Recipients of Endowed Chairs, Teaching Awards Announced

Friday, September 6, 2019
David Bell

As the 2019-2020 school year kicks off, Mercersburg Academy announces three newly named endowed chairs and two teaching awards for faculty members. 

Newly appointed endowed chairholders include David Bell (Archibald H. Rutledge Chair), John David Bennett (Joseph and Helen Regenstein Foundation Chair in British Literature), and Amy Kelley (Joseph F. Huber '64 Department Chair of Mathematics).

Bell came to Mercersburg in 1997 (he officially joined the faculty one year later, in 1998). He worked in the library for 11 years while also teaching history classes. In 2008, he became a full-time history teacher and has previously served as the director of community service. Bell was the 2017-2018 recipient of the school's Zern Excellence in Teaching Award, and received the Ammerman Distinguished Teaching Award for Religious & Interdisciplinary Studies in 2007-2008. He previously taught history for more than a decade at Sanford High School in Sanford, Maine. Bell's educational background includes a B.S. in secondary education (with a major in history) from the University of Maine at Farmington and an MLIS from the University of Rhode Island. His 10 years of basketball experience prior to coming to Mercersburg included stints as a high-school varsity coach and a college assistant. At Mercersburg, Bell has coached varsity girls' basketball and softball, as well as JV boys' basketball and baseball; he is also the public-address announcer for varsity football games. He and his wife, Julie, have two daughters: Jennifer '17 and Emily '18.

The chair was established in honor of Archibald H. Rutledge, English faculty member for 33 years and South Carolina poet laureate (1934-1973).

Bennett teaches English and is Mercersburg's inaugural dean of curricular innovation. He previously served as head of the English department and coached softball (winning the 2012 Pennsylvania independent-school state championship), boys' cross country, and junior-varsity boys' basketball. He has also sponsored “Four on the Floor,” the school's swing dance society. Bennett came to Mercersburg from the Talented and Gifted Magnet High School in Dallas, where he taught English and coached debate. He was an Advanced Placement Lead Teacher for the Dallas Independent School District and is now a consultant for the National Math and Science Initiative. Bennett graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington and Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English. He and his wife, Denise, are the parents of three children: Cameron Rogers '12, Grace Bennett '19, and Augie Bennett ’23.

Amy Kelley
John David Bennett

The award was established to be an “example of caring and sharing” by philanthropists Joseph and Helen Regenstein and later supported by their son, former Regent Joseph Regenstein Jr. ’41.

Kelley teaches mathematics and has also team-taught 3D Design, which was one of the offerings in Mercersburg's Springboard capstone course program for members of the senior class. She came to Mercersburg from Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, Ga., where she was an associate professor of mathematics. Kelley holds a bachelor's degree from Manhattanville College, a master's from Boston College, and a Ph.D. from the University of Albany, State University of New York. She and her husband, Joe, lived in Fowle Hall on campus for six years; she continues to serve as an adviser and dorm faculty member in Fowle.

The Joseph F. Huber ’64 Department Chair of Mathematics was established by Joseph Huber ’64 to support teaching excellence at Mercersburg. The Chair honors former faculty members Herbert “Fido” Kempton, Stephen Chandler, and Walter Burgin Jr. ’53, who inspired Joe’s interest and excellence in mathematics, which helped establish his successful career in investment banking and investment management.

This year’s recipient of the Ammerman Distinguished Teaching Award for Religion and Interdisciplinary Studies is Jay Bozzi. The award was established by Andrew Ammerman ’68 and his late mother, Josephine Ammerman, to bring recognition to a member of the faculty who has demonstrated outstanding pedagogy in challenging Mercersburg students to address the spiritual, moral, ethical, and artistic dimensions of their lives, or to bring recognition to special religion scholars-in-residence who may be engaged from time to time to accomplish the same purpose.

Bozzi has taught at Mercersburg since 2014. He is head of the history department and is SEARCH coordinator for Mercersburg's Advanced Program for Global Studies (MAPS), where he works with 12th-grade students on their capstone research projects. He is also an assistant wrestling coach and previously coached football. Bozzi and his wife, Sarah (a member of the mathematics faculty and assistant director of Mercersburg Outdoor Education) previously taught at King's Academy in Madaba, Jordan; he also taught taught history and coached wrestling, football, and lacrosse at Cheshire Academy in Cheshire, Conn. He graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Conn., and earned a bachelor's degree in history with a U.S. concentration and a minor in political science from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn.; he also holds a master's in history from the University of New Hampshire. 

Kristen Pixler
Jay Bozzi

Kristen Pixler is this year’s recipient of the Zern Excellence in Teaching Award, which was established by Judy and Allen Zern ’61 for annual presentation to a faculty member or members, with special consideration given to teachers in the math or science department.

Pixler teaches digital art and photography, as well as COMMARTS: The Art and Business of Graphic Design (a Springboard capstone course available to seniors). Pixler is also the head coach for Mercersburg's girls' varsity soccer team, has previously worked with Mercersburg Outdoor Education, and is an adviser to Blue Review, the school's student literary-arts publication. She came to Mercersburg from Harrisburg Area Community College, where she was an adjunct professor of web design. Pixler is an experienced commercial photographer, illustrator, and designer, and previously owned KHP Photo and Design in Chambersburg. She received a BFA in fine arts with an emphasis in photography from Northern Arizona University and a master of fine arts from Virginia Commonwealth University, with a degree in photography. Pixler and her husband, Matthew, live off campus with their two daughters; she is an adviser and dorm faculty member in Fowle Hall.

“We are thrilled to honor Jay and Kristen this year with teaching awards and John David, Amy, and David with teaching chairs,” said Julia Stojak Maurer ’90, associate head of school for school life. “Their efforts in the classroom with students are exceptional. They consistently motivate and inspire their students to engage fully, question deeply, and produce extraordinary original work.”