the remainder of the school year. (She will return in September 2015.) Emily has a B.A. from Emory University and an M.A. in Education from Pepperdine University. Most recently she was a lead teacher in the early childhood program at the Germantown Jewish Centre; previously she was an assistant kindergarten teacher at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in NYC. 

Primary Unit

  • Bernadette McCleary is joining Maddy Ofrichter in Primary A as her co-teacher in their 1st and 2nd grade classroom. Bernadette has many years of teaching experience at both independent and public schools, most recently at Comegys Elementary School, where she taught kindergarten and third grade. She has a B.A. from Seton Hill College in political science and an M.S.Ed. from St. Joseph’s University.  

Junior Unit:

  • Megan Soffin will be teaching in Kate Christiansen and Noelle Kellich's Junior Unit D classroom as a long-term maternity leave substitute for Kate. Megan has a B.A. from the University of Maryland and an M.A. in Education from Temple University. Last year she worked as a long-term substitute in Junior Unit A and as a teacher in our ASEP program. Prior to joining TPS, Megan was a lead teacher in the early childhood program at Temple Beth Zion Beth Israel.
  • David Stills is joining Laura Matheny in Junior Unit C as her co-teacher in their 4th and 5th grade classroom. David received a B.A. in Psychology from Ithaca College and teacher certification from the New England Montessori Teacher Education Center.  He has taught in several Montessori schools, most recently as a co-teacher at Waterfront Montessori in Jersey City. Prior to entering the education field, David was a professional singer and performer.

Middle School

  • David D’Altorio is joining Steve Bartholomew and Virginia Friedman as a 7th grade teacher. David has a B.A. from Kenyon College, where he majored in European History and minored in Italian Language and Culture. David has been a part of The Philadelphia School community since January 2013, working as a teacher in ASEP and MSAS and, most recently, as a long-term maternity-leave substitute.  
  • Terrence (Terry) McGuire is joining Michael Friedman and Jess Ford in the 6th grade.  Terry has a bachelor’s degree in government and politics, with a certificate in African American studies, from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in secondary education, with a focus on social studies, from Temple University. Terry has taught in public and charter schools, most recently Delaware Valley Charter High School 
  • Ethan Tannen will work with Emily Marston and Wendy Furry in the 8th grade, where he will primarily teach mathematics. He is a graduate of Tufts University, where he received a B.A. in International Affairs. He earned an M.S.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania, where he took part in Penn’s Teach for America Urban Teacher program - Secondary Math program. Ethan taught mathematics for three years at Boys' Latin of Philadelphia Charter High School; most recently he taught English at the Lycee du Val de Saone in France.

Physical Education:

  • Michael Bonitatibus is joining Akemi Moriuchi in the physical education department. He is a graduate of Towson University with a B.S. in Physical Education (K-8), a teaching certificate in Health and Physical Education, and a certificate in Water Safety Instruction.  Michael has taught in Philadelphia charter schools, most recently Independence Charter School, where he taught Physical Education to students in sixth through eighth grade.  


  • Kaitlyn (Kait) Renna will join the art department as a part-time early childhood art teacher. Kait was a student teacher in our art department last year as she completed an M.A.T. in Art Education at the University of the Arts, where she previously earned her B.F.A., majoring in photography. 

Administrative & Facilities:

  • Alison Fritz is our new Director of Development. A graduate of Union College, Alison has worked in the nonprofit fund-raising arena for several years, most recently as the associate director of donor relations at Fox Chase Cancer Center and as foundation and corporate gifts associate at WHYY. She is the founding president of the South Philly Co-op. 
  • Brian Johnson is joining the Admission Office as Director of Admission; his focus will be on admissions in preschool through third grade. Brian has more than 20 years experience in independent, public, and charter schools as a teacher, administrator, admission officer, and faculty recruiter. Most recently he was apprentice Assistant Principal of Instruction at Mastery Charter School. Brian has a B.A. and M.A.Ed. from Wake Forest University.
  • Theresa Lawson is our new front desk receptionist in the Lombard Street building.  She has worked for several years in customer service, including retail store management, catering, and customer service training. 
  • Jordan Lee will be our part-time Auxiliary Programming Associate, and she will manage the Lombard Street office from 2 to 6:15 p.m.  Jordan graduated from the University of New Jersey with a B.S. in Elementary Education.
  • Jill Whitaker is joining the Facilities team. Jill has attended Delaware County Community College, and she has experience overseeing operations in a busy health and wellness center. She worked for the School District of Philadelphia for more than 10 years.

I am excited for you to meet our new teachers and staff, and I look forward to sharing another year of learning adventures with our students.

Justine Hoffman
Head of School