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StM Welcomes New Faculty in All Divisions

StM Welcomes New Faculty in All Divisions
St. Martin's faculty and staff are dedicated to providing a caring, supportive, and engaging environment for our students. They are highly educated, creative, and energetic. This year, several new members are joining this community of dedicated professionals. 

George Cottage 

Kelly Gauthier will be a full time teacher in the Buds Class. 

Melissa Howell joins the George Cottage faculty as a full time teacher in the Cypress classroom. A native of New Orleans, Howell earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of New Orleans. She was a cabinet designer for more than 30 years and served as a substitute teacher at St. Martin’s last year. Her grandson, Gavin, is in the George Cottage Trees this year.

Debbie Manale, Buds Classteacher, is a native of the New Orleans area. She earned her Bachelor of Science in merchandising and marketing from Louisiana State University. She comes to St. Martin’s from St. Benilde, where she worked for three years. 

Jordan Weinberger will be joining the George Cottage faculty as an assistant. She is graduating from Delgado Community College this year with a degree in general studies and will pursue a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Orleans. Weinberger is no stranger to St. Martin’s, as she has worked at St. Martin’s Summer Camp in the George Cottage for two years and in George Cottage aftercare during the school year. She has also worked in the nursery at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, where she is currently co-teaching a Bible school class to 4-, 5-, and 6-year-olds. In addition, she teaches private art classes to children between 3 and 5 years old. Her son, Sean, is entering first grade at St. Martin’s. 

Lower School

Bayli Bruce
joins St. Martin’s as a kindergarten assistant from Flower Mound, Texas. She has been a preschool teacher for two and a half years. She earned her Bachelor of Communication from the University of North Texas.

Ford Dieth, Sr., is a 40+ year member of the St. Martin’s community. He has served as a volunteer and substitute teacher for the past several years. Dieth is the father of StM alums Edmund Dieth ’93 and Lower School Head and Assistant Head of School Ford Dieth, Jr. ’89. His grandchildren, Trey (fourth grade), and twins Kelly and Lee (first grade) are all Lower School students. Dieth’s late wife, Julie, was an StM kindergarten teacher for 31 years. Dieth holds a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and a juris doctorate from Tulane University. He officially joins the faculty this year as the Lower and Middle School Religion Teacher. 

Dixie Patrick joins the Lower School faculty as a kindergarten assistant. Patrick has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Auburn University. Patrick’s experience includes serving as a Constituent Services Representative for two U.S. congressmen in Mobile, Alabama and an administrative assistant to the I.T. Department at Star of Hope Mission in Houston, Texas. For the past 13 years, she has been a stay-at-home mom. Her children, Charles and Eli, are at St. Martin’s in 8th and 5th grade, respectively.

Patricia Sanabria, Lower School Spanish teacher, joins St. Martin’s from Athlos Academy in Jefferson Parish. Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sanabria has been in New Orleans for two years. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico. She has an AP Spanish Language & Culture Certification and a iFLT (International Forum on Language Teaching) Certificate. Sanabria specializes in the use of Comprehensive Input (CI) and Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) methodologies to increase the proficiency level opportunity of students. Sanabria integrates arts into the language curriculum to stimulate students’ enjoyment of and appreciation for the Spanish language.

DeMarias Sojka is the new Lower School art teacher. Sojka has nearly a decade of experience teaching art in grades kindergarten through seventh. She has a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Louisiana State University. Sojka is a native of Mandeville.

Middle and Upper School

Amanda Michel is an Upper School and Middle School math teacher. Michel has a bachelor’s degree in secondary math education and four years’ experience teaching high school math. A native of Lawrence, Kansas, Michel has lived in New Orleans for five years. She has one daughter in the George Cottage Buds Class. 

Betsy Fox ’82,Middle School English teacher, is returning to St. Martin’s after living in Charlotte, North Carolina for 26 years. Fox, who is a graduate of St. Martin’s Class of 1982, taught religion and served as the Middle School Chaplain at StM in 1987-88. Fox has a bachelor’s degree in Religion from Sewanee: The University of the South, and a master’s degree in secondary education from Loyola University New Orleans. She has taught in a variety of positions, including middle school language arts and middle school English, at schools in Charlotte. 

Randi Ezell,former Lower School aftercare faculty and StM Summer Camps staff member, is the Administrative Assistant for Upper School. A native New Orleans, Ezell has a bachelor’s degree in arts and entertainment industry studies with a concentration in vocal performance from Loyola University New Orleans.

John Byrnes, MS/US Librarian, joins St. Martin’s from Greenville, South Carolina, where he served as the Upper School Librarian at Christ Church Episcopal School. Byrnes also assisted with Speech and Debate, Youth in Government, and track and field, and taught journalism. Before his stint at Christ Church Episcopal, he was the media and technology integration specialist for a 7th through 12th grade school in St. Peter, Minnesota. He has also worked as a middle and high school English teacher. Byrnes has a School Library Media Studies Certificate from Minnesota State University, Mankato, a master’s in education from the University of Minnesota, and a bachelor’s degree in religion from Gustavus Adolphus College.

Megan Karl,ESL and Middle School Pace teacher, returns to St. Martin’s after a one-year absence. Karl has both a master’s and bachelor’s from Northwestern State University. She has taught English and ESL for 11 years. Originally from Nacogdoches, Texas, Karl has spent most of the past eight years in the New Orleans area.

Natalie True,Middle and Upper School Choir Director, has a decade of experience teaching music in local schools. True taught music to two-year-olds through sixth grade for seven years at McGehee. She also taught for two years at Lusher Charter. In addition, she runs a private lesson studio for piano and violin students. A native of Hershey, Pennsylvania, True has lived in New Orleans for 12 years. She has a master’s degree in music education and a bachelor’s degree in violin performance, both from Mansfield University.

Brian Purvis, Middle School science teacher, joins St. Martin’s after serving as the leader of the GE Brilliant Career Lab in Boston. Prior to that, he worked as a middle school teacher, specializing in hands-on, inquiry-based science instruction for 17 years. He has also coached middle and high school basketball and baseball teams. Purvis has a master’s degree in science from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s in history and education from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. His son, Sam, is entering second grade at St. Martin’s. 

Matthew Munhall is an Upper School English teacher and sponsor of The Halo, St. Martin’s student newspaper. A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Munhall has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in English, both from the University of Notre Dame. Munhall has taught English and coordinated service learning programs at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, and also taught as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame.

Other Departments

Brady Benoit is the newBaseball Program Director, Baseball Head Coach, and Assistant Athletic Director. Benoit comes to St. Martin’s from Fort Worth Country Day School, where he served as head baseball coach and assistant football coach since 2012. A native of the greater New Orleans area, Benoit was a 4-year starter at Ridgewood Preparatory School and signed a baseball scholarship with the University of New Orleans, where he was a 4-year letter winner. He graduated from UNO with a B.S. in Marketing in 2000. Benoit has served as a teacher and coach at Ridgewood, Archbishop Rummel High School, and De La Salle. Additionally, Benoit was an assistant baseball coach at Delgado Community College.

Marcella Fink will serve as a permanent substitute for all divisions. Fink has a bachelor’s degree in classical Latin from Louisiana State University, and a juris doctorate, also from LSU. In addition, she holds a master of laws in federal taxation law from the University of Houston. Fink, substituted last year and was an aftercare faculty member last year, joins the faculty full time this year. Her son, Daniel, is entering seventh grade at StM.

Emily Riemer, special event coordinator, joins St. Martin's after spending nearly 10 years working in special events for local restaurants. Riemer has a bachelor's degree in communications studies from Louisiana State University and a master's degree in hospitality and tourism management from the University of New Orleans. She is an active member of the National Association for Catering and Events and a former member of the board of the New Orleans chapter.

Chad Wilken is the director of facilities and maintenance. Wilken joins St. Martin's after spending 17 years as Operations Manager of the Superdome, Smoothie King Center, and Champions Square. Wilken, who is a native of Metairie, also previously worked with the Saints and the New Orleans Brass. He holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Louisiana State University. 


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