Summer Faculty Institute Encourages Community of Learners

Mercersburg Academy will hold its fourth annual Summer Faculty Institute for teachers and administrators August 12-16 on campus. Last year, 58 attendees took part in the weeklong event, including six from peer schools.
Geared toward classroom teachers and those working with adolescents in residential, counseling, and advisory settings, the annual event is open to education professionals from within or outside the Academy.

“The institute brings our faculty together as a community of learners,” says Dr. Julia Stojak Maurer ’90, Mercersburg’s assistant head of school for academic affairs. “We are able to model lifelong learning for our students and stay abreast of the very latest research on education and adolescents.”

This year’s Institute will feature five tracks, including Using the Google Suite in the Classroom, led by Greg Kulowiec and coordinated by Maurer; Social and Emotional Work, led by Chris Thurber and coordinated by Chris Howes, dean of student life; a workshop on impactful teaching and deeper learning, led by John David Bennett, dean of curricular innovation and English faculty, and Jennifer Miller Smith ’97, chair of the science department and incoming dean of academics; a language workshop with a group from the Rassias Method (which was created and developed in 1964 by Professor John Rassias of Dartmouth College), coordinated by Tom Thorne, chair of the language department; and Restorative Practices, led by Lee Rush and coordinated by Howes.

Kulowiec (a nationally recognized instructor, presenter, author, and authorized Google Education Trainer) and Thurber (a board-certified clinical psychologist, educator, and author) have previously served as experts at the Summer Faculty Institute, and are returning again this year.

Bennett is in his 12th year on the Mercersburg faculty; he previously taught at the Talented and Gifted Magnet High School in Dallas and was an Advanced Placement Lead Teacher for the Dallas Independent School District. Bennett is also a consultant for the National Math and Science Initiative and a past head of the English department. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington and Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. Bennett and his wife, Denise (who works in Mercersburg’s Office of Advancement), are the parents of three children, including Cameron Rogers ’12 and Olivia Grace Bennett ’19.

Smith has taught at Mercersburg since 2008 and is completing her fifth year as head of the science department. She was valedictorian of her Mercersburg graduating class (in 1997) and holds degrees from the University of Richmond and the University of Chicago. Smith is a past recipient of Mercersburg’s Zern Distinguished Teaching Award and is the school’s head diving coach. She also works
with Mercersburg Outdoor Education and is the faculty adviser to the John Marshall Literary Society. Her husband, fellow faculty member Doug Smith, is the school archivist and head golf coach. The Smiths have two children.

Rush has worked extensively in schools and communities. He is executive director of justCommunity, Inc. based in Quakertown, Pa., and is on the board of directors of the International Bullying Prevention Association. He has been an educator and administrator in alternative education, a substance-abuse counselor in a day-treatment program, and director of human resources for a 600-person corporation.

Registration fee of  $750 before July 1 ($1,200 after July 1) includes all workshops and keynotes, meals from Monday breakfast through Friday lunch (including some events catered by selected area restaurants), social activities, and more. Choose from a five-night stay at the Mercersburg Inn (within walking distance of campus) or choose to stay five nights on campus in one of our modern dormitories. 

For more information, call Mercersburg Summer Programs at 717-328-6225 or Visit and register online at

The Institute is one of several key initiatives supported by Mercersburg’s Daring to Lead Campaign, which surpassed its fundraising goal of $300 million at its completion in 2016.
Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 435 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $7 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center.
Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance of New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
300 East Seminary Street, Mercersburg, PA 17236
GPS Address: 10951 Buchanan Trail West, Mercersburg, PA 17236