Meet Kent Faculty
Our close-knit, supportive community is a big reason students choose Kent and it’s a big reason students thrive here. So we’d like to give you the opportunity to meet some of us. We are not only your teachers, but we’re coaches and advisors. We feel like being together in different contexts not only makes a strong community, it builds a stronger you. It’s fun too. So whether it’s in a classroom or the library, in a practice room or on the stage, on a playing field or in the gym, in your dorm or in our residences for dinner, we’re here to support your efforts and applaud your accomplishments. Come meet us!
Kent School has benefited from the talents of Lisa Brody since the fall of 1991. A practicing artist herself (oil painting), Ms. Brody has exhibited her work in a wide variety of galleries and museums, and has participated in numerous artist residencies in the US and Europe. Her talent as an artist makes her an invaluable tool in helping students to develop their own artistic abilities, and she is quick to note that the students help her to grow as well. In considering her experience here at Kent, Ms. Brody says “walking into my classroom every day is an adventure. I never know what will happen, and that is an exciting, invigorating and mind-expanding experience. I learn as much as these students do every day. Art is a universal language, and each student brings their individual personality, history, and predilections into the class to share with each other. It is a beautiful laboratory that is a forum to express visually their thoughts, feelings, sensibilities, and the world at large. As W.H. Auden wrote: ‘we were put on this earth to make things.’ By creating art, our students also create self-esteem, confidence and beauty.”
When you step into Kali Brown’s office, you immediately see the history that surrounds her: her grandfather’s pilot’s license, logbook, and watch hanging on the wall; a poster of Casablanca, her and her grandfather’s favorite movie, and the subject of her Senior Thesis at Bates College; and a 1936 shortwave radio gifted to her from her high school history teacher, who collected antiques and gifted them to students who showed a true passion for history.
Kali (along with her dog, Phineas) joins Kent this year through Mt. Holyoke College’s Independent Schools Fellowship Program, and is enrolled in a Master’s Program at Mt. Holyoke while teaching two history classes here at Kent. The fellowship offers Kali the unique opportunity of continuing to learn and explore while passing on her knowledge and passion to her students.
Kali’s approach in the classroom is to be as accessible as possible to students and to learn how to best help each individual based on their different needs and personalities. “I see my classroom as a safe space where different opinions and points of view can be expressed without judgment. I want my students to be able to talk to me about anything and feel comfortable doing so if needed,” says Kali. “I want everyone to be successful, and I want to support each student by offering my support, guidance, and a safe place to learn.”
Kali is enjoying her time at Kent so far and feels as though she is learning something new every day. In addition to her love of history, Kali has a love for rowing, having previously founded the rowing team at Proctor Academy before serving as a varsity oarswoman and coxswain on the nationally-ranked NCAA Champion Bates Women’s Rowing Team. She is eagerly awaiting rowing season and can’t wait to get out onto the Housatonic and coach this year.
Biology and ecology teacher Hillary Clifton ‘08, a lover of the outdoors and an avid hiker and backpacker, developed a passion for environmental science at a very young age. Growing up on a 253-acre Boy Scout reservation, Hillary spent much of her time exploring the outdoors, studying wildlife, and running outdoor education programs with her father, a ranger.
It was at Kent that she realized she could expand her love of the environmental sciences in the form of teaching. “When I came to Kent, for the first time in my life I had teachers who really were invested in my wellbeing and it made me want to learn,” Hillary recollected. “And that made me want to become a teacher, to make education enjoyable for others.”
After earning a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from Clarkson University and an M.S. in Education from the University of New Haven, Hillary fulfilled her desire to teach when she began working for the Connecticut Wildlife Division, where she taught Wildlife and Habitat Education. After years of teaching in the science field, including teaching biology, environmental science, and engineering, Hillary saw Kent was hiring a science teacher and knew she had to go for it.
“This is my passion, this is exactly what I want to be doing,” says Hillary. “As a teacher, I know not all of my students will be scientists, and that’s fine. While I want to get them excited about science and I want to share my passion with them, my main goal is to help them grow into successful adults who can treat others with respect and deal with the pressures of life.”
As for how it feels to come back to teach at Kent? “I feel like I’m home again,” says Hillary. “Kent is like a second home to me, and now it’s come back around that it is my home again.”
Dr. Kevin MacNeil, our new Academic Dean, has always been an idea builder, as well as being voraciously curious. Growing up, he always had a wide range of interests, and has built a career of 20+ years in academic administration based on this curiosity. He views this particular moment at Kent as the perfect time to help build and rebuild what he can to influence our school in a positive way.
Kevin has helped create an updated schedule with the hope that it will help students, and faculty, feel more productive while feeling less hectic. One of the changes is building “Community Life” blocks into our schedule this year, which consist of a whole range of things that build community, including Community Life classes for students, Chapel, faculty and department meetings, and more. Kevin describes it as the “hyper-focused relationship building block of time” that we’ve always wanted to build into school schedules.
“In boarding schools, students often have super structured academic lives, and super structured athletic lives,” says Kevin. “But still, they don’t always necessarily get that community matters.” One of Kevin’s main goals is to make sure we embrace the idea that community matters.
Joe McDonough has been a member of Kent School’s faculty since 2006 and he’s been an influence and mentor to hundreds of students in a variety of ways. His work in the Classics Department is legendary, having taught Latin, Greek, Classical Civilizations, and several other courses. He spends most of his summers pursuing advancement of his knowledge in the Classics field, taking courses and attending programs in England, Ireland, France, and Greece. Joe is far from a one-dimensional leader here at Kent, though, as he has been involved in coaching boys cross country and girls basketball. He is a talented musician, serving as an organist in both Kent’s chapel and at Sacred Heart, and also contributes as an accompanist for the spring musical. Since 2014, Joe has been the faculty advisor to The Cauldron, our school’s magazine of literature and art. We are indeed fortunate to have such a dedicated teacher on our faculty!
Laurie Rousseau is in her 8th year at Kent. Along with her two children and husband Shawn (Kent’s Director of College Counseling), she came to Kent after six years at St. Mark’s where she taught math and coached girls varsity hockey and lacrosse. In her first six years here at Kent she taught Math, but as of the 2017-18 school year, she has also assumed duties as an Assistant Dean. In her undergraduate days at Yale, Mrs. Rousseau distinguished herself in numerous ways in women’s ice hockey. As goalie for the Elis, she was named Ivy League player of the year three times and earned ECAC all-star and All-American honors. She also competed for our country internationally, playing on the US National Select Team in 1995, serving as an alternate on the 1998 Olympic team, and earning a silver medal in 1999 at the World Championships. As a boarding school teacher, she values greatly the ability to work with students in different capacities Mrs. Rousseau says, “whether it is giving extra help in Math, having the hockey team over for cupcakes, helping 6th formers as the dean of the class of 2018, or checking on kids in the dorm, it’s a pleasure to see Kent students grow not just as individuals, but also as members of a community. We are blessed to work with such talented and diverse students.”
Kent School has been fortunate to have Jeremy Sokolnicki on its faculty since 2003. In his 15 years at Kent he has worn many hats, and has helped Kent students in a variety of ways. As a teacher, he has taught various levels of Biology (regular, honors and AP), and has also taught some of our science electives (Genetics, Biotechnology, and Anatomy). Jeremy has served as a dorm parent in North Dorm and was also the dorm Head of Borsdorff Hall. For five years he worked in the Deans Office as the Dean of the class of ’08. In addition to that responsibility, he also was the Director of Student Activities for four years. Concerning extracurricular activity, Mr. Sokolnicki has felt very fortunate to coach two sports that he truly loves – cross country and golf. He has worked with the cross-country team since his first year at Kent. He enjoys running with the team, and notes how much stronger the program is, saying “I used to be at the front of the pack, but now I’m lucky to hang on with the varsity boys.” In his second year of teaching, he was asked to help with the golf program and jumped at the opportunity. Within a few years he became the head coach and has happily held that post ever since. Jeremy has always approached his duties at Kent with enthusiasm and passion, and our students have benefited greatly in working with such a dedicated teacher.