I am delighted to share some very exciting news in the life of our church. I am pleased to announce that Dr. Heather Hamilton has accepted our offer to be our Lead for Children's and Family Faith Formation, effective July 1. Dr. Hamilton brings experience, education, and a love of children and their growth with her that is sure to bring love and laughter into our congregation. She is excited to build new outreach, programs and energy here with us.
A lifelong native of Fairfield CT, Dr. Hamilton comes to us from Saugatuck Congregational Church, where for the past 10 years she has been its Music Director. Although many of us know her through her musical prowess - she has been teaching piano to children in the area for 30 years, and was the Head of Music for the Lower School at Fairfield Country Day for 5 years -- in fact her doctoral degree is in Educational Leadership. Her doctoral dissertation focused on the teaching philosophy of Leonard Bernstein's Artful Learning Model, which is based on the sequence; Experience, Inquiry, Create and Reflect. As she explained: "I have put a lot of effort in teaching styles that ... embrace [a] child’s learning abilities and strengths. I have scholarly students as well as many children with learning disabilities and personal challenges. I have worked with children and their parents, starting with them as toddlers through to their college years."
Dr. Hamilton helped Saugatuck get through the crisis of their fire in 2011 which demolished the building and organ, and the church now is back with a new pipe organ dedicated in October 2019. She is organized, a self-described "upbeat problem solver," and someone who thrives on creativity and fun. She is experienced in managing people, time, and money to reach needed outcomes. Happily for us, she reviewed our job description and came to us, excited about the possibilities of taking her commitment of spiritual service to a new direction. She understands the importance of bringing new families to the church and is committed to doing so. She was ready, she said, for a change, and she and I both believe the timing is perfect for us both.
Dr. Hamilton will start with us on July 1. Although I am out of state for the summer, I will be in close touch, and she will have a chance to work with our staff and many of you as she begins to ramp up for the school year. Her transition will be made that much easier given that she considers our Rev. Ed Thompson a special mentor: her first organ instructor who in fact he hired to cover for him during his first sabbatical at TUCW, back in the 1980s. He has remained a colleague and collaborator.
Dr. Hamilton is married to Linda Palermo LMFT, PhD, a full time psychotherapist who works with individuals, couples and families, with an area of interest in living with traumatic events. Linda is a prolific songwriter and singer; the couple recently combined their musical styles and recorded with our fellow UU member, Andy Gundell. They live a full and happy life in Fairfield with their two dogs, Casey and Finn.
This position has been made possible through the Scouller/Nelson gift, and for that we are grateful to Beth Cliff and her family, who chose to honor her parents in such a meaningful way. They would be proud.
Please extend a hearty welcome to Heather; we look forward to her engaging with us and the community and are excited about all the possibilities she brings to us. Together with Nate, our tremendously talented Lead for Youth Faith Formation, we will have a very strong team to build our young people's programs. Let the new year begin!