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University High School is excited to introduce a new choir instructor, communications coordinator, social studies instructor, English instructor, and assistant athletic director who will join our community this fall. Please join us in welcoming Kirkland Austin, Elaine Brenner, Leann Gemelas-Wood, Manuela Pizzi, and Cullen Webster!

MEET KIRKLAND AUSTIN, CHOIR INSTRUCTOR

Kirkland Austin joins University as our new Choir Instructor. She will also be substitute teaching in other classrooms. Kirkland previously served as the Upper School Music Director at The Benjamin School in Florida. Kirkland earned her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Alabama, graduating Magna Cum Laude. She has a strong background in vocal performance with a concentration in opera and music theory.

Beyond her professional achievements, Kirkland studied French, Italian, and German in college and performed recitals in Japanese, Mandarin, and Taiwanese. In her free time, she enjoys attending weekly trivia nights with friends and is “eagerly awaiting the day when a Broadway question is asked.”

Kirkland is excited to join University High School, inspired by its focus on mentorship and strong student-teacher relationships. She looks forward to serving not just as a music teacher but as “an advisor, advocate, counselor, confidante, and cheerleader for her students.”

“I am thrilled to work in an institution that aligns so strongly with my approach to education and to work with the talented and dedicated choir members.”

MEET ELAINE BRENNER, COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR

Elaine Brenner will be the Communications Coordinator at University. No stranger to the University High School community, Elaine is the parent of Lily, who joins the Class of 2028 this fall, and three alums—Caroline (’18), Grace (’21), and John Michael (’24). Elaine has been actively involved with University, providing support in the Office of Admission and helping to organize events such as the Blue Bash. Elaine’s volunteer work includes serving on University’s Board of Trustees and the Parent Association board.

Elaine is completing her Master’s in Strategic Communication at Butler University. She holds an undergraduate degree in music.

“I am excited to be a part of and work with a passionate staff that puts students first in all that they do,” Elaine shared. “My ongoing involvement with University High School has given me a deep understanding of and appreciation for the school’s culture and community. I am eager to leverage my skills to support the communication initiatives of a learning community I love so dearly.”

MEET LEANN GEMELAS-WOOD, SOCIAL STUDIES INSTRUCTOR

Leann Gemelas-Wood is joining University High School as a Social Studies Instructor. She comes to us from Creekside Middle School, where she taught seventh-grade social studies for nine years and coached volleyball and softball. In 2018, Leann was selected as one of two candidates from Creekside for Teacher of the Year for Carmel Clay Schools. She holds a Master’s degree in Secondary Education from Indiana University Indianapolis.

Outside of teaching, Leann and her husband, Zeb, spend most of their time with their two young sons, Wilder and Atlas. Leann also enjoys climbing, being outdoors, traveling, reading, and playing word games.

Leann is excited to join University because of the strong commitment that both faculty and students have towards learning and personal improvement. She looks forward to contributing to and being part of a supportive community that values the holistic development of students. “I’m looking forward to being part of a supportive community that values the whole student and their growth as both humans and learners,” Leann shared.

MEET MANUELA PIZZI, ENGLISH INSTRUCTOR

Manuela Pizzi will be joining University High School as an English Instructor. Manuela’s career has taken her through diverse educational settings across all five boroughs of New York City, where she has taught, led, coached, and assisted students and teachers from various backgrounds. 

Most recently, Manuela served as an English teacher for grades 8-12 and Humanities Department Head for grades K-12 at the Lang School in New York City. In this role, she designed and implemented a rigorous and differentiated English Language Arts program for twice-exceptional learners. Manuela earned a Doctor of Education degree from The University of Pennsylvania and holds three master’s degrees.

Manuela believes it is important to “create a learning environment that is both rigorous and joyful for all learners.” She shares, “I am excited to join University High School and contribute to a supportive community that values holistic student development.”

MEET CULLEN WEBSTER (’08), ASSISTANT ATHLETIC DIRECTOR

Cullen Webster (’08) will join the athletic staff as an assistant director. Cullen most recently taught PE at Westfield Intermediate School while also coaching University’s C and JV basketball teams. He has overseen Primetime Sports summer camps at University, served as the Director of Sports Programming at the Pacers Athletic Center, and coached for Indiana Primetime Basketball. Cullen earned his Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with a major in Teacher Education.

As a three-sport athlete, Cullen understands the value of athletics as an extension of the classroom. He is eager to work with student-athletes to foster their growth on and off the field.

In addition to his professional background, Cullen is a marathon runner. He completed his first marathon in the fall of 2023 and is already signed up for the Monumental Marathon in November. Cullen lives in Westfield with his wife, Kristen, and their son Ben. The family shares a love for pinball, and they recently bought Ben his first pinball table.

“I am excited to be a part of and work with a passionate staff that puts students first in all that they do,” Cullen shared. “As an alumnus, I know how warm and welcoming the community of University High School is, and I am so excited to be a part of that again. As a former player and coach, I am looking forward to working with student-athletes to continue to make our athletic teams an extension of the classroom.”