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. In December 2015, after two earlier stints as an interim school leader, Meryl was selected by the school’s 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 the previous 20+ years, Meryl 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 was an adjunct professor at Southern New Hampshire University teaching visual storytelling for seven years, and was 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 has served as Mill Falls’ educational leader since its founding in 2012 and brings a wealth of experience and expertise as she enters her seventeenth year in education. She is 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.
Project Manager: Grace Eaton
Grace Eaton is a graduate of the Westover School and The University of Vermont. Before joining Mill Falls, she spent five years at two independent boarding schools. Both schools taught her how to fill multiple roles at the same time: admission officer, faculty member, adviser, dorm parent, and committee member. Grace joined Mill Falls in 2019, and in her role here she manages many multifaceted tasks and programs as a member of our Admin Team. She was born and raised in the world of education and each year she continues to strengthen her love and respect for all educational models. Grace lives in Manchester, NH with her husband and their two dogs.
Office Manager: Jen Avery
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. The experience of being at home with her daughter, led her to open up a small in-home daycare center, which Jen ran for about four years. She first joined Mill Falls as a paraprofessional in 2017. In the winter of 2019, she joined the Admin Team as Office Manager. Jen merges her love for children with experience from her her previous work at Catholic Medical Center’s physician’s practices where she was the office assistant, as well as her work in the hospitality industry in her role as part of our Admin Team. Jen lives in Manchester, NH with her daughter, a student at Mill Falls, and their cats, Maui and Smokey.
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 lives in Goffstown with her husband and their two 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.
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. Kristin’s has been the Lead Kindergarten Teacher at Mill Falls since we opened our doors in 2012. She lives in 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 joined the Mill Falls faculty in the fall of 2017. Kayla, is a mom of four, lives with her family in Londonderry, NH.
Lower Elementary Lead Teacher – Short-Term Sub: Kelly Franklin
Lower Elementary Lead Teacher: Shannon Helie (returning from maternity leave in December)
Lower elementary Assistant Teacher: Mel Decowski
Kelly Franklin recently moved back to New Hampshire along with her partner, and their two cats after eight years in California. The timing of her return was a perfect match to our needs for a Lead Teacher in Glacier! Kelly is a graduate of Connecticut College with a degree in Film Studies and Hispanic Studies. After graduating, she moved to the Bay Area to pursue a career as an art therapist, but ultimately decided to become a teacher after learning more about the Montessori philosophy. She holds a diploma in Elementary Education from the Montessori Institute of San Diego. Kelly taught for five years in a multilingual Montessori classroom as the Lead English Language Teacher before transitioning to a traditional classroom at a charter school in San Lorenzo, California.
Shannon Helie has twelve 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. Shannon has been the Lead Lower Elementary Teacher in the Glacier Room since we opened our doors in 2012; in 2018 she served as Interim Educational Program Director during Laura Wrubleski’s maternity leave, and as the Assistant Educational Program Director for two years, then served as our Academic Project Coordinator. This August, Shannon and her husband will welcome their first child. Shannon will return from her maternity leave in early December. Shannon and her family, including their dog, live in Manchester, NH.
Mel Decowski graduated from Castle College with a degree in Business Administration and 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 and served on their staff for three years as the Office Administrator and substitute assistant teacher. When her oldest daughter enrolled at Mill Falls in our 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 seventh year as an Assistant Teacher first in the Acadia Room and now in Glacier and third as our Assistant Teacher Coordinator. Mel strongly believes in the Montessori philosophy and enjoys supporting Mill Falls students as they work to achieve their own individual successes. Mel lives with her family in Derry, NH.
Lower Elementary Lead Teacher: Tana Gills
Lower Elementary Assistant Teacher: Caitlin Gagnon
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 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. Tana then obtained her Lower Elementary 1 Montessori certification from the Maitland Montessori School in Maitland, FL. She has served as Acadia’s Lead Teacher since the fall of 2018. She is looking forward to another great year with Ms. Caitlin and the students of the Acadia Room. Tana lives in Manchester, NH.
Caitlin Gagnon is a certified teacher in Elementary Education, with a Masters from Southern New Hampshire University. She also holds a Bachelors in Communication Arts from the University of New Hampshire. After graduating with her undergraduate degree in 2007, Caitlin decided she wanted to follow her dream of one day working with and educating children. She first became a paraprofessional in the Manchester School District, and eventually went back to school to become a classroom teacher. After receiving her teacher certification in 2011, Caitlin worked for 1 year as a second grade teacher and 6 years as a first grade teacher at Manchester’s Hallsville Elementary and Parker-Varney Elementary Schools. Caitlin joined the Mill Falls Team in the fall of 2019. She believes firmly in the Montessori method, and looks forward to another great year in the Acadia Room. Caitlin lives with her husband, their son, and two pups, is a certified teacher in Elementary and Special 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, as 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 along with Colleen Costa, before joining the Mill Falls team in 2015. She worked as an Assistant Teacher for 2 years in Lower Elementary and 2 years in Upper Elementary. Later, she shared the role of Upper Elementary Interventionist with Lauren Kolbe for one year, and she has also served as our Fitness Instructor. In the fall of 2021, Christine joined our Special Education Team as a part-time Special Educator and this year that will be a 4-day-per week position. In addition to that role, she will be part of our Integrated Arts Team, teaching Combined Cultural Arts in partnership with Melissa Fortin. Christine lives with her family in Manchester, NH, and both of her kids attend Mill Falls.Buckley and Duke, in Bow, NH.
Lower Elementary Lead Teacher: Anya Morales
Lower Elementary Assistant Teacher: Lisa
Anya Morales joined the Mill Falls faculty in 2014. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from Keene State College and attended Seacoast Center for Education where she obtained her Lower Elementary 1 Montessori Training. Anya holds a Masters degree in Elementary Education from Southern New Hampshire University. Throughout her life, Anya has worked in many educational settings, and loves working with children. She has been the Lead Teacher in the Denali Room since 2018 and she looks forward to another great year with Ms. Lisa and the children. Anya and her husband live in Manchester, NH.
Lisa DeYeso graduated from Simmons College with a degree in Economics, and transitioned into education while raising her two children. She was a homeschooling mom for six years, Assistant Teacher at Moose Hill School in Londonderry for three years, and Assistant Director for NH Audubon Massabesic Center’s Nature Day Camp for five years. As a Derry Montessori School parent and volunteer, Lisa developed a strong belief in the Montessori Method. Once her children had grown, she sought to pursue her passion of helping students achieve success in the classroom, and Mill Falls made for a perfect fit. After working for four years as a paraprofessional here, she stepped into her current role as Assistant Teacher in 2019, joining Ms. Anya in the Denali classroom. Lisa lives in Londonderry with her husband, a tortoise, and one very old fish. While spending time with family is her favorite activity, she also enjoys being outdoors hiking, skiing, or simply appreciating nature.
Upper Elementary Lead Teacher: Laura Blouin
Upper Elementary Assistant Teacher: Meghan Sirois
Laura Blouin received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Theater from Keene State College and has ten years of 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. 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 in 2013 when the Olympic Room was established, and has been a key player in our Upper Elementary Program’s development. Laura and her husband, also a teacher, live in Manchester, NH.
Meghan Sirois graduated from Rivier College where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development, Elementary Education, and Special Education. After graduation, Meghan worked as a second grade teacher in Hudson, NH. For several years, she was a full-time, stay-at-home mom to her children. Meghan believes that building strong relationships with students is necessary, especially when teaching Upper Elementary-aged students. Meghan loves seeing the individual growth and development in students, and is passionate about the Montessori approach. Meghan joined the Olympic Room Team in 2019, and looks forward to another great year. Meghan lives in Manchester, NH with her husband and their two children, who are Mill Falls students.
UPPER ELEMENTARY LEAD TEACHER: LAUREN KOBLE
Upper Elementary Assistant Teacher: Marissa Twomey
Lauren Kolbe has been a long-time member of our Mill Falls Faculty, serving as the Lead Teacher in the Everglades Room since 2015. Lauren 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 is 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 and at the Belmont Day School in Belmont, both in MA. 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. Lauren lives with her husband and their two children in Bedford, NH.
Marissa Twomey has over ten years of teaching experience. Marissa holds her Master of Arts degree in Teaching Secondary English Education from Rivier University and her bachelor’s degree from Plymouth State University. She began her career at Alvirne High School in Hudson, NH and taught English for seven years. Marissa then established her own tutoring business that specializes in working with students with dyslexia. When her son started preschool at Southern New Hampshire Montessori Academy, she spent three years there as a volunteer librarian working with students in kindergarten through sixth grade. She joined the Everglades Room in the fall of 2019; returning families will recall that Marissa stepped into the Lead Teacher position during COVID while Ms. Lauren was out on maternity leave. Marissa lives with her husband and their son in Londonderry, NH.
UPPER ELEMENTARY LEAD TEACHER: Colleen Costa
UPPER ELEMENTARY ASSISTANT TEACHER: Amy Broadhead
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 NH, 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 in 2015, 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. Colleen has been the Lead Teacher in the Zion Room since 2017. She lives in Manchester, NH.
Amy Broadhead joins us this year following 14 years at Hill View Montessori Charter Public School in Haverhill, MA. She began at Hill View as an Upper Elementary Assistant Teacher, and then transitioned into the role of Fitness Specialist. Prior to working in Montessori education, Amy spent many years in traditional public school settings as a paraprofessional supporting students with special education needs. She received her bachelors of science degree in Criminal Justice from the Rochester Institute of Technology and her bachelors of science degree in Physical Education from SUNY Brockport. She currently holds a Massachusetts License in prek-12 Physical Education. Amy has known many members of our staff from their past work together at Hill View, and looks forward to partnering with them, and the rest of our staff in support of our students. She lives with her family in Salem, NH.
MFCS Student Support Faculty
Social Worker: Maura Barber
Maura Barber has over 25 years of experience in the fields of education and social services. Throughout her career, she has implemented many outreach programs to serve individuals and families in the community, addressing basic needs and social action causes. Maura graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1992 with a degree in Early Childhood Education and minored in Human Development and Family Studies. While living in Austin, Texas working as a lead teacher at a childcare facility, she decided to go back to school to earn her Masters in Social Work at Southwest Texas State University. After graduation, she immediately went to work for the Texas Department of Health and Human Services with a focus on child abuse, foster care and adult abuse services. While living in North Carolina, she taught at the community college level, and in New Hampshire, she continued that work as an adjunct at Southern New Hampshire University. In 2008, she became certified as a dance fitness instructor and continues to teach regular classes for all ages. In addition to her work at Mill Falls, Maura holds a part-time position as the Assistant Track and Field Coach at Manchester’s Central High School and teaches fitness classes at Manchester’s Downtown YMCA. She is the proud mom of one current and one graduated Mill Falls student, and she has volunteered as one of the coaches for the Girls on The Run program. Originally from Connecticut, Maura now lives in Manchester with her husband, four children, and one fur baby.
STUDENT SERVICES COORDINATOR & Special Educator: Diane Harrises
Brittany Pichette joins us this year following her most recent position at Valley Collaborative Elementary School, an out-of-district placement for Special Education students, where she worked as a Special Education teacher for students from surrounding districts. Over the course of her teaching, Brittany has worked with students on the Autism Spectrum, as well as students with various emotional and behavioral needs. Special Education has been very fulfilling for her and she has valued the relationships she has made with her students and staff throughout her career. She is excited to be joining the Mill Falls team. Brittany is a certified teacher in Elementary Education, and brings a positive attitude to her work. She graduated from Merrimack College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Elementary Education. She is currently working to complete her Master’s in Special Education from Rivier University. Brittany lives in Hooksett, NH with her husband, two young boys and their dog.
Special Educator: Kathleen Cline
Kathleen Cline has been teaching for nearly 30 years in a variety of educational settings and has a diverse background in both regular and special education. Kathleen graduated from the University of Vermont in 1990 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Teaching Minor in French. After teaching kindergarten and preschool, Kathleen obtained her Master’s Degree in both Specific Learning Disabilities and General Special Education from Rivier University. Since then, Kathleen has worked as a middle school learning disabilities specialist in an inclusive regular education setting and as a special education consultant, presenting workshops to regular educators and participating in compliance reviews of district special education programs. Most recently, she has worked as an independent academic tutor to students of all abilities and ages and as a Title 1 reading instructor. She joined Mill Falls in 2018. Kathleen’s greatest teaching challenge and labor of love has been the home education of all three of her children from kindergarten through grade eight. She lives in Bedford, NH with her husband, Peter; their youngest daughter, Olivia, is off to college this year. Their older children, Harrison and Izzy have graduated college.
Special Educator: Sue Lambright
Sue Lambright 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 has been a Special Educator at Mill Falls since 2016. She enjoys hiking, traveling, kayaking, sewing, painting and all crafts. Sue lives in Nashua, NH with her husband, their two college-aged children and their basset hound and new pup.
Special Educator: Christine Bisson
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 along with Colleen Costa, before joining the Mill Falls team in 2015 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. The following year she was the Assistant Teacher in the Zion Room. Later, she shared the role of Upper Elementary Interventionist with Lauren Kolbe for one year, and she has also served as our Fitness Instructor. In the fall of 2021, Christine joined our Special Education Team as a part-time Special Educator; this year that will be a 4-day-per week position. In addition to that role, she has joined our Integrated Arts Team, teaching Combined Cultural Arts in partnership with Melissa Fortin. Christine lives with her family in Manchester, NH.
Reading Interventionist: Sherry Humphrey
Sherry Humphrey began her teaching career as a public elementary school teacher working with first and second 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 (2012). The following year she became our Reading Interventionist, a position she has held ever since. Sherry lives with her family, which includes a COVID pup, 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 three children and returned some years later as a Math Interventionist, 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. When Colleen’s husband retired from the Marine Corp, the family moved north, back to their NH roots. Colleen joined the Mill Falls team in 2015. Colleen will continue to serve as our Student Progress Data Analyst in addition to her Interventionist role. Colleen lives in Auburn, NH with her husband, their three children, and two dogs.
UPPER ELEMENTARY INTERVENTIONIST: JILL BRADLEY
Jill Bradley has spent over 10 years in public education working in Special Education, and specializes in supporting students in Math and Reading while also helping them sharpen their Executive Function skills. Jill received her Masters in Education from Southern New Hampshire University where she spent a lot of her time researching Montessori education. She is a high energy teacher who loves to share and help spark a similar passion for learning in her students. Before joining Mill Falls, Jill worked at the Manchester School District’s Memorial High School. Born and raised in Manchester, she is proudly raising another generation of Manchester natives in her role as mom to both of her biological children as well as her foster children, one of whom is a student at Mill Falls.
ELL Coordinator & Reading Coach: Mindy Kacavas
Mindy Kacavas has been a beloved member of the Mill Falls Staff since our first year. She has filled may roles here at school, beginning here as an Assistant Teacher in the Acadia Room from the fall of 2012 until the spring of 2015. Each year since, Mindy has lent her expertise to Mill Falls in a variety of ways, including serving on our Board of Trustees. For the last several years, she has been on staff as our Reading Coach and English Language Coordinator (ELL). Mindy 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. She enjoys playing outdoors, walking, biking, and gardening. She lives in Manchester with her husband, three sons (when they are home visiting) and their beagle, Vinny.
Reading Coach: Jody Wilhelm
Jody Wilhelm began her service work as an AmeriCorps member with City Year Boston after graduating with a psychology degree from Susquehanna University. She remained at City Year for three years before moving on to work in development for Big Sister Association of Greater Boston. Once meeting and marrying her partner, a fellow AmeriCorps alum, the two hit the road, working on volunteer organization and social justice activism in the music industry. Jody filled her time off the road working at schools in Concord and Manchester and serving on the alumni board of City Year New Hampshire. She joined the Mill Falls team in 2018 as our first Librarian, helping to organize our lending library and create a library program of our students, and provided Family Tech Support last year when we had students in hybrid and remote learning models due to COVID. Most recently she served as our Music Teacher. This year, in addition to being our Reading Coach, she will continue to led our Kinders in their exploration of our Integrates Arts Programming and serve as a part-time paraprofessional. Jody lives with her husband, Matt, and their two children in Manchester, NH.
Integrated Arts Instructors
Melissa Fortin, Art & Combined Cultural Arts Instructor
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, sub, paraprofessional and front office assistant. This will be her third year as our Art Instructor. Melissa lives in Manchester, NH with her husband, and enjoys visiting her two adult children who now live in California and South Carolina.
Christine Bisson: Combined Cultural Arts Instructor (see bio above)
Katey Avedisian: Music Instructor
Katey Avedisian has been teaching music professionally in a variety of individual and group settings for 20 years; but even as a teen she began working with children in music. A professional pianist and performer by training, Katey received a broad training of music through private instructors of the National Guild of Piano Teachers starting as a girl. She broadened her music studies as a teen with courses and opportunities offered through the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University. She originally began college to pursue her dreams of pediatric medicine with Telos Institute; but when plans changed, she fell back on her love for music, the arts, and kids! Katey truly believes that the best teaching comes through creativity and hands on experience; it also comes through building relationships with students by keeping instruction real and engaging. When not teaching, her husband, two sons, and whole menagerie of pets keep her on her toes at their Goffstown home. And if she dares to find a spare moment from teaching and motherhood, she loves to compose, perform, paint, garden, and cook.
Jody Wilhelm, Kinder Integrates Arts Instructor (see bio above)
Jen Zedler: Fitness, Technology Instructor & Technology Coordinator
Jennifer Zedler attended the University of New Hampshire with a focus in writing and journalism. After spending many years working in graphic and website design, she took time off to spend with her children. Jen has been a familiar face around Mill Falls for several years. She started as a volunteer when her children began kindergarten in 2015, and has expanded her role as the years have progressed. Jen attended the University of New Hampshire with a focus in writing and journalism. Here at Mill Falls, she has taught Lower Elementary handwriting for many years, and enjoyed sharing her love of reading in her past position as Reading Coach. She looks forward to her Fitness Instructor role this year. No matter what she is doing on our team, she enjoys supporting teachers, students and the school administration with their technology needs, while helping to keep Mill Falls students safe online. She lives in Manchester and enjoys hiking with her two older children and their puppy. Jen welcomed a new little girl to the family last year.
Eli Barber is currently attending Manchester Community College to complete his associate degree in teaching. Eli has previously worked with children in nature camp settings. This will be Eli’s second year as a paraprofessional on the Mill Falls Team.
Kerri Donahue obtained her teaching certificate from Manchester Community College and is currently working on her Associates Degree to become an Assistant Kindergarten Teacher. She has worked in several childcare facilities for over the past 8 years, as an assistant teacher, paraprofessional, and then a lead teacher for preschool children ages 2-4. Kerri has worked with a program called Rhythm Works Dance at New Hampshire Academy of Dance, where she assisted in providing dance lessons for individuals with learning differences, ages 6-15. Kerri enjoys sharing her creativity with children of all ages. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, kayaking and relaxing at her parent’s lake house on Lake Winnipesaukee. Kerri lives in Milford, NH with her two dogs Ember and Riley.
Lauren Doukas attended the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester with a concentration in oil painting. She left the Institute in 2008 to start a family and has been a stay-at-home parent for the last thirteen years. Lauren has been a very involved volunteer at Mill Falls since her oldest child enrolled in 2014. As an active community member, Lauren currently serves on Goffstown’s Budget Committee and various other sub committees for the town. She also previously sat on the School Board of Jacob’s Ladder Preschool. Lauren lives in Goffstown with her husband, 4 children and more cats, dogs and chickens than she cares to count.
Jody Wilhelm (see above for bio)