Humans of St. Mark's: Meet a SM Parent!

By Rebecca Wu ‘21

Ms. Verbeek came to St. Mark’s in 2016. She teaches FIT and works as the Executive Assistant and Data Analyst for the Assistant Head of School/Dean of Faculty and Dean of Academics. Her most important role, however, is as the parent of Keelie Verbeek ‘18 and Kerrie Verbeek ‘19.

Q: How does it feel to be both a St. Mark’s staff member and a St. Mark’s parent?

A: I like being a member of the St. Mark’s community as a staff member as well as a SM parent. It works out really well for me! I love getting to teach fitness here because it allows me to spend time with St. Mark’s students, which is absolutely my favorite part of the job. However, I’m not sure that I actually get to hang out with my daughters more than another SM parent since St. Mark’s students don’t usually end up having a lot of free time. But it’s a really happy coincidence when I see my girls passing by in the hallway or dining hall. It is a nice thing.

Q: Is there anything that you like to do with your daughters?

A: My favorite thing to do with my daughters is to watch them play soccer. I get the chance to watch them playing during a lot of St. Mark’s soccer games, and it is nice to be there and support them. That’s past tense for Keelie because she graduated last year, but I am still doing it this year with Kerrie. When we are not at school, say on weekends, we enjoy watching sporting events on television together.

Q: What advice would you give to parents of the new St. Markers?

A: I know that it is a wonderful opportunity for parents to meet with teachers and advisors during family weekend. I would also suggest talking to Mr. Vachris because he gives great parental advice. Those connections are really useful. I also think that St. Mark’s does an excellent job at posting photographs of all the different events on Smugmug. The interesting thing is even though I live in Southborough, I love looking at all those pictures. It makes me happy that no matter where the parents are, they are able to see their children’s pictures. Reading Dean’s Weekly and students’ publications, like The St. Marker and LEO, is also helpful. Parents can read about different events on campus and get to see students’ artwork. I just love all the opportunities that we have to know what’s going on on campus.

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Humans of St. Mark's: Eight, Great new Faculty to Meet

by Rebecca Wu ‘21

Mr. Studevan

Mr. Studevan joined the St. Mark’s community in April of 2018 as the Assistant Director of College Counseling. Previously, he worked for his family business and as the Logistics Coordinator at City Year in Philadelphia. He is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, with a degree in Economics and Government. St. Marks Athletics will benefit from Mr. Studevan’s experience as a varsity football player at F&M, as well as his love for playing basketball. He lives in Sawyer along with his new dog, Ace, who is sure to become very popular on campus.

Q: A fun fact about yourself?

A: Every school that I have either attended or worked at has had Blue as one of its primary school colors.

Q: What’s your favorite part about your job?

A: My favorite part of my job is all of the informal interactions that I have with students, such as dorm duty, athletics, and walking around campus.

Q: What’s has been your favorite St. Mark’s tradition so far?

A: While I have not experienced most of the SM traditions, I am very much looking forward to Groton Day! I hope to see great school spirit and competition.

Mr. Cochran

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Mr. Cochran took on the role of Director of Communications & Marketing for St. Mark’s in April of 2018. Before coming to our School, he served as Executive Director of Communications at Wentworth Institute of Technology. He has also held positions at Bentley University, MIT, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  Mr. Cochran earned a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a M.A. in Publishing/Writing from Emerson College. He lives off-campus in Sudbury with his wife Natalie and their two sons, Cameron and Ryan.

Q: A fun fact about yourself?

A: I enjoy baking bread. I use a great and simple no-knead recipe from Mark Bittman based on a Jim Lahey process (link here if you're interested:

Q: What’s your favorite part about your job?

A: I love walking around St. Mark's and meeting so many dedicated and happy staff, faculty members and students. The sense of community here is very special.

Q: What’s has been your favorite St. Mark’s tradition so far?

A: I like the idea of the entire St. Mark's student body gathering once each day for either chapel, school meeting, or seated meal. Mr. Vachris also has me very excited about the Quad Games--I'm looking forward to experiencing that later this year.

Ms. Michelson

Ms. Michelson ‘13 is expanding her role at St. Mark's in 2018-2019. In addition to serving as the Assistant Director of Auxiliary Programs, she will be living in Thayer and teaching one section of The Global Seminar. Ms. Michelson majored in French & International Relations at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and is passionate about global citizenship. She is a proud member of St. Mark’s Young Alumni Leadership Council and never misses an opportunity to contribute positively to the St. Mark’s School community.

Q: A fun fact about yourself?

A: My favorite hobby is ceramics- I've been throwing pots for the last nine years. I actually first started learning in Ms. Belt's Ceramics I class, and I've continued my work with clay at a ceramics studio in Framingham.

Q: What’s your favorite part about your job?

A: My favorite part about my job is getting to experience St. Mark's from a new and different perspective. The school has evolved so much in the years since I was a Third Former, and I get to see every day how these changes have affected the St. Mark's student experience in a positive way.

Q: What’s your favorite St. Mark’s tradition so far?

A: One of my favorite traditions at St. Mark's is the Fall Groton Games and the strong sense of school spirit it provokes from the student body. I love everything from the Groton Night bonfire to the Snake Dance, but, if I'm honest, my all-time favorite annual event has always been the Wick Choir Festival.

Mr. Mertsch

Mr. Mertsch is joining the Modern Languages Department as our German Teacher. He comes to St. Mark’s after ten years at Chapel Hill Chauncy School in Waltham where he served as the Director of their Learning Support Department. He has considerable experience teaching German, was educated in Germany, and is a native German speaker. Mr. Mertsch has coached soccer and basketball and has a strong interest in robotics. He and his wife Mary will live in Coolidge with their sons Sebastian (9) and Oliver (7.5), and their dog Roscoe.

Q: A fun fact about yourself?

A: I learned British English in school much longer than American English. So if my English pronunciation is sometimes off or I use a funny word that you don’t often hear, just blame my high school education.

Q: What’s your favorite part about your job?

A: I get to teach German! I did not have this opportunity for a long time and am really enjoying it. Being able to bring my own ideas to class as well as incorporating student interests are some highlights right now.

Q: What’s your favorite St. Mark’s tradition so far?

A: Well, I am still pretty new, so I am sure I have only seen the tip of the iceberg that is St. Mark’s traditions and customs. So far, I have really enjoyed the school meetings. It is so different from what I am used to. I love that they are mostly student run, somewhat informal, and entertaining. Students seem to be really involved as opposed to nod off in some back row. As the year goes on, though, I am sure I will discover other traditions and customs that I really enjoy.

Ms. Xu

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Ms. Xu is looking forward to teaching Chinese for the Modern Language Department during our Chinese Teacher’s Family Leave. She comes to St. Mark’s with many years teaching Mandarin at schools here in Massachusetts, including the Brimmer and May School. She has a Masters in Curriculum & Instruction from Boston College, and is excited to collaborate with all members of our community. Ms. Xu lives in Worcester with her husband Quay, their daughter Ellie (4 yrs) and their son Abraham (17 mos).

Q: A fun fact about yourself?

A: I like to dance and I can dance for a long time. I also like to sit still for a long time too.

Q: What’s your favorite part about your job?

A: To get know more about my students. Each student is unique and to hear about their sharing especially in Mandarin is one of my favorite parts of my job. Another one is the food. St. Mark's has great food and I can easily charge my physical body by different food!

Q: What’s your favorite St. Mark’s tradition so far?

A: Chapel/any spiritual reflection.

Rev. Solter

Rev. Solter is joining the Religion Department to teach classes and act as the Assistant Chaplain. Previously, Rev. Solter has been the Chaplain of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School in Washington D.C. since 2014. She has also taught religion and has served as an assistant lacrosse coach. Prior to St. Patrick’s, Rev. Solter served various religious posts in Maine, France, New Hampshire, and CT. Katie will be living on School St with her husband Tom and their children: Riley (20), Theo (16), and Laney (10).

Q: A fun fact about yourself?

A: A fun fact about me is that I love to travel! In college, I traveled to India, Thailand, Malaysia, Fiji, England, Mexico, and New Zealand, studying Global ecology and living with host families. I taught at SYA France for a year, My son, Riley, went to SYA Italy, and my son, Theo, is currently attending SYA France. If we're lucky, my daughter can go to SYA China! I will travel this Christmas to visit our son and we will visit Seville, Cordoba, Madrid, and Barcelona. My husband also worked in South Korea for four summers and also in Ireland. Travel is one of our great joys. I love visiting sacred spaces of all kind, meeting people from all over the world, and hearing their stories.  

Q: What’s your favorite part about your job?

A: My favorite part of my job is listening and helping students create chapel talks, teaching religion and hearing students reflect on their experiences and questions around the great mysteries of life, and I love being a chaplain, teacher, and coach!

Q: What’s your favorite St. Mark’s tradition so far?

A: So far, my favorite tradition is the first evening chapel, but I am also really excited about Groton day and the House Cup Contests because I love sugar cookies, sports, and I am obsessed with all things Harry Potter! Go Lions!

Mr. Palmer

Mr. Palmer comes to the St. Mark’s School community with many years of experience as a Teacher (Physics, Biology, & Chemistry) at Lawrence High School and Acton-Boxborough Regional High Schools, as well as professional experience as an Engineer. He’ll join our Science Department to teach Physics and looks forward to getting involved in extracurriculars including robotics and coaching. Mr. Palmer has two adult daughters (Kendra and Lexi), enjoys playing soccer, hockey, and tennis, and lives in Groton with his dog (Nico) and cat (Boo).

Q: A fun fact about yourself?

A: The best job interview I ever had was when I got a volunteer job at the Museum of Science in Boston's Live Animal Center. They asked me a few questions, then handed me a ferret, a 12 ft Reticulated Python and a 4 ft alligator to see how I did with them. I can honestly say, I now remember with joy doing things like cleaning ferret poop off not just the floor, but the walls and ceilings of their enclosures.  

Q: What’s your favorite part about your job?

A: I started teaching so that I could be home more for my own kids when they were young, but I discovered I love teaching because I am helping young people become their best, hopefully care about this world and each other, and realize that they can make a difference. For me, a teacher does not bestow knowledge and wisdom, but helps students to see for themselves what is real, what is important, and what they can accomplish.

Q: What’s your favorite St. Mark’s tradition so far?

A: So far, I would say it is the All-School Meetings. I am very impressed with the initiative, creativity and leadership shown by the students. And it's often funny. As I often say, if not for my sense of humor, I'd have no sense at all.

Mr. Bauer

Mr. Bauer joins our Science Department to assist in the 1-year sabbatical coverage of Physics. He has previously served as a Substitute Teacher and the Head Soccer Coach at Dana Hall. He also has extensive experience tutoring Physics, Algebra, and Spanish in many of this area’s schools. Born in Perú, he is a native Spanish speaker. Mr. Bauer lives in Natick with his family, including: his wife Carmelina; children Alexandria, Raffaele, and Daniela; their dog Chacho; and 8 chickens. (He reports enjoying delicious eggs in the morning.)

Q: A fun fact about yourself?

A: I am a “human mutt”. I was born in Lima, Peru. In Spanish speaking countries there is a word for describing a person of mix race, I am considered a Mestizo.

According to my DNA test, I am:

40% Native American (Mostly from the Andes Mountains - INCA)

21% English (Mostly Wales)

17% African roots (Mostly Cameroon)

15% Iberian Peninsula (Mostly Spain)

and a bunch of other things.

Q: What’s your favorite part about your job?

A: I love the interactions with the students outside the classroom, on the practice fields, at dining hall. It has been very nice to get to know the community outside the classroom.

Q: What’s your favorite St. Mark’s tradition so far?

A: So far, I have only attended 3 Chapels, but they have all been incredible. The speakers have been amazing! Their messages have been so personal and powerful.

Humans of St. Mark's: Caroline McGinnis '18, Tommy MacNeil '18, and Helynna Lin '18

by Rebecca Wu '21

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Caroline McGinnis '18

“The thought of graduating St. Mark’s is so bittersweet. I’ve always been excited to go off to college to dive into a field I’m passionate about and “start my life.” However, looking back at my short two years here I can’t help but think about how I’ve got to start that process early. I’ve been able to live on my own and find new things that I’ve fallen in love with, whether that was my many theatrical performances or rowing. St. Mark’s is now my second home, filled with people that I want in my life forever and memories that I want to relive. Leaving St. Mark’s is going to be very difficult but I know I will be able to achieve what I want in life because of what I’ve learned here, such as discovering a passion for biology, which I will continue on in college. My last few weeks are going to be hard, not particularly academically due to a high amount of senioritis, but knowing that I am leaving so soon. I’ve been on the senior quad constantly and spend every chance I have spending extra time at dinner, being involved in things I haven’t done before, and being with my friends. I know the weeks will fly so I am trying my best to take it all in before I won’t be able to walk down the main hallway to class every morning.”

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Helynna Lin '18

“I wish that I could stay in St.Mark's a little bit longer! I deeply cherish everything I have here - my teachers, my friends, classes, the grand pianos in PFAC, tennis in spring, duty nights in T-House...the list goes on forever. My college, which has a very different environment from that of St.Mark's, will definitely give me challenges, but I have faith in myself. With the courage and confidence I have gained here, I am ready to start a new journey.”

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Tommy MacNeil '18

“Leaving St. Mark’s is definitely a bittersweet feeling.  I am excited to move on with my life, however I will always remember the great memories I have made at the school.  Whether it is winning a Groton game or playing spikeball on the quad, these are things that I will miss greatly.

Next year, I will be attending Union College in Schenectady, New York, at which I will be studying biomedical engineering, with an interest in designing prosthetic limbs.  As the idea of attending college becomes more real everyday, I will not lie it is a little unsettling. At St. Mark’s I have become very comfortable within the community, and I will have to get used to a new one at Union.  Studying engineering is something that really excites me, however I know it will be a challenge. I am confident that my St. Mark’s education will provide me with many skills to excel within the classroom at Union.

As I finish up my last weeks of St. Mark’s, I hope to have fun and take it all in.  These are my last days in the dining hall and on the quad, and I hope to make the most of them.  I am extremely grateful for this school, and hope that everything pays off when I am off at college in a few months.”



Humans of St. Mark's: "What scares me would be not taking full advantage of life"

by Rebecca Wu '21

I was born in Topeka, Kansas, and my earliest memories are definitely there. There are many memories around the same time. In my 2nd grade, I moved to Kansas City because my dad worked there, but I still remember my life in Topeka vividly. It’s quite interesting that when Kaleb is asked about his hometown, he would refer to Massachusetts, but not Kansas!


When I was 5 or 6, one of my best friends, Karlama, and I wanted to open a salon. I was going to run the business, and she was going to be the head stylist. We even drew the layout and the design of the salon with crayons. We decided to decorate it with pink and grey. And also hair and nails, and everything was pink and grey!


I would say the women in my family are the most influential people to me. It’s hard to choose one. They influence me in a number of ways, including professions, commitment to family, ability to travel, and to have fun, food, and confidence, and most importantly, being selfless. My mother, for example, is a great model for me. I have some distant relatives who don’t have children, you know, my mom would go to their houses and do things around the house. All the women in my family teach me how to manage to commit to personal goals and still take care of other people.


What scares me would be not taking full advantage of life. I never take experiences for granted. I regard every single day and moment of life as wonderful things. I make every single day and moment count, even the crunching leaves and the feel of snow.


Before I came to St. Mark’s, I worked at St. Paul’s School. In December 2011, I became a new wife, and the year after, I finished my master’s degree, and I joined this community. I like St. Mark’s. We are asking a lot of questions about ourselves. It feels like there is no limit at St. Mark’s. Also, the busyness here never distracts me from my personal life. I have to pay equal attention to how I grow as a person.


Humans of St.Mark's: Introduction

by Rebecca Wu '21


I was born and raised in Shenzhen, China, and I spent my childhood there. If I have to pick one thing that I feel proud of during my days studying at St. Mark’s, it would be bringing in my Chinese perspective to this community. Being transplanted into a different culture, I knew that I needed to be prepared for a series of questions: What is it like to belong to a minority group at a school? How do you blend into the culture of St. Mark’s? What is the culture of St. Mark’s? There are so many of us at St. Mark’s who must have wondered the same thing.

However, as it turns out, culture can never be labeled by a single word  especially since St. Mark’s is such a diverse community that accepts a wide range of racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. In addition,  the student and faculty body here embrace many different interests, passions, and personal traits.

I always believe the best way of bringing together a community from diverse backgrounds is through stories-talking with people and writing about them. Inspired by the photobook Humans of New York, I decided to create a platform that welcomes and encourages every St. Marker to share their own stories.

Being different is a gift. We should not ignore it.

If you would like to tell St.Mark's about your personal story in the next issue, please don't hesitate to reach out to me! My email is I can't wait to hear from you.