SSL Certificate

New Faculty and Staff 2015-2016

Maria Adamson

Maria will be teaching two sections of ninth grade Social Studies and coaching Middle School girls soccer. She graduated from Earlham College, where she majored in Women's Studies. After graduation, she spent a year working as the Volunteer Coordinator with the Jubilee House Community in Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua. Additionally she just finished her sixth summer as a staff member at Opequon Quaker Camp in Winchester, Virginia.

Christina Brennan

Christy will be the Lower School Technology Coordinator. Previously, she was an elementary teacher-librarian in the Haverford School District. She received her Master’s degree in Education Policy & Program Evaluation with an emphasis on instructional technology from the University of Pennsylvania. She holds Pennsylvania teaching certifications in elementary education, secondary English and History and also as a K-12 library/media specialist.

Karen Campbell

Karen will be the Upper School Learning Specialist and will also run the After School Study Program. Most recently, Karen served as the Deputy Director of Students Run Philly Style, where she taught and built programs for students at the Pre-K through college levels. Prior to that, she worked at Girard College. She is a proud Philly public school graduate from the high school of Engineering and Science. She earned her undergraduate degree from Temple University and a Masters degree from Arcadia University.

Tim Clarke

Tim will be teaching Upper School Physics, including an Advanced course and AP Physics with an emphasis on Electricity and Magnetism. He will also work with our Robotics program. For the last 20 years, Tim taught physics and statistics at Moorestown Friends School along with minor courses in robotics, CAD, programming, algorithms and a variety of other topics. He has a Masters of Science degree in Engineering, a Bachelor of Engineering degree and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Engineering and in Computer Science, all from Dartmouth College.

Gillian Diffenderfer

Gillian will be teaching Upper School Spanish this year. Before this, she taught Spanish at Paul VI High School in New Jersey. Right out of college, Gillian traveled to Santiago, Chile where she taught English. This summer, she taught intermediate level Spanish for Middlebury-Monterey Language Academies at their Green Mountain College campus in Poultney, Vermont. Gillian earned her Bachelors Degree from Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in Romance Languages.

Catherine Ezzo

Catherine is returning to Penn Charter and will serve as the Assistant Director of Upper School and teach one section of ninth grade English. For the last four years, she worked as the Dean of Students at the George School and taught English in the International Baccalaureate program. Catherine started her career in independent schools at the Millbrook School in New York. She is originally from the United Kingdom and earned her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in English Literature from the University of Sussex.

Jackie Hamilton

Jackie will teach two sections of eighth grade English this year. She comes to us after an impressive career as both a teacher and administrator in public and independent schools. Jackie worked at The Episcopal Academy for a total of 28 years, and she served as the Head of the Lower School for eight of them.  During the last nine years, she served as the Head of Lower School at the Tower Hill School in Wilmington, DE.  Jackie holds a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education and an M. Ed. degree in Reading from West Chester University.

Christina Hipp

Christina will work as an assistant teacher in our pre-K program. Christina earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art from Grinnell College and a M.Ed. in Professional Counseling from William Patterson University. She has held various positions in recent years, including an Assistant Teacher at Grinnell College PreSchool Laboratory, a camper advocate and administrator at Camp Dark Waters in New Jersey, a Client Services Intern and a Home Delivery Program Assistant for the Interfaith Food Pantry of Morris County, and most recently as a Counseling Graduate Student Intern and Group Facilitator for the Jewish Family Service.

Julia Judson-Rea

Julia is returning to Penn Charter as our new Assistant Director of Marketing Communications, a position that she started earlier this summer. She recently moved back to Philadelphia from Washington, D.C. where she served as a Development Associate for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Julia has worked at a number of other organizations, including the Quebec Labrador Foundation as a Senior Projects Consultant and at the Friends Center Corporation as a Capital Campaign Assistant. She holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Environmental Studies from Bates College and a Master of International Development from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.

Elizabeth Kessler

Liz will be teaching several levels of Upper School Spanish. She is coming to Penn Charter after teaching for two years at Solebury School in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Prior to that, she taught in elementary schools in Spain for two years. She earned her Bachelors degree at Hamilton College, and is currently working toward her Masters at Middlebury College.

Katherine Kim

Katherine will work in our Lower School as a First Grade Assistant. She has experience here at Penn Charter where she worked as a substitute teacher last year. Katherine has also worked as a teacher and assistant to the director at the Calvary Vision Church in Blue Bell. Katherine earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Education from Temple University and is certified in Early Childhood Education.  

Emma Rowan

Emma just started as our new Assistant Director of Annual Giving. Emma most recently served as the Development Officer for the Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey where she maintained a portfolio of over 100 prospects, visited alumni and hosted events around the United States and abroad. Prior to that, she held a number of development intern positions at The Foundation Center in New York and at her alma mater, the George School. Emma earned her Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies from Oberlin College.  

Eve Schwartz

Eve will be teaching sixth and seventh grade science. In addition, she will work with the new MakerSpace Lab in our Middle School. She will also lead the Middle School Green Club and assist in coaching MS Cross-Country. Prior to this year, she served as the director of the Prospect Park Audubon Center in Brooklyn for three years and taught part-time as an elementary school science teacher at Public School 154. Eve majored in Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Chicago, and received her MS in Science Education with a concentration in Earth and Environmental Science from Brooklyn College.

Bryan Skelly

Bryan will be new to our Middle School and will teach seventh grade English and Geography. In addition, he will be working with the Upper School cross country team, as well as the winter and spring track and field teams. Previously, Bryan worked for seven years at The Haverford School, where he taught middle school history and English and sat on the middle school admissions and diversity committees. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from La Salle University in History, an M.A. from La Salle University in History for Educators and an M.Ed. from Saint Joseph's University in Secondary Education.

Melanie Wills

Melanie will be teaching Upper School Chemistry and Biology. Previously, she worked for three years as a Chemistry teacher at the George School. Before that, she taught at the college level at both Drew University and Holy Family. Melanie holds a BA from Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Heather Hillas

Heather will be interning in our pre-kindergarten this year. She graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor of Social Work and while at Temple she interned in Jamaica where she co-developed a science and gardening curriculum for a local elementary school. Heather was also an international education intern in India working in an ELL program, and in South Africa and Peru where she taught classes in English, math and art to under-served pre-school age children. She is currently enrolled in a Master’s of Science Program in Elementary Education at St. Joseph’s University.

Kamal Marell

Kamal will be an intern working in eighth grade Civics classes and in Upper School service learning religion electives. He will also work with students in various diversity clubs and Center for Public Purpose activities. Kamal graduated from Clemson University with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Business Administration. Since returning to Philadelphia, Kamal has worked to support children and families referred by the Philadelphia Department of Human Services and he currently works for Northeast Treatment Center as a placement stability specialist working with foster parents. 

Adam Zakheim

Adam will be an intern shadowing in AP Chemistry, ninth grade Biology and eighth grade Physical Science. He graduated from Haverford College with a BA in classical history and also completed all pre-med requirements. This past May, Adam also completed an MS in microbiology at Thomas Jefferson Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Adam has worked in various science research labs and was a teaching assistant in the Classics department at Haverford. Adam is a published author and he currently has another internship at Nemours Health and Prevention Services department.

Jill Bown

Jill, who is familiar to many of us here at Penn Charter, and who has a great deal of experience in education, will return as a second grade substitute while Monique Durso is out on maternity leave. Jill will be with us for most of the school year.  

Elizabeth Cocco

Elizabeth, who is also familiar to many of us here at Penn Charter, and who has been teaching for many years, will return as a Kindergarten substitute while Jill Brotman is on maternity leave. Elizabeth will be with us from September until this winter.

Kristen Ostendorf

Kristen will teach Upper School Social Studies while Brooke Stratton is on maternity leave and will be with us during the first trimester of the school year. She began her teaching career in 2004 as a high school Social Studies teacher for Howell High School in New Jersey, where she worked for many years.

Clancy Philbrick

Clancy will take over Ruth McGee's courses while she is on sabbatical this fall and he will be with us during the first trimester. Clancy has worked for the By Us Art Collective here in Philadelphia, and he has also worked at museums and galleries in Aspen, Colorado as an educator and chief preparator of art exhibitions.  

What I try to tell young people is that if you come together with a mission, and it's grounded with love and a sense of community, you can make the impossible possible.

—John Lewis









Penn Charter

A Friends School for Girls and Boys, Pre-K to 12

3000 West School House Lane Philadelphia, PA 19144 215.844.3460
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