For the past four years, Dr. Nate Van Yperen has been combining his love of nature, travel, and religious studies to improve the curriculum of Pennington’s religion offerings.
Before joining Pennington, Dr. Van Yperen, who hails from the village of East Washington, New Hampshire (population: 70!), studied and worked on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, as well as the upper Midwest. His journey began with his undergraduate work which he divided between the Pacific Northwest and New England.
Over the last dozen years, Ms. Samantha Stern-Leaphart has worn several hats at Pennington and, in doing so, has played an important role in making the School a stronger institution.
Since joining us in the fall of 2011 as a member of the English Department, Ms. Stern-Leaphart has taught many interesting courses. These include her current Grade 10 Honors English course, American Identities, as well as Gender & Sexuality, Hyphen-American Literature, Film & Visual Media, Finding Identity, and Creative Writing.
As the names of some of these courses suggest, it is no surprise that Ms. Stern-Leaphart, often called “Ms. S.,” was named and has been serving over the past several years as the School’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In this role, Ms. Stern-Leaphart espouses a commitment to creating a community in which every person, from a student in the sixth grade all the way to the members of our Board of Trustees, is seen and feels included.
Holly Jones is a longtime member of the History and Social Studies Department at Pennington. We often refer to her as the economics teacher, and--behind the scenes-- Jones has carved out quite a niche for herself in the world of economics education in the United States.
Before economics became “her thing,” Jones, currently in her thirty-first year on Pennington's faculty, taught a slew of courses since she began in 1992. These have included various history courses such as the history of the U.S., modern Japan, specific periods such as the post-WWII era, and colonial Latin America. For a number of years, Jones was the chair of the History Department. And for several years, Jones has taught courses in both AP Micro- and Macroeconomics as well as Introduction to Economics.
Who teaches three levels of Latin in the Middle and Upper Schools as well as Grade 9 English? Who is a dorm parent, serves as the costume director for the Fall Play, and as the advisor to the Middle School Play, and then says that he’s up for a challenge — so he starts a master’s degree program?
And who, after all of this, then feels that he still isn’t doing enough, so he takes on a new role of assistant director of residential life?
That would be our very own Peter Secrest '13, a true “home-grown” product. Peter first joined The Pennington School as a sixth-grader and was a “lifer,” graduating in 2013. He then majored in classical studies and drama at Tufts University, joining the Pennington teaching faculty soon after finishing his degree.
A student who takes the environmental science course with Dr. Margo Andrews is in for an experience – and it happens to be an experience that mirrors what environmental scientists do in the real world. And Dr. Andrews should know – her first job out of college was as a watershed ecologist in Baltimore City, Maryland.
In 2017, Dr. Andrews began taking her students occasionally to the Lewis Brook, a stream located on the north side of campus, for water-based labs. In 2020, when the entire School rediscovered the Lewis Brook stream after several Pennington staff members and students cleared paths in the woods, Dr. Andrews saw not only a chance to incorporate even more lab work into her course, but also it was the type of lab work that she herself had done as a professional in her field.