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. In December 2015, Meryl was selected by the Trustees to serve as the Executive Director. Meryl 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. She is an alumnus of the Leadership New Hampshire Class of 2013 and served as Co-Chair of the Don’t Wait. Educate campaign, a 2016 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 thirteenth year in education and her sixth 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. Laura and her husband live in Manchester, NH.

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. Susanne lives with her husband and their two sons in Manchester, NH.

Office Assistant: Roxanne Gauthier

Roxanne Gauthier graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy. While attending UNH, she was able to complete a work-study program as an administrative assistant in the Dean’s Office of the College of Health and Human Services. Prior to joining the Mill Falls team, she had the pleasure of traveling to several European countries and was able to experience a wide variety of cultures. Roxanne has a passion for learning, reading, and art. She is a Manchester, NH native and lives in the area 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: Kayla Messana

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.

Kayla Messana attended Hesser College with a focus in Early Childhood Education. In 2010, she began working in the field as a Kindergarten Site Director at a local YMCA. She continued her journey in education when in 2013 she became an Intensive Needs Paraprofessional in Bedford, NH. Kayla has an extensive background in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and has worked for years with children with special needs. She looks forward to her first year at Mill Falls. Kayla, a mom of three, lives with her family in Londonderry, 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 a 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 sixth 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. Anya attended the Seacoast Center for Education for her Lower Elementary 1 Montessori Training. She 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: Mel decowski

Susan Rowe studied occupational therapy in college, but decided seven 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 as a Lower Elementary Lead Teacher at Southern New Hampshire Montessori Academy. This is Susan’s fifth year as a Lead Lower Elementary Teacher in the Acadia Room.

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 enrolled at Mill Falls in its founding year (2012), Mel volunteered both in classrooms and the front office. For the last two years, Mel has supported our students as a Paraprofessional. Mel strongly believes in the Montessori philosophy and enjoys supporting Mill Falls students as they work to achieve their own individual success and is thrilled to be the Assistant Teacher in the Acadia Room. Beyond her work at Mill Falls, she is presently an Assistant Dance Instructor for the RhythmWorks Integrative Dance Program at the New Hampshire Academie Of Dance, where she assists in providing dance lessons for students ages 6-15 with learning differences. Mel lives with her family in Derry.

Denali Room
Lower Elementary Lead Teacher: Collette Fortin
Lower Elementary Assistant Teacher: Christine bisson

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. This is her second year at Mill Falls. 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, NH. 

Christine Bisson is a certified teacher in Elementary Education, with a Masters from Southern New Hampshire University. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre from the University of South Dakota. This degree led her to acting and directing in children’s theater throughout her home state of South Dakota, well as acting in New York City. She also spent a year in rural Japan with the JET Program teaching English as well as a year in Washington, DC in AmeriCorps NCCC. Closer to home, Christine worked as a Title 1 Intervention Teacher at Gossler Park Elementary in Manchester before joining the Mill Falls team in 2015/16 as an Upper Elementary Assistant Teacher. Christine took a year off from our team to welcome her second child, and is now thrilled to be returning to Mill Falls and working with Lower Elementary students in the Denali Room. Christine lives with her family in Manchester, NH.

Olympic Room
Upper Elementary Lead Teacher: Laura Blouin
Upper Elementary Assistant Teacher: Morgan fisher

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 fifth year in the Olympic Room. Laura and her husband, also a teacher, live in Manchester, NH.

Morgan Fisher is a recent graduate from Keene State College where she obtained her Bachelors in Early Childhood and Psychology. During her training, she had a wide range of experiences teaching students of all ages in different environments and school settings. She is completing the paper work for NH Teacher Certification. Morgan has also been a volunteer mentor and a coordinator for the nationwide program Eye to Eye at Keene State College’s campus for two years. In these roles, she implemented art-based activities with fellow mentors to encourage elementary and middle school students to work with their differing abilities and develop lifelong friendships. This is Morgan’s first year at Mill Falls and she looks forward to getting to know the students and families. Morgan lives at her home in Nashua, NH with her family and two energetic dogs.

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

Lauren Kolbe has seven 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 fourth year at Mill Falls in our Everglades Room. Lauren lives her husband and their son in Bedford, NH.

Ashley Marchand graduated from Saint Anselm College with a Bachelors of Arts in Elementary Education and is a NH certified teacher. She is working 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 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. This will be her second year as the Assistant Teacher in the Everglades Room. Ashley lives in Manchester, NH.

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

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 third year at Mill Falls. She lives in Manchester.

Joelle Gaona attended New England College with a focus on Education Studies. For 10 years she worked at the YMCA as a certified lifeguard and swim instructor. From 2013 to 2015 she worked as an Upper Elementary Assistant Teacher at Mill Falls. She then took time off to be a stay-at-home mom to her daughter, Eloise. Joelle is to pleased to rejoining the Mill Falls community.

MFCS Student Support Faculty

STUDENT SERVICES COORDINATOR & Special Educator: Maryclare Heffernan

Maryclare Heffernan is an experienced educator with a passion for supporting successful student learning outcomes for all students, but particularly for students with an educational disability. Her more than 40 years of professional experience as a Special Education Teacher, Administrator and Consultant have guided her personal belief that students and adults are all life learners with an endless potential for discovery and growth. Maryclare has a BA in Psychology with a minor in Special Education from Salve Regina University and an M Ed. in Education Administration and Supervision from the University of New Hampshire. She holds an Experienced Educator Certificate from the State of NH and is certified in Specific Learning Disabilities, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and General Special Education. She is excited to join the Mill Falls Charter School Team. When she isn’t working with teams of teachers, staff and administrators, she’s painting in oils and watercolors; a newfound artistic passion. Maryclare lives in Candia, NH with her husband, a sweet but neurotic dog and a pretty but cranky cat. They have four grown children and nine grandchildren.

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. This is Sue’s second year at Mill Falls. Sue lives in Nashua with her family.

SPECIAL EDUCATOR: danielle Marie fallon

Danielle Marie Fallon received her Bachelor’s in Inclusive Elementary Education and Spanish, as well as her Master’s degree in English to Speakers of Other Languages from Syracuse University. She is certified in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York in special education, elementary education, and English as a second language. Danielle comes to Mill Falls most recently from New York City where she was a co-teacher in first and second grade classrooms. There she spent a lot of time working with small group enrichment and interventions, collaborating with other teachers and therapists. She is very excited for her first year at Mill Falls. Danielle lives in Nashua, NH.

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 fifth year as our Reading Interventionist. Sherry lives with her family in Merrimack, NH.

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. This is Colleen’s third year at Mill Falls. 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 third year at Mill FallsTana serves as our English Language Learner (ELL) Coordinator and as our Reading Coach, supporting our K-3rd grade reading groups. Tana lives in Manchester, NH.

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 several 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 third  year in this position. Catie lives with her husband and their daughter in Manchester, NH.

Danielle Friedberg, Art Instructor
Danielle Friedberg
is a certified Art Educator with experience teaching students ranging from Kindergarten through 8th grade. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Art Education from Plymouth State University with a minor in Art History. She has been teaching art to kids for four years and each year grows fonder of her career. She has a passion for arts integration, creating various lessons and units based on topics students are learning in the classroom. For example, she enjoys to weave writing, math, history and science into her art lessons. She believes art to be an interactive medium that engages student’s minds, challenges them to solve problems in their own way, encourages students to explore using various techniques, and provide a therapeutic outlet for expression. Danielle lives in Derry, NH.

Elizabeth Belanger, Fitness Instructor
Elizabeth Belanger attended the University of New Hampshire where she received her BS in Kinesiology: Sport Studies. She graduated in May 2016 as a former student-athlete of the Women’s Basketball team. After playing professionally in Germany for a year, Elizabeth recently accepted a part-time Assistant Women’s Basketball coaching position at Southern New Hampshire University. She will also be obtaining her Master’s Degree in Sports Management at the University. Elizabeth is looking forward to working with students of all levels and abilities. Elizabeth resides in Dover, NH.

Karina Bertrand, Music Instructor
Karina Bertrand received her Bachelors in Music Education from University of New Hampshire in 1993. She is a Music K-12 Certified Experienced NH Educator. She comes to us with over 25 years of experience working with children of all ages through classroom music teaching in both public and private schools, teaching preschool, teaching homeschool enrichment classes/camps, offering child care, raising three children, directing musicals and choirs, teaching private voice and piano lessons, and accompanying various choirs and theatre groups in central and southern NH. Karina has done research into the Montessori Method, and has incorporated aspects of that approach into her preschool and homeschool teaching. She is looking forward to sharing her talent and love of music, in all its many facets, with the students and community of Mill Falls! When not making music, you will find Karina on her farm in New Boston.

Before/Kinder/AfterCare Program

Becca Tarr, AfterCare Coordinator
Becca Tarr will provide oversight and staffing of our AfterCare Program. During the school day, Becca is a Paraprofessional at Mill Falls and her bio can be found below.

Ashley Marchand (Assistant Teacher in Everglades), Kerri Donahue (Paraprofessional) will also help staff the Child Care Program.

Paraprofessionals

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, NH.

Kerri Donahue holds her Lead Teacher certificate from Manchester Community College. She has worked in several child care facilities first as an Assistant Teacher, then as a Lead Teacher for preschool children ages 2-4. Kerri is presently an Assistant Dance Instructor for the RhythmWorks Integrative Dance Program at the New Hampshire Academie Of Dance, where she assists in providing dance lessons for students ages 6-15 with learning differences. She enjoys sharing her hands-on creativity with children of all ages. In her spare time, she enjoys fishing, kayaking and relaxing at her parent’s lake house on Lake Winnipesaukee. Kerri lives in Sandown, NH on Angel Pond with her two dogs Ember and Riley.

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, NH with her husband, and enjoys visiting her two adult children who now live in California and South Carolina. 

Kim Prokopik received her Associates of Applied Science from New Hampshire Technical Institute and has an administrative background. While taking time to raise her three children, she served as a parent volunteer, substitute teacher, a member of the PTA and a chair for the Reflections Art program all at the Auburn Village School (AVS). Kim was employed by AVS over seven years, and worked as a special education Paraprofessional, Teacher Assistant, Library Media Assistant and most recently as the school’s Distance Learning Coordinator for the Advanced Math Program. Kim enjoys working with children and has a passion for the arts. This is her first year at Mill Falls. Kim lives in Auburn, NH with her husband and children.

Becca Tarr discovered her passion for education while teaching the performing arts with The Young Americans College of the Performing Arts music outreach program in countries such as Germany, Japan, the U.K. and the United States. She spent a year working as a cast member on The Walt Disney Worldcollege internship and is experienced in organizing events having worked as an event/wedding coordinator. She is currently pursuing her bachelors degree in Elementary/Special Education at Granite State College and plans to receive her masters degree in Instruction and Leadership. Becca is ecstatic to be joining the Mill Falls Team for her first year. She lives in Nashua, NH.