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September 16, 2022

Interim Dean, New Leaders & Faculty Aboard as AHA Starts New Year

 The Academy of the Holy Angels began the 2022-23 academic year with a new interim dean, four new department chairs, and several incoming faculty members. New this year are AHA Interim Dean of Students Jessica Hogan; English teachers Betsy Barbour and Maria Zaorski; French teacher Leila Ben Kilani; religious studies teacher George Maize; track coach Darcy Ottomanelli (AHA ’17); and music teacher Brian Kirk. Returning faculty members include religious studies teacher Sarah Allen and English teacher Bridget Ryan.


AHA’s new department chairs are Lisa Betti, world languages; Stephanie Dowling (AHA ’08), English; Sharon Jureller, science; and Kathleen Walsh (AHA ‘87), religious studies.


Jessica Hogan holds a master’s in educational administration, magna cum laude, from the University of Scranton, and bachelor’s degree in health and physical education, cum laude, from East Stroudsburg University. Hogan taught physical education in Westwood and New Milford, and taught health and physical education for the Paterson Arts & Science Charter School. She was an assistant principal intern and athletic director intern at Ramsey High School, and has served as co-director of Ramsey’s Finch Park Summer Camp since 2018.


Lisa Betti received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis, and pursued graduate studies at UCLA. She taught English as a Second Language in Italy, and Italian and Spanish in the United States. Betti also served as an international student counselor at the college level, and translates technical and literary work in English and Italian.


Stephanie Dowling earned her bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Maryland, and a master’s from Seton Hall. Dowling began her career at Immaculate Conception High school, where she taught English and coached track for two years. She joined AHA’s faculty in 2014.


Sharon Jureller received her bachelor’s degree at Cornell and a master’s at Stevens Institute of Technology. She shares her knowledge of chemistry with her students in the classroom. Jureller also moderates science clubs, and serves as the National Honor Society adviser.


Kathleen Walsh completed her bachelor’s degree at the College of the Holy Cross, and earned her master’s at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology/Seton Hall University. Before she joined AHA’s religious studies faculty in 2012, Walsh was a manuscript editor specializing in theology, spirituality, and world religious traditions.


Sarah Allen taught at LaSalle Academy before logging two years at AHA (2017-2019). She served as theology department chair and campus minister at Mary Help of Christians Academy, and taught at Roselle Catholic before returning to AHA. She attended DeSales University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in theology, philosophy, marriage, and family studies. Allen also holds a master’s in theological studies from Providence College. Her public speaking experience includes topics such as Catholic feminism, and women in the media.


Betsy Barbour will step into Emmalee Brizzolara’s classes while Ms. Brizzolara is on leave. Barbour holds a master’s of liberal studies, magna cum laude, from Ramapo College, and is pursuing a master’s in English literature. She earned her bachelor’s in English literature from Elmira College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Barbour was 2002-03 Bergen County Teacher of the Year, and received the NJ Governor’s Teachers Recognition Award. Her essay on Alice Walker was published in The Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies. She is a drama and dance coach, and founded a Women’s Issues Club.


Leila Ben Kilani holds bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Tunisia. She is fluent in French and Arabic, and worked as a French translator and as an assistant for the French Embassy in New York City. She has taught French and Arabic in New York, most recently at ABC Languages, where she worked from 2009-22. Ben Kilani has also taught economics in French, and has begun working toward a master’s in economics.


Brian Kirk is a classical guitarist and general music teacher. He earned a bachelor’s of music in classical guitar performance from SUNY Purchase, and a master’s in classical guitar from the Mannes Conservatory of Music at The New School. In 2019, Kirk received first prize in the Molnar-Harris Interdepartmental Chamber Music Competition. He has been teaching students of all ages and abilities for over a decade.


George Maize is a graduate of Livingstone College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music. He later earned a master’s in pastoral ministry from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a doctor of ministry degree in worship from Liberty University. In addition to teaching religious studies at Holy Angels, he is moderator of the new Gospel Music Club, where students will have an opportunity to learn more about this unique African American music genre.


Darcy Ottomanelli is a graduate of the University of Southern California/Keck School of Medicine, where she received a master’s in global medicine. She also holds a B.S. in human biology from Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. In 2021, she returned to AHA as a health teacher and track coach. She also choreographs routines for the AHA Gymnastics Team, which she helped organize while she was an Angel. An active volunteer, she taught anatomy to young students, crafting age-appropriate lessons in English and Spanish. She also coached Special Olympics athletes, and serves as an emergency medical technician. She earned the Avery Bayle Barth Scholarship for exemplary academics and leadership. Ottomanelli also raises awareness about the pandemic’s impact on domestic violence and the availability of Lupus medication.


Bridget Ryan served on AHA’s faculty from 2007-08 and 2011–November 2017. She has held teaching and leadership roles at several schools, including Concord-Carlisle High School in Concord, Massachusetts, and Immaculate Heart Academy in Washington Township. She received her masters’ in teaching from Bard College, where was an apprentice teacher. Ryan earned her undergraduate degree in English, magna cum laude, from Colgate. Ryan has earned the Patriot Achievement Toward Success Award and the Lasher Prize for Distinction in English Composition.


Maria Zaorski began her teaching career at Glen Rock Middle School in 2004. She has introduced many students to the works of William Shakespeare, and updated Glen Rock’s curriculum for gifted and talented students. Zaorski, who teaches English at AHA Middle School, has also taught social studies. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in history at the University of Michigan, and received teacher certification from Felician College. Zaorski also holds a master’s in educational technology from Ramapo College.


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious school serves young women from many cultural and religious backgrounds.