Meet The New Faculty for 2023


Meet The New Faculty for 2023

Meet the New Faculty

New hires stepped into Avon history, world language, and engineering classrooms this fall. Meet our team of new teachers—we think they're pretty great.

Ethan Case ’16, History

Ethan was born in Hartford, Conn., and grew up locally right here in Avon. As an eighth grader, after hearing from a few friends in town that they would be attending an open house at Avon Old Farms, Ethan became intrigued by the prospect of attending the school. After a bit of convincing, Ethan finally got his parents to say yes to sign him up for the fall open house in 2011. 

From the moment he first stepped onto campus, Ethan was enamored with the idea of attending Avon Old Farms. What pushed him even further was that his grandfather had graduated from Avon in the mid 1950s. 

After attending Avon, and graduating in 2016, Ethan then began his studies at Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history. Unsure of what to do after graduating college, and in the midst of the pandemic, Ethan was searching for a job when an old friend who worked at an elementary school in West Hartford said there was an opportunity to become a TA. After spending a year in the West Hartford school district, Ethan then accepted a position as a history teacher at an all-boys junior boarding school in Marlborough, Mass., where he spent two years teaching.

When Ethan learned of the prospect of returning to his alma mater, he was more than delighted to accept the opportunity. Ethan now lives on campus in Elephant 2 Dormitory with his cat. 

Fun Facts:

  • Ethan is a massive sports fan who follows the Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox, and the soccer clubs Real Madrid and Chelsea FC. 

  • Ethan has a younger sister, and his parents still live five minutes away from Avon Old Farms.

Mary-Kate Greenberg, History

Mary-Kate was born and raised near Pasadena, CA, and lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 20 years. Despite this, she says she has always been “a New Englander at heart,” especially after gaining experience living and teaching throughout the region including schools in Boston, Connecticut, and Vermont.

In high school she played varsity field hockey, was a manager for the boy's baseball team, and served on the student council, which gave her an understanding of how all the aspects of a school environment contribute to student development.

“All of these activities taught me life-long lessons about teamwork, dedication and responsibility to both my school and the greater community. Some of my best friends today are the same ones I made on the playing field or planning school activities.”

Greenberg, who goes by M.K., is the daughter of educators. Growing up with so much exposure to a classroom setting gave her an early start to her career as a teacher.

“I’m most passionate about encouraging my students to be intellectually curious and nothing makes me happier than watching them develop confidence in themselves both academically and personally.”

After graduating from the University of California at Los Angeles, M.K. has enjoyed a 20+ year teaching career at a wide range of institutions including single-sex, co-ed, day, and boarding schools. She said she feels that AOF is a natural fit for her.

“The most important attribute for me has always been community. I love getting the chance to truly know my students well through small classes, interaction in the hallways, and supporting their activities outside of the classroom. This environment is inherent to Avon and was apparent the minute I stepped onto Mrs. Riddle's bucolic campus. Beyond Avon's physical beauty, however, were some of the most engaging and aspirational teachers, staff, and students I have ever encountered.”

Fun Facts:

  • M.K. lives with her husband, Jeff, in a household run by their dog, Sandy.

  • She has served on educational advisory panels for both the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Asian Art Museum San Francisco.

  • Her all-time favorite city is Boston

Eric Larson, Engineering

While Eric Larson joined the faculty at Avon Old Farms in 2023, he was a community member prior to that–he moved to campus in 2019 when he married engineering teacher Beth Larson. 

Originally from South Elgin, Illinois, Eric loved the idea of flight from an early age. By 14 he was flying gliders and had his student pilot license. As a freshman in high school, he was coached by a father/son duo who not only were pilots in real life, but who also owned a local flight school. Eric took to spending his free time at the airstrip absorbing as much as he could from them about the world of aviation.

When it came time to attend college, Eric matriculated to Southern Illinois University where he studied aviation management. He also earned his associates degree in aviation flight and earned his private pilot license and commercial pilot license, with multi-engine and instrument ratings. Unfortunately, when Eric was finishing his degree in 2006, most airlines were laying off pilots, not hiring them. He knew his chances of turning his love of aviation into a full-time job would be hard. Instead, Eric opted for a role within the aviation world–just not in the cockpit.

“I took a job at Tweed New Haven Airport in Connecticut in airport operations. After two years I became the operations manager and was in charge of maintaining the airport’s FAA compliance.” After four years at Tweed, Eric moved to a larger airport: Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., where he remained for 13 years. 

Along the way, Eric met Beth. Even before they were married, Eric visited campus often, joining classes as a guest speaker, doing demo flight lessons with his RC planes down on the football field, and helping Beth with her classroom preparation.

“There’s a big difference between what the textbooks tell you as theory and applying it in real life. I often would hear Beth prepping for class and I would say, ‘no, no, that doesn’t matter. What the kids need to know is this…’

After joining Beth on campus, Eric became more involved with life at Avon. He volunteered with Club Forge, helped students work on their electrathon race car, and even helped a student build a trebuchet for launching pumpkins off the vista. 

When asked what his favorite part about Avon is, Eric says its the close-knit community. “Even when I wasn’t working here, I’ve been around for BBQs, Christmas parties, and I’ve gotten to know the people by walking our dog, Piper, around campus or pushing our son, Cooper, in his stroller. Now that I’ll officially be joining the staff I’m looking forward to getting to know more people who I’ve known in passing.”

Fun Facts:

  • Eric loves building things by hand and figuring out how to make something come together: from bed frames to picnic tables, he’s designed and built many useful items.

  • Eric made many of his friends through a love of coffee: at Bradley, he’d text a coffee emoji to a group of colleagues and they’d meet at the Dunkin for an afternoon break. His Dunkin order is a hot coffee with two cream and two pumps of caramel swirl.

  • Eric and Beth love the outdoors and spent a lot of time in their kayaks before their son was born.

Eric Lundell, History

Eric Lundell was born and raised in Middletown, Connecticut. Both of his parents were educators; however, from a young age, Eric knew that he wanted to be in law enforcement. Eric attended Xavier High School in Middletown, an all-boys Catholic school, and then Central Connecticut State University. While in his third year of college, Eric was hired by the Avon Police Department, where he spent 20 years in various roles throughout the department. Eric returned to college to earn a bachelor's degree in criminology and then a master's degree in geospatial intelligence from Penn State University. Eric retired from the Avon Police Department in 2023, attaining the rank of Sergeant and Commander of the regional emergency service team.

From 2005 to 2013, Eric served as an Infantryman in the Connecticut Army National Guard. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2017, Eric began volunteer coaching with the Avon Old Farms wrestling team. It was at this time that John Bourgault and Chris Doyle planted the seed to make AOF his second career after police work. In addition, Eric has assisted in the development of our campus safety plan and procedures over the past several years, and has worked with Intersession courses.

Eric has almost 20 years of experience in designing and teaching innovative, interesting, and fun lesson plans for both small and large group instruction. He has worked on a one-on-one level as a mentor to young soldiers in the Army and new patrol officers fresh out of the police academy. He has also led large 25 person in-service training groups. 

Eric has a particular passion for history dating back to his pre-deployment training for his tour in Afghanistan. He recalls reading “The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics” in Afghanistan, a 1996 non-fiction book translated and edited by American military scholar and author Lester W. Grau, and then the experience of personally walking the terrain described in the book. "Seeing it first-hand made me appreciate the beauty and power that can be unlocked through history. But, I have also witnessed first-hand the dangerous ramifications for those who ignore the important lessons of the past. I hope to bring these lessons and more to the students in my history classes."

Fun Facts:

  • As part of his capstone project for his master's degree, Eric briefed the Director of the Geospatial Intelligence Agency on a threat matrix he created.

  • Eric has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

  • Eric is married to Hillery and has two children Madeline and Henry. 

Katherine Montalbano, World Language

Katharine Montalbano has been immersed in multiple cultures from the time she was a baby. The daughter of a man from Guatemala and a woman from Maine, she grew up in a multicultural household and has always been bilingual. As a young girl she moved between the US and Guatemala, as her father's love of his country and desire for economic and political change led the family back to Guatemala during various periods. However, in 1998, she had her first encounter with Avon Old Farms School.

“I was attending Ethel Walker School at the time. Boarding school education was one unifying aspect between my parents' cultures and it was deeply valued for fostering independent thought, self-confidence, and structured routines. Within the first month of attending Ethel Walker, I met my husband, Vinnie Montalbano ’00 at an Avon Old Farms mixer dance in the gymnasium.”

When it came time to choose a career, Katharine followed the path of education.

“My maternal grandfather was an English and art teacher at St. Paul's School. My mother attended National Cathedral School and then Simon's Rock, and my father first arrived in the US on a student visa after attending a boarding school in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.”

In the classroom, Katharine believes in Spanish immersion, and leads an animated class using comprehensible input and speaking almost exclusively in Spanish.

“The ability to navigate a completely new language in a different country is such an important life skill to develop. In my classes, students derive meaning from gestures, body language, and context in addition to Spanish words. Inevitably, this requires greater focus and paying attention throughout the entire class or else risk missing vital information. The goal for students in my class is to develop enhanced communication skills using all of the tools available to them.”

Katharine also loves sharing Guatemalan and Latin American cultural traditions, music, and food with students, explaining that an understanding of different cultures enhances meaning in our own lives and helps us to realize where we fit into the world. “My greatest joy in the classroom is sharing a synergy with students and listening to students surprise themselves with their Spanish knowledge.”

“I feel so incredibly grateful to have returned to Avon as a teacher and to be a part of such a warm and welcoming community.”

Fun Facts:

  • After spending a summer abroad in Potenza, Italy, Katherine is conversational in Italian and has translated for her family during family trips to Italy.
  • As a college student, she visited Spain for three weeks.
  • With the exception of Nicaragua, she has visited all of the countries in Central America.
  • Her father was involved in political campaigns and served as an advisor to a former Vice President of Guatemala and then subsequently, International Aid Coordinator between Guatemala and the United States.