Always a Pioneer
Eagle Hill School alums are proud to work at their alma mater.
One of the common sentiments echoed throughout the Eagle Hill community is that the school is more than a place to learn and grow – it’s a family and you can always come home! For most Eagle Hill alumni/ae, their connection to Eagle Hill extends far beyond graduation day. And for some Pioneers this connection runs deep as they begin or grow their careers by giving back to EHS and current students by becoming part of the EHS faculty.
Eagle Hill is both proud and fortunate to have nine alumni/ae employed for the 2021-2022 academic year, with four contributing as academic teachers and five working as a part of our student life team. In connecting with these alums, we asked a few what motivated them to return to Eagle Hill School and what they were most excited about in connecting with current EHS students as a part of their careers.
“I am thrilled to have this opportunity of a lifetime and give back the amazing education I was lucky enough to receive. I am excited to be back in a one-of-a-kind community that not only promotes teaching differently but also encourages learning, no matter how it’s done,” said Tim Patenaude, EHS class of 2011 and current EHS math teacher.
Patenaude went to nursing school for three years immediately after he graduated from Eagle Hill School in 2011. He knew he wanted to help and teach people, so he changed his major to Education. He loved the change, continued to Westfield State University, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education for Mathematics. In March 2020, he passed the Massachusetts State Teaching License Examination and accepted a position at Eagle Hill.
For veteran English teacher, Marshall Robinson ’03, Eagle Hill represented an opportunity to provide the same mentorship that he received as a student.
"When I was a freshman in college, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher and work with high school students. In that very same moment, I knew I had to return to teach in Hardwick. I wanted to offer young adults the same encouragement, kindness, and mentorship that I had been fortunate enough to receive as a student at Eagle Hill. I wished to learn from the most inspiring and impactful group of teachers I knew. It is wonderful to watch students grow and transform throughout their years here, becoming the versions of themselves they always hoped to be, and I never tire of sharing stories about our experiences. It's incredible to think this is my tenth-year teaching English and Outdoor Adventure at Eagle Hill."
Olivia Passafaro ’14 is one of two new dorm counselors this year who also graduated from Eagle Hill School. For Passafaro, working at Eagle Hill was something that aligned with her passions and desire to help students in a place that she considers one of her homes.
“Before coming back to the Hill, I was working at Lynn University’s Office of Admission where I graduated with my undergraduate and master’s degrees. While I absolutely loved working in admission, I found that I truly had a passion for education and working with kids with diverse learning profiles. I felt that I had such a strong story that I’d be able to provide and mentor students particularly with learning differences to show them that even though you may struggle with school, it doesn’t define you. How you learn isn’t a negative thing in your life, it can be made it into a positive. I know firsthand what it feels like to be called out in class and to struggle for years in school, but I was able to overcome all of my fears of education and pursue not only one, but two college degrees! I was able to prove that you can overcome challenges and accomplish your goals and that’s truly why I wanted to come back to EHS,” said Passafaro.
“I really hope to mentor these students, teach them the life skills that I learned while at Eagle Hill, and most importantly, help them embrace how they learn in a positive way rather than continuing to look at it as a negative thing in their lives. I’m so thankful to be able to come back to a place that I called home for four years and I really hope that I’m able to make the same impact that I received from all of my mentors and teachers while I was here.”
Joining Passafaro in working as a dorm counselor is fellow alum Gina Urbano ’09. For Urbano, a beauty and skincare aficionado, her commitment to providing a safe environment to students and allowing them to grow as individuals made the opportunity to work at Eagle Hill an easy choice.
“I was previously working at The Wediko School in NH since April 2020. The Wediko School is a therapeutic boarding school for teenage boys who have behavioral and emotional struggles. I served as a residential counselor working with students in the dorm and during activity periods to help them with life and social skills. Helping students build relationships with one another was extremely important. I’m so excited to take what I learned at Wediko and blend that with my own experience as a boarding student at EHS to help current students find their own path to success. It’s great to be back at EHS in a faculty role and to give back to the place that helped make me the person I am today!”
Joined by several others (listed below), we are proud and thankful to have hard-working and committed alums among the impressive ranks of faculty and staff in our community.
EHS@Work: Alumni/ae at Eagle Hill
Dr. Matthew Kim ’97, English Teacher / Department Chair
Marshall Robinson ’03, English Teacher
Cody Bliss ’12, English Teacher
Velvet Chestnut ’14, Dorm Counselor
Laurel Bloch ’13, Student Life Staff
Tim Patenaude ’11, Math Teacher (shown in photo - center)
Olivia Passafaro ’14, Dorm Counselor (shown in photo - left)
Gina Urbano ’09, Dorm Counselor (shown in photo - right)
Rose Haseltine ’14, Weekend Supervisor