The Phelps School Faculty & Staff
Director of Activities and
Margie Abraham joined the Phelps faculty in 2001 and served as an instructor in the Academic Support Program for nine years. She returned in 2016 to rejoin the ASP and residential life staffs and to take on duties now as Director of Weekend Activities and Community Life. She is certified as a WILSON Instructor and brings a great deal of enthusiasm to her classes in wide-ranging subject areas. When she’s not on duty at Phelps, Margie enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.
Len Armstrong, Director of Enrollment Management, is an established independent school leader. After graduating from Hampden-Sydney College, where he double-majored in English Literature and Spanish Composition, he returned to his alma mater, St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Virginia, to serve as a teacher, coach, and assistant director of admissions. He became the Director of Admissions for Middle and Upper Schools and then Assistant Head of School for Enrollment, Admissions, and Community. He served as Lower School Head at Landon School before his appointment as Head of School at St. John’s Episcopal School, where he was responsible for the addition of the school’s primary program. Len’s sturdy career in education is built on hard work, integrity, and compassion. He has served on the advisory boards of the Center for Teaching and Learning and of The Bishop Walker School for Boys, as well as the Admissions Advisory Committee of the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington. Upon Len’s departure from Landon School, he was honored by the school’s alumni association “for outstanding service toward building a multicultural Landon.”
Director of Residential Life
Dennis Birtch is our Director of Residential Life, as well as the Head of Campus Safety and Security. He has been involved with independent school education for over 15 years. As a US Army veteran, he brings a leadership style that students appreciate and often emulate. At Lycoming College, he was part of a National Championship wrestling program. Later, he earned a degree in Educational Psychology at Temple University. He has two daughters, Amelia (13) and Sabrena (12). Fun facts: Dennis owns 278 audiobooks on Audible where he has racked up 3 Months 15 Days 16 Hours and 23 Minutes of listening time. Hidden Brain on NPR is his favorite podcast, GamerTag: Irishguard77. Dennis is a practicing omnist and he is at home in the kitchen. Most importantly, Dennis believes in the Oxford Comma. He is also a Hilltop Dorm Parent.
North Beattie Dorm Parent
Brett Blackiston graduated from UCLA and then joined Teach for America’s intensive summer training program. After two years as an English and Special Education teacher in Delaware, he earned his master’s degree in sports psychology and began work as a program manager for an organization whose core value is “promoting relationships to foster a culture of consistent support, positivity, and growth.” At Phelps, Brett teaches American literature, ESL courses, and Social-Emotional Learning classes; serves as a dorm parent in Beattie Hall, is a senior class sponsor; leads the Accaphellas
(chorus); and coaches soccer alongside Mr. Knight.
Tammy Brogan is a West Chester University graduate with degrees in Kinesiology (Bachelor of Science) and Sports and Athletic Administration (Masters). This year will be her twentieth year as a teacher of Health and Physical Education. She’s coached lacrosse for eighteen seasons and soccer for eleven. Throughout her teaching and coaching career, she’s enjoyed working with students as a mentor, retreat leader, and club moderator. Tammy and her husband, Kevin reside in West Chester with their daughter, Julianna, and their very spoiled black lab, Blaze.
Nick Cooper is the EAL (English as an Additional Language) Program Director. Nick spent his youth in Libya and Indonesia, attending international schools and learning the languages and cultures of his host countries. His experiences have informed his approach to teaching language. Nick earned his B.A. in History from Notre Dame de Namur University. While pursuing his Master’s in TESOL from SIT Graduate Institute, he taught adult refugees in New Hampshire. He also spent two years in Singapore teaching secondary school English as a Foreign Language. He has a passion for learning new languages and is currently learning Tagalog, the language of his wife’s family in the Philippines. Nick has a passion for encouraging cross-cultural competency among students and colleagues, while facilitating international students self-development, language acquisition, and identity empowerment.
Tom Corcoran is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and holds a J.D. from Widener University Commonwealth Law School. He worked as a political operative and campaign manager and enjoyed duties as a rowing coach before joining the staff at the Agnes Irwin School. There, he handled administrative functions for the Middle School and filled roles to support student life. He came to Phelps to serve as Executive Assistant to the Head of School and has since taken on key duties as Admissions Associate.
Sean Deitrich is our Director of Technology and Computer Science instructor. He is a University of Pittsburgh graduate who developed a passion for teaching through college-level tutoring and aiding his professors and peers as a teaching assistant. Sean enjoys e-sports, Dungeons & Dragons, hiking, gaming, and snowboarding.
Abby Fitzpatrick has been teaching for 11 years, six of them at Phelps. A northeastern Pennsylvania native, she holds both a Bachelor’s (Math and Education) and Master’s (Educational Leadership) degree from the University of Scranton. She played volleyball at Scranton and, at a previous school, coached several varsity seasons for both boys and girls teams. At Phelps, she teaches math, serves as Academic Dean, chairs the math department, and helps students find success in Evening Proctored Study. She lives on campus with her husband, John, and two young boys Greg (4) and Adam (2). She enjoys spending time with her family and crafting.
Dr. Lou Giangiulio
Dr. Lou Giangiulio is in his tenth year as school physician. He’s a graduate of the Jefferson Medical College (now Sidney Kimmel Medical College) in Philadelphia and is a US Army veteran who served for six years as an Army pediatrician, including three years at the United States Military Academy (West Point) and a ten-month deployment in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (2003-04). “Doc G” enjoys jogging, biking, and the ultimate test of coordination: playing the accordion. In 2010 he founded a solo practice, Sugartown Pediatrics, LLC, and in each of the past three years he’s been named a Top Doctor for Pediatrics in Philadelphia Magazine.
Carrie Hemler has been teaching for 12 years in various capacities, ranging from remedial reading, secondary English, and Reading Specialist roles to educational programming and administration. She joined the Academic Support Program at Phelps in 2016, where she teaches language arts, supports the
admissions office, and serves as yearbook advisor. Carrie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising from the University of Florida, a Master’s degree in Education from Nova Southeastern University, and is certified by the State of Pennsylvania in Reading K-12 and English 7-12. Amidst her time in teaching, Carrie has worked as a book editor, ocean lifeguard, and public relations account executive. In her free time, she enjoys bringing new life to old furniture, reading, and spending time with her family.
South Beattie Dorm Parent
Wei Hu enjoys a number of roles on our Phelps team––as dorm parent, international student mentor, coach, and assistant with activities, transportation, and campus security and supervision. He served previously at a boarding school for international students, primarily from China, where his impact as a positive role model and leader was significant in young men’s lives. He’s the dorm parent for students residing in South Beatties Hall.
Jawan Jones grew up in Linden, New Jersey, and attended The Phelps School as a postgraduate in 2014-15. He recently completed his studies at Ithaca College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications while competing as a two-year starter on Ithaca’s highly acclaimed wrestling team. Coach Jones is on the residential life staff in Founders Hall, helps with daily study supervision, and will coach the Lions wrestling team. When he’s not working out, he enjoys practicing yoga techniques.
Upper Gains Dorm Parent
Andy Kinney holds degrees in biology and biology education from Mansfield University and the University of Pittsburgh. He teaches life science courses at all grade levels, coaches JV soccer, and enjoys engaging students in outdoor activities and adventures from gardening to environmental projects. He’s on the residential life staff in Gains Hall, serves as freshman class sponsor, and he’s an avid rugby player!
Pat Knight is starting her 30th year at Phelps. She holds degrees in special education K-12, counseling psychology, and school psychology. She has taught students with special needs in independent and public elementary and middle schools and was an LD consultant for Chester County, serving six public school districts. The non-categorical resource room that she developed in the West Chester School District was a pilot program for the state of Pennsylvania. She’s happily married, and her combined family includes five children and eleven grandchildren.
Founders Dorm Parent
Tim Knight, now in his fifth year teaching Spanish at Phelps, holds bachelors degrees in Spanish and International Relations from Muskingum University in Ohio and a Masters degree in Hispanic Studies from Villanova University. He has taught college courses at both Villanova and the Universidad de Castilla-la Mancha in Spain and has worked as a Spanish language interpreter for the Villanova School of Law. A sports lover, Tim coaches varsity soccer and JV basketball at Phelps. He also now serves as adviser to our National Honor Society chapter. In his free time, he enjoys reading, watching soccer, and spending time with friends and family. He spends his summers outside of Madrid with his wife and her family and loves to travel around Europe.
Dean of Students
Matt Lane, our Dean of Students, came to Phelps from Little Rock, Arkansas, where he served for twelve years as an instructor of Civics, US History, and Comparative Politics, as well as leadership and character development. He also enjoyed great success as a varsity baseball coach. In addition to his duties as Dean, Matt teaches AP Comparative Government and Politics. He and his wife Tracy and their young daughters Audrey and Annie enjoy their house right across from the campus Sugartown Road.
Spencer Latran is a graduate of Loyola University Maryland, where he was a Dean’s List student involved in a wide variety of co-curricular and service programs, including his role as manager of the varsity basketball team. He has served previously as an advisor, tutor, and teacher of religion, social studies, learning skills, and P.E. to middle school students. He also directed a chess club and coached cross country, basketball, and intramurals. At Phelps, he enjoys social studies and math classes, helps students improve their study skills, serves as a Gains Hall dorm parent, and coaches cross-country, basketball, and lacrosse.
Founders Dorm Parent
Mike Mansi is in his thirteenth school year at Phelps, his sixteenth overall in education. He received his B.A. in English from Haverford College and his M.A. in English from West Chester University. At Phelps, Mike is our Language Arts Department Chair, teaching a variety of English classes from middle school to AP Literature and Composition. He’s the Head Dorm Parent in Founders and coaches varsity basketball and baseball. He’s an avid Philadelphia sports fan and has a special place in his heart for Boise State Football. Mike spends his summers on the Outer Banks of North Carolina cooking at a seafood restaurant. He is very close to his parents, sister, and nephews who all live locally and can be spotted at various Phelps sporting events.
Andrew Mangabat, a physics and math instructor, strives to inspire students’ excitement for STEAM education. He recently graduated with Honors from Elizabethtown College and received his degree in Physics Secondary Education. Andrew grew up just down the road in Phoenixville. As a high school student, he traveled to Thailand to compete in the International Youth Physicists Tournament (IYPT) representing Team USA. As a college student, he studied mechanical and quantum physics in Germany for a semester. His wide-ranging experiences have solidified his pedagogy and his fondness for teaching science. Andrew enjoys traveling back to Germany, cooking, teaching percussion, and learning new things.
Jason McGhee has been serving in educational leadership for twenty-three years, including various roles in the Department of Athletics and Recreation at his alma mater, The George Washington University. He’s also a U.S. Navy veteran who served on active duty during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. As the Director of Athletics at a school in Maryland, he oversaw more than 60 sports teams and 100 coaching positions. What he enjoys most in his work as an athletic administrator is the opportunity to instill life lessons, fun, and school spirit, particularly through leadership and character development programs.
Residential Life Staff
Tom Michael has been an educator for twenty years, including service as a teacher at the American School of Tampico (Mexico) and as an assistant vice-principal and social studies teacher at the Dubai American Scientific School. Since earning his history degree from Vassar College, Tom has enjoyed teaching in both day and boarding schools that value community, academic rigor, learning by doing, and compassion. He has introduced his students to Model United Nations events to hone their research, writing, and speaking skills, as well as the World Peace Game, which encourages empathy and critical thinking to solve global problems. He now teaches US History and Civics & Economics and serves on the residential life staff in Founders Hall.
David Mogle is the Director of Development & Alumni Relations. He is a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College, with a BA in Public Relations. Prior to coming to Phelps, David was with his alma mater, The Marvelwood School, in Kent, Connecticut, for four years. While at Marvelwood, David was a Development Associate, the Head Boys Varsity Basketball Coach, Assistant Varsity Baseball Coach, an advisor to five students, and a dorm parent. In 2018 and 2019, under David’s leadership, the Marvelwood basketball program reached new heights, earning consecutive invitations to the NEPSAC Class D Tournament, for the first time in school history. He was also a top three finalist, as voted by his coaching peers for NEPSAC Class D Coach of the Year in 2018 and 2019. David enjoys playing basketball, being with family and friends, and rooting for all things Pittsburgh, as well as the Cleveland Cavaliers. David’s favorite aspect of Phelps is the sense of community felt on campus from students and faculty. David is passionate about coaching our young men on the basketball court and baseball field, as well as being a dorm parent in Beattie Hall.
Trey Morin, our new Head Basketball Coach, earned his bachelor’s degree and played on the basketball team at Salem State University. He earned his master’s degree at Merrimack College, where he was a graduate assistant within the Athletic Department. Trey has been an assistant coach at Bradford Christian Academy of NEPSAC AA, Colby-Sawyer College of the GNAC, and at Bates College of the NESCAC, where he developed his firm belief in three pillars for program success: passion, trust, and purpose. Coach Morin has been heavily involved in the grassroots basketball sector for a number of years, meanwhile working camps throughout the country including Snow Valley Basketball School, The Hoop Group, and Hoop Mountain. Coach Morin will be the dorm parent for students in Lower Gains Hall and will assist with college counseling, helping students through the search and application process.
Molly Porter graduated with honors from the University of Chicago and was a Leonard Engleman Fellowship Associate for Prosthetic Makeup during her education at Cinema Makeup School. She earned her Masters in Art Education at Tyler School of Art, part of Temple University. Molly’s art career has taken her from fine art galleries to film sets. She worked as a professional makeup and special effects artist based in North Hollywood, producing incredible transformations for film, television, stage, and still photography. Her experience as a professional artist and her firm belief in the importance of art education inspire her to help each student discover new talents and find his creative voice.
Blair Soffe brings a wide range of independent-school experience to her role as Executive Assistant. She’s an alumna of The Baldwin School and holds a B.A. in English Literature from Trinity College in Connecticut. She’s also enjoyed graduate studies in Secondary School Education at nearby Cabrini College. She’s been a teacher, coach, and private tutor, as well as director of a charter school, and co-founder of an annual week-long yoga camp during her years living in California. She’s also mom to two teenagers.
Jennifer Sweitzer is a certified K-12 teacher with twenty years of experience in both private and public settings, where she has focused on meeting the needs of all learners. Her academic background is in English and Language Arts, and she is completing her work for her master’s degree and certification in Special Education. As an ASP instructor, and a mother of two Phelps boys, Jen understands the struggles that students often face with reading and language delays, and she empathizes with parents and teachers who do all they can to help.
Troy Trotter enjoyed an eighteen-year career as a chemist before hearing the call to become a science teacher. He now enjoys bringing his experience to the classroom. Troy holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from American International College in Springfield, MA, and he completed science teacher certification through the fellowship program at Drexel University. He served previously on the faculty at Central High School in Philadelphia and at Henderson High School in the West Chester Area School District. He teaches math and science courses here at Phelps.
Director of College Counseling
Lauren Walton is in her sixth year as an ESL and AP English teacher and second year as Director of College Counseling. Before her career in education, Lauren put her Business Administration degree (SUNY Geneseo) to work in the corporate world at Liberty Mutual (Syracuse, NY) and Nixon Peabody LLP (Washington, DC). She answered the siren call of the expat travel lifestyle and earned a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate in Corinth, Greece, then went on to live in China, South Korea, and Australia for three years as an English teacher and chiropractic assistant. She returned to Philadelphia to earn an M.S. in Education (Reading, Writing, and Literacy) from the University of Pennsylvania. After a stint in early childhood education Lauren joined the Phelps School faculty as the ESL Director. Her two young boys love all of their Phelps “big brothers,” giving high fives to everyone on campus with great enthusiasm if not much accuracy.
Dr. Caroline Whitbeck, our Director of Admissions, is an alumna of both single-sex and boarding schools. She holds degrees from Harvard University (A.B., Classics, summa cum laude ), Brown University (M.F.A., Literary Arts), and the University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D., Comparative Literature). Caroline has presented scholarly research and had her own book of poetry published during her years as a lecturer at Brown, Penn, and Rowan University in their creative writing, critical writing, and comparative literature programs.
Cathy Young, born and raised in the Philadelphia area, received her BS in Secondary Math Education at Millersville University and her MS from Cairn University in Curriculum and Instruction. She taught and chaired the math department at a boarding school in southern Germany for eleven years, then moved to Casablanca to teach in a trilingual school. Returning to the States, she settled in Iowa where she was an instructor at a small private college in the Teacher Education Department, supervising student teachers and serving as the licensure officer. Missing family and the energy of the secondary-school setting, she returned to PA this past year and joined the Phelps School family as a teacher of algebra and geometry.