Oak Knoll Honors 22 Faculty and Staff for Years of Dedicated Service

The spiritual start of the school year was celebrated by students, faculty, and staff in the Mother Mary Campion Center for the Performing Arts during the school’s annual Mass of the Holy Spirit, on Tuesday, September 20, 2022.

In a fashion reminiscent of Founder Cornelia Connelly who once said, “Be yourself only make that self all that God wants it to be,” Mass celebrant Father Larry Evans of St. Rose of Lima in Short Hills, NJ, told the Oak Knoll community to make it the best year possible.

“You can’t make everybody happy, but if you do your job well – be the best version of what God created each day – then you would have given these young people the possible education in the world,” Father Evans said.

“And you young people … if you come here hungry to learn, to become a better person – some days will be better than others – you will become the best person God intends you to be,” he added.

Following the Mass, Head of School Jennifer G. Landis and Oak Knoll’s Board of Trustees Vice Chair Stacy McCann, honored 22 members of the school’s faculty and staff for five, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 40years of dedicated service to Oak Knoll.

“There’s a good reason why this is the favorite day of so many people in this community,” Landis said. “It really gives us the opportunity to come together, all of us, and celebrate who we are as a school, but also the dedication of so many people who have given to our community.”  

This year’s service award recipients are:

5-Year Award

  •         Suzanne Powers, Upper School Math Teacher
  •         Beth Huck, Lower School Language Arts and Reading Teacher
  •         Ben Oxford, Upper School English Teacher 
  •         Jesid Cano-Ramirez, Bus Driver and Maintenance Assistant
  •         Melissa White, Assistant Director of Athletics
  •         Todd Mooney, Security Officer
  •         Talia Nochumnson, Technology Integration Specialist
  •         Matt Ross, Security Officer
  •         Jean Sawadogo, Security Officer
  •         Sara Sykes, Kindergarten Teacher
  •         Michele VanKalsbeck, Upper School Theology Teacher

10-Year Award

  •         Christine Spies, Upper School Division Head
  •         Erin Traynor Upper School History Teacher

15-Year Award

  •         Mike Chioffe, Assistant Director of Technology Operations
  •         Sarah Sicari, Upper School Theology Teacher
  •         Annabela Svorinich, Lower School Spanish Teacher

20-Year Award

  •         Joseph Versailles, Upper School World Languages Teacher
  •         Veronika Zavaleta-Tejeda, Upper School World Languages Teacher

25-Year Award

  •         Leslie Smith, Lower School Social Studies and Religion Teacher
  •         Raye Jean Leastman, Chief Financial Officer
  •         Heather Evans, Director of Finance

40-Year Award

  •         Carlee Bennett, Upper School Dance and Physical Education Teacher


Head of School Jennifer Landis