Fessenden Welcomes New Faculty and Administrative Staff

This year, Fessenden welcomes more than 25 new faculty and administrative staff members. Learn more about them below.

Peter Blandino is the new Upper School Latin teacher. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Classics and Classical Languages from the University of Massachusetts and a Master of Arts in Classical Studies from Boston University. Peter comes to us with many years experience teaching Latin. Most recently he served as a Latin Teacher at Scituate High School. Prior to that Peter was a Classics teacher at The Commonwealth School; a Latin and Mythology teacher at the Stella Maris Cooperative; an instructor in Greek and Latin courses and a Teaching Fellow at Boston University; and a Latin Teacher at The Winsor School. Additionally, Peter was the recipient of the 2016-2017 Outstanding Teacher Award from the Boston University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Danielle Blutt joins the Office of Institutional Advancement as the new Advancement Associate. Danielle has a bachelor’s degree in management with a focus in marketing from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her professional experience includes internships at Racepoint Global, Boston Standard Plumbing, and R3Bilt Fitness. Danielle participated in a French immersion program throughout her schooling and is fluent in the language. She is excited to join the community and to get to know Fessenden parents, students, alumni, and friends.

Evelyn Camargo is a new member of our Learning Resources Department, serving as a Skills Teacher and Second Grade Reading Specialist. She joins us from Curtis Middle School in Sudbury, where she was a Literacy Tutor. Evelyn also spent several years as a senior teacher at Dyslexia Action in London, England. Previously she worked as a First Grade Teacher at P.S. 128 in New York; a Peace Corps Volunteer Teacher Trainer for Muritoa School in the Republic of Kiribati, Central Pacific; and a Second Grade Teacher at Shurtleff North School in Chelsea, MA. She holds a Master of Arts, Reading Specialist degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Boston University. 

David Charles is Fessenden’s new Head Chef, bringing with him years of culinary experience and a broad knowledge of various cuisines. He comes to Fessenden from Showcase SuperLux, where he served as the head chef for many years. David also worked as a kitchen manager for Volunteers of America. He has extensive experience in the kitchen from his time at The Harp and Bard, Jasper Whites Summer Shack, Finz Restaurant, and Metropolitan Bar & Grill as a chef and cook. 

Shani Charles joins the new Fessenden as the new Middle School and Upper School Director of Teaching and Learning. She comes to Fessenden from the Manhattan Country School, where was a lead teacher in fifth grade and sixth grade for a number of years. In addition to her role as a classroom teacher, Shani also led a school-wide initiative related to codification of the academic program. Shani also served as an assistant teacher in first and fourth grade at Brooklyn Friends School and in second grade at Bank Street School for Children in New York. Her prior experience also includes serving as a School Programs Educator and a Public Programs Supervisor and Educator for the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Shani holds a Master of Education from Bank Street College and a bachelor’s degree in Biology from SUNY at Stony Brook University. 

Kelsey Conroy has joined the Fessenden community as the Assistant Director of Residential Life. She was previously the Residential Administrator and Advisor at The Grove School in Madison, CT.  During her tenure, she also served as a behavioral interventionist and dorm counselor, and she coached basketball and led adventure-based trips across the country and world. In addition, Kelsey has served on the program staff at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, CT. She earned a Bachelor in Science from Lasell College, where she majored in Human Services and minored in Child and Adolescent Studies. Kelsey is currently finishing her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Connecticut. 

Brandon Daly joins Fessenden as a Middle School and Upper School Intern. He comes to us from Blue Balloon in New York, where he worked as a music teacher for students at various ages. Prior to this, Brandon was an Academic Tutor for the Stanley Isaacs Center in Manhattan, an Academic Coach for College Track, Hunter’s Point in California, and Teacher and Tutor at the Bridge Boston Charter School In Dorchester. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and English from Boston College where he was also a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and is an alumnus of Milton Academy. 

Jackie Deravil joins Fessenden as a Third Grade teacher in Fessenden’s Lower School. Before coming to Fessenden, she served as a First and Fourth Grade lead teacher at PAVE SE Raleigh Charter School in North Carolina. Jackie also has teaching experience in Boston at Epiphany School where she taught Fifth Grade and was a Teaching Fellow. She holds a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and a minor In Elementary Education from the Lynch School of Education at Boston College where she was a Donoval Urban Teaching Scholar. In addition, Jackie holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from Simmons College.

Hattie Dorion joins Fessenden as a new Lower School Intern. She comes to Fessenden from Milton Academy, where she was a fourth grade co-teacher. Prior to that, Hattie worked as a teaching assistant at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She spends her summers at Camp Takodah, where she has served as an arts program head, office assistant, international orientation leader, “Leaders in Training” leader, and cabin leader. Hattie has a bachelor’s degree in history, with a minor in studio art, from Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Alfonse Femino is a new Fessenden Learning Resources Academic Tutor. Alfonse holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Wheaton College and a Master of Education in Secondary Sports Administration from Endicott College. He joins Fessenden from Buckingham Browne & Nichols School, where he was an Educational Support Associate. Alfonse also served as the program director for Harlem Lacrosse in Boston and as a History and ESL teacher at Pope John XXIII High School in Everett. During his time at Pope John XXIII High School, he also was the Co-Advisor of the Adventure club. He has also taught at Fecteau-Leary Junior/Senior High School and in United Way AmeriCorps at Lynn English High School; and served as a writing tutor at Wheaton College. Alfonse has also spent many years coaching in lacrosse, hockey, and football.

Valda Gabriel is Fessenden’s new Director of the Children’s Center. She earned her Master of Education and Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies degrees from Lesley University, an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education from the Urban College of Boston, and has completed a Post-Master's Certificate in Research, Policies, and Practices in Early Childhood Education at the University of Massachusetts. Valda brings a wealth of experience from serving as an adjunct professor in the Early Childhood Department at both the Urban College of Boston and Eastern Nazarene College, and as director and teacher at both the Alphabet Academy and The Little Corner School House in Brookline. Valda also holds a Director II Certification from the Department of Early Education and Care.

Aaron Gelb joins Fessenden as our new Upper School Band Teacher. He comes to Fessenden from Charles River School, where he was the Director of the Charles River Creative Arts Program for a number of years and previously spent several summers as the program’s music department head. Aaron also has experience as the Ensemble Director for the Waldorf High School of Massachusetts Bay in Belmont. He holds a Master of Music from the New England Conservatory and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Brown University. At Brown, Aaron was the recipient of the Jean and Francis Madeira Award for Musicianship and the Rosamund Winslow Lemaire Award for Woodwind Performance. Additionally, his percussion, saxophone, and clarinet playing has been featured in numerous recordings.

Sarah Gagnon joins the Fessenden Lower School as a Kindergarten teacher. She earned both a Master Degree in Education in Curriculum and Instruction in Literacy, a Bachelor of Arts from Lesley University, and an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Fisher College. Sarah comes to us from The Israel Loring School in Sudbury, where she was a Kindergarten assistant and substitute teacher for Kindergarten through Grade 5. She brings nearly a decade of experience as the Lead Pre-K teacher at Wellesley Community Children’s Center and Soldiers Field Park Children's Center. Sarah also serves as an Assistant Pre-K teacher at The British School of Boston and as a First Grade Student Teacher at the Brown Elementary School in Natick.  

Josh Goldman comes to Fessenden as the new Extended Day Program Director. He joins us from the Underwood After School Program in Newton, where he worked for 8 years as a Lead Teacher, Program Manager, and Assistant Director. In addition to his work at Fessenden, Josh is also an independently contracted drummer and percussionist around Greater Boston. In his free time, Josh enjoys cooking, playing music, listening to records, and spending time with his wife and their dog, Ruby. Josh holds a Master of Arts in Teaching and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Brandeis University. 

Courtney Grey joins Fessenden as a new third grade teacher in the Lower School. She comes to Fessenden from The Park School in Brookline, serving as a long-term medical leave substitute, grade level assistant, and teaching apprentice. Courtney brings a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and Dual Licensure in Elementary and Special Education from Boston College and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology/Gender & Sexuality Studies from Stonehill College. She spends her summers as a lead counselor at Summer at Park and a super-fan at Fenway Park.

Mario Hernandez Santiago joins Fessenden as an Upper School Spanish teacher. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology and Spanish Studies from the University of Massachusetts. Mario comes to Fessenden From Coolidge Middle School. He has spent many years working as a Spanish teacher at Thacher Montessori School, Prospect Hill Academy, The Cambridge School of Weston, and Winchester High School. Mario also spends his summers teaching music and art for the City of Cambridge summer cultural camp. He is also a member of the Private Music Trio (“Radio Mambo”), performing traditional Latin American music for cultural, educational and private events for the past 25 years.

Kate Kausch is the new Director of Lower School Admissions. Kate joins Fessenden from The Kingsley Montessori School, where she served as the Director of Early Childhood. She also brings with her many years of experience working in Salt Lake City, Utah. There she served as the program director at The University of UTAH ASUU Early Learning Program, as an education specialist at Salt Lake Community Action Program, and as a Child Development Specialist II at the DDI Vantage Early Intervention Program. Kate holds a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education and Intervention from Wheelock College and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Wheaton College.

Alicia Kolovson is a new member of the Pre-K teaching team. She joins Fessenden from The Meadowbrook School, where she served as a Senior Kindergarten Teaching Assistant. Prior, she worked as a Pre-K teacher at The Gilson Early Learning Center for several years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Curry College and a Master of Education in Arts Integrated Education from Lesley University. Alicia has also served as a Kindergarten Prep Teacher at Bright Horizons. 

John LeSaffre is Fessenden’s new Chief Financial Officer. Most recently, John was a Director of Financial Planning and Analysis in Digital Technology at Putnam Investments. He has enjoyed a distinguished career at Putnam, as well as at East Boston Neighborhood Health Center and DaVita beforehand. A graduate of the University of Richmond with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, John is excited to be part of our school community in this important leadership position.

Gizelle Lev joins Fessenden as the Assistant Head of Lower School. Gizelle comes to Fessenden from the John D. Hardy Elementary School in Wellesley, where she was a Kindergarten through Grade 5 Math Specialist. She first spent 8 years as a Fourth Grade Teacher, then Math Coach at the Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School in Cambridge. She returned to teach third and fourth graders for another 8 years at the Cambridgeport School and served as the Math Coach the last three years. She has a Masters in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Boston University. Gizelle also holds a Masters In Teaching and Learning from Wheelock College and a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Applied Psychology from Boston College. After spending over 20 years teaching students and developing classroom teachers, she's excited to be in this newly created position to support the Lower School.  

Kate Maholchic comes to Fessenden as a skills teacher in the Learning Resources Department. She holds a Master of Arts in Special Education from American University and a Bachelor of Arts from Manhattan College, where she majored in Sociology and minored in French. Kate brings a wealth of experience to this role; she has spent much of her career working as an education specialist at the Waldorf School of Lexington, Skills Builders LLC in Northern Virginia, Katherine Delmar Burke School in California, and the Lab School of Washington in Washington, DC. She is also the founder and principal learning specialist of Kate’s Learning Bridge in Greater Boston. Kate is proficient in French and grew up around the world as the daughter of a foreign service officer. She has lived in Africa, Belgium, and France. 

Danielle Makrauer is a new member of the Learning Resources Department as an Academic Tutor. She joins Fessenden from The Park School, where she served as Seventh Grade English teacher, Sixth Grade Assistant, and Anthology Writing Editor. She also brings a wealth of experience from her time at Study Point in Cambridge as a History and English Tutor, Writing Teacher, and College Essay Coach. In addition, Danielle worked at Lawrence Academy for many years as an Academic Skills Tutor, Secondary School English Teacher, Advisor, Coach, and Dorm Parent; at Phillips Academy as an Assistant English teacher and Student and Alumni Coordinator for the Math and Science for Minority Students program; and at Emerson College as an NCAA Compliance Coordinator, Assistant Sports Information Director, and Lacrosse coach. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Georgetown University and is an alumna of Phillips Academy. 

Chloe Mitchell joins Fessenden as a Lower School Intern. Prior to coming to Fessenden, Chloe was a lifeguard and sailing instructor at Camp Dudley in New York, a Substitute teacher at Moriah Central School, and both a University Communications Intern and Admissions Ambassador at St. Lawrence University. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a minor in Communications and Film Studies from St. Lawrence University in New York. During her time at St. Lawrence, Chloe was also the Editor-in-Chief of the Gridiron Yearbook, an orientation leader, and member of the Thelomathesian Society.

Casey Overton joins the Fessenden Lower School as a new fourth grade teacher. He holds a Master of Education in Elementary Education from the University of New Haven and a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from the University of Connecticut. Casey comes to Fessenden from The International School Nido de Aguilas in Chile, where he served as a fifth grade teacher and team leader for many years. He also worked as a fourth grade homeroom teacher and sixth and seventh grade language arts teacher at Coronado Elementary School in Arizona. Casey is fluent in Spanish.

Courtney Peschel comes to Fessenden as a long-term substitute for sixth-grade math. She holds a Master of Engineering Management and Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Systems from Thayer School of Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in Engineering Sciences from Dartmouth College. She brings a wealth of experience from her time teaching math at Acera School and tutoring in Winchester, MA. Prior to teaching, Courtney worked in various engineering roles in organizations including NASA, Ford Motor Company, and Parsons Brinckerhoff, and she also worked in fundraising at Thayer School of Engineering.

Travis Price joins the Lower School as a physical education teacher. Previously he taught physical education at Kelly Elementary School, Michael E. Smith Middle School, and Benjamin Phelps Elementary School. Travis brings a wealth of coaching experience from Springfield College as a golf coach and a JV hockey coach at Minnechaug Regional High School. He holds a Master of Education in Physical Education and a Bachelor of Science in Movement and Sport Studies from Springfield College.

Kendall Quackenbos returns to Fessenden as an academic tutor in the Learning Resources Department. She is no stranger to the Fessenden community, as she served as a dorm parent from 2005-2010. Previously, Kendall taught physical education, was an academic advisor, and coached middle school soccer and lacrosse for nearly 20 years at The Winsor School. Early in her career, she was the lead teacher at the Cambridge Montessori School and spent time at The Park School as an intern in the teaching program. Kendall holds a master’s degree in elementary education from Wheelock College School and a bachelor’s degree in sports management from Colby-Sawyer College.

George Sauter joins Fessenden as the new Digital Media Teacher in the arts department. He has a Master of Arts in Teaching, Art Education and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. George comes to Fessenden from The Rumney Marsh Academy, where he served as an eighth-grade Digital Media Arts/Technology Teacher for eight years. He also has a wealth of experience from his time teaching at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, teaching and assisting students ages 12-15 in the community art studios at the Museum of Fine Arts, and as a teacher’s assistant at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts. In addition, George has a video, technology training, and customer support background through a number of other professional experiences including working as a consultant for the educational technology company, EdPuzzle.

Maisha Sport is a new first grade teacher in our Lower School. She has a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education from Lesley University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Boston College, with a minor concentration in African and African Diaspora Studies. Before joining the Fessenden community, Maisha worked in the Cambridge Public Schools teaching first and second grades, as well as Kindergarten. She also spent several years working at the Knight Children’s Center as a lower grade teacher. In addition, Maisha has served in a leadership capacity in many areas at schools, including equity and inclusion, well as English and math curriculum development, and has served as a mentor for new teachers.

Familiar Faces in New Roles
In addition to the new faculty and administrative staff joining Fessenden this year, several members of the Fessenden community have transitioned into new roles for the 2021-2022 school year. Olivia Spiak, who was a founding member of the Pre-K team at Fessenden and then a long-time Kindergarten teacher, is teaching second grade this year. Kelsey O’Donnell has been teaching Pre-K since she started at Fessenden a number of years ago, and this year she has joined the Kindergarten team. Stacey Truesdale has been the Fessenden receptionist for the past two years. This year, she is also working more closely with the Lower School. Maggie Amorello has transitioned from teaching third grade to teaching fifth grade English. Both of last year’s Middle and Upper School interns, Warren Charleston ’12 and Charlie Danziger ’12, have returned to Fessenden this year. Warren is teaching Life and Leadership, as well as geography, in the Middle School, and Charlie is teaching Upper School science. Finally, Max Jones is the Interim Director of Residential Life for the 2021-2022 school year after teaching Latin for several years.
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