Faculty Pets and Their Humans: The Life Lessons We Learn

The final weeks of the school year are unavoidably busy and often stressful. Do you know someone who just doesn't seem phased by it all? Chances are, you may have that perfect role model living right in your house: your pet!

Below, Pacific Ridge faculty and staff share wisdom about leading balanced and purposeful lives that they have learned from their furry companions.


Bob Ogle and Pepper

"There's nothing like daily exercise to keep you calm!"

Dr. Ogle is Head of School and teaches English. Pepper is a regular companion hiking through the trails near home.

Jamie Serafini, her husband Jerry, and Jeter

"Unconditional love"

Ms. Serafini serves as Registrar and Lead Academic Assistant. As you might guess, the Serafinis are diehard baseball fans.

Andrea Juskaitis and Sky

“There is no joy greater than searching for the coolest trail, body of water, river, lake, to swim in with your best companion.”

Ms. Juskaitis teaches English and is the English Department Coordinator. She and her family love to camp, hike and enjoy the outdoors.

Julie Gunther and Dakota

“The greatest thing you'll ever learn Is just to love and be loved in return.”

Mrs. Gunther teaches science and is Director of Science & Engineering Outreach. Dakota is a big fan of outdoor play and indoor snuggling with the Gunthers' daughter, Finley.

Tim Rosenwong and Dexter

"No matter how busy you are, never forget to be comfortable."

Dr. Rosenwong teaches English. Dexter - ironically named after the serial murderer show -  was "the most gentle cat ever."

Hilaire O'Hallaron and Maggie

“Don’t pass up an opportunity to take a nap.”

Ms. O'Hallaron teaches history. She and Maggie love going backpacking together, although Maggie can't hike as far as she could as a pup.

Alison Behr, her husband Russell, and Blossom

“Judge others based on character, not labels.”

Ms. Behr teaches photography and directs the Service Learning program. She enjoys volunteering with animal rescues and helping dispel myths about pit bulls and other unfairly maligned dog breeds. In 2011, her foster dog Blossom became her forever pet! Blossom enjoys napping on all the beds and couches after chasing rabbits and lizards in the yard.

Jen Wiedemeier and Zany

"Slow and steady wins the race."

Ms. Wiedemeier serves as Athletics Assistant. Zany is shown above in her baby picture and a recent photo.  She only moves fast (very fast) for her favorite snacks: dandelions and hibiscus flowers.

Tim Betzala, his partner John-Paul Nava, Chivi and Annie

"Slow down, close your eyes, breathe and take in some rays from time to time."

Señor Betzala is Dean of Faculty and teaches Spanish. John-Paul is also a teacher, so recharging their batteries by relaxing with Chivi and Annie is essential!

Meredith Brady, Georgie and Lola


Profe Brady teaches Spanish and is the World Languages Department Coordinator. She observes every day how gentle Georgie and Lola are with her two children.

Erika Pike and Knu-Knu

"Oftentimes, our nonverbal communication is more important than our verbal."

Ms. Pike is a Student Support Specialist and supervises the Learning Center. Knu-Knu's name comes from her early childhood when, as a toddler first learning how to talk, she described anything cute as "noo-noo."

Peyton Bray and Fawkes

"We don’t get to choose how we are loved by someone else. We can receive love the way it is given and return it as we choose."

Mr. Bray teaches English. He says that Fawkes is enthusiastically glued to him from the moment he gets home until the moment he leaves.

Tara Kheradyar and Lucy

"Always know when it is meal time to keep your energy!"

Dr. Kheradyar teaches Chemistry. Lucy also teaches her the benefits of sitting still and meditating every day.

Chris Burman and Luna

“Defense is the key; play with active hands, quick feet, and a lot of bite!”

Señor Burman teaches Spanish and coaches basketball. Luna's high energy is a perfect match for the busy, basketball-playing Burman family.

Ellen Wright and Bodhi

"Get excited about the little things and spend as much time as you can with the humans you love."

Ms. Wright is Communications Associate and author of the weekly e-newsletter. Bodhi also teaches her that, with creativity and perseverance, just about any household item can become a beloved chew toy.

Allegra Molineaux and Maude

“You should NEVER pass up an opportunity to laze in the sun.”

Ms. Molineaux is Upper School Head and teaches history. Her two cats, Maude and Chloe, keep her company while she pursues her passion for film and literature.

Jen and Hunter Pashkow and Lola

"Enjoy the little moments every day!"

Mrs. Pashkow teaches science; Mr. Pashkow teaches 3D Art and coaches Robotics. Lola is the family's constant companion on hikes, camping trips and local travel.

Jen Contreras and Dodger

"Consistency is important to happiness."

Ms. Contreras is Admissions Assistant. She adds that “'bad days' don’t exist when you have unconditional love and doggy kisses."

Ann Zerlaut and Diego

"Even the simplest task (a selfie) is an opportunity to be curious and take a good close look at the world around us!"

Ms. Zerlaut teaches math. She and her family have a house full of pets (3 cats, 2 guinea pigs, a turtle and a hamster) because they all love animals. Diego is a recent addition to the menagerie, having come to them as a 9 week-old rescue.

Tristan Green, Buddy and Daytona

"Dogs are the ultimate 'givers.' They make every day better."

Mrs. Green teaches science. Buddy and Daytona's favorite activities are racing each other and gently snuggling with whoever is at home.

Matt Marasciullo, Frankie and Byrdie

"There's nothing like fishing, hiking and long walks on the beach with man’s best friend."

Mr. Marasciullo is Director of Facilities. He says that Frankie and Byrdie "“love to take me everywhere they go" and jokes that his children often complain that he loves the dogs more than he loves them.

Cecilia Shrivastava, her family, and Milo

“Embrace life. Live in the moment. Treasure the little things. And, remember that everything happens for a reason.”

Ms. Shrivastava teaches Spanish. She and her husband Apoorva will have to lavish more attention on Milo next year when Akayla heads off to college and Arwan enters 7th grade at Pacific Ridge.

Marcy Ryan, Harry and Hazel

"Show gratitude often."

Ms. Ryan is a Student Support Specialist. She gets unending amounts of joy from Harry and Hazel, who are rescue dogs.

Brooke Hartley and Junior

"The best running buddy, is a four-legged friend. Just remember to rest afterward!”

Ms. Hartley teaches art. Junior helps her keep her fitness for a busy job teaching and coaching girls soccer at Pacific Ridge.
Thanks go to Avon Old Farms School in Connecticut, from whom we got the idea for this blog.