Once a Gael, Always a Gael: Faculty and Staff Alumni On Why They Returned

Once a Gael, Always a Gael: Faculty and Staff Alumni On Why They Returned

Pictured (from left): Ms. Joelle Roussine, Ms. Jessica Kemp, Ms. Michele Bownes, Ms. Maria Gorycki, Ms. Jeanine Buatti, Ms. Anne Tomlinson, Mr. Carlo Puca, Mr. Jonathan Kramer, and Mr. Mike Valente.


When you become a Gael, you remain a Gael for life. St. Mary’s is proud of our “family,” building a strong community of past, current, and future students through bonds of faith, fellowship, and education. There is no greater testimony to this than through the large number of faculty and administration who once walked the same halls as our current students. We have profiled below several members of our staff who bring vitality, enthusiasm, and wisdom that is enhanced by first-hand experience.


Rick Schneider ‘79


Rick is the maintenance supervisor and has worked at St. Mary’s for 23 years. He comes from a family of St. Mary’s alumni including his mother, brother, sister, and eldest son.


Jeanine Buatti ‘81


Ms. Buatti is the chairperson for the English department. She returned to teach here in September 1989. Since that time, she has taught English (every grade from 9-12 at different points). Says Ms. Buatti, “I have always loved the nurturing family atmosphere that is St. Mary’s and that is what drew me back to work here.” When she’s not teaching, she loves tea and chocolate!


Maria Gorycki ‘81


Ms. Gorycki teaches Economics/American Government, Global, and is a Freshman/Sophomore coordinator. “I came back because St. Mary’s is like a family,” Ms. Gorycki says. She also wants to let the St. Mary’s community know that she’s an Abraham Lincoln history buff, and she loves Bruce Springsteen!


Anne Tomlinson ‘84


Ms. Tomlinson has taught AP Environmental Science, Human Biology and currently is teaching Earth Science, Living Environment and STEM 1. She is the moderator of the Environmental Awareness Club.  She says: “Having had such a great experience as a student I could only hope that the teaching experience be the same. And it was! Many of the traditions of both schools were kept for a long time and it was nice to see teachers and students sharing experiences that my sister and I or my brothers who attended the Boy’s school had experienced. The feeling of family is the biggest reason why I came back to St. Mary’s.”


Eileen Symmons ‘86


Ms. Eileen Symmons has served as director of communications since 2008. “Besides my life, St. Mary’s was the best gift my parents could ever give to me,” said Ms. Symmons. “I work in a place that I loved as a child and added so much to my life as a young Catholic.” When asked about a favorite part of the job she noted, “One of my favorite parts of the job is welcoming alumni back to visit campus especially when they register their children as students to attend the school.” Today, Ms. Symmons proudly shares that she is still very close with her friends from St. Mary’s. “It’s true what you hear. The friendships made at St. Mary’s are for life, and that speaks volumes about our community.”


Jonathan Kramer ‘92


Our school principal is himself an alumnus! Mr. Kramer remembers the many faculty members who made an impression on him. For example: “Ms. Buatti [a fellow alum] taught me English when I was a student. St. Mary’s High School goes well beyond a first class classical education. We also have many parents of current students that are alumni.” Mr. Kramer hopes the legacy of returning Gaels continues for generations to come.


Mr. Carlo Puca ‘02


Mr. Puca is the chairperson for the Modern Language Department. He runs the Italian Club and the Anime Club. He also co-moderates the Modern Language National Honor Society. Of working at St. Mary’s, he says: “What I enjoy most about working here as an alum is seeing and being a part of the change that has occurred from when I was a student to now. From an academic aspect, implementing and integrating a full digital curriculum and modifying the language curriculum sticks out most. From the social aspect of high school life, additional school wide events (monthly outings, school trip Dorney Park) and segueing from Sports Night to Gaels Force Spirit Week (where the entire school in involved) sticks out. From a spiritual aspect, more time has been given to students to reflect on our Catholic faith, for example, having mass once a month as a school community.”


Joelle Roussine ‘03


Ms. Roussine is Dean of Students, and a new member to the administration this year. She is excited to return: “This was my home, and now it’s my home again. It’s surreal. I always had this place in the back of mind…it feels like I belong. The faculty when I was here really left an impression on me and truly are the heart of the school. Some of those who taught me are still here. I’m proud to be part of this team.”


Phil Sutherland ‘03


Mr. Phil Sutherland, technology director for the Schools of St. Mary’s and the parish of St. Mary’s, has never truly left! After graduating in 2003, he worked summers during his college years in the maintenance department before working his way to technology for the elementary school in 2007. He has been the Technology Director for four years. “St. Mary’s is like a family. You make lifelong friends. Why would I want to leave?”


Jessica Kemp ‘06


Ms. Kemp has been a guidance counselor and cheerleading coach since 2012. This has been a dream of hers since she was a student: “When I graduated in 2006, I was pretty sure I wanted to be a guidance counselor. Mr. G. was my counselor here, and I was inspired by how involved he was with everything and I wanted to do the same. I also didn’t want to leave high school, so I set a goal to make it back here – and I did! I was very involved when I was a student here. Those experiences gave me the confidence to get involved at college and grow as a person. I am still close with my classmates from St. Mary’s, friendships that began at freshman camp and Project Rebuild and have continued to weddings and celebrations. It is pretty cool to be back where I started, helping students find their way.”


Mike Valente ‘08


Mr. Valente is an English teacher and moderates the Music Club and Ukulele Club. He says, “Teaching here is a great time. I’m very proud to have the pleasure of working here. The faculty is the cornerstone of this place. The first questions I get from former classmates is always in regard to the teachers they once had. The teachers that I had as a student are mostly still here, and that helps me relate to the students.” Mr. Valente is also preparing for two major milestones: receiving his master’s degree in curriculum development and getting married next November to fellow Gael, Taylor Fitzgerald ‘10.