Christopher Seeley, Head of School
“I am thrilled to be part of the Saint Thomas community and humbled by the opportunity to lead the remarkable Choir School. My unwavering belief in the transformational experience that a boarding school offers, coupled with my confidence in the benefits of living, learning, and growing in the Episcopal tradition, makes this an exciting new chapter for me and for my family. The Choir School is widely known for its distinctive music and academic programs, and I am eager to build upon that historical strength, and to work in these early days of our next one hundred years with members of the community as we envision a bold future for Choir School.”
A Bronx, New York native and lifelong Episcopalian, Chris graduated from Groton School in 1990. His selection as a scholar in the Fieldston Enrichment and A Better Chance programs, and his lifelong faith, led him to Groton’s mission where he enrolled in the II Form. He earned the O’Brien Prize, the Jeremiah Gadsden Prize, and the Finke Memorial Medal, and was a three-sport varsity captain and Choir prefect. Chris is a 1994 graduate of Bowdoin College, where he earned an AB. At Bowdoin he majored in both Religion and Spanish, earned the Curtis E. Chase Award and the Francis S. Dane Trophy, directed the men’s a capella group, served as a residential advisor for freshmen and sophomores, captained the varsity baseball team, and played varsity football. He is a 2007 graduate of Teachers College, Klingenstein Institute, where he earned a master’s degree in education with a concentration in private school leadership. Throughout his year of study, Chris shadowed a Harlem Children’s Zone elementary school principal.
Chris’s varied experiences across boarding and day schools have deepened his belief in the power of residential learning communities, which value relationships between children and educators in students’ most formative years. From 1994-2007, Chris served Groton School as a Religion and Ethics faculty member, varsity coach, dormitory head, and Dean of Faculty. He and a team of colleagues developed new courses to focus on sacred texts within the context of ancient history in Religion, and social justice movements in Ethics. At Trevor Day School from 2007-2013, Chris held a number of leadership positions, including Director of 6-12 Admissions, Head of the Upper School, and Assistant Head of School for Strategic Initiatives.
Chris comes to Saint Thomas Choir School from Church Farm School, an Episcopal boarding school for boys of promise and not of means, that transforms the lives of its students in meaningful ways. Chris has been Assistant Head of School and Director of Academics since 2013. A new school schedule, increased efficacy of college-bound initiatives, professional development for faculty, and campus improvements have been hallmarks of Chris’s tenure. Knowledgeable and well-regarded in independent school networks nationally, Chris is a member of the Executive Committee of The Association of Boarding Schools, a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference Steering Committee of The National Association of Episcopal Schools, and a recipient of the NAIS Aspiring Heads Fellowship. While in New York from 2006-2013, Chris was a Vestry Member at St. Michael’s Church and led its Buildings and Grounds Committee. He also served on the Advisory Committee of The Episcopal Charities of New York. An avid New York Yankees fan, Chris regales family and friends with vivid, but arcane tidbits of the club’s past and present.
Teachers College, Klingenstein Institute, M.A. Education
Bowdoin College, A.B. Religion and Spanish
Victoria Vanasco, Director of Admissions and Communications
“STCS is simply extraordinary. I first joined this community as a choir mom, and have seen firsthand the deep commitment of faculty, staff and parents in bringing out excellence in every student. I never thought I could send my young son 400 miles away to boarding school. Would this really be okay? But when he was all smiles after his overnight audition, it was clear we had to try STCS, and it has been amazing. He has been so happy here, flourishing as a thoughtful young man, musician, and scholar among this ‘band of brothers.’ It isn’t something he is doing alone, but rather something we are doing as a family in partnership with STCS’s outstanding musicians, faculty and staff and with the mutual support of and friendship with other choir families. Now as the Director of Admissions, I am thrilled to share our story and to spread the word to other families with talented sons who are ready for more.”
Victoria Vanasco holds degrees from the University of Massachusetts, New York University, and Yeshiva University. As an undergraduate, she won the American Academy of Poets prize two years in a row, was the poetry editor of the campus literary magazine, was a teaching assistant for two sections of English Composition, and began teaching lower-level creative writing classes on an ad hoc basis. Between grad school and law school, she was a set dresser and property master in film production in New York City, paying her dues with jobs that paid “lunch” and working her way up to major Hollywood productions. In law school, she was a property law research assistant, a legal writing teaching assistant, and a member of the Cardozo Arts and Entertainment Law Journal. She also interned at the U.S. Court of International Trade and with the Economic and Social Council at the United Nations. After graduation, she practiced commercial real estate law in New York City at DLA Piper.
When her son was born, she retired from the bar. Together, they lived in Guatemala for 14 months where she taught legal English and eventually they settled in Buffalo, NY. There, her son started singing with the Choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and she joined the Music Committee. She discovered a love of Anglican sacred music and choir program-building, and brought the chorister roster up from 8 to 22 in one year. She is a published poet, a former jazz singer, and an avid yet mediocre gardener.
Yeshiva University, J.D.
New York University, M.A. English and American Literature
University of Massachusetts, B.A. English Literature, Minors in Italian and Creative Writing
Miriam Allman, School Nurse & Houseparent
“I enjoy creating a nurturing environment that promotes the choristers’ physical and emotional growth. It is a real pleasure getting to work with such a talented and motivated group of faculty and students.” Miriam Allman joined the Choir School as a nurse and housemother in 2009.
She received a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Tennessee and is board certified as a pediatric and family nurse practitioner. Prior to moving to New York, she spent 8 years working at pediatric hospitals. She enjoys travelling and has sailed over 26,000 nautical miles visiting countries on four continents. Miriam resides at the school with her husband and their two children.
University of Tennessee, M.Sc. Nursing
Tennessee Tech, B.Sc. Nursing
Karen Wentling, Houseparent
“I enjoy working at STCS because the environment is very supportive of both students and faculty. It feels like a family because we live together and share residential, athletic, and academic life with the boys. I see the boys and the faculty in so many different situations and roles which allows me to really know who they are! I also very much enjoy those quiet special moments when tucking the boys into bed.
Karen spent her childhood years in Bergen County, NJ. After receiving her BS in Physical Therapy at Hunter College, she worked at Stamford Hospital before becoming a full-time mother to six children. Karen has moved up and down the east coast: she lived in Greenwich CT, followed by many happy years in Acton MA, before returning to NYC. Her youngest son was a chorister at the Choir School for five years.
Besides her role as Housemother at the Choir School, Karen maintains a small Physical Therapy practice. She is an avid tennis player, and enjoys attending a weekly Bible study.
Hunter College, B.S. Physical Therapy