Introducing New Blair Faculty

Chase Palanca ‘15 (He/Him)
Mr. Palanca graduated from Blair 6 years ago, in 2015, and is now returning to Blair as the assistant director of admissions. In addition, Palanca is also an assistant wrestling coach and the West Hall dorm head. He chose to return to Blair to teach as he loved his time at Blair and “wanted to share that same experience with students at Blair as well as introduce prospective families to all that Blair has to offer.” During his time as faculty so far, he has enjoyed getting to know students, as well as the faculty who he felt were “incredibly welcoming” to both him and his partner. His favorite places on campus are the wrestling room and the quad. Along with the new faculty, the addition of Mr. Palanca also introduces his dog, Yogi, a miniature Australian labradoodle.

Ross Gitomer (He/Him)
Mr. Gitomer ‘05, along with his wife and two kids, Louie and Theo, have all recently joined -or rejoined in Mr. Gitomer’s case- the Blair family as well. Mr. Gitomer is a math teacher and wrestling coach here at Blair. He details his life as a Blair student 15 years ago as “one of the best decisions [he] made in [his] life.” Although he is still adjusting to the busy schedule, he is enjoying seeing and helping students throughout the day.

Will Murray (He/Him)
Mr. Murray is a math teacher, teaching both Pre Calculus AB and AP Calculus AB. Additionally, he is coaching JV Girls basketball as well as Baseball. Mr. Murray chose to work at Blair because of how he felt about the community when visiting. He also enjoys the trails and roads on the Blair campus. Even though he’s a math teacher, Murray also describes himself as a “francaholic,” loving the French language.

Batouly Camara (She/Her)
Ms. Camara is a college counselor as well as a girls basketball coach. Similar to Mr. Palanca and Mr. Gitomer, she too is a Blair graduate. During her own time at Blair, Ms. Camara was in the SCC and was a head tour guide and Locke prefect. She has so far enjoyed getting to know students as well as seeing her old teachers. She chose to work at Blair so she’d be able to come back to what she called this “tight-knit community.”

Annie Gardner (She/Her)
Ms. Gardner is a new English teacher and rowing coach for fall and winter crew. She chose Blair as, due to timing and opportunity, it felt “meant to be.” So far, she has enjoyed getting to know coworkers and her new living arrangements. Additionally, she describes loving the “green” nature-y aspects of campus. You may see Ms. Gardner walking around campus with her dog, Virgil. She has a cat named Eddy as well.

Cency Middleton (She/Her)
Ms. Middleton teaches both the English 12 elective, Great New Books, as well as ninth-grade Health and Wellness. Additionally, she works in the academic resource office and is a freshman monitor. As for sports, she coaches both varsity soccer and skiing. Both she and Mr. Fogel, her partner, have had great experiences with boarding schools in the past which have made her want to work here. Although detailing the pace of Blair as “intense,” she has also stated that she is “learning and loving it.” Ms. Middleton says that her favorite places on campus at the moment are the soccer field, the Insley porch, and the waterfall.

Anders Fogel (He/Him)
Mr. Fogel is a history teacher and Boys Lacrosse coach new to campus this year. He chose to work here at Blair due to both the environment of the classroom and the sports feel. So far he has enjoyed watching teams compete, the golf course, and watching the sunset on Insley porch. When asked about pets, Fogel responded with a very suspicious, “no pets…yet….,” so stay on the lookout for if and when that “yet” occurs.

Kurt Neumaier (He/Him)
Mr. Neumaier is a new Latin teacher this year. After the school day, he also coaches football and JV Lacrosse. Given the choice of going to grad school or teaching at Blair, Neumaier chose Blair calling the opportunity “too good to pass up.” So far, he loves the energy of the students, the kindness given to him, and the beauty of the campus, but not so much the mosquitoes. If ever you’re having trouble finding Mr. Neumaier, just check the labyrinth in the Seigel property as it is his current favorite spot on campus.

Allan Issenchmidt (He/Him)
Mr. Issenchmidt is a French teacher at Blair who decided to work here due to him missing the boarding school experience. He’s enjoying the Blair environment so far due to welcoming students as well as faculty. He also enjoys spending time on the Insley porch, enjoying the view. If you want to talk to him but don’t know any French, you can always bring up Pokemon – he’s played every one of the games!

Maria Issenchmidt (She/Her)
Ms. Issenchmidt, AKA Madame “E”, is a new French teacher at Blair as well as a JV Lacrosse coach. She chose to work here due to our majority boarding percentage as previously, she has worked at places with small boarding “programs.” Her Blair experience has so far felt welcoming. Although she does not come with a cute campus pet, she is soon to have a baby, so expect to see her with a baby around in the coming days.

Anna Raley (She/Her)
Ms. Raley is a new Race in America and Modern European History teacher, as well as the head JV girls basketball coach. She chose Blair to work at due to how welcome she felt by students and faculty. She states that so far, her experiences have been great, from the classrooms to the pathways and back to the dorms. Although she currently doesn’t have a favorite place on campus. She is in dire need of recommendations for where to hang a hammock, so if you have any suggestions, let her know. The one thing not to bring up is peacocks, especially not the one that attacked her at the age of 4.

(Copyright Kass Strunk 2021)

Kass Strunk

Hi, I’m Kas! I’m a three-year junior at Blair Academy and this is my second season doing oracle. I’m interested in writing about events happening both around the world and in the Blair circle.