All In The Campaign for Blair Academy 2018-2025
Welcome, New Blair Faculty & Staff
Adele Starrs

There are eight new faces gracing our hilltop campus this fall, and each of these educators and professionals brings knowledge, experience and passion to their role at Blair. Read on to learn more about our newest classroom teachers, coaches and staff members, each of whom has already become part of the fabric of the Blair community.


Mike Squillante joined Blair this fall as an admission associate and boys’ lacrosse coach. Prior to coming to Blair, he taught at Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, New Jersey, where he served as a physical education teacher and assistant lacrosse coach for five years. Since 2016, Mike has been active in the True Lacrosse club, where he served as senior director of True New Jersey and Pennsylvania Valley. His previous coaching experience includes working at Centenary University in Hackettstown, New Jersey, as an assistant men’s lacrosse coach; at Parisi Speed School in Sparta, New Jersey, as a performance coach intern; and as a strength-and-conditioning intern for Marywood University. Mike earned his BS in exercise science from Marywood in 2015 and has completed a number of master’s of business administration classes at Centenary University. Mike joins the Blair community along with his wife, Michele, and their two children, Henry, 2, and Christian, 1.


Diane Kowalick joined Blair’s advancement office in fall 2022 as an advancement associate. For the last 20 years, Diane has worked as an office manager for a medical practice in Randolph, New Jersey, supervising and managing medical professionals and engaging with patients to ensure the smooth running of office operations. Diane lives in Hackettstown with her husband, Ken, and daughters, Joan and Samantha ’25.


Caroline James, a 2023 graduate of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, has joined Blair’s fine arts department as a video studies teacher. At Kenyon, Caroline majored in studio art and minored in classics and art history, and she completed undergraduate internships with a wealth advisory firm, a law firm, a medical solutions firm and a mortgage company. She also played women’s varsity lacrosse for four years and participated in the 2022 NCAA tournament as a Division III goalie. Caroline is no stranger to the boarding school world, having graduated from The Governor’s Academy in Byfield, Massachusetts, in 2019. 

Blair welcomes Eliza Link as an adjunct teacher of ninth-grade seminar and Director of the Romano Gallery. Her previous experience includes remotely designing ninth-to-12th-grade curriculum and creating workshops for the advocacy program at Saint Edward’s School in Vero Beach, Florida. As a member of Saint Edward’s fine arts faculty from 2020 to 2022, Eliza designed and taught studio art, design and art history. She also sponsored the Social Justice Club, which involved leading a diverse group of students in work relating to equity and privilege. A graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Eliza began her teaching career in 2016 at The Kiski School in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania, where she served as a dorm parent, oversaw the yearbook, and taught two- and three-dimensional media, as well as English. She is joined by her husband, Patrick, who teaches mathematics at Blair.


Ashley Schreyer joined Blair’s communications office in fall 2022 as a copywriter and proofreader. In 2015, Ashley earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and professional writing from The College of New Jersey while also working as an intern at the New Jersey Herald. For the last several years, she has served as a brewer and sales representative for Czig Meister Brewing in Hackettstown, New Jersey, and Angry Erik Brewing in Newton, New Jersey, overseeing many aspects of craft beer production from milling and fermenting to marketing and serving. She and her fiance, Aaron, live in Byram, New Jersey. 


John Takacs joined Blair's staff as a part-time employee overseeing our maker space in the Chiang-Elghanayan Center for Innovation and Collaboration. John lives in Newton, New Jersey, with his wife, Ruthann, and they share a daughter, Jacquline. He taught creative design, robotics game design and engineering design West Morris Central High School in Chester, New Jersey, for 23 years before retiring in June. John will work a handful of hours at Blair each week ordering supplies, maintaining equipment and supporting students and employees. John earned his BS in technology education from The College of New Jersey in Ewing in 1986 and his MS in curriculum and instruction from the University of Scranton in 2014.


Shannon Schrope joins our science department as a biology teacher, bringing to her role experience at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she began working as mitochondrial medicine research assistant in July 2022. Prior to that, she worked as a biochemistry SIGUE postbaccalaureate research fellow at Michigan State University in East Lansing from 2021 to 2022. Shannon earned her Spanish language certificate at Middlebury College in 2019 and studied abroad at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, in 2020, graduating from Vassar College with a BA in biology and Hispanic studies with honors in 2021. A swimmer and squash player who has also worked extensively for Habitat for Humanity, she got her start in education as a biology and chemistry tutor at Vassar, as well as a general chemistry supplemental instructor there from 2019 to 2021. Shannon has served as an assistant swim coach at a club in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, and broke records in swimming while at Vassar in the 50, 100 and 200 breaststroke as part of the swim and dive team. 

Science teacher Will Svensson comes to Blair from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, where he completed his master’s degree in 2023 in environmental science and policy with a focus on climate change, resiliency and societal impacts. Beyond his graduate studies and undergraduate work in ecology and evolutionary biology, also at Northeastern, Will has served as an ecologist in the Suisun Marsh for The Teal Club in Suisun, California, where he focused on raising and releasing game birds and assessing habitat through fieldwork and study. He also worked as public outreach coordinator for Northeastern’s College of Science, a communications-focused role that included the opportunity to conduct scientific interviews, and as a student researcher focused on the impact of disease on social insects. A 2018 graduate of Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, Vermont, where he captained the rowing and ski teams, Will is also a nature lover and jiujitsu practitioner. 


News Headlines

Grandson of former President Richard M. Nixon, Christopher Nixon Cox, Makes Second Visit to Blair’s Hilltop

Visiting Blair for the second time on Tuesday, September 26, for Skeptics will be Christopher Nixon Cox, the son of former President Richard M. Nixon’s eldest daughter, who plans to speak about his unique upbringing and his own path to public service. 

Read More about Grandson of former President Richard M. Nixon, Christopher Nixon Cox, Makes Second Visit to Blair’s Hilltop