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.
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 with their two children in Manchester, NH.
Assistant Educational Program Director: Shannon Helie
Shannon Helie serves both as the Assistant Educational Program Director, and as the Lead Teacher in the Glacier Room. Shannon has been at Mill Falls since its founding in 2012, and served last year as Interim Educational Program Director during Laura Wrubleski’s maternity leave. Please see Shannon’s complete bio below, in the Teaching Faculty section.
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 manager: 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.
Office Assistant: melissa fortin
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. Melissa has been part of the Mill Falls Team since the school’s founding, first as a volunteer, then as a paraprofessional and sub. She looks forward to working front office this year in support of the staff, students and families. Melissa lives in Manchester, NH with her husband, and enjoys visiting her two adult children who now live in California and South Carolina..
Allison DeCesere, Bookkeeper
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MFCS Teaching Faculty
Each Mill Falls classroom has a Lead Teacher and an Assistant Teacher; the pairings are noted below.
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 seventh 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 second year at Mill Falls. Kayla, a mom of three, lives with her family in Londonderry, NH.
Lower Elementary Lead Teacher: Shannon Helie
Lower elementary Assistant Teacher: Alyssa reaves
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 seventh year as a Lead Lower Elementary Teacher in the Glacier Room. Shannon lives in Manchester, NH.
Alyssa Reaves graduated from the University of Hartford in May of 2017 with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and a double minor in Sociology and Business Administration. She played Division 1 Basketball there for four years and was a senior captain. Throughout her college career, Alyssa had many opportunities to work with children at basketball clinics for young players held at middle schools in the surrounding towns. She also volunteered for Junior Achievement in Hartford, CT for two years, instructing 2nd and 3rd grade students in economics at the Glastonbury Magnet School Planetarium. Following her graduation in 2017, Alyssa moved to New Hampshire when she was hired as an Assistant Coach for Southern New Hampshire University’s Women’s Basketball Program, and enrolled in a Masters in Psychology program at SNHU. In the 2017/18 school year, Alyssa worked a Paraprofessional in the Denali Room at Mill Falls. She is thrilled to join Ms. Shannon and the students of the Glacier Room. Originally from Connecticut, Alyssa now lives in Manchester.
Lower Elementary Lead Teacher: Tana Gills
Lower Elementary Assistant Teacher: Mel decowski
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. Tana joined the Mill Falls team in in 2015 as as our English Language Learner (ELL) Coordinator and as our Reading Coach, supporting our K-3rd grade reading groups, and had done incredible work supporting our students in those areas. In her time with us, Tana has has strongly embraced the Montessori approach and will receive her Lower Elementary 1 Montessori certification from the Maitland Montessori School in Maitland, FL. She is looking forward to a great year with Ms. Mel and the students of the Acadia Room. Tana lives in Manchester, 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 enrolled at Mill Falls in its founding year (2012), Mel volunteered both in classrooms and the front office. For two years, Mel supported our students as a Paraprofessional; this will be her second year in the Acadia Room as its Assistant Teacher. Mel strongly believes in the Montessori philosophy and enjoys supporting Mill Falls students as they work to achieve their own individual successes. 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.
Lower Elementary Lead Teacher: anya morales
Lower Elementary Assistant Teacher: Christine bisson
Anya Morales originally fell in love with the Montessori philosophy and the effectiveness of its method while working at Cambridge Montessori School. Anya joined the Mill Falls faculty in 2014 as the Assistant Teacher in the Glacier Room, and in the summer of 2015, she enrolled at the Seacoast Center for Education where she obtained her Lower Elementary 1 Montessori Training. Previously, Anya received her bachelor’s degree in English from Keene State College. Anya began the 2017/18 school year as an Assistant in the Glacier Room, and then stepped into the Lead Teacher position in the spring when the classroom’s lead teacher was asked to serve as the Interim Educational Program Director. Throughout her life, Anya has worked in a wide variety of educational settings, and loves working with children. She is thrilled to be joining the Denali Room and looks forward to a great year with Ms. Christine and the children. Anya 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 returned to Mill Falls in 2017 to work with Lower Elementary students in the Denali Room. Christine lives with her family in Manchester, NH.
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 sixth 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 second year at Mill Falls. Morgan lives at her home in Nashua, NH with her family and two energetic dogs.
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 fifth year at Mill Falls in our Everglades Room. Lauren lives with 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 third year as the Assistant Teacher in the Everglades Room. Ashley lives in Manchester, NH.
UPPER ELEMENTARY LEAD TEACHER: Colleen Costa
UPPER ELEMENTARY ASSISTANT TEACHER: Sarah Joy weber
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 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 fourth year at Mill Falls. She lives in Manchester.
Sarah-Joy Weber graduated from the University of Northwestern in Saint Paul, Minnesota with a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Middle School Social Studies Education. After graduation, she spent a year working in special needs education. She moved to India for five months where she taught young children, and then went on to teach English to second graders in Vietnam for three and a half years. While in Vietnam, she pioneered the development of a character education program and served as a language learning coach for other American teachers. She is a firm believer in the Montessori approach and is excited to join the Mill Falls community. She recently moved to New Hampshire to be near family, and she will be moving to Concord after getting married this November.
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. This is Maryclare’s second year at Mill Falls. 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 third year at Mill Falls. 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 fifth year as our Reading Interventionist; her sixth at Mill Falls. 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
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 first as an Assistant Teacher in the Acadia Room where she remained from the fall of 2012 to the spring of 2015. Each year since, Mindy has lent her expertise to the Mill Falls team, in a variety of ways. Most recently, she was the long-term Assistant Teacher substitute in the Glacier Room. She is thrilled to be serving as both our ELL Coordinator and our Reading Coach, jobs she has also performed in the fall of 2017. Mindy is an avid tennis player and gardener. Originally from Connecticut, she lives with her husband, their three children and their beagles, Clete & Vinny, in Manchester.
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 fourth 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. This will be her second year at Mill Falls. Danielle lives in Derry, NH.
Devon Venne, Fitness Instructor
Devon Venne is a recent graduate of Nashua Community College where she studied Criminal Justice. Devon joined the Mill Falls team in our founding year, and served as a paraprofessional first in the Glacier Room, and later in the Everglades Room. Last year, she pursued completing her college work, but still found some time to come in as a substitute during the year. This year she is thrilled to join us as our Fitness Instructor, as well as our AfterCare Coordinator. Devon loves working with students in these different ways, and is also passionate about music and event planning. When not at Mill Fall, she also works as a DJ and Promo Team Member for a local radio station. Devon lives with her family in Manchester.
Cassandra Pepler, Music Instructor
Cassandra Pepler graduated Magna cum Laude from Plymouth State College with a degree in Music Education. Cassandra has 7 years of experience in NH public schools teaching general music and directing choral ensembles. Prior to teaching in the public schools, Cassandra taught classical piano as adjunct faculty at Plymouth State College. Cassandra is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music in Piano through the Music Teachers National Association with twenty-nine years of experience teaching private and group piano lessons. In addition to maintaining her NH State Teaching Certification (grades K-12), she has received music and movement training through the Music Together Foundation. Cassandra teaches private piano in her home studio in Auburn where she also offers preschool music and movement classes. Cassandra also maintains an active performance schedule and serves as a clinician, adjudicator, accompanist, and guest choral conductor for music festivals and camps. This will be her second year at Mill Falls. Cassandra lives in Auburn with her family.
The Mill Falls ChildCare Program will be supervised by Shannon Helie. The AfterCare Program Coordinator is Devon Venne. Other Mill Falls faculty members provide the additional staffing of the Child Care Program.
Jen Avery received her Bachelors of Arts from Southern New Hampshire University. Soon after graduating, she enrolled at the University of New Hampshire to study Biological Sciences for Pharmaceuticals. She then focused on raising her young daughter, Charley. The experience of being home with her daughter, led her to open up a small in-home daycare center, which Jen ran for about four years. It was this experience as caretaker for young children, which sparked her love for teaching children. This will be Jen’s second year as the paraprofessional in the Acadia Room. Jen lives in Manchester with her daughter and their cat, Maui.
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 fourth year, her second as the paraprofessional in the Glacier Room. Lisa lives with her family in Londonderry, NH.
Angelica Kashulines attended Manchester Community College with a concentration in Child Growth and Development. She held her State of NH Water Treatment License and NH Esthetician’s License before becoming a stay-at-home mom. While raising her children, she has enjoyed working with various aged children in child care settings. Angelica spends much of her spare time as a volunteer-advocate, spreading the word about Visual Processing Disorders, which are often missed during most basic vision exams. She’s an administrator of the Vision Therapy Parents Unite FaceBook Group, which includes over 14,000 members. Angelica loves the Montessori method and the supportive teachers at Mill Falls, something she’s come to know as a parent of two children who have attended the school. She’s passionate about helping the struggling learner and this will be her second year as a Paraprofessional at Mill Falls. Angelica lives in Auburn, NH with her husband and their two sons.