Academic Year Begins with 10 New Faculty Members

Tuesday, August 27, 2019
Front row (L-R): Ryan Tyree, Justine O’Connell, Andy Brown; Second row: Christian Bancroft, Rudy Wise, Jessica Doubell, Bill Kissick; Back row: Tim Kerr, Jennifer Sipes, Cindy Fowler.  

Mercersburg Academy welcomes 10 new faculty members for the 2019-2020 academic year, which begins Monday, September 2.

Christian Bancroft, a faculty member in the English department, most recently was an English instructor at Temple University in Philadelphia, as well as an English teacher at STEMCivics, a charter school located in Ewing, N.J. Bancroft has 10 years of teaching experience. Christian graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor of arts in English and creative writing. He has a master’s in creative writing from the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. in English language and literature from the University of Houston.

Andy Brown joins the mathematics department to teach robotics, as well as Maker’s Lab and Rapid App Development (which are both part of the Springboard senior capstone curriculum). He is also Mercersburg’s new head football coach. Brown served as coordinator of the aviation and aerospace program at Magruder High School in Rockville, Md., as well as a resource teacher for physical and health education and department head for that school’s Project Lead the Way Engineering Department. He has coached football at Magruder and at Francis Scott Key High School in Union Bridge, Md., wrestling at Everett Area Middle School/High School in Everett, Pa., and track & field at Southern Fulton Junior/Senior High School in Warfordsburg, Pa. Brown holds a bachelor’s degree in technology education from Millersville and a master’s in educational leadership from Hood College.

Jessica Doubell, technical director in the Burgin Center for the Arts, has 15 years of professional experience across all aspects of performance and performance venue management and comes to Mercersburg from nearby Chambersburg, Pa. Doubell earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in theater from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she concentrated on stage management and was awarded stage manager of the year. She is pursuing a master’s of humanities in literature from Wilson College.

Cindy Fowler, a college counselor in Mercersburg’s College Counseling Office, graduated from Montclair State University in New Jersey with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science. She has a master of arts from Montclair State in physical education with a concentration in coaching and sports administration. Fowler has previously worked as a tutor in Mercersburg’s Office of Learning Services. Her husband, Steve, is a member of the mathematics faculty and serves as an assistant swimming coach and as an adviser in Fowle Hall.

Tim Kerr joins the Mercersburg faculty as a history teacher and head boys’ lacrosse coach. He spent six seasons as head coach at Kent Island High School in Stevensville, Md., where his teams won four regional championships and made four state semifinal appearances. Kerr was a social studies teacher at the school from 2006 through this spring and in 2013 became an assistant coach at Washington College (his undergraduate alma mater) in Chestertown, Md. Kerr also taught a graduate course in history and served as an academic advisor at Washington College, and has been an assistant coach for the Finland national lacrosse team. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from Washington College and a master’s in administration and leadership from the University of Phoenix.

William “Bill” Kissick is Mercersburg’s chief development officer. Kissick comes to Mercersburg after 13 years at St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H., where he directed that school’s first comprehensive campaign in more than 30 years. Promoted to director of alumni and development in 2011, and to chief advancement officer in 2016, he led a large team to build the school’s alumni and parent community and raise funds in support of the school. Kissick has also held fundraising positions at Dartmouth College, Deerfield Academy, and St. Lawrence University. He has led or worked on four separate campaigns, and got his start in annual giving and alumni relations at Denison University and the William Penn Charter School. Kissick has served on the faculty of the CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) Summer Institute for Independent Schools; he is a recipient of the CASE Crystal Apple Award for Teaching and is chair of the CASE Independent School Leadership Group. He graduated from Penn Charter and holds a bachelor's degree from Denison and a master's degree in business administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Justine O’Connell, director of global programs and a member of Mercersburg’s language department, was most recently the exchange coordinator and English language teacher at Colegio Alemán de San Felipe, which is Mercersburg’s sister school and exchange partner in Chile. She has accompanied Colegio Alemán students on two separate trips to Mercersburg. O’Connell holds two bachelor of arts degrees in Spanish literature and global studies from the University of Arizona.

Jennifer Sipes is a counselor in Mercersburg’s Office of Student Counseling Services. She is a licensed clinical social worker, and has worked at the Academy since March 2018 as a staff member in Student Counseling Services. Sipes was previously a school counselor for the middle and lower school at Wakefield School in The Plains, Va., a school counselor at St. Thomas More School in Oakdale, Conn., and a clinical social worker at St. Elizabeth School in Baltimore, Md. She holds a bachelor’s in business, personnel, and labor relations from the University of Maryland and a master’s from the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Her husband, Paul, is an assistant athletic director at Mercersburg; their daughter, Finn, is a member of the Class of 2022. 

Ryan Tyree will serve as Mercersburg’s director of squash in addition to joining the English faculty. Tyree arrives from Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, Mass., where he taught English and served as a dormitory head in addition to holding head-coaching positions in boys’ squash and boys’ tennis (for seven years apiece). He coached a U.S. Squash Division 6 Nationals-champion team at Williston, and has worked with legendary coach Paul Assaiante’s International Squash Academy summer camps. Tyree previously taught and coached at Eaglebrook School and taught summer-session classes at Northfield Mount Hermon School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Massachusetts, as well as master’s degrees in English literature from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English and in secondary education from the University of Phoenix. His wife, Haley, is the new testing coordinator in Mercersburg’s College Counseling Office.

Rudy Wise, associate director of admission, comes to Mercersburg from Rosemont College in Rosemont, Pa., where he was the admissions coordinator in the school of graduate and professional studies. He has served as an assistant men’s basketball coach at Haverford College, as well as at Rosemont (where he was also the academic coordinator) and at the University of Pennsylvania (where he served as the team’s academic liaison). Wise will also be an assistant basketball coach at Mercersburg. He played for and graduated from Lake Forest [Ill.] College with a bachelor of arts in communication, and holds a master’s in communication and a graduate certificate in strategic communication from Villanova University.

Additionally, Leela Woody, who started at Mercersburg as a teaching fellow in 2018-2019, has been appointed to the English faculty this academic year. She graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy before attending Mount Holyoke College, where she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts in English and sociology and a minor in Nexus education and Nexus journalism. Woody is continuing as an assistant coach for the girls’ cross country team.