As Academy of the Holy Angels opened on September 10, AHA Middle School Dean Traci Koval personally greeted each student in the newly established Grades 6-8 at the door to Kelleher Hall. Miss Koval quickly put students at ease, calling all the girls by their first names. AHA Middle School Office Manager and Grade 6-12 Transportation Coordinator Carolyn Miller assisted the new Angels with the check-in process.
Parents took commemorative photos at the door, and faculty and staff members helped the new Angels get situated in their homerooms.
The opening of the middle school renews the Academy’s commitment to educate young girls. The School Sisters of Notre Dame founded the Academy in 1879 to provide education to young women. In 1890, the Academy was incorporated as “Institute of Holy Angels: Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies and Preparatory School for Little Girls.” The preparatory school was still in operation when AHA moved from Fort Lee to Demarest in 1965, although the lower school was soon phased out so the school’s leaders could focus on expanding the upper school. Last year, the decision was made to create a lower school for Grades 6-8. The curriculum at the new middle school is designed to help young girls gain a solid foundation for success in high school and a moral compass in the SSND tradition.
The AHA community is also welcoming new staff and faculty members this year.
Patricia Brussel joined AHA as the director of advancement and alumnae relations. Before coming to AHA, Brussel was director of development at Alpine Learning Group. She previously served as regional director of the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation’s northern regional office. Brussell succeeds Dorrie Voulgaris.
Voulgaris, who enjoyed a 29-year career at Holy Angels, began as a mathematics teacher. She later served as registrar, director of admissions, and director of alumnae relations. Voulgaris became director of advancement and alumnae relations in 2015.
Pauline Poulous is now a member of the high school’s main office staff. She and her daughters are AHA alumnae.
New high school faculty members include Ava Bertone, Carmín Torres-Fontanez, and Christine Paladino.
Bertone, an AHA alumna, is teaching history and a psychology elective while Brianne Wolman is on maternity leave. Bertone holds a B.A. and an M.A. from Lehigh University. Her master’s thesis focused how literature can be used as a tool to process grief.
Torres-Fontanez is teaching Spanish. This is the first time Torres-Fontanez has lived outside of Puerto Rico. She holds a bachelor's degree in Spanish and drama, a master's degree in curriculum and teaching, and completed some doctoral courses from the University of Cadiz in Spain.
Paladino, who has been an AHA substitute teacher since 2016, is teaching biology. She holds a B.S. and is a registered nurse. She has lived in Paramus for her entire life. She and her husband have three sons.
Members of the AHA Middle School faculty and staff include Shabina Gillani, sixth-grade homeroom and English; Mary Driscoll, seventh-grade homeroom and math; Linda Payonzeck, eighth-grade homeroom, science, and religion; Sarah Chalmers, social studies, theater, and technology; Frank Hunter, Latin; Alexia Stabile, Italian; Paula Schweitzer, French; Erin McGee, physical education and health; Kathryn Biskup, art; Mariann Annecchino, music; and Nancy Kelly, school nurse.
Academic counselor Michael Statile is sharing his time between the middle school and the high school.
Vanesa Formoso is also teaching at the high school and middle school. A graduate of Seton Hall University, Formoso earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in Spanish. She has been teaching for the past 14 years. Her current responsibilities include teaching biology at the high school and Spanish at the middle school.