Faculty & Staff Updates, 2019-2020

We’re delighted to welcome new faces to our Benchmark community for the 2019-2020 school year, as well as to announce exciting staffing moves.

Ralph Wales joins Benchmark this year as our one-year Interim Head of School. Ralph understands and is committed to Benchmark School’s mission, and we are thrilled to have him at Benchmark, leading our dedicated learning community. 

Ralph has worked as an educator, administrator, and head of school since 1980. Most recently, Ralph served as interim head of school at St. George’s Episcopal School in New Orleans and held the role of head of school at the Gordon School in East Providence, Rhode Island for twenty-four years. During his tenure at the Gordon School, he established a $10 million endowment, completed two successful capital campaigns to transform the campus and the student experience, and implemented programs to strengthen school culture and diversity.

Ralph earned a B.A. in American history from Harvard College and an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is a trustee for the Rhode Island Philharmonic and recently completed a three-year term as president of the Association of Independent Schools in New England.

Alyce Callison joins Benchmark as our Director of Marketing and Communications. In this role, Alyce will develop and implement a strategic marketing and branding plan to help promote enrollment, fundraising, and other school initiatives, as well as facilitate useful and open communication with Benchmark families.

Alyce has more than twenty years’ experience in marketing and communications in the Philadelphia area, including work in the non-profit, cultural, corporate, and education fields. Most recently, Alyce worked at Germantown Friends School, where she established their digital communications and elevated their brand identity. Alyce attended Rutgers University, where she earned degrees in English and Communications.

Debbi Coren began working at Benchmark during the 2018-19 school year as a Head Math Teacher for first grade and as a support teacher for language arts. During the 2019-20 school year, as Debbi moves into the role of Middle School Math Specialist, she will teach 6th and 7th grade math classes.  

Debbi has taught math at The Agnes Irwin School, Lower Merion High School, Paxon Hollow Middle School, and Wallingford Elementary School. Debbi earned her undergraduate degree in Special Education from West Chester University and continued on to study Secondary Math Education in Cabrini College’s Master’s program. In addition to her love for teaching math, Debbi also enjoys running, cooking, reading, and being outdoors. 

Joan Fox comes to Benchmark as our new Art Teacher. Joan has 28 years of experience teaching art, and is part of Benchmark's plan to move toward arts integration. In this approach to teaching, students engage in a creative process that connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both. Joan will join Laurie Veacock, our music teacher, in this endeavor. 

In addition to teaching, Joan has been a professional ceramicist and costume designer, and is also interested in fiber arts, rock climbing, and bluegrass and traditional Irish mandolin. Prior to Benchmark, Joan taught at Project Learn School in Philadelphia and The Haverford School. Joan has a BFA in Ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Mary Katherine Ortale ‘08 is a longtime familiar face at Benchmark. In addition to being an active alumna, she often serves as an Open House panelist for prospective parents, a Benchmark Camp counselor, and Benchmark substitute teacher. This year, Mary Katherine will move into the role of Lower School Math Specialist, and she will teach four math classes. 

Mary Katherine has been a PBIDA (Pennsylvania Branch of the International Dyslexia Association) volunteer since 2011. In addition to serving as a substitute teacher at Benchmark, she has also taught at Saint Genevieve School in Flourtown, Saint Philip Neri School in Lafayette Hill, and Our Mother of Sorrows in Philadelphia. Mary Katherine earned an undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master of Education degree with a reading specialty, both from Chestnut Hill College.   

Alyce Sheerer comes to Benchmark as a Lower School Math Specialist and will teach four classes. Alyce is passionate about math and incorporates technology to enhance math instruction. Most recently, Alyce taught math at William Penn Charter Academy in Philadelphia, and math and science at Holy Family School in Parma, Ohio. 

Alyce is also a swim coach instructor. She earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Albright College, and her Masters in Special Education from Edinboro University. 

What else is new?

Alexis Caporizzo will be a Head Teacher in 7th grade language arts and will teach an 8th grade science class.

Kristina Reisinger will be a Supervisor in the 7th and 8th grades.

Melissa Savage will be a Head Teacher in 6th grade language arts and will continue in the math department on a part-time basis teaching a 7th level math class.

Laurie Veacock will be our full-time music teacher, working with Joan Fox to design an integrated arts curriculum.

Megan Wonderland is devoting her time to Admissions and Transition and will not be a classroom teacher.



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About Benchmark School

Benchmark School, located at 2107 N. Providence Road, Media, Pa., is an independent, not-for-profit day school serving students in grades 1-8. Founded in 1970, the school is committed to helping bright students who have yet to reach their academic potential become confident and strategic thinkers, learners, and problem solvers who meet with success in school and life. For more information about Benchmark School, please call 610-565-3741 or visit BenchmarkSchool.org.