The 2019 winners of the Scholastic Art & Writing Competition have recently been named by the Cleveland Institute of Art and 14 Laurel students received 16 honors in the visual arts and writing categories. Each year, the Alliance partners with more than 100 visual arts and literary arts organizations across the country to bring the Scholastic Awards to local communities. Open to students in Grades 7-12, applicants can submit in 29 different categories of art and writing.

Students submitted more than 350,000 works of art and writing in this year’s competition. Award-winning work best exemplifies originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal voice or vision. Students receiving Gold Keys, Silver Keys, Honorable Mentions, or American Visions & Voices Nominations are celebrated within their communities through local exhibitions and ceremonies. Congratulations to the following Laurel students who were recognized:


Gold Keys:

  • Celeste Bohan '19, Photography
  • Jordyn Goldstein '20, Painting
  • Linzy Malcolm '20, Photography (pictured, above left)

Silver Keys:

  • Caroline Abbey '19, Photography
  • Victoria Hagen '20, Photography (pictured, above right)

Honorable Mentions:

  • Caroline Abbey '19, Photography
  • Rachel Estafanous '19, Photography
  • Mei Hashimoto '20, Mixed Media
  • Erin Thomas ’22, Painting 


Gold Keys:

  • Melanie Nance '19, Poetry
  • Jacqueline Marshall '21, Poetry

Silver Key:

  • Olivia Savona '19, Critical Essay
  • Nadia Ibrahim '21 (awarded two Silver Keys), Poetry

Honorable Mention:

  • Emi Cummings '20, Personal Essay/Memoir
  • Nadia Ibrahim '21, Flash Fiction
  • Barbara Yang '21, Critical Essay 
Ria Desai '19 was recently featured as an unsung hero in the Chagrin Valley Times for her local volunteer work and bone density research, which she presented at a recent American College of Rheumatology conference. In the article Ria explains that when a serious car accident sidelined her tennis season, she "Started working more with an organization called The Up Side of Downs that offers Buddy Up Tennis clinics to children with Down Syndrome in Northeast Ohio. She also increased her hours volunteering with Inner City Tennis Clinics, a summer camp for Cleveland children that incorporates tennis, literacy, wellness, poetry and fitness." 
In addition, Ria launched a STEM-based research project utilizing her Dream. Dare. Do. (D3) period time that looked at the relationship between physical exertion and bone density in girls. She states that, "It came from my mom always telling me to drink milk because of bone issues and a lack of calcium. And then, though I wasn’t playing at the time, I was still an athlete, so I combined those two ideas and developed the project." Ria is now working on turning the project into a manuscript and hopes that it gets accepted into a journal and paper. She also hopes to expand the study to include more ages as well as boys. Click here to read the full story.
On October 10, several members of the Laurel community, including 12 alumnae, spent the afternoon with students in Grades K-8 leading activities focused on financial literacy and entrepreneurship. The goal was to empower and spark entrepreneurial spirit in the students. Activities were designed by VentureLab and incorporated using the girls' resourcefulness, problem-solving skills and curiosity. Many of the activities focused on idea generation, creating a business model, design thinking and pitching. The Sun Press and Sun Messenger included a recap of this fun and engaging afternoon on their front pages.
Primary School teachers Shannon Lukz and Emily Felderman were both featured, along with several Grade Four students, in a recent Girls in STEM segment that aired on WKYC Channel 3. Shannon and Emily have been instrumental in designing and leading a month-long immersion learning unit at Laurel's Butler Campus called "Power & Purpose," which focuses heavily on science, math and the many components of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) learning. Throughout the unit students surveyed the land and created topography maps, tested the water quality of Griswald Creek, and learned all about the mechanics of a bike, which they used as their main mode of transportation for the month. WKYC visited Butler on the final day of the unit to capture the work of the students, who designed and built the "Adventure Rivulet Bridge," which is now in use at Butler. Click here to watch the full story.

Maggie Hilkert '19 was featured in Currents Magazine highlighting her love for finance, which she discovered through her participation in Laurel's Capstone Experience. In her Sophomore year, Maggie traveled to San Francisco and after meeting a Laurel alumna who is a venture capitalist, stated that, "She had the coolest job I ever saw. I loved talking to her. I was fascinated with her job and that helped me narrow that aspect of my project." As Maggie progressed with her Capstone Experience, she "interviewed venture capitalists around the country, shadowed Cleveland-area business owners, interned at an equity research firm, and decided to start an Investment Committee at Laurel." The article goes on to say that, "Earlier this month, Maggie moderated a panel of women in finance as part of Laurel's Day of the Girl celebration which, this year, had a theme of financial literacy." 

Click here to read the full story.

The Cleveland Jewish News has named Jami Morris '21 as its Player of the Week. Jami earned the honors after finishing in a tie for first place at the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II state girls golf tournament October 12-13 at The Ohio State University Golf Club’s Gray Course in Columbus. She shot a 73-74 for a total of 147, plus-7, tying for lowest score. In the article, Jami said she wasn’t surprised she performed so well in the tournament. "I think I worked extremely hard this past summer. I feel that all paid off and I hope to continue next year, and the year after, and hopefully in college. Except on the first day, I didn’t even think I was playing in the state tournament. Walking off the 18th green, I thought, 'I’m happy with how I played, I could have played better, but there’s always next year.'" 

Laurel golf coach Marti Hardy said she was impressed with Morris’s performance, but she wasn’t surprised. "I’ve watched her all along work hard to get where she has. I think the harder thing is, when you play at states, you’re not necessarily playing with the players that are scoring what you’ve been scoring the last day or so. It’s an unknown, they’re out there somewhere on the course playing. Maybe it’s a good thing that you don’t know, but I watched Jami just keep it all together really well and not doubt herself. I saw her hit two phenomenal shots that two golf pros who were near me said, 'she’s the real deal, she really knows how to play this game,' and it’s true."

Click here to read the full story.



Congratulations to these seven members of Laurel's class of 2019 who have received Letters of Commendation in recognition of their outstanding academic promise, based on their Preliminary Scholastic Achievement Test scores. More than 1.6 million juniors took the PSAT in 2017. Catherine Amaddio, Grace Cousens, Ria Desai, Meredith Hilkert, Cameron Kaye, Simran Surtani, and Daania Tahir all scored in the top 50,000 of those participants.

Early childhood education is just as rewarding for educators as it is for students. This was the theme in a recent Cleveland Jewish News article that featured interview excerpts from Laurel Prekindergarten teacher Kathryn Marshall. In the story Kathryn states that, "Children keep me in the moment and help me rediscover the joy of being in the moment. I get to have the same awe with children right there with them." She goes on to explain that she is "Always trying to find new, innovative ways to teach children. The sense of joy and wonder of living in the moment also translates into my life." Click here to read the full story, including the sage advice Kathryn would give her younger self.
Jami Morris '21, who competed in the Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals in Augusta earlier this year, recently conducted a Q&A with Cleveland Magazine where she talked golf, fashion, the perfect miniature golf hole design and her hobbies off the golf course. Her story was featured in the magazine's Private School Special Section. When asked what her favorite golf attire is she replied "I have these crazy bright pink shorts. If I had 20 pairs, I would wear them every day. They brighten my game and encourage me to be the best golfer I can be." She also touched on equality in her interview, stating that "Women should be able to play with the men, on the same courses and with the same yardages. That would be a big step up for women's golf, and we will rise to the challenge." 

Click here to read her full interview.  

Jackson to work together with Ann V. Klotz and Board members to maintain the Laurel School Mission

SHAKER HEIGHTS, OH – (August 22, 2018) Laurel School is pleased to announce Lynnette Jackson ’93 as the new Chair of the Board of Trustees. Jackson, a Relationship Manager and Vice President at Key Private Bank, has been on the Board since 2012, most recently serving as Vice Chair. Prior to joining the Board of Trustees, Jackson held the role of Laurel Alumnae Board President from 2009-2012.

“It is both an honor and a privilege to serve in this role as Board Chair,” said Lynnette Jackson. “It is an opportunity to give back to my alma mater who, through academic rigor, enriching experiences and leadership opportunities, has inspired me and my family to dream, dare and do. As Laurel embarks on its 125th Birthday, the work of this Board will certainly shape the next 25-50 years of the school.”

In her Relationship Manager role at Key Private Bank, Jackson delivers integrated strategies and forward-thinking, objective advice to her clients. These skills will continue to serve her well in her new role as Board Chair where Jackson will work closely with Laurel Headmistress Ann V. Klotz and other Board members to continue to set and maintain a vision and strategy for the school. Together, they will ensure sound financial management, appropriate stewardship of resources, and accountability towards goals.

“I am so pleased to be working hand-in-hand with Lynnette and the entire Board of Trustees to continue living Laurel’s mission and building on our long-term vision,” said Ann V. Klotz, Laurel Headmistress. “The Board has been instrumental in the development of our Strategic Roadmap and it is an exciting time for us as we embark on our next goal. I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together.”

Other updates to the Board include Kristine Swails Bryan ’80, who has been named Vice Chair. Bryan is an Equity Research Consultant with Private Harbour Investment Management, LLC, and has been a member of the Board since 2015, most recently serving as Chair of the Investment Committee. Megan Lum Mehalko ’83, Chaundra King Monday ’95, and Suzanne Schulze Taylor ’81, have all been newly elected to the Board with three-year terms commencing June 2018.


Founded in 1896, Laurel School is a nationally recognized school for girls in Kindergarten through Grade 12, with a coeducational Pre-Primary School. Its mission is “to inspire each girl to fulfill her promise and to better the world.”




  • January 2019
    • FriJan25 Middle School CTP-4 (ERB) Meeting 8:15 AM to 9:00 AM
    • SatJan26 Upper School Dance 8:00 PM to 11:00 PMLyman
    • MonJan28 Parenting Your Adolescent Daughter (for MS Parents) 7:00 PMLyman
    • TueJan29 Middle School CTP-4 (ERBs)
    • WedJan30 Middle School CTP-4 (ERBs)
    • ThuJan31 Middle School CTP-4 (ERBs)
  • February 2019
    • SatFeb02 Groundhog Day
    • TueFeb05 Chinese New Year
    • WedFeb06 Global School Play Day
    • ThuFeb07 Upper School Parent/Advisor Conferences 3:30 PM to 7:00 PM
    • FriFeb08 Onee Bergfeld Lowe '82 Chapel 10:20 AMLyman

Laurel School's New Faculty & Staff for 2018-2019

Julie Webster Allen • Outdoor Pre-Primary
A longtime exercise physiologist at University Hospitals, Mrs. Allen has been responsible for prescribing and supervising exercise programs for cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation patients and involved in all aspects of a multi-disciplinary rehab program. An avid outdoorswoman, she is a volunteer for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and an assistant with the Adventure Girls program at Laurel. She holds a bachelor’s degree in health education from Slippery Rock University and a master’s degree in physical education/exercise physiology from Kent State University.

Robert Baker III  Assistant Director of Facilities
Mr. Baker, who joined Laurel in the spring of 2018, has two decades worth of experience in construction management, architecture and systems controls and ongoing operations—as director of facilities and securities for the Breakthrough Charter Schools, as director of operations and project manager at Judson South Franklin Circle and in various roles with a local builder, a flooring company and at National City Bank Corporation and at Keycorp. He graduated from Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in industrial design.

Martha C. Z. Bayliss  Middle School English, Long-term Substitute
A graduate of Western Reserve Academy, The University of Michigan and Montana State University, Ms. Bayliss’ experience includes teaching visual and performing arts as well as design technology to primary and middle school-aged students. She was an online learning coordinator and visual arts and drama teacher at the Canadian International School in Singapore and spent four years in the United Kingdom at the Wellingborough School. After returning to the States a year ago, she has coached for Western Reserve Academy and worked as a substitute teacher at Hudson Montessori.

Ciara Bush  Laurel’s Center for Research on Girls and Strategic Partnerships, Administrative Assistant
Ms. Bush joins Laurel after three years as the academic support specialist and coordinator at Newbridge Cleveland where she was responsible for maintaining its database of applicants and enrollees, building relationships with other organizations and coordinating volunteers. Previously, she was an executive administrative assistant for the Zaremba Group. She holds an associate’s degree from Bryant and Stratton and has volunteered with the Big Brother Big Sister program as well as with Youth Opportunities Unlimited.

Lauren Calig  Director of Multi-Cultural Education
Mrs. Calig returns to Laurel, where she served as Middle School Dean from 2000-04, after 14 years as the coordinator for equity and inclusion and primary learning specialist at University School’s Shaker campus, where she received the William F. Seelbach Faculty Fellowship Award in 2017. Before moving to Ohio, she was a middle school learning specialist at The Ellis School and at Shady Side Academy, both in Pittsburgh. She received her undergraduate degree in art history as well as a master’s in teaching from the University of Pittsburgh and she obtained a graduate certificate in diversity, social justice and inclusion from the University of Colorado.

Tamar Cloyd  Advancement Associate
Most recently at Johns Hopkins University, where she served as grants coordinator, Ms. Cloyd joined Laurel’s Development Office in late spring. At Johns Hopkins, she assisted with identifying projects and programs that had the potential for obtaining funding from federal, state and local grant-making institutions. Previously, she implemented annual fundraising plans and the first national fundraiser for Education Voters of America, was a grants’ officer for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and a development specialist for Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, all in DC. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with honors, from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in community social psychology from the University of Massachusetts.

Joseph M. Corsaro  Upper School History
Mr. Corsaro graduated from John Carroll University, majoring in history, and Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. A licensed attorney, he realized after volunteering as an instructor at John Marshall High School and as a team coach through the Cleveland Metropolitan School District Mock Trial that his calling was in the classroom. He comes to Laurel from Benedictine High School where he taught classes in US history, criminal and consumer law, sports medicine, current affairs and mock trial. He is an advisory board member of the Saint Ignatius High School Entrepreneurship Club and served on St. Ignatius’ Alumni Executive Council.

Andrew Cruse • College Guidance, Associate Director
Mr. Cruse comes to Laurel’s College Guidance Office after eight years in undergraduate admissions at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). He began his tenure there as an admissions counselor and was promoted twice, to assistant and then associate director. At Case, he oversaw and managed recruitment territories in large competitive markets; participated in admissions panels, essay workshops and case studies programs; served as the liaison to the athletic department; developed, coordinated and produced “CWRU Live!”, a one-hour showcase of student life; managed the highly selective Pre-Professional Scholars program and evaluated applications for admission review. Mr. Cruse has a bachelor of fine arts degree in theater from Boston University and a master’s of fine arts in theater from Kent State University.

William DePalma • Upper School Visual Arts
An award-winning photographer and videographer, Mr. DePalma has a BFA in photography from Washington University and an MFA in photography and a master’s in applied photography and photojournalism from Ohio University. He has taught at the University of Akron, Cuyahoga Community College, Ohio University and the Maine Photographic Workshops. Most recently a freelance photographer and video producer, he previously worked for American Greetings where he served as developmental media director for Those Characters from Cleveland, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and the Washington University Medical School. His work is in private and educational collections as well as the Library of Congress.

Marisa Gindi • Special Events Coordinator
For close to a decade, Ms. Gindi worked in the hospitality industry, first as the assistant club manager at The Country Club of Hudson and then as senior event manager at Renaissance Cleveland Hotel. As the co-chair of the Board of Trustees for the Rita Matteo Memorial Scholarship Foundation, she is responsible for all aspects of the annual golf outing which raises funds to provide scholarships to high school students to further their education. Ms. Gindi graduated from Kent State University with a degree in hospitality and management.

Kristin Hicks • Middle School Math, Long-term Substitute
Ms. Hicks most recently taught mathematics and science at Saint Stanislaus in Cleveland. There, she designed lessons to engage various learning styles and to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. She incorporated a variety of technology into the classroom to engage students. She has been an ACT Prep Workshop Presenter for Greater Cleveland Now and taught honors algebra, algebra and geometry at Warrensville Heights High School. She received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Cleveland State University.

Rachel Lawton • Upper School World Languages, Hebrew
Over the last 20 years, Ms. Lawton has taught Hebrew and Judaic subjects at Gross Schechter Day School, the Cleveland Hebrew Schools and Akiva High School’s evening classes. She has taught Hebrew to adults with little or no Hebrew language experience through Case Western Reserve University’s Siegal Lifelong Learning program. Before moving to Cleveland she was a teacher in the Israel Public School System. Ms. Lawton, who speaks four languages, double majored in English language/literature and Hebrew and comparative literature at Haifa University in Israel. She holds a master’s degree in Judaic Studies from Siegal College.

Kathryn Massien • Accounting Manager
As the business manager for the Julie Billiart Schools in Lyndhurst and Akron, Mrs. Massien was responsible for accounts payable, payroll and employee benefits, budgeting and reporting and income processing. Her corporate background includes serving as the controller for Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Company, Inc.; as group controller and senior financial analyst at Steris Corporation; and senior external auditor at Arthur Andersen, LLP. She graduated from Miami University with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy and finance.

Taylor Molten • Primary, Kindergarten
An undergraduate of Colgate University, Ms. Molten received her master’s degree from Columbia Teachers College. She was an apprentice at New Canaan Country School in Connecticut and student-taught in gifted, talented, integrated and self-contained classes in elementary public schools in New York City and Queens. For the last three years, she has taught second grade at Valley Elementary School in Beavercreek, OH.

Jill Mueller • Middle School, Eighth Grade Dean and Eighth Grade Social Studies
After graduating from Clemson University with a bachelor’s in English and history, Ms. Mueller spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer at a boys’ orphanage in a village in northern Bangladesh. There she built an early childhood school and constructed a teacher training program at the orphanage. It is also where she attributes falling in love with using stories to bridge cultures. She returned to the States, obtained her master’s in English literature at Middlebury College and spent 11 years as an award-winning English instructor at Western Reserve Academy (WRA). At WRA she coached, advised ModelUN, led international travel and pioneered the Class Dean program, acting as the first Class Dean for the Ninth Grade.

Denisse Noriega • Pre-Primary and Primary Spanish
Ms. Noriega employed her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California in her first career as an investment strategies advisor in Mexico. She transitioned from finance into education and served as an assistant teacher for two years in a Jean Piaget Kindergarten in Mexico before moving to Ohio.

Tina Ohmart • After School at Laurel Coordinator
At Boys Hope Girls Hope Northeast Ohio, first through AmeriCorps and then as a residential counselor and subsequently the Middle School Academy manager, Ms. Ohmart created out-of-school curriculum, managed summer programming for middle school-aged students, supervised staff, implemented programming to teach transitional living skills as well as academic enrichment for rising ninth graders and built individual learning plans for students. Ms. Ohmart has a bachelor’s degree in Christian ministry with an emphasis on psychology and counseling from Ozark Christian College.

Kiara Pierce • Senior Accountant
Ms. Pierce came to Laurel in the spring of 2018 from the Greater Cleveland RTA where she had served first as a business analyst and then as the manager of support services. At RTA, she led multiple large-scale projects including process improvements and automation. Before joining the RTA, she worked as an accountant at the Centers for Dialysis Care and Swagelok. She received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Akron, where she was a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, an international honor society.

Faina Polt • Upper School English
Dr. Polt, who specializes in American and multicultural literature, women writers and Holocaust studies, as well as composition and writing, received her bachelor’s degree in English with honors from Alma College and her master’s degree and doctorate in literary studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Fluent in Russian, she also speaks Spanish and is an experienced copy editor. She was the recipient of several fellowships and travel grants and was an instructor and a teaching assistant in several English courses at Wisconsin.

Marcie Qua • Pre-Primary, Early Learners
Mrs. Qua returned to Laurel last school year, after a brief retirement, as a long-term substitute in one of the Early Learners classrooms. She will remain in the Early Learners classroom for this coming year. Before joining Laurel’s Pre-Primary in 2007, she had been a substitute teacher at both Laurel and Hathaway Brown. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in history.

Kristi Radolovic • Upper School Administrative Assistant
Ms. Radolovic graduated from Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing. In her clerical position with the Willoughby Eastlake City Schools she was responsible for the daily operations of the school office, handled Kindergarten registration, managed student enrollment and student accounts and facilitated parent and student requests. Prior experience includes serving as the catering coordinator for the Intercontinental Hotels Cleveland and as an administrative assistant for the Cleveland Clinic Guesthouse.

Brian Rafferty • Butler Campus Manager
Mr. Rafferty has almost two decades of experience in golf course operations, first at Beechmont Country Club and then for many years at Firestone Country Club, a 600-acre private club in Akron. At Firestone, he was responsible for the hiring and management of the course’s employees, supervised the maintenance of the west course and ensured club safety and adhering to state and federal guidelines for safe working conditions. He has extensive experience providing support in the operations of the Bridgestone Invitational and the Ohio Senior Open. Mr. Rafferty graduated from The Ohio State University and received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, majoring in turf grass science.

Cynthia Meyer Sabik • Upper School English, Department Chair
Dr. Sabik returns to Cleveland from Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, MD. In her capacity as head of the Upper School at Stone Ridge, she worked closely with school leadership to implement the school’s strategic initiatives and oversaw curriculum development and faculty evaluation in her division. Prior to Stone Ridge, she served as the dean of faculty at Worcester Academy and had a long career at Gilmour Academy. In addition to chairing the Middle and Upper School English department at Gilmour for 11 years, she was the associate director of the Upper School, associate dean of curriculum, and associate dean of academic programs and planning. She was a visiting professor in American Studies at Kenyon College and has been on the adjunct faculty of Ursuline College and John Carroll and Cleveland State Universities. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy from Seton Hill College and a master’s in English and a doctorate in urban education, both from Cleveland State University

An All-Girls’ Independent College Preparatory School for Grades K-12 and Coed Pre-Primary
Lyman Campus Butler Campus

Laurel's Mission Statement:

To inspire each girl to
fulfill her promise and
to better the world. 


Pre-Primary & Primary School
Open House

Saturday, January 12, 2019
9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Lyman Campus

More information


"Laurel transforms students into strong women through an exemplary education and an atmosphere built on growth." Caitlin Cronin '16

"During my time at Laurel, I developed the mental aspect of my tennis game -- staying focused and staying in every match. The support that I've gotten from my team and my coaches has really helped me to do that." Danielle Buchinsky '15

"Laurel encourages its girls to try things they think they can do, things they don't think they can do, and even things they never thought about doing." Jazlynn Baker '16

"Laurel is a place where almost every girl can find a home. The community here is extremely accepting and diverse, and every student has her own ideas and opinions that are valued by everyone."Rebecca Brichacek '16

"Confident, independent, open-minded, fearless. That's what comes to mind when I think of what Laurel has given to my daughters." Laurel Parent


“The greatest gift Laurel gave me was the gift of lifelong friendships with classmates, teachers and parents of classmates. We have a special bond based on our shared experiences.” 
Betsy Sweeney Backes ‘78

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