Mill Falls Charter School Administration

executive director: MERYL LEVIN

Meryl Levin is a founder of Mill Falls and served as the School’s Founding Board Chair beginning in March of 2011 when the school received its approval from the NH Board of Education. Since that time, she has twice been appointed by the School’s governing Board of Trustees as the Interim School Administrator. She has spoken widely on behalf of Mill Falls to legislators in Concord, on education and community panels, and as a 2013 TEDx speaker, among other venues. In December 2015, Meryl was selected by the Trustees to serve as the Executive Director. Meryl is an alumnus of the Leadership New Hampshire Class of 2013 and is currently serving as Co-Chair of the Don’t Wait. Educate campaign, an initiative of Save the Children’s Action Network to bring public pre-k to Manchester. For over 20 years, Meryl has worked as a social documentary photographer with a focus on health, social welfare and political engagement. She is the author of two monographs, editor of several publications, and curator of several group exhibitions. She has guest lectured at colleges and universities around the country, and has received several grants and fellowships in support of her work. She attended Trinity College in Hartford, CT, and completed her undergraduate degree, at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She taught at The School of Visual Arts in NYC for seven years, until moving to NH where she is an adjunct professor at Southern New Hampshire University and has been deeply involved in the Service Learning Initiative there. She lives in Manchester, NH with her husband, Will Kanteres and their son who is a student at Mill Falls.

Educational Program Director: Laura Wrubleski

Laura Wrubleski brings a wealth of experience and expertise to Mill Falls as she enters her twelfth year in education and her fifth year at Mill Falls. State certified in NH and MA in both Elementary Education and Special Education, Laura obtained her Masters of Education in Literacy Studies from the University of Wisconsin Madison, and her undergraduate bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education from Keene State College. Laura taught in a variety of special education settings before completing her Montessori certification in Lower Elementary I at the Seacoast Center for Education. She taught for four years at Hill View Montessori Charter Public School aligning core curriculum standards to the Montessori environment. She also facilitated many mentor activities throughout the school. Laura was the first employee hired at Mill Falls and has helped envision, shape and lead our educational program from the start.

Project Manager: Susanne Hojlo

Susanne Hojlo is an integral part of the operations of Mill Falls and has been since we opened our doors. She has a broad base of skills and expertise developed over the last 20 years. She has worked in law and construction offices and for environmental engineering companies. Susanne has office management, marketing, bookkeeping, network and database experience, and has great familiarity and comfort with a variety of computer software programs and technology support.

Office Assistant: Allison Jacques

Allison Jacques graduated from Plymouth State University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Music in 2014. She was one of four recipients of the Psychology Senior Award and was awarded High Honors for her Independent Research project, studying memory and power poses. Before joining the Mill Falls team, Allison spent the a year as a substitute teacher and paraprofessional for the Manchester School District. She has been involved with music, theatre, and dance programs in the Manchester, NH area since childhood, and currently sings with the Manchester Choral Society. She shares that passion for the arts with our students in after school programs. Allison lives in Manchester with her family.

Allison DeCesere, Bookkeeper

Allison Decesere brings her efficiency and business expertise to her work with the Mill Falls administration in her bookkeeping role. She has extensive experience working with for-profit and not-for-profit businesses and is the owner/operator of By the Book, LLC, a bookkeeping business established in 2008. Allison received her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Southern New Hampshire University in 1999 where she was a member of the National Business Honor Society. Before developing her own small business, Allison worked at State Street Bank pricing mutual funds. There she discovered she preferred helping small businesses thrive rather than working in the corporate world, and was soon hired as the business manager for a general contractor in Wellesley, MA. Over the next several years, she built up her bookkeeping business working with many in the construction industry at first, then broadening her client base. These days, her clientele is expansive, ranging from realtors to contractors, hair stylists to a manufacturer, as well as private individuals and families. Allison is originally from Londonderry, NH. She now lives in Manchester with her husband and their two young children.

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MFCS Teaching Faculty

Each Mill Falls classroom has a Lead Teacher and an Assistant Teacher; the pairings are noted below.

Yosemite Room
Kindergarten Lead Teacher: Kristin Lang
kindergarten Assistant teacher: Kelsey Funk

Kristin Lang obtained her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and New York teaching license with a music concentration from Plattsburgh State University. She also has an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education. Kristin started her career in education in Hoosick Falls, NY as a first grade teacher for six years. Before coming to Mill Falls, she worked in a Lower Elementary classroom as special education paraprofessional and then moved into a permanent Lower Elementary co-teaching position at Hill View Montessori Charter Public School in Haverhill, MA. Kristin has also worked as a Math Specialist at the Discovery Club, an academic, grant-funded after school program in the Haverhill School District. Kristin has her Montessori Primary training. This is Kristin’s fifth year as the Lead Kindergarten Teacher at Mill Falls. She recently moved from Massachusetts to Manchester, NH.

Kelsey Funk attended Rivier University in Nashua, NH and received her bachelors in Psychology with a focus in Early Childhood and Special Education. While in school she was an intern at Easter Seal’s early childhood intervention program. Kelsey worked over the summers at Londonderry Middle School supporting students with developmental delays. It has been through these experiences that Kelsey has gained keen awareness and understanding of children’s varied learning styles and needs. While working at the World Academy in Nashua, NH as a Kindergarten assistant and afterschool care teacher she met a family and has been their private nanny for the past three years. This will be Kelsey’s second year at Mill Falls in the Yosemite Room. Kelsey lives in Manchester, NH.

Glacier Room
Lower Elementary Lead Teacher:  Shannon Helie
Lower elementary Assistant Teacher: Anya Morales

Shannon Helie has nine years of experience in both traditional and Montessori public schools. She has her NH teaching certification as well as her Montessori 6-9 Certification, and is working to complete her Masters of Education with a concentration in Montessori from Plymouth State University. Shannon obtained her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education/Psychology from Keene State College. Prior to joining the team at Mill Falls, Shannon co-taught in a Lower Elementary classroom at Hill View Montessori Charter Public School in Haverhill, MA, where she also ran the before-care program. Shannon has worked as a counselor and director at the YMCA after school and summer camp programs for several years. This is Shannon’s fifth year as a Lead Lower Elementary Teacher in the Glacier Room. Shannon lives in Manchester, NH.

Anya Morales received her bachelor’s degree in English from Keene State College. This summer, she attended the Seacoast Center for Education for her Lower Elementary 1 Montessori Training. Anya has worked in a wide variety of educational settings throughout her life and loves working with children. She fell in love with the Montessori philosophy and the effectiveness of its method while working at Cambridge Montessori School. Anya lives in Manchester, NH.

Acadia Room
Lower Elementary Lead Teacher: Susan Rowe
Lower Elementary Assistant Teacher: Erin Kelley

Susan Rowe studied occupational therapy in college, but decided six years ago to explore career possibilities that would support different learning styles and found a home in the Montessori approach. Susan trained at the Seacoast Center for Education and is AMS Certified as a Lower Elementary Montessorian. She has taught at the Derry Montessori School (students aged 3-6); co-taught in a Lower Elementary classroom at Hill View Montessori Charter School and most recently she served as a Lower Elementary Lead Teacher at Southern New Hampshire Montessori Academy. This is Susan’s fourth year as a Lead Lower Elementary Teacher in the Acadia Room.

Erin Kelley recently graduated Summa Cum Laude from Plymouth State University with a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education and holds her K-6 New Hampshire Teacher Certification. In her student teaching, Erin worked in elementary school settings. One extended student teaching project was in behavior management for which she completed a Functional Behavior Assessment. During another student teaching position, she focussed on developing engaging learning opportunities for her students who needed extra support in math. She has also worked at after school programs in Plymouth and Campton, NH for the past three years, implementing enrichment activities in areas such as relationship building, physical education, and nutrition. In addition to her role in the Acadia Room, Erin will also be our AfterCare Coordinator. Erin lives in Nashua, NH.

Denali Room
Lower Elementary Lead Teacher: Collette Fortin
Lower Elementary Assistant Teacher: Celia botto

Collette Fortin obtained her BA in Theater with a concentration in Dance and Elementary Education from Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, NH and graduated Magna Cum Laude with an Honors Designation. She has been Montessori trained at the Seacoast Center for Education for her Lower Elementary 1 certification and is a Certified NH Educator. She comes to us most recently from Manchester’s Gossler Elementary School where she was a Title 1 Teacher. There, she taught small group instruction for grades K-4 in reading and writing, utilizing a number of intervention resources such as Fountas and Pinnell, FUNdations and Words Their Way to help plan lessons to build on previously taught strategies. She has long been interested in the Montessori approach to education and is thrilled to be working with our Lower Elementary students in this public Montessori setting. Collette has directed, choreographed, and music directed 3 productions at the Majestic Theater in Manchester, and been a camp drama counselor and hip-hop instructor. Collette lives in Manchester. 

Celia Botto received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she studied art administration and art history. While attending college she was a dance instructor, teaching classes at dance studios, public elementary schools, and Whole Children, a non-profit organization for children of all abilities. Celia’s time at Whole Children inspired her to teach herself American Sign Language. After graduation from college, she took her experience and skills back home with her to the special education department at Clarksburg Elementary School as a tutor. During this time, Celia worked one-on-one with students and collaborated with classroom teachers to modify grade level standards to meet their social, emotional, and academic needs. This summer, Celia was Montessori trained at the Seacoast Center for Education in Lower Elementary 1 and will be completing her practicum this school year. Celia will continue to run our after school American Sign Language Club. This is Celia’s second year in the Denali Room.

Olympic Room
Upper Elementary Lead Teacher: Laura Blouin
Upper Elementary Assistant Teacher: nicole machado

Laura Blouin received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Theater from Keene State College and has four years teaching experience. She is certified in K-8 Elementary Content Areas and received her Upper Elementary Montessori Certification (for ages 9-12) at the Seacoast Center for Education in the summer of 2013. She greatly enjoys the Montessori method. Before coming to Mill Falls, she taught third, fourth and fifth grade at Broken Ground School in Concord, NH. Prior to teaching, Laura served as an Americorps member, helping high school students design and implement science based, service-learning projects to earn high school credits. In addition to this year of service, she worked as a science camp instructor at Prescott Farm. Laura joined Mill Falls as our first Upper Elementary Lead Teacher and has been a key player in the program’s development. This is Laura’s fourth year in the Olympic Room.

Nicole Machado recently graduated from Colby-Sawyer College with the distinction of Summa Cum Laude. She received her Bachelor of Science in Child Development and Early Childhood Education. In her student teaching, she worked with Lower Elementary aged students with a particular personal focus on incorporating movement and the growth mindset in the classroom. Her experiences also include adaptive art techniques and working with students with special needs, skills learned at her extended internship at Little Bear Pottery/Adaptive Art, Respite & Therapeutic Play Services (A.R.T.S.). Nicole lives in Merrimack, NH. She is very excited to join our Olympic classroom this year.

Everglades ROOM
UPPER ELEMENTARY LEAD TEACHER: lauren Kolbe 
UPPER ELEMENTARY ASSISTANT TEACHER:  Ashley Marchand

Lauren Kolbe has six years of teaching experience and holds her masters in Elementary Education from Lesley University and her bachelor’s degree from Siena College where she was a member of the women’s soccer team. She has her NH and MA teaching certification and has been Montessori trained for ages 9-12 at the Seacoast Center for Education. Prior to joining the team at Mill Falls, Lauren was a Lead teacher at the Clark School in Danvers, MA teaching 3rd graders as well as 7th and 8thgraders during her four years there; the Clark School has its roots in Montessori. Lauren also taught at the Belmont Day School in Belmont, MA as an assistant teacher in grades 4 and 5 where she also helped direct the student plays. At both of those schools, Lauren also focused on athletics and youth leadership, as a coed cross-country coach and basketball coach. Before she began her teaching career, Lauren was the soccer coach at Siena College’s summer soccer camp. This is her third year at Mill Falls in our Everglades Room. 

Ashley Marchand recently graduated from Saint Anselm College with a Bachelors of Arts in Elementary Education and is a certified teacher. This winter, she will begin work on her Masters in Educational Studies at Rivier College. Ashley had a number of exciting student teaching opportunities including her work with 3rd graders at Saint Catherine of Siena School in Manchester, and her work supporting struggling readers at Jewett Street Elementary School where she utilized the “America Reads” program. Ashley also volunteered at UpReach Therapeutic Riding Center where she helped children and young adults with a range of special needs, obtain skills while on horseback. Ashley began the year at Mill Falls providing one-to-one support in the Glacier Room and providing English Language Learner support to those students who began their lives speaking a language other than English. Ashley also works several afternoons a week in our After Care Program. Ashley lives in Manchester, NH.

Zion ROOM
UPPER ELEMENTARY LEAD TEACHER: Colleen Costa
UPPER ELEMENTARY ASSISTANT TEACHER: 

Colleen Costa attended Southern New Hampshire University where she received her BA in Elementary Education with a concentration in History. She is certified in K-8 Elementary Content Areas in the state of N.H., and graduated Summa Cum Laude in May of 2013. She received her Montessori Training trained in both Lower and Upper Elementary education at the Montessori Educator Teacher Training Collaborative in Lexington, MA. Before joining the Mill Falls team, Colleen taught at Manchester’s Gossler Park School, where she served as a Title 1 Certified Instructor, providing supplemental instruction to her students’ general education programming in all content areas, grades K-5. During her time at Gossler Park School she was a part of the school’s leadership team and also served as co-director/coordinator of the school’s annual talent show. This is Colleen’s second year at Mill Falls. She lives in Manchester.

Emily Johnson attended Champlain College in Burlington, VT where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology. While in school, she had the opportunity to intern with a variety of grade levels that affirmed her passion for teaching. Through both education and psychology classes Emily has gained a strong understanding of child development and how each student learns and develops in their own unique way. Emily is excited to put the Montessori methods into practice this year alongside Colleen.

MFCS Student Support Faculty

STUDENT SERVICES COORDINATOR & Special Educator: Laura Chesney

Laura Chesney holds a Bachelors Degree in Human Development from Rivier University, and is certified in Elementary and General Special Education. She is considered a Highly Qualified Teacher in the state of NH, and is also certified in Level I of the Wilson Reading System. Laura has worked as a Special Education Teacher in NH’s Derry and Seabrook Districts. For the past seven years, Laura has been working in a part-time capacity so that she could focus on raising her three children. During that time, she served as a reading tutor at various schools, including Mill Falls. She enjoyed the positive learning environment here, and is excited to be back. Laura has a true passion for teaching, especially when it comes to helping students make progress in areas that are challenging for them. Laura is currently working toward her Masters Degree in Educational Studies with certification in Learning Disabilities at Rivier University. Laura lives with her family in Derry.

Special Educator: Sue Lambright

Sue Lambright recently obtained her Learning Disability Certification from Rivier University. She also holds her Master’s degree in Education from Simmons College and a BFA with a concentration in Studio Arts from Emmanuel College. Sue is licensed in MA and NH in Special Education K-12 and Learning Disabilities. After teaching for nine years as a Special Educator in Massachusetts, she turned her focus to raising her children and caring for her family. During that time, she participated in a variety of school-based activities as a volunteer, including running the Destination Imagination program for two years and organizing school field day events. Sue lives in Nashua with her family.

Reading Interventionist: Sherry Humphrey

Sherry Humphrey began her teaching career as a public elementary school teacher working with 1st and 2nd graders. She took some time off from teaching to raise her children and returned some years later as a substitute teacher and later as an art teacher at Bedford Montessori School, which her children attended. She later worked in the Merrimack School District, first as a substitute teacher for upper elementary school students, then as a first grade teacher at Reed Ferry School. She studied at Plymouth State College where she majored in Elementary Education and minored in Child Development, and holds a Masters of Education degree with a concentration in Literacy Studies. Sherry started at Mill Falls as the Assistant Kindergarten Teacher in our opening year. This will be her fourth year as our Reading Interventionist.

MATH INTERVENTIONIST: COLLEEN LACROIX

Colleen Lacroix began her teaching career in physical education in Florida. She took some time off from teaching to raise her children and returned some years later as a Math Interventionist, most recently teaching in Omaha, Nebraska. She completed her undergraduate degree in Physical Education and her Masters in Exercise Physiology, both from the University of Central Florida. Colleen’s husband recently retired from the Marine Corp, and with that, the family moved north, back to their NH roots. Colleen lives in Auburn with her husband and their three children.

ELL Coordinator & Reading Coach: Tana gills

Tana Gills moved to Guam upon graduation from Tennessee Temple University with a bachelors in American Sign Language Interpreting and a minor in Cross-Cultural Studies. In Guam, she worked for seven years as a second grade classroom teacher, a tutor, and later worked as the assistant to the school’s principals. After living in Guam for 12 years, she has recently relocated to NH, working as a private tutor. This is Tana’s second year at Mill FallsTana serves as our English Language Learner (ELL) Coordinator and as our Reading Coach, supporting our K-3rd grade reading groups.

Integrated Arts Instructors

Catie Brumm, Technology Instructor
Catie Brumm 
received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2006 and her master’s degree in Occupational Therapy in 2007 from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. She has worked as an Occupational Therapist with children for 7 years, 5 of those years in elementary and middle school settings. Catie’s face is familiar to the Mill Falls community, as she has been supporting several of our special education students over the last two years. Catie recognizes the role of evolving technology in our children’s lives, and the need to introduce technology at a pace appropriate to a student’s developmental level. She enjoys teaching our students about how to successfully use technology to enhance their academic work in a safe and professional way. This is her second year in this position. Catie lives with her husband and their daughter in Manchester.

Carla Roy, Art Instructor
Carla Roy received her Bachelors from Plymouth State University in Fine Arts in painting with a minor in art history where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. She also received her Masters in Art Teaching (MAT) from Plymouth State. She holds a NH Visual Arts Certification (K-12) and is a Highly Qualified Art Educator. She has taught at Goffstown’s Mountain View Middle School and is currently teaching at the Currier Museum’s Art Center in Manchester, the Kimball Jenkins Art Estate in Concord, and at The Canvas Roadshow in Bedford. Carla’s own art work incorporates in mixed media. Carla lives in Dunbarton.

Courtney Burns, Fitness Instructor
Courtney Burns
joins Mill Falls with more than seven years of experience working with youth. She graduated from Rhode Island College with a Bachelors Degree in Mathematics and a Minor in Coaching. She is a four-year collegiate women’s basketball player. During her time at Rhode Island College she developed and coordinated team strength and conditioning workouts. During the summers she ran youth conditioning camps focusing on functional fitness. In addition to her strength and conditioning experience she has worked many youth basketball camps to help athletes develop and improve their skills. She has a passion for working with kids and helping them reach their full potential. She is currently the Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach at Southern New Hampshire University and is working towards attaining her masters in sports management. This is Courtney’s second year at Mill Falls.

Adam Young, Music Instructor
Adam Young graduated many years ago from Notre Dame College in Manchester, NH, with a degree in Communications. He has had a long and varied career with music in school systems and in nursing homes, and has also been in involved in community theater serving as writer, radio sound effects artist, performer, stage manager, and director. Adam has a wide range of musical talents, from singing in musicals to playing piano, ukulele, Native American flute, zither, and also accompaniment on the spoons with folk and banjo groups. Adam lives in Manchester, NH.

Before/Kinder/AfterCare Program

Erin Kelley, AfterCare Coordinator
In addition to her role as Assistant Teacher in Mill Falls’ Acadia classroom, Erin also serves as our AfterCare Coordinator. As the Coordinator, she will lead the AfterCare Program organizing enriching and creative activities that help and encourage children to develop their skills through educational games and play. Erin will be assisted by Mill Falls staff during each AfterCare Program day.

In addition to Erin, Kelsey Funk, Rhiannon Archer, Alyssa Attar, Devon Venne, Ashley Marchand, Nicole Machado & Anya Morales staff the Child Care Program.

Paraprofessionals

Rhiannon Archer received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Colby College. She spent the following year as an AmeriCorps member for the national education nonprofit organization, City Year. Under this program, she taught in a fourth grade classroom at Henry Wilson Elementary School in Manchester, NH. She has experience organizing after school events and spearheading school-wide initiatives. She has also worked with elementary-aged students in various after school and summer programs, including a STEM focused program for fourth and fifth grade students in rural Maine and at Girls Inc. of New Hampshire. This is Rhiannon’s second year at Mill Falls.

Alyssa Attar received her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Environmental Sciences from the University of Alabama in 2015. During her summers off from school, she was a lifeguard and swim instructor for children that were  6months to 14 years old. Some of the children she taught had learning disabilities on the autism spectrum. This past summer, she lived in Italy teaching children English and helped them with a wide variety of skills. Alyssa lives in Hampstead, NH.

Mel Decowski graduated from Castle College with a degree in Business Administration. She has over 20 years of business experience in the financial industry. While raising a family, she discovered a love of education and being with children in the school setting. Mel began by volunteering at Derry Montessori in 2007.  She then transitioned to Southern NH Montessori Academy where she was part of the Design Team which developed and established the new school. She then joined the staff for three years, as the Office Administrator; she also filled in as a classroom assistant when needed. Her experience at Southern, gave her great insight into school operations. When her oldest daughter began at Mill Falls in its founding year (2012), Mel began volunteering both in classrooms and the front office. Last year, Mel supported our students and staff as a substitute Assistant Teacher and Paraprofessional. Mel strongly believes in the Montessori philosophy and enjoys supporting Mill Falls students as they work to achieve their own individual success.  Mel lives with her family in Derry.

Lisa DeYeso graduated from Simmons College with a degree in Economics, but transitioned into education while raising a family. She worked as an assistant kindergarten teacher for 3 years in Londonderry. Her experiences also include homeschooling her son for 6 years, volunteering in classrooms in the Derry Montessori School (preK/K) through public lower elementary, and teaching religious education. Her strong belief in the Montessori Method of schooling, combined with her desire to help students achieve success in the classroom, makes for a perfect fit at Mill Falls. As a nature lover, she happily spends her summers as the Assistant Camp Director at the Massabesic Audubon Center in Auburn, NH. She is excited to be returning to Mill Falls for a second year and joining the Acadia classroom. Lisa lives with her family in Londonderry.

Melissa Fortin is a graduate of Endicott College and Rhode Island School of Design with degrees in Fine Arts and Architectural Studies. She works as a freelance designer, specializing in residential architectural design. While raising her two children, she volunteered extensively in their public schools, working on various fundraising events and special art projects. After being introduced to Mill Falls as a volunteer, she is thrilled to have now joined the staff as a paraprofessional helping to inspire students.  She lives in Manchester with her husband, and enjoys visiting her two adult children who now live in California and South Carolina. 

Mindy Kacavas first began her work in education as a Physical Education Teacher at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, NY. She later worked with younger students at UNH’s Child Study and Development Center and with adult learners as she supervised UNH Manchester education students in their field placement. Mindy majored in Psychology at St. Lawrence University and traveled to Kenya as part of her undergraduate studies. She studied at NYU’s Graduate School of Education and at UNH’s School of Continuing Education. Mindy is the proud mother of three sons, and during their time at Webster School she was a committed parent volunteer engaged in tutoring, library duties, the PTO, and organizing large school events. Mindy was on staff at Webster as an aide for several years before joining the Mill Falls staff as an Assistant Teacher in the Acadia Room where she remained from the fall of 2012 to the spring of 2015. She currently serves as a Trustee. Mindy is an avid tennis player and gardener. Originally from Connecticut, she lives with her husband, their three children and their beagle, Clete, in Manchester. Mindy serves as both a para in the Kinder room, and provides additional hours of support as that classroom’s general Classroom Assistant.

Devon Venne began working in the classroom as a volunteer working with high school students with disabilities. After her high school graduation, Devon was offered a Substitute Paraprofessional position with Merrimack School District. Soon after, the Merrimack District paired her with a student who enrolled at Mill Falls in 2012. She worked with that same student at Mill Falls until 2016. This year she joins the Mill Falls staff to support a new student. Devon is also experienced in organizing school events and activities and loves planning engaging activities for students; she will continue to staff our AfterCare Program this year. Devon is currently continuing her education at Nashua Community College and completing her Associates Degree in Criminal Justice. This will be Devon’s fifth year at Mill Falls. Devon lives in Merrimack.