CFS Welcomes New Faculty

Church Farm School is pleased to announce that it will be welcoming some new faces to its boarding and day school community for the 2022-2023 school year.
Debbie Witmer, STEM Chair
Debbie Witmer joins the Church Farm School community on July 1 as the new STEM Chair. In this role, Debbie will lead a comprehensive, interdisciplinary design of the STEM curriculum, with a specific focus on augmenting opportunities for Engineering, Computer Programming and Sustainability and the development of the new STEM Flex Center. Additionally, she will teach Advanced Biology, Environmental Science & Sustainability and Statistics.
Debbie has a B.S. in biology from the University of North Florida; an M.A. in educational technology from Concordia University; and is pursuing an Ed.D. degree at Concordia University. Debbie is very familiar with the independent school world and comes to CFS from Lake Forest Academy, a boarding school in Lake Forest, IL, where she served as the Science Department Chair.
Says Assistant Head of School Margaret van Steenwyk, “Debbie impressed us with her vision for integrating the departments within STEM as well as her leadership skills. Most importantly, she is absolutely delighted to join our community.”
Liang Gates, STEM Department
Liang Gates joins Debbie in the STEM department, teaching 9th Grade Science and Algebra II. Liang has an interesting and varied background; she holds a BA in business administration from Hunan University and most recently taught 5th grade at Delaware County Christian School. She has taught math and Mandarin at the high school level and served as math/STEM instructor at Western Iowa Tech Community College for 10 years before moving to the region with her family. Says Assistant Head of School Margaret van Steenwyk, “Having been born and raised in China, Liang is interested in global education. She is also very much a proponent of single-sex education.” 
Pedro Frazao, STEM Department
Pedro Frazao graduated in June 2022 with a BS degree in math from Drexel University. In addition to teaching Pre-Calculus and 9th Grade Science, Pedro will work in one of the student dormitories as a cottage faculty member. Says Assistant Head of School Margaret van Steenwyk, “Pedro’s professors speak about his incredible talent as a math student, teaching assistant and tutor. Pedro hails from Portugal and therefore brings an international perspective along with fluency in Portuguese and Spanish.” 
Alex Daniels, Academic Support Coordinator  
Alex Daniels will be the school’s new Academic Support Coordinator, providing leadership for the development and implementation of the school's academic instructional programs and support for administrators and instructional staff in assuring that effective and challenging curriculum and instructional practices are occurring. Alex is an educator and education advocate, with experience building curriculum, teaching and leading teams. Alex joins us most recently from Kipp School in Texas where she was lead teacher and grade level chair for 6th grade. She holds a BA in sociology from Princeton University and is completing her master’s in education with a concentration in ELL from Relay University in Texas. Says Assistant Head of School Margaret van Steenwyk, “We are excited that she will step into the new role of Academic Support Coordinator and will pick up on the groundwork laid by current faculty in creating the academic coaching program. For Alex this is a homecoming; her father was the CFS chaplain when she was in high school and she has a strong appreciation for the school and its mission. Her brother JohnDerek returned to CFS as a cottage faculty member in 2021-2022.”
Kate Hunter, School Counselor
Kate Hunter joins the CFS community as its school counselor, focused on supporting the overall success and well-being of students and nurturing their intellectual and emotional well-being. She will also work closely with other members of the Health and Wellness Team in developing a well-being program/curriculum. Kate comes to CFS from St. Peter’s School in Philadelphia, where she was the director of wellness and equity. She holds a BA in counseling from Thomas Jefferson University and a master’s in counseling from Rosemont College. She has had experience in a variety of settings including Johns Hopkins Talented Youth Program and the Center for Autism. Says Assistant Head of School Margaret van Steenwyk, “Kate is a Licensed Professional Counselor who strategically combines emotional wellness and equity initiatives to produce a holistic approach to student development.”

John Garges, Cottage Faculty
John Garges, who prefers to be called JC, joins the Residential Life Department this year as the new Disston Cottage Head of House, where he will work with our incoming 9th graders and the other current resident adult in Disston, JD Daniels. JC holds a bachelor’s degrees in youth ministry and psychology from Eastern University in Wayne, PA, and a master’s degree in ministry and theology from Villanova University.
Most recently JC worked as a graduate resident minister at Villanova University. In that capacity he led student-athletes in retreats ranging from hour-long to full-day retreats based on mindfulness, gratitude and joy. He also helped oversee 35 undergraduate peer ministers and their ministries. He has also worked as a youth pastor at St. Ann’s Parish in Phoenixville, PA. JC loves running and hopes to coach cross country and/or track and field as part of his duties at Church Farm. In line with this other passion, JC previously worked as an assistant cross country coach at the University of Valley Forge, and more recently as a physical education teacher at Saint Aloysius Parish & School in Pottstown, PA. John is engaged to be married in October and his soon-to-be wife will eventually reside with him in Disston. They will become the second married couple currently serving on the Res Life team.
Yonbue Tanco ’18, Cottage Faculty
Yonbue Goodall-Tanco, a graduate of the CFS Class of 2018 will return to campus in August as the fifth alumnus working as cottage faculty on the Residential Life team. Yonbue hails from New York and spent four happy years at Church Farm School. While here he was a true scholar-athlete, excelling in both academics and athletics, particularly wrestling. His wrestling prowess took him to Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, where he was a Division III varsity wrestler for four years while earning his bachelor’s degree in English, with two minors in business administration and studio art. He graduated summa cum laude, with highest honors in English Literature.

Yonbue distinguished himself in numerous ways during his undergraduate career including: serving as the Muhlenberg Academic Review editor; as a member of the  English honors society, Chi Alpha Sigma; as a member of the Athletic honors society; birthing a drive to improve and learn by gaining the ability to work as a team leader and as a competitor; participating in the Emerging Leader Program; focusing on improving inclusion and diversity on campus through faculty and student training and events and serving on the college disciplinary panel trying to reduce academic integrity issues. Yonbue hopes to coach wrestling and study for the LSATs during his time at CFS as he prepares for his ultimate goal of attending law school someday. We are thrilled to welcome home Yonbue Tanco who will reside and work in Good Shepherd cottage with current Head of House Colyn Lyons.

The Church Farm School is an independent boarding and day school for boys in grades 9-12 located in Exton, PA. Founded in 1918 to provide an excellent education to young men from limited means, Church Farm School now serves boys from a range of socio-economic circumstances who are seeking an extraordinary educational opportunity. The school offers a challenging college preparatory curriculum and an exceptional level of personal attention, with class sizes averaging between just 7 and 12 students.