Announcing our 2018 Award Recipients

Award winners David Baker (second from left) and Dennis Facciolo (second from right) with presenters Anne Behnke and Kevin Plummer.

Congratulations to Our Award Winners!

We are pleased to announce the recipients of our annual awards, presented at the 2018 Annual Conference this past September in San Diego. David Baker, director of admission and financial aid at St. Mark’s School of Texas, is the 2018 recipient of the Everett E. Gourley award, and Dennis Facciolo, director of admissions and enrollment management at Tampa Preparatory School (FL), is the 2018 recipient of the William B. Bretnall Award.

“Diversity was an underlying theme for both of our award recipients this year,” remarked Heather Hoerle, EMA’s executive director. “David Baker and Dennis Facciolo epitomize EMA’s mission to sustain the independent schools of the future as they work to create diverse and vibrant school communities and inspire others with their impressive work in the field of independent school admission and enrollment.”

The Gourley Award: David Baker

The Gourley Award, named for former director of admission and assistant headmaster of the Asheville School (NC) Everett Gourley, is given each year to the educator whose interest in students and concern for colleagues is an inspiration to those who serve in admission.

The award was presented to Baker by his friend and colleague Anne Behnke, director of admission at St. Mark’s School (MA). “David’s background as a debate teacher allowed him to encourage others to use their own unique voices to compete and to achieve,” Behnke enthused. “This spirit is exemplified in his work as an admission professional, where he pushes the boundaries of traditional admission practices. He has fostered a culturally rich environment where students are inspired and equipped to lead, and shares this experience and knowledge as a faculty member of the Admission Training Institute and as a member of EMA’s Admission Leadership Council. David is the consummate admission leader and mentor.”

Baker holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and a master’s degree from Southern Methodist University. His career began at St. Mark’s School of Texas in 1984 as coach of the debate team. In 1999, the National Speech and Debate Association named him one of the five most successful debate coaches of the 20th century. Also in 1999, he was appointed the school’s director of admission. During his tenure, Baker increased the school’s financial aid budget to provide access to students from underrepresented populations in the Dallas/Fort Worth region, growing the school’s ethnic diversity by 20 percent.

Baker has served as president of the Independent Schools Admission Association of Dallas (ISAAD), helping to streamline the admission process for prospective families. He is also a faculty member of The Enrollment Management Association’s Admission Training Institute, serving as a teacher and mentor for new admission professionals.

The Bretnall Award: Dennis Facciolo

First presented in 1982, The Bretnall Award is given each year to a leader and educator who has made significant contributions to the field of admission. The award was named for distinguished educator and first association program director William Bretnall, and was presented to Dennis Facciolo, director of admissions and enrollment management at Tampa Preparatory School (FL). Facciolo’s longtime colleague, Kevin Plummer, head of Tampa Preparatory School, had the honor of presenting the award. “Dennis’ integrity is consistently on display as he adheres to his personal philosophy, ‘independent schools, independent minds,’” Plummer asserted. “Throughout his career, this has been the common thread woven throughout his work and made evident as he promoted diversity and provided opportunities for those who have not historically been a part of the fabric of independent schools. Dennis promotes the importance of individuality in independent schools and beyond. He has been an invaluable part of the lives of so many at Tampa Prep and in our independent school community.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, Facciolo began his career at the Sanford School (DE), where he held teaching and coaching positions and eventually became director of admission and enrollment management. Facciolo first joined Tampa Preparatory School in 1991 as the founding director of the middle school division, which became recognized as a model for nurturing middle school children. Subsequently, he became a founding trustee member of Academy Prep School in 2003, a school for exemplary, underserved children. For the past 27 years, Facciolo served as director of admissions at Tampa Preparatory School, working to create a diversified student body.

Facciolo’s work extends beyond Tampa Preparatory School, as he advocates in the Florida Council of Independent Schools (FCIS) and EMA for the importance of building strong relationships between independent school admission directors, heads of school, and trustees. In 2011, as a delegate of the SAIS (School of Advanced International Studies), he was invited by the People’s Republic of China to present reform ideas to Chinese principals and party leaders at the Nanshan Dialogue on Educational Reform.

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