Wilkes

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Alumni Profiles

Coaching a Community

Dressed in his signature navy pants, white shirt and tie, Joe Frappolli ’69 coached the Florence High School football team to a 46-0 win. It was Frappolli’s 400th game, capping 40 years as head coach at the Florence Township, N.J., school. “I never looked at the numbers,” Frappolli says. “It didn’t hit me until I walked onto the field and saw ‘400’ on the banners.”

Frappolli adopted his coaching dress from his mentor and former Florence High coach, Joe Papp. He explains, “I wear the shirt and tie out of respect for the profession and the game; but also to remind me to keep my mind when others on the sidelines start losing theirs.”

Under Frappolli’s leadership, the Florence team has won over 280 games, 20 division championships and six state titles. He takes no credit for those achievements. “The students won the games. Our success is due to the dedication of the student athletes, the fan base and the families.”

He was inspired to become a coach by legendary Wilkes football coach Roland Schmidt, on whose Golden Horde team he played quarterback, defensive back and on special teams. Frappolli meets with former teammates at least once a year to catch a Wisconsin Badgers basketball game, coached by teammate Bo Ryan ’69.

At Wilkes, Frappolli studied history and worked with Harold Cox, professor emeritus of history, organizing the University archives. After graduation, he contemplated pursuing a graduate degree when his former high school offered him a teaching position. He accepted and also pursued a relationship with his girlfriend Donna. They were married just before he became the school’s head football coach after two years as an assistant.

Frappolli says that each year brings new players and challenges. “Nothing ever stays the same. We’ve seen a degree of success because we adapt and adjust. This is what makes you successful in marriage, in your family and at your job.” He sees his job as more than just coaching football. He uses his Wilkes education to instill values and encourage his players to give back to their community.

Each year the Florence football team takes part in the Food for the Needy Program, a holiday gift drive and Read Across America. The team also holds a free youth football clinic for underprivileged children.

Mary Ellen Cassidy, a former student who worked as his secretary at Florence for 13 years, confirms his humility and ability to inspire. “He has brought pride to our little town but would never take credit for any accolades. ‘There is no ME in TEAM,’ he says after every game as the community gathers around the team’s huddle to hear his words of wisdom.”

Joe Frappoli '69 meets with his players on the sidelines.  PHOTO COURTESY FLORENCE HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS

Joe Frappoli ’69 meets with his players on the sidelines. PHOTO COURTESY FLORENCE HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS

Wilkes Is Shared Legacy For Mother and Daughter From The Bahamas

A Wilkes education is a legacy shared by many alumni and their children. But when Italia Wells Davies ’80 of Nassau, Bahamas, brought her daughter Simone to campus this fall, the mother and daughter may have achieved first-time status among Wilkes’ many legacy families.

The pair may be the first mother and daughter from another country to both attend Wilkes. Although University records don’t definitively confirm this, they are surely among very few legacy families not from the United States.

Italia Wells Davies came to Wilkes after attending the College of the Bahamas, a community college, for two years.

Simone Davies, left, and her mother, Italia Wells-Davies '80, may be the first Wilkes legacy from another country.

Simone Davies, left, and her mother, Italia Wells-Davies ’80, may be the first Wilkes legacy from another country.

The president there had been in talks with Wilkes administrators about establishing a teaching exchange. “He told me I could get a scholarship,” Davies recalls.

For the daughter of a single mother, it was a tremendous opportunity. She traded the sunny climate of her native country for the more variable temperatures of northeast Pennsylvania. Her roommate, Doreen Walker ’81, who lived with her in the Sterling Hotel that first semester, was from California. “We got up every morning from the end of September and looked to see if it had snowed,” Davies says, chuckling. Later the two moved on campus to Chesapeake Hall, now part of Roth Hall.

Wells earned her degree in English literature and returned to the Bahamas where she entered the civil service and became a schoolteacher. She met and married Stephen Davies, an Episcopal priest, and they had three children – Simone and older brothers Bryant and Stephen. Wells, who has a master’s degree from Kent State University, spent 25 years teaching in public schools before joining the Anglican Episcopal Diocese as its deputy director of education. In that role, she was responsible for human resources for the Anglican Central Education Authority, covering four schools on three islands in the Bahamas. In July 2013, she became the authority’s director.

Daughter Simone had followed in her mother’s footsteps, attending the College of the Bahamas for her first two years. She didn’t plan to attend Wilkes, instead setting her sights on attending college in Tampa, Fla. But the more she considered what Wilkes had to offer, the more interested she became in attending her mother’s alma mater. Wells’ stories about life at Wilkes helped. “One day she came home and I said, ‘Mommy, what do you think if I told you I want to go to school at Wilkes?’ ” Simone says. She enrolled as a psychology major.

It was a sentimental journey for Davies as she moved her daughter into student apartments at 41 West, located on the corner of West Franklin and Northampton streets. “I can look out the window see where I lived,” Davies says, noting that the former Chesapeake Hall, now Roth, is almost across the street.

Were you a Wilkes international student whose child has attended or graduated from the University? Let us know your story: write to us at Wilkesmagazine@wilkes.edu

Educational Odyssey Takes Couple from Hawaii to Heartland

KarpinskiWhen someone thinks of visiting Hawaii, images of palm trees and beaches usually come to mind. For Kaitlin (Taber-Miller) Karpinski ’08 and Steve Karpinski ’08 MS ’10, going to the island paradise yielded opportunities to help at-risk students reach their potential.

During their junior year at Wilkes, the Karpinskis visited friends who are teachers on the islands. Kaitlin recalls the students there being described as “lazy” and disinterested in learning.

“Hearing those perspectives was concerning to me, especially because they were talking about kids who didn’t have the same opportunities as their more affluent peers,” she says. It inspired her to teach there.

After graduating, she and Steve enrolled in Teach for America, an organization dedicated to eliminating educational inequality by enlisting high-achieving recent college graduates and professionals to teach for at least two years in low-income communities throughout the U.S. Kaitlin, a musical theatre graduate, received her teaching certification through the program. Steve has a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education and a master’s in instructional technology. From 2008 until summer 2013, they taught at Waipahu High School in Waipahu, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu.

For the first three years, Kaitlin was a special education teacher and  later taught special education in a mathematics resource setting, a class separate from a general education class for students to receive more academic support.

Steve served as a resource teacher to special education students integrated into the rest of the student population and also headed the school’s special education department. He said the best part helping to change the school’s culture.

“We were able to at least get the gears rolling, get some changes happening and move things in more of a research-based direction that is more student-centered and less administration-centered,” Steve says.

Kaitlin credits Teach for America with helping her develop professionally.

“They really gave me a framework to view education and that was the most valuable aspect of my experience,” she says.

In July, the couple started the next leg of their careers as educators at Lighthouse Academies in Gary, Ind. Lighthouse is a network of charter schools in seven states and the District of Columbia which prepares students in grades K-12 for college through a rigorous, arts-infused program. Kaitlin serves as a director of teacher leadership for mathematics, art, music and physical education at Lighthouse College Prep Academy. Steve received a promotion in early fall and is director of student services at Gary Lighthouse Charter School.

Comparing Indiana to Hawaii, Kaitlin says, “While the particulars of our work here in Gary look very different from the educational landscapes of Hawaii, our passion for ending educational inequity remains the same. Like our students in Hawaii, I’m struck by the potential of our scholars here in Gary. I see their bright futures with absolute clarity.”

By Christine Lee

Lee is a senior communication studies major. 

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