The Hackley community bid farewell to Steve Bileca, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs, on July 1, 2022. Steve transitioned from the Leadership Team to become Head of School at Vail Mountain School in Vail, CO.
Steve first joined the Hackley community in 2013 as Director of the Middle School, where he was instrumental in integrating the Round Square IDEALS and giving students an opportunity to participate in Hackley’s global education offerings. Additionally, he helped develop and launch health, wellness, and well-being programming for students and employees. In 2015, he was appointed Assistant Headmaster before becoming Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs in 2017. In these roles, Steve’s responsibilities included leadership of the Academic Committee, oversight of global education, environmental sustainability, DEI work, community service and service-learning, faculty professional development, and Hackley’s endowed speaker series. Throughout his administrative duties, Steve maintained strong connections to students, whether teaching a moral philosophy elective, serving as an advisor, or coaching the Ethics Bowl Team.
Steve worked with faculty to develop the Portrait of a Graduate and the Competencies, and later helped implement the school’s strategic plan—Redefining Excellence: Learning Beyond Boundaries
. He provided guidance and support for initiative leaders, helping others bring key projects to fruition. Recent successes include the formation of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, the launch of the apiary, expansion and continued integration of our global education program, and support for service-learning and community service, including Hudson Scholars.
No matter the role, Steve has led with passion, warmth, humor, and a deep commitment to Hackley’s mission and values. We are excited for Steve, Angela Alonso, and their sons Daniel ’18 and Alexander ’22 as they embark on this new journey.
After 24 years at Hackley, Peter McAndrew, Director of Finance, retired in summer 2022. Peter’s leadership and contributions to the community extend well beyond the dollars and sense of Hackley’s financials and include the very bricks and mortar that compose the Hilltop. Since arriving at Hackley, Peter has been a key figure on every major construction project, helping transform our campus into the learning environment that students and employees enjoy today.
During his tenure, Peter oversaw the new construction of the Kathleen Allen Lower School, Middle School and Science Building, the upper fields and the lighting of Pickert Field, the campus loop road, the Johnson Center for Health and Wellness, and 12 new faculty housing units. He also oversaw major renovation projects, including the reconstruction and renovation of Goodhue and the Sternberg Library after the fire in 2007, the interior renovation of Gage House, improvements to the Inner Quad, and countless other projects big and small. Most recently, he was a driving force behind the school’s next complex construction project, the Center for the Creative Arts and Technology.
Throughout his Hackley career, Peter has partnered closely with two heads of school and countless trustees to ensure that Hackley’s finances remain strong and that the School has the resources necessary to improve its program and support its people. He is a fierce advocate for growing the financial aid budget and the important role that financial aid plays in school culture. Additionally, he is a champion for Hackley employees and their families, and he has been instrumental in strengthening Hackley’s benefits package for employees. Further, under Peter’s financial management, the school was also able to successfully respond to the challenges and increased operational costs of COVID-19.
Peter has been a thoughtful colleague and contributor to the Hilltop community for many years, and we will miss him greatly. Head of School Michael Wirtz noted, “Peter’s fingerprints are all over Hackley’s campus. He leaves a wonderful, enduring legacy that the community lives and learns in every day. While less visible than his impact on campus, his years of strong management and oversight of the school’s resources leave Hackley in an enviable financial position. Although we may not see Peter each day and will miss him on the sidelines of games, he and his family—Annie, Kallie ’12, and Will— will always be a part of our community.”
From the Hilltop campus he literally helped build, the Hackley community sends its best wishes to Peter McAndrew on his retirement, as well as our deepest appreciation for all he has done for our School.
After 37 years of teaching at Hackley, John Gillard retired in June. During John’s tenure at Hackley, he taught a wide array of courses in the science and math departments, including Chemistry, Biology, Cellular Biology, Zoology, Algebra II and Trigonometry, and Pre-Calculus. His signature elective in the Upper School is Marine Biology, a popular minor course where John brought to his curriculum his passion as a biologist and experience as a diver. He’s taught every grade level in the Upper School during his career. For many years, he also served as an academic advisor to Upper School students. He was an early proponent of global education, planning and leading Casten trips to destinations such as Honduras, Costa Rica, Peru, Belize, and the Galapagos Islands. John brings a vast base of knowledge to his classroom and a genuine interest in his students’ learning and growth.
Any accounting of John’s contributions at Hackley must recognize his impressive success as a coach. In 2020, John was recognized with the Robert Pickert Award for Coaching Excellence. The summary of accolades announced when John received this award was, in a word, astonishing. He coached more than 100 varsity seasons, most of them as a three- season varsity coach. Though John would be quick to tell you that success in athletics should not be measured in championships won, his teams have won an impressive number of titles. When John was the boys’ varsity soccer coach, his teams won seven Ivy League championships and two NYSAIS championships. His varsity swim teams secured 32 Ivy League championships. His varsity track and field teams won nine Ivy titles and 12 NYSAIS championships.
Colleagues who coached with John admire his preparation and dedication to his teams, as well as his incredible knowledge and love of sports. One coach praised him for “his willingness to take any athlete at any level and help them to improve their skills and understanding of the game.” Another shared that “every coach I know at Hackley respects G’s tireless efforts to teach his athletes the fundamentals of the sport, along with respect for their teammates, and good sportsmanship.” John is, without question, a Hackley coaching legend. We extend our best wishes and gratitude to him for his distinguished service to Hackley.
After 29 years on the Hilltop, Mary Murray-Jones retired in June. Mary began at Hackley in 1993, first as a Middle School computer teacher back when there were no faculty laptops and there was no email. In fact, Mary and her department rolled out the first faculty laptop program! Mary worked in the Middle School for eleven years before moving to the Lower School, where she has since served as Technology teacher, Community Service Coordinator, and Computer Science Coordinator.
As a dedicated member of the Computer Science department, Mary has contributed a great deal to the success and progression of the program. Countless Middle and Upper School students have passed through the Lower School lab, and all of them reminisce about their time as a student of Ms. Murray-Jones. Many are former STEM night participants who became inspired as Lower School students and now lead workshops of their own.
Mary is a hands-on colleague, always willing to lend a helping hand when someone is in need. She worked closely with Anna McKay, Lower School Librarian, to create a year-long interdisciplinary curriculum for the fourth graders. She has been instrumental in executing the annual STEM Night. She led the Lower School’s Sunshine Committee for many years. And she also served as the Faculty Rep for both Lower and Middle School divisions during her time on the Hilltop. She will be missed! We extend best wishes to Mary in her retirement.
After 15 years of mastering all things website, closely partnering with faculty and administrators to ensure timely intranet content, stepping in as impromptu photographer and videographer every time there was a need, and acting as unofficial tour guide for new employees and visiting alumni, Waits May—Associate Director of Communications—retired in June.
Waits and his family first joined the community in 2000 when his daughter Charlotte ’13 started Kindergarten. Galen ’16 later joined the student body in 2003 as a Kindergartener. His family became more deeply involved with the community as volunteers when his wife Nancy Gibbs, former writer and editor-in-chief at TIME Magazine, delivered the 2005 commencement address and was a guest speaker for
several classes and assemblies. Waits became a Hackley employee in 2007.
His legacy includes the close partnership with Jed Dioguardi, Director of Information Technology, and Suzy Akin, former Director of Communications, on the successful launch of Hackley’s website (and its various iterations) and Hackley Online, his Chapel Talk during Charlotte’s senior year, and his time spent as a student advisor. Most recently, Waits has been the talent behind the production of the Sunday bulletin, sharing Hackley news with families each week. He is always ready with a kind word, a fascinating story, fun Hackley historical facts, and loads of humor. His absence will be felt throughout the Hilltop. We extend best wishes to Waits as he begins a new chapter.
After 7 years of designing brilliant bulletin boards, providing New York Times Crossword
emotional support, and using puzzles, contests, and chocolate to make the library a warm and welcoming place for all, Danielle Schmitt—Library Administrative Assistant— retired in April.
Danielle started at Hackley in 2015, when her son Brian ’16 was a senior. Since then, she has fashioned her position into something far more creative and dynamic than simply “library assistant.” Her inventive fingerprints are all over the Sternberg Library in the form of ingenious bulletin boards, eye-catching book displays, and a recent analog “Wordle” board where she used the popular puzzle game to celebrate books and reading. Her legacy will include all the student-attracting additions she has made to the library during her time here, including HPA-granted board games and letter-making Cricut machine, the beloved wooden chess set that is a centerpiece of the space, the nearly life- sized chess set that resides outside Goodhue’s doors during warm weather, and the highly collectible “What I’m Reading” pins on lanyards which pull members of the community together by sparking impromptu conversations around favorite books.
In addition to her innovative library work, Danielle has also served as an Assistant Coordinator for Community Service in the Upper School, as a member of the Diversity Task Force, and an Admissions interviewer of prospective students. All that plus offering farm-fresh eggs and occasional produce from her gardens! We extend best wishes to Danielle in her retirement.