Staff Directory


Julie Parham
CGS Director  (ext 11007)  -

Julie Parham has lived in many exotic locations:  Kansas, Des Moines, London, Cincinnati, Poughkeepsie, and Darien.  Along the way, she has earned an MA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Cincinnati and a BA in theatre and sociology from Drake University.  Before joining CGS, she taught at the high school level in Ohio, New York, and Connecticut.  She and her husband were the house parents for A Better Chance in Darien for 8 years, where they lived with six young women who attend  Darien High School on academic scholarships.  Julie, her husband and their two sons now live in Fairfield.  She has almost finished writing her first middle grade novel.  Her favorite writers include Lorrie Moore, Virginia Woolf, Ishmael Reed, and Mark Bittman.  She regrets never learning other languages in her youth, but is delighted that she can finally count to ten in Spanish, French, and Japanese.

Laurie Cawley   -
Administrative Secretary (ext 11007)
Laurie's first association with Japanese began when her son, Peter, came home from third grade at Fox Run School saying he wanted to learn Japanese after school.  Absolutely!  His passion lasted through middle school and at CJSA before it became CGS.  Another son, Kevin, took Japanese in middle school.  Both sons went on study tours to Japan in middle school.  They consider their experience in Japan to be one of the most rewarding events in their lives.  Laurie's passion for all things CGS is still going strong today.  She volunteered for a year helping with the conversion from CJSA to CGS and then was hired as secretary during the building renovation.  She considers herself very lucky to have been able to chaperone on two study tours to Bunkyo High School in Japan.  She believes her husband, John, and son, Jack, need to get to Japan to catch up to the rest of the family.  Maybe someday!  In the meantime, other passions include the writings of Jane Austen and the beaches in Orleans, Cape Cod.  Perfection is reading Persuasion on a beach at Cape Cod with her husband and now-grown children in presence, followed by a cut-throat round of mini-golf.

CGS Teaching Staff
All CGS staff may be contacted by telephone at 203-852-9488, and choosing option 2 (or x 11007).

Arabic Language
Emad Eldigwy  -
Born and raised in Cairo, Egypt, Emad graduated from Ain Shams University, faculty of commerce, with a major in accounting.  He taught Arabic and Middle Eastern studies at the Metropolitan Learning Center Magnet School in Bloomfield, Connecticut from 2002-2005.  He then joined the Alternate Route to Certification program and graduated in May of 2006 with a teaching certification in world languages.  Emad earned his M.Ed. in World Language Instruction from Concordia College in 2015.  He was also the Dean of the Concordia College Arabic Village from 2009-2017.  Emad holds a third degree black belt in Judo and was the heavy weight champion of Egypt, Africa, and the Middle East for 12 years.  He was on the 1988 Egyptian Olympic team in Seoul, South Korea, and he won 5 gold medals in all North East Championships here in the USA.  

Chinese Language
Peggy Lovro

Whitney Lok-Defino   -
Whitney was born in Guangzhuo (Canton), PR China, and immigrated to the United States as a young teen.  She is a native speaker of Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese, but has grown up in both American and Chinese cultures.  Whitney earned her BA in English literature from Binghamton University, but her career as an educator is rooted in twelve years’ experience teaching developmentally disabled high school students in Virginia, New  York, and Connecticut.  During a brief hiatus to raise her two young children, she discovered a new passion while teaching them her native language, and immediately set about earning credentials in Mandarin Chinese through the ARC (Alternate Route to Certification) program, which she completed in 2009.  Before joining the CGS faculty, Whitney taught Mandarin in the Glastonbury and Ridgefield school districts, as well as the Huaxia Chinese School in Danbury.

Japanese Language
Keiko Sigmund   -
Keiko Sigmund was born and raised in Tokyo. She earned a B.A. in education from Japan Women's University and M.A. in TESOL from Manhattanville College, NY. She lived in Hong Kong & Singapore and has found home here since 1985. She was also trained in Montessori education and as an AP reader. She contributed to the CGS by earning the John Thayer Award from the Japan Society of Boston in 2003 and was twice named in Who's Who Among American Teachers in 1999 and 2003 by the National Academic Affairs Organization. She has run the summer and after school language immersion programs for eight years. She sends students to participate in the Japan Bowl National Competition in Washington D.C. and Youth Exchange program, Kakehashi project, each year. She is a 2019 Fund for Teachers fellow and travels intensely whenever she has time. She has two grown-up children and resides with her husband in Norwalk.

Sean Driscoll  -
Sean Driscoll received his M.A. in Asian Studies with a concentration in Japanese language and literature from Seton Hall University in 2004.  While a graduate student at Seton Hall, he worked as a teaching assistant for the Japanese language program, and focused on the Meiji Period (1868-1912), one of its greatest authors is Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), and the translation of his novel Gubijinso (The Poppy).  He received a B.A.  with a double major in East Asian Languages and Cultures (Japanese language) and English from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana in 2002.
Social Studies
Nicholas Banas -
Nick Banas was born in West Virginia and raised in Pennsylvania and Mystic, Connecticut. Nick was bit by the travel bug at a young age while on family vacations. He earned a BA in History and MA in Education from UConn. Upon graduating, Nick moved to Shanghai where he taught Word Studies, U.S. History, and AP World History at Shanghai High School International Division. From China, Nick was able to visit many countries in Asia. Nick returned to the U.S. in 2014 and has since worked at Ridgefield High School and Darien High School. At DHS Nick led the China Exchange program and had the opportunity to return to China on four exchange trips. Nick loves cooking and trying new restaurants. He is especially interested in tea and tea culture. He is fascinated with languages and can get by in Spanish and Mandarin. Nick loves fencing and sailing. He will be working to start a fencing club at CGS. that he hopes will grow into a proper team. His preferred weapon is epee. This past summer he adopted a rescue puppy from Puerto Rico that he and his girlfriend named Ellis. Nick is very interested in Buddhism and volunteers at Chuang Yen Monestary in Carmel, NY.

Sadhana Bilodeau  -
Sadhana Bilodeau was born in India and grew up in seven countries.  She has traveled through Europe and Africa many times and now makes Connecticut her home.  She earned her B.A. degree from the University of Delhi, India and has an M.S. from Pratt Institute in Information Science. She has enjoyed a career in research and information for many years. Sadhana developed a passion for teaching while working with students a few years ago.  She has since pursued her teacher certification in History from SCSU and teaches Japanese and Chinese History as well as the International Human Rights course.

Michael Carter -
Michael Carter was born in New York and was raised in Connecticut and Florida.  He began traveling at a very young age and made his first trip abroad when 14 months.  He has traveled extensively in Asia, Africa, South America and Europe. When Michael was 13, he circumnavigated the globe on Semester at Sea, a “floating university”, where he visited 12 different countries, including Japan, Cuba, Kenya, India, China, South Africa, and Malaysia.  Michael received a BA in History from Southern Connecticut State University and an MS in Curriculum and Instruction from University of Connecticut NEAG School of Education. He has taught in several different schools in Fairfield County, most recently at Norwalk Pathways Academy, the alternative school in Norwalk, where he piloted the district’s Blended Learning Program. He loves to travel and he has continued to explore the globe and has volunteered at orphanages in Haiti and the Amazon. He hopes to pass on his passion for  international education and history to his students. Michael is a musician and an athlete and enjoys spending time with his Fiance and beautiful son, Miles.

World Literature
Sean Driscoll -
See Japanese section, above.  Mr. Driscoll teaches both Japanese and World Literature.

Paula Fortuna  -
Paula grew up in Westchester and Fairfield Counties and earned a BS from St Lawrence University in Psychology and English.  After working for several years at Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, Paula went to Sacred Heart University to get a master’s degree and become certified as an English teacher.  Prior to joining the faculty at CGS, she taught at Washington Irving High School in NYC and New Canaan High School.  Paula is an enthusiastic learner of world cultures, has been a grant recipient and fellow at the Connecticut Writing Project, Fund for Teachers, Norwalk Education Foundation & National Council of Teachers of Asia, and has travelled to 65 countries.  The recent graduates presented Ms. Fortuna with the student-voted “Most Globally-infused Curriculum” Award.  In addition, Paula is interested in animal conservation and environmental sustainability.  Two of her three children have attended CGS, and she lives in the neighborhood.  

Amy Gentile  -
Amy Gentile grew up in Oxford, Connecticut.  She has experience teaching English at both the high school and college level.  She also teaches at the Summer Institute for the Gifted at Yale and comes to us from Housatonic Community College (HCC), where she has taught Composition, Creative Writing, Literature and Composition, and Public Speaking for the past twelve years.  She has worked closely with Ansonia and Bridgeport high school teachers through HCC’s Career College Pathways program which helps high school students earn college credit.  Amy earned her BS in English and her MA in English Education from the University of Connecticut.  A poet, columnist, and former radio commentator for NPR, her commentaries on women in sports aired on the national show, “She Got Game,” and she was a frequent contributor to WSHU’s regular programming from 2001-2004.  Her columns have appeared in County Kids Magazine and Women in Motion, a New York publication.  Although she writes mostly poetry and has completed several collections of work, only recently she began submitting her poems for publication.  Her poetry has appeared in Long River Run, rIgimort.US, and Writing UConn.  She is a member of the National Poetry Society and frequents open mics throughout Connecticut.  Amy is an avid runner and mother of four.

Austin Ryan -

Physical Education
Melissa Ryan -