As students returned to Blair’s hilltop campus this week, they were greeted not only by the veteran faculty they’ve come to know and love but also by a number of dynamic new teachers and administrators who joined the School community this year. Read on to meet the newest members of Blair’s dedicated faculty and staff.
Chase Palanca ’15, Admission
Chase Palanca ’15 joins Blair’s admission team as an admission counselor. He completed his undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins University and received his master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania in 2021. From 2019 to 2021, he worked as a humanities teaching fellow and wrestling coach at St. Paul’s School. Mr. Palanca is excited to share his love for Blair with prospective families and work with Ross Gitomer ’05 as assistant wrestling coach. He is joined by his partner, Haley Chrobock ’15, and lives in West Hall.
Monisha Randhawa, Admission
Misha Randhawa joined the admission office in 2020 as assistant dean of admission and coordinator of multicultural student recruitment. She earned a bachelor’s degree in global and international studies at the University of Kansas in 2016 and a JD at Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 2020. As a law student, Ms. Randhawa served as business editor for the Law Journal on Race, Gender and Ethnicity and as a student representative to the Coalition of Houston Diverse Bar Associations. Her professional experience includes legal internships for a Seward County, Kansas, district court judge and a Houston legal aid office, as well as working as a clerk for a Houston law firm. She also served as a student assistant in the law school’s office of career and professional development, where she was involved in many facets of recruitment and hiring, including assisting in the development of programs surrounding minorities in the legal field. Ms. Randhawa is a graduate of Fountain Valley School in Colorado, and she is excited to return to a boarding-school setting and introduce prospective families to the Blair community.
Batouly Camara ’15, College Counseling
Batouly Camara ’15 returns to Blair as a college counselor and head girls’ varsity basketball coach. Ms. Camara played NCAA Division I basketball at the University of Connecticut, where she earned bachelor and master of science degrees in sport management. She went on to play in Spain’s professional women’s basketball league and founded the nonprofit Women and Kids Empowerment (WAKE), which develops partnerships and programs with community leaders, local basketball federations, and global organizations to combat the lack of access, resources and opportunities for young girls. At Blair, she continues in her role as a counselor and mentor to young people, imagining their futures through her role in Blair’s college office. She is replacing her own high school mentor, Quint Clarke ’87, who stepped down as head coach of the varsity team after 10 years of exceptional dedication to the program.
Annie Gardner, English
Annie Gardner is an alumna of the Lawrenceville School and Dartmouth College, where she earned a BA in English in 2015. A graduate of the Teach for America program, Annie worked for two years in the rural Mississippi Delta at Amanda Elzy Junior High and subsequently taught sixth-grade English at Canyon Ridge Middle School in Texas. She brings to Blair extensive experience in rowing, serving as girls varsity head coach of the Austin Rowing Club since 2017 where she helped build a competitive program that qualified for Nationals each spring. At Blair, Ms. Gardner teaches English 2 and 3 and coaches the girls’ crew team. She and her fiancé, Steve, reside at Lake House.
Cency Middleton, English
Cency Middleton works in Blair’s academic support center and serves as a member of the English department. She teaches the senior elective “Great New Books,” as well as Blair’s health-and-wellness and LEADS programs. Ms. Middleton completed her undergraduate work at Washington and Jefferson College in 2011 and earned a master’s degree from the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English in 2020. She brings eight years’ experience to the classroom, working previously as an English teacher at the Abraham Joshua Heschel and the Northwood schools in New York and the Berkshire School in Massachusetts. She looks forward to coaching soccer and skiing at Blair, as well as exploring Blairstown during her regular runs. Ms. Middleton and her partner, Anders, live in Mason Hall.
Anders Fogel, History
Anders Fogel teaches history and serves as head coach of boys’ varsity lacrosse. A graduate of the Hotchkiss School and North Park University, Mr. Fogel is completing his master’s degree at Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. He came to Blair from Vail Mountain School, where he taught history and English and served as head coach of the boys’ lacrosse team and assistant coach of the boys’ soccer team. Mr. Fogel began his teaching career at Salisbury Summer School in 2017, and then went on to teach English and coach soccer and lacrosse at New Trier Township High School. A world traveler who has been everywhere from Norway to Antarctica, Mr. Fogel lives in Mason Hall with his partner, Cency.
Anna Raley, History
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in history from Huntingdon College, history teacher Anna Raley worked at St. Paul’s School, where she became assistant director of the summer Advanced Studies Program. Ms. Raley came to Blair from Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School, where she taught humanities and served as head JV volleyball coach and assistant coach of girls’ varsity soccer. Prior to that, she taught history and coached basketball and soccer at various levels at St. Michael Catholic High School in Alabama. Ms. Raley earned her master’s degree in liberal studies with a concentration in cultural studies from Dartmouth College in 2018. Ms. Raley’s partner, Ashlyn, is a registered nurse who works in Blair’s Health Center. The couple resides in Insley Hall.
Allan Issenchmidt, Language
Allan Issenchmidt, a native French speaker, joins Blair’s language department as a French teacher. He earned his undergraduate degree in applied foreign languages from the Université d’Avignon in France and his certificate in teaching French as a foreign language from the Université Le Mans. Most recently, he taught French at the Tarabya British Schools in Istanbul, Turkey. In addition to his work in the classroom at Blair, Mr. Issenchmidt coaches junior varsity boys’ soccer and skiing. He is an avid soccer fan, especially of Marseille’s football club. He and his wife, Blair language teacher Maria Smith Issenchmidt, reside in Lakeside Hall.
Maria Smith Issenchmidt, Language
Language teacher Maria Smith Issenchmidt earned her bachelor’s degree in French and political science from Hood College and holds a master’s degree in intercultural communication with a concentration in Francophone studies from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. In addition to teaching French at her most recent position at Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey, Mrs. Issenchmidt also taught at Garrison Forest School in Maryland, where she coached field hockey and advised the Model UN team. She and her husband, language teacher Allan Issenchmidt, have settled into Lakeside Hall.
Kurt Neumaier, Language
Language instructor Kurt Neumaier is a 2019 graduate of Lewis & Clark College, where he majored in classics with a concentration in ancient language and minored in religious studies. While at Lewis & Clark, Mr. Neumaier studied abroad in Siena, Italy, and spent several summers leading outdoor wilderness adventures that included whitewater rafting and rock climbing. Prior to coming to Blair, he worked as a substitute history teacher and librarian-in-training for his alma mater, The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Mr. Neumaier has also spent time working as a youth development associate at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Portland Metropolitan Area. At Blair, Mr. Neumaier teaches Latin, coaches football and boys’ JV lacrosse, and lives in Mason Hall.
Meiyi Cheng, Mathematics
Meiyi Cheng came to Blair from the BASIS Independent School, where she taught mathematics. Having graduated from the Punahou School in 2009 and earned her bachelor’s degree in management science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2014, Ms. Cheng now teaches geometry and multivariable calculus at Blair and coaches the debate team. Earlier in her career, she worked in the real estate and banking industries and mentored students as they learned test-taking strategies while teaching SAT mathematics and reading comprehension at Elite Prep. Following her college graduation, she got her start in teaching during a gap year in China. Ms. Cheng resides in Ivy Hall and is excited to share both her passion for learning and her love of all things Harry Potter with her students.
Ross Gitomer ’05, Mathematics
Ross Gitomer ’05 returns to his alma mater as a math teacher and head coach of the wrestling program. His teaching and coaching experience includes 10 years at St. Christopher’s School in Virginia, where he served as an upper-school mathematics teacher, freshman dean and head wrestling coach. As coach, Mr. Gitomer proudly led St. Christopher’s team to win a multitude of titles including two Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) State Championships, six Virginia Prep League Championships as well as helping secure top-five rankings for the team at the 2016 and 2017 National Prep Wrestling Championships. During his time at Blair, Mr. Gitomer distinguished himself as wrestling team captain and a national prep champion. He was also an NCAA qualifier and ACC champion at the University of Virginia, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in government studies and master of education/teaching. Mr. Gitomer teaches algebra and precalculus, and he is joined at Blair by his wife, Kellyn, and two sons. The family lives in Wayside House on Park Street.
Will Murray, Mathematics
A member of Blair’s math department, Will Murray holds dual bachelor’s degrees from Miami University, one in mathematics and statistics and a second in French. In 2021, he earned his master’s degree in mathematics from Western Washington University, where he gained classroom experience as a graduate teaching assistant, filling the role of primary instructor for courses in Calculus, Precalculus and Algebraic Functions. Mr. Murray has worked in a variety of other positions that include clinical database programmer for a medical laboratory in Cincinnati, Ohio, and an office manager intern for a cycling and adventure company in Camaret-sur-Aignes, France. At Blair, he will teach mathematics and coach junior varsity girls’ basketball and varsity baseball.
Emma Barnes O'Neill, Advancement
Ms. Barnes O’Neill joins Blair’s advancement team as director of annual giving. She is a 2015 alumna of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in media and American studies and played Division III field hockey. She began her career in advertising in New York City before gaining independent school experience as assistant director of the annual fund at Noble and Greenough School. A graduate of The Lawrenceville School—where she grew up on campus—Ms. Barnes O’Neill serves as a class representative for both her alma maters. She and her husband, Terrence, reside in Mount Olive, New Jersey, with their dog, Brodie.
Catie Urfer, Advancement
Ms. Urfer holds a bachelor’s degree in English (2002) and a master’s degree in education (2003) from Quinnipiac University. A former teacher and director at The Giving Tree Preschool and The Buttonwood Preschool, which she co-owned, she is skilled in fundraising, event planning and parent relations. Ms. Urfer joins Blair’s advancement team as an advancement associate, and she assists in managing the office’s many events and activities. She lives in Knowlton Township with her husband, Doug, and children Sam and Emma.
Adele Starrs, Communications
Adele Starrs joins the communications office as senior writer and editor. Her professional experience includes 20 years as a freelance proofreader and copy editor for Penguin Random House, Inc., and she has served as the mayor of Knowlton Township, New Jersey, since 2015. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in English at The College of William and Mary, Ms. Starrs earned her master of science degree from Columbia University in 2021 in human capital management. She is a co-founder, past president and trustee of the Warren County Governing Officials Association and a volunteer with the Land Conservancy of New Jersey and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Ms. Starrs and her husband, Tom, have four children, including Lily ’21 and Brigette ’25.
Erin Sobczak, Head of School's Office
Erin Sobczak is assistant to the Head of School, a role in which she provides administrative and project support and plans events for the Blair community. She is a 2000 graduate of Rutgers University, where she majored in environmental science, and subsequently began her career as an environmental scientist. Over the years, Erin has worked in a variety of roles across industries, including as a senior library assistant at the Warren County Library, as a medical administrative assistant at New Jersey’s Premier Health Associates and as an administrative assistant at a paper company in Utah. Her experience also includes public outreach, education and creating and managing programs as both an outdoor educator and summer nature director at Camp Sloane YMCA in Lakeville, Connecticut, and assistant teacher and assistant director of The Montessori Children’s Academy in Convent Station, New Jersey. A longtime volunteer, Erin enjoys mentoring children as a soccer coach and Girl Scout volunteer. She lives in Hardwick with her two children.
Rosalyn Zamora, Health Center
Rosalyn Zamora, a registered nurse with more than five years of experience in emergency room trauma nursing, is Blair’s new director of health services. She joined the Health Center staff in August 2020 and was instrumental in helping to develop our COVID-19 health-and-safety protocols and executing the School’s COVID-19 testing strategy. Prior to coming to Blair, Ms. Zamora served as operations manager of the emergency department at Geisinger Wyoming Valley in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; a registered nurse at Morristown Medical Center; and a clinical nurse supervisor at Pocono Medical Center in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. She earned her master’s degree in nursing leadership and administration from Capella University in 2018, a bachelor of science in health science at Mercy College in 2010 and a bachelor of science in nursing at Rutgers University in 2011. Ms. Zamora is currently working toward becoming a family nurse practitioner (FNP) at Chamberlain University and expects to graduate in 2022.