Church Farm School, a boarding and day school in Exton for boys in grades 9-12, has welcomed some new faculty members for the 2022-2023 school year.
Debbie Witmer, STEM Chair
Witmer will lead a comprehensive, interdisciplinary design of the STEM curriculum, with a specific focus on augmenting opportunities for Engineering, Computer Programming, and Sustainability and the development of the new STEM Flex Center.
Witmer has a B.S. in Biology from the University of North Florida and an M.A. in Educational Technology from Concordia University, where she is now pursuing an Ed.D. She is familiar with the independent school world and comes to CFS from Lake Forest Academy, a boarding school in Lake Forest, Ill., where she served as the Science Department Chair.
“Debbie impressed us with her vision for integrating the departments within STEM, as well as her leadership skills,” said Margaret van Steenwyk, CFS’s Assistant Head of School. “Most importantly, she is absolutely delighted to join our community.”
Liang Gates, STEM Department
Gates joins Witmer in the STEM department, teaching Ninth Grade Science and Algebra II. Gates has an interesting and varied background; she holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Hunan University and most recently taught at Delaware County Christian School. She has taught math and Mandarin at the high school level and served as math/STEM instructor at Western Iowa Tech Community College for 10 years before moving to the region with her family.
“Having been born and raised in China, Liang is interested in global education,” said van Steenwyk. “She is also very much a proponent of single-sex education.”
Pedro Frazao, STEM Department
Frazao graduated in June 2022 with a B.S. in Math from Drexel University. In addition to teaching Pre-Calculus and Ninth Grade Science, he will work in one of the student dormitories as a cottage faculty member.
“Pedro’s professors speak about his incredible talent as a math student, teaching assistant, and tutor,” said van Steenwyk. “Pedro hails from Portugal and therefore brings an international perspective along with fluency in Portuguese and Spanish.”
Alex Daniels, Academic Support Coordinator
Daniels will be the school’s new Academic Support Coordinator, providing leadership for the development and implementation of the school’s academic instructional programs and support for administrators and instructional staff in assuring that effective and challenging curriculum and instructional practices are occurring.
Daniels is an educator and education advocate, with experience building curriculum, teaching, and leading teams. She joins CFS most recently from Kipp School in Texas, where she was lead teacher and grade-level chair for sixth grade. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Princeton University and is completing her master’s in Education with a concentration in ELL from Relay University in Texas.
“We are excited that she will step into the new role of Academic Support Coordinator and will pick up on the groundwork laid by current faculty in creating the academic coaching program,” said van Steenwyk. “For Alex, this is a homecoming; her father was the CFS chaplain when she was in high school and she has a strong appreciation for the school and its mission. Her brother JohnDerek returned to CFS as a cottage faculty member in 2021-2022.”
Kate Hunter, School Counselor
Hunter joins the CFS community as its school counselor, focused on supporting the overall success and well-being of students and nurturing their intellectual and emotional well-being. She will also work closely with other members of the Health and Wellness Team in developing a well-being program/curriculum.
Hunter comes to CFS from St. Peter’s School in Philadelphia, where she was the director of wellness and equity. She holds a B.A. in Counseling from Thomas Jefferson University and a master’s in Counseling from Rosemont College.
“Kate is a Licensed Professional Counselor who strategically combines emotional wellness and equity initiatives to produce a holistic approach to student development,” said van Steenwyk.
John Garges, Cottage Faculty
Garges joins the Residential Life Department this year as the new Disston Cottage Head of House, where he will work with incoming ninth-graders and the other current resident adult in Disston, J.D. Daniels.
Garges holds bachelor’s degrees in Youth Ministry and Psychology from Eastern University and a master’s degree in Ministry and Theology from Villanova University.
Most recently, Garges worked as a graduate resident minister at Villanova. In that capacity, he led student-athletes in retreats ranging from hour-long to full-day retreats based on mindfulness, gratitude, and joy.
Yonbue Tanco, Cottage Faculty
Tanco, a graduate of CFS’s Class of 2018, returns to campus as the fifth alumnus working as cottage faculty on the Residential Life team. A native of New York, Tanco was a true scholar-athlete during his years at CFS, excelling in both academics and athletics, particularly wrestling. His wrestling prowess took him to Muhlenberg College, where he was an NCAA Division III wrestler and earned a bachelor’s degree in English.
Tanco hopes to coach wrestling and study for the LSATs during his time at CFS as he prepares for his ultimate goal of attending law school someday. He will reside and work in Good Shepherd cottage with current Head of House Colyn Lyons.
Founded in 1918 to provide an excellent education to young men from limited means, Church Farm School now serves boys from a range of socio-economic circumstances who are seeking an extraordinary educational opportunity. The school offers a college-prep curriculum and an exceptional level of personal attention, with class sizes averaging between just seven and 12 students. Learn more.