Learning doesn’t end when class does.
The Oliverian faculty is a team of bright, engaged, and caring people who are inspired by and committed to our mission and students. Our teachers, counselors, dorm parents, and staff bring both strong educational backgrounds and rich real-world experience to Oliverian. Faculty members live on campus in order to develop a true community and vital connections with students. Living on site allows the faculty to have an impact that reaches far beyond the confines of the academic day. Some of the most important guidance, support, and learning takes place in the “in-between moments” that are a natural part of the Oliverian community.
Faculty and Staff Biographies
Dr. Alisa Abuzeineh, Science Teacher, was born and raised in Kansas. Within a week of graduating from high school, she joined the United States Air Force and was stationed in some amazing places from northern California to Greenland. Her time in the Air Force fueled her love of travel and exploration in which she has traveled and lived in a variety of places in the U.S and overseas.
After her tour in the Air Force, Alisa completed her BS in Wildlife Biology from Kansas State University and MS in Biology from Texas Tech University. As a graduate student at Texas Tech, Alisa taught freshman biology laboratories and worked on her thesis research. After completing her Master’s degree, Alisa enrolled at Texas State University to pursue her PhD in Aquatic Resources. During her time at Texas State, Alisa taught a variety of biology and ecology laboratories for freshmen through graduate students and was an NSF GK-12 fellow where she had the opportunity to work with middle and high school science teachers developing and implementing classroom and laboratory lessons. Alisa earned her PhD in December of 2011 and moved to Mississippi where she studied mosquito species that colonize natural and man-made container (i.e. tree holes and tire piles). Through her studies and research, Alisa has worked with a diverse group of organisms (from bacteria to invertebrates, small mammals, and fish) in a variety of ecosystems (such as lakes, rivers, grasslands, deserts, old growth forests, and wetlands). Alisa loves reading, walking and hiking with her dogs, camping, swimming, and traveling.
Bessa Axelrod, Art Program Director, was born and raised in Southern California. Freely admitting to a severe case of “wanderlust,” she has traveled widely throughout the United States. ”My mother once complained that my frequent changes of address took up most of her address book, ranging far outside the pages allowed for A and B!” Her wanderings ultimately brought her to New England where she finally settled down in 1990.
Bessa earned her BS in Art Education from Plymouth State University and brings to Oliverian a passionate commitment to the Arts. Her broad expertise empowers our students to explore a wide variety of art methods and materials including drawing, painting, sculpture, pottery, art history, and culture. Bessa’s foremost goal is “to create a supportive environment for artistic growth, self-expression, and risk taking, and to help students develop an exceptional and individualized portfolio of artwork.”
Dr. Shalen Bishop, Associate Headmaster, was born and raised in Washington State. Leaving the persistent rain, he pursued his education in sunny southern California where he earned his BS in Broadcasting and teaching credentials. After several years of teaching, Shalen received his MS in Educational Administration from University of Scranton and returned to Pepperdine University for his administrative credential and doctorate in Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy.Prior to joining Oliverian, Shalen was the Principal of a charter high school in Los Angeles, California and the Head of School of a private 6th-12th grade school in the San Francisco Bay area.
Leadership has always been a passion of Shalen’s and he looks forward to bringing this passion, along with his spunky energy, to Oliverian. Beyond his love for education, Shalen enjoys reading, running, Crossfit, playing cards, watching movies, and spending quality time with his amazing and supportive wife. Shalen and his wife, Bethany, are excited for this new chapter in their lives and are thrilled to join the Oliverian family.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 603-989-5100, ext. 7007
Stephanie Claverie, Counselor, was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, and comes to our alternative boarding school by way of Baltimore, Maryland. Stephanie is considered the “roaming gnome” of her family, having traveled all over the world. She has visited Machu Picchu, slept in the ice hotel in Finland, and fished for piranha in the Amazon. Northern New Hampshire seems just as exotic to this true Southerner, but she enjoys the change in pace and scenery! Joining her at Oliverian is her Great Dane, JoJo.
After receiving her BA in History from Tulane University, Stephanie worked for two non-profits in New Orleans. When Hurricane Katrina hit, she moved up to Baltimore and worked as dormitory parent at a boarding school for three years. During this time, Stephanie completed her Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling from Loyola University, Maryland and fulfilled the requirements to become a National Certified Counselor. Stephanie’s counseling experience includes individual and group counseling, crisis counseling, peer mediation, and grief counseling.
Phone: 603-989-5100 ext. 7040
Robyn Davis, Clifford Dorm Parent and Adventure Teacher, grew up in Southern Vermont and attended Saint Michael’s College, where she studied Elementary Education and Psychology. After college, Robyn moved to Winter Park, Colorado where she worked at Snow Mountain Ranch, the YMCA of the Rockies, for three years. During the past five summers, Robyn has worked with summer camps leading backpacking trips throughout the White Mountains and Rocky Mountains. When Robyn began working with teens she quickly discovered her passion to help guide them toward a more positive lifestyle. Robyn is passionate about working with youth and allowing them to be themselves along their road to self-discovery. She loves nature and getting outside every chance she gets, even in the rain. Robyn enjoys hiking, running, kayaking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. She thinks The Oliverian School is the perfect place for her to embrace her passion for the outdoors and pass it on to anyone who welcomes it.
John Doyle, Stewardship Teacher, grew up just north of Hanover, New Hampshire, on his family’s farm. Using only a horse-drawn plow, John made maple syrup, cut wood for heating the family home, hayed, raised livestock, hunted and trapped, and grew and sold vegetables. After graduating from Hanover High School, John attended Bridgeton Academy and later Hawthorn College, where he received his BA in History. After college, John spent thirteen years working in hotel and restaurant management at the Hanover Inn, six years building custom houses, and the past twelve years teaching building trades, agriculture, forestry, and wildlife science to 7th-12th graders. John has been a Coverts Cooperator for the state of New Hampshire since 1996, and is passionate about teaching students about wildlife conservation, forestry management, and beef cattle.
Phone: 603-989-5100 ext. 7012
Julie Gaffey, Admissions and Advancement Coordinator, graduated from Georgia Southern University with a BA in English, and moved to San Francisco to ride the “dot.com wave,” working as Marketing Coordinator for an Internet start-up. While she thrived in the fast-paced Internet environment, Julie heard her true calling and returned to Georgia to work with struggling youth in the alligator-infested swamps. She remained in Georgia for over five years, working as counselor, teacher, and training director at a wilderness program for troubled teens.
After leaving the Deep South, Julie followed the northern path to be closer to family and discovered The Oliverian School tucked away in the beautiful mountains of New Hampshire. Oliverian’s mission deeply resonated with Julie, and she has been thrilled to fuse her marketing skills with her passion for working with struggling youth since her arrival here in 2007.
Julie has settled in the woods of New Hampshire with her husband, Brian, and their four young children. Julie greatly appreciates the landscape surrounding Oliverian as it provides the perfect environment for hiking, kayaking, canoeing, exploring rivers, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, and hunting for wildlife with her trusty camera!
Phone: 603-989-5100 ext. 7104
Liz Heron Ed.D., Counselor and Academic Support Specialist, has over thirty years experience working to educate and support struggling children and adolescents. Support includes private sessions and instruction, on-site consultation with school, home and community, and regular communication with therapists and medical personnel when necessary. She works with a range of people from those described as having advanced/gifted learning differences to those people described as having language-based learning differences, non-verbal learning differences, ADD/ADHD, autism spectrum, anxiety, emotional and social differences, adoption issues and difficulties associated with trauma and learning. Liz holds her doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Liz also helps students learn to calm down through somatic education. Liz sees a resilient nervous system as the foundation of good communication and learning . She is a certified trauma therapist and a biodynamic cranial sacral practitioner. Liz has taught in private and public schools and has 20 years experience training and mentoring teachers..
Abby Hood, Dean of Faculty and College & Transition Counselor, graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a BS in Biology in 1999, after which she served as College Laboratory Instructor, Sea Turtle Research Technician, Wildlife Rehabilitator, and Advisor and Work Crew Leader at a therapeutic work community located on an organic farm. Abby then returned to school and received her MS in Ecological Planning from the University of Vermont. From geology to botany, soil science to ecology, and eventually honing in on the ecological effects of agriculture, Abby’s graduate work consisted of a broad, multi-disciplinary approach to the study of the natural systems of New England.
It was during the summers, rather than the school year, though, that Abby first identified her passion for teaching science to high school students. During one intensive week each summer, Abby taught field science to bright and motivated high-school students at the Governor’s Institute of Vermont, Science and Technology program. She loved it, and the next thing she knew, she was applying for full-time teaching jobs. Abby initially came to Oliverian to teach science, but has had many different roles in her 7 years with the school. She loves Oliverian - its beautiful campus, dynamic faculty, and of course all the interesting and spirited students who inspire her to keep learning and growing. In her free time, Abby enjoys hiking, running, skiing, canoeing, playing with her dogs, and spending quality time with her husband and son.
Phone: 603-989-5100 ext. 7010
Bill Kearney, Spanish Teacher, earned his MA in Latin American Literature at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He grew up on the coast south of Boston but has lived and traveled extensively throughout Europe and Latin America. Bill’s passion for the Spanish language is rooted in his curiosity toward the rich web of histories and cultures that it connects…including our own. Bill looks forward to sharing this passion, along with an insistence on personal growth and learning outside of one’s comfort zone, with the Oliverian community.
Bill has taught groups of 45 students at a Catholic all-girls school in Quito, Ecuador, worked with inner-city high school students to ensure college access, coached boys and girls youth basketball teams, taught Spanish to students of the University of Massachusetts and most recently taught ESL to professors and students of the Universidad de Oviedo in beautiful Oviedo, Spain.
His free time is spent on his bike, with a book, in a tent, in shoes or boots that allow him to arrive to higher altitudes, or digesting a large meal with a cup of Barry’s Irish Tea…or even all of these activities simultaneously. He lives in Pike, NH with his wife Siobhan.
William Kramer, Director of Residential Life, graduated from Hastings College, with a BA in Psychology and Theology. He obtained employment in the non-profit sector while recently pursuing and completing his Masters in Business/ Organizational Psychology and Development. Many of the non-profits that Wil worked for were directly related to the aid of children in need. After spending time in Romania, working and living in an orphanage for developmentally disabled children, Wil returned to his home in Nebraska to work as a behavioral specialist for adults with developmental disabilities with Mosaic, and eventually as a Forensic Interviewer for a Child Advocacy organization.
Having witnessed the amazing impact Oliverian had on his younger cousin, Alex Townsend ’08, Wil became intrigued by Oliverian and its mission. That, combined with his passion for helping children, led him to his current position on Oliverian’s residential team. Wil believes strongly in the direction, goals, and ideals that Oliverian instills in young people. Wil stated, “I enjoy working here and am as happy as I have been in a long time. Learning and growing together as a community with great kids and a wonderful staff… What more could a person want?
Abby Lavigne, Counselor, is returning to her home state and joining Oliverian after living, learning and adventuring in the southwest. She holds an MSW from New Mexico Highlands University, as well as an MBA. In addition to her experience working in school settings, she has spent many summers counseling at-risk youth in a variety of both day and residential camps. As an alumnus of a New England boarding school herself, Abby is passionate about empowering young adults and supporting them in their educational journey. She is excited that her gypsy wind has blown her back east to be a member of such a diverse and dynamic staff. Abby enjoys road trips, playing softball, baking and perusing antiques.
Phone: 603-989-5100 ext. 7028
Maurice Liddy, Director of Student Support, came to Oliverian from Ireland via Arizona and Colorado. Initially a mechanical and electronic engineer, he happily stumbled upon the reality that his true passion lies in education. He earned his Master’s Degree in Special Education and obtained employment as a special educator in an inner city public high school in Denver, Colorado. From there, Maurice came to Oliverian, where for over five years he worked in a variety of settings including math, science, adventure teacher, dorm parent, learning specialist, and head of advising. He is honored to have the role he has this year which will charge him with strengthening our already excellent student support department.
Maurice’s interests include rock climbing, (the real) football, mountain and road biking, and playing his guitar, bouzouki and mandolin(badly!). He loves playing just about all types of music but particularly bluegrass and Irish traditional.
Phone: 603-989-5100 ext. 7017
Barclay Mackinnon, Jr., Director of Admissions/Head Emeritus, has dedicated over nine years of his twenty-nine year career in the field of education to The Oliverian School. Along with his role as Founding Head, Head Emeritus and Director of Admissions, he has served Oliverian as a teacher, advisor, counselor and coach. He describes the feeling he had when he began his first teaching job at Brunswick School in Greenwich, Connecticut, as a strong sense that he was “going home.” Barclay states that since entering the field of education, “it’s as though I’ve never had a bad day.”
Barclay received his BA from The City University of New York and his Master’s Degree from Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, California. He’s proud to say that his work at Oliverian has been the most richly rewarding professional experience of his career. “The Oliverian School ethos supports students who may be struggling to find their way, while giving them an opportunity to redefine who they are in a setting that will nourish and inspire them,” says Barclay. Barclay lives in Norwich, Vermont, and is the proud father of sons Ian, Max and Ben, and stepchildren, Danny and Jenna.
Phone: 603-989-5100, ext. 7103
Melissa McDonnell, Admissions and Learning Specialist, joined the Oliverian community in the summer of 2011. She grew up in Massachusetts, then studied Communications, Journalism, and Law at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Upon graduation, Melissa moved way, way South where she began working in alternative education settings. First, she taught at an environmental center in Alabama, and then worked as a teacher, behavior modification specialist, and program director at a residential program for adjudicated youth in South Carolina. While working in South Carolina, Melissa attended Columbia College and earned a Master’s of Education in Divergent Learning.
Melissa enjoys traveling, reading, hiking, and the outdoors. She loves taking the Oliverian students on trips- either around New Hampshire or around the country- and likes to see the students challenge and surprise themselves with their own accomplishments.
Phone: 603-989-5100 ext. 7102
Matt Melkonian, Bixbie Dorm Parent and Director of Programming, was born in Long Beach, Ca, but considers himself to be a New Hampshire native. He grew up in Hopkinton and graduated from The Derryfield School in Manchester, NH, where Randy Richardson served as Head of School. Following his high school graduation, Matt went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from West Virginia Wesleyan College, and a Bachelor of Science degree in professional sports and events management from Johnson and Wales University in Denver.
Matt has broad range of experience with youth in outdoor and adventure settings, including jobs as a camp counselor and waterfront instructor at a YMCA Camp in Coniston, NH, as a ski instructor at Jackson Hole, Wyoming Kids Ranch, and as a wilderness field instructor for SUWS in Idaho. Matt interned at the Kroenke Sports Enterprises in Denver, and did marketing work at the Alliance of Action Sports in Chicago. He is very excited to return to New Hampshire, and especially thrilled to be at Oliverian. He is committed to finding mutual areas of interest that will guide and shape a meaningful high school experience for all students.
Phone: 603-989-5100 ext. 7015
Jesse Mohr, Director of Stewardship, grew up on his family’s farm in upstate New York, spending his time exploring the woods, fields, and streams, but also eagerly awaiting the chance to escape farm life. “That’s the thing about growing up on a farm,” says Jesse, ”weekend mornings are spent fixing fences rather than watching cartoons.” It wasn’t until Jesse moved off the farm that he realized what farm life really meant to him.
Jesse received his BS in Forest Ecology from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Visiting and working in the towering old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest, he began to see and understand the interconnectedness of these primeval ecosystems: how the trees, soils, and wildlife are all dependent upon each other. Moving on to study sustainable forestry, Jesse began to see how he and his choices about paper, lumber, and even food could disrupt a healthy ecosystem. Pulling at this thread, he found the inspiration to continue asking hard questions, to keep moving forward with his career and learning, and to make his way back to the farm and garden.
After receiving his Masters Degree and teaching at the University of Vermont, Jesse began a fulfilling teaching life at Oliverian, along with private consulting work in the fields of ecology, conservation, and natural resources. As Director of Stewardship, he has the privilege to oversee and teach about management of the School’s forest, farm, and wildlife preserve, while empowering students to find that thread that inspires them to continue asking the hard questions about how their lives affect the environment around them.
Kimberly Moran, Office Manager and Registrar, spent most of her youth traveling throughout the Eastern United States as a ‘Navy brat.’ She received her BS in Business Management through Granite State College after settling in the New England area, and is currently finishing up her Master’s Degree in Leadership through the University System of New Hampshire.
Along with handling day-to-day front office activities, Kimberly works directly with the Academic Department and the College Counseling Office to provide support for Oliverian students’ college applications. When she is not at work, Kimberly enjoys spending time with her family. During the late spring, summer, and early fall months you are apt to see her out on her motorcycle enjoying “the alone with only my thoughts time.” Kimberly is an avid songwriter and the lead vocalist in her band. “Songs should tell a story…stories of tragedy, triumph, love, and devotion. My songs do just that…they tell the story of my life and the people around me.”
Phone: 603-989-5100, ext. 7001
Rudy Nunez, Math Teacher, was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He received his BS in Applied Physics and his Master’s Degree in Math Education from the California Institute of Technology. Rudy joined the military reserves, and after college he moved to New York City where he taught Math in the Bronx for three years before finding his way to The Oliverian School. Some of Rudy’s hobbies include tinkering with electronics and video games and taking in the natural scenery in New Hampshire.
Jennifer Pytleski, Bolton Dorm Parent/Theater & Performance Studies Teacher, joined the Oliverian community in the summer of 2012. She has a BFA in Performance Studies from Drake University and an MA in Educational Theatre in Colleges and Communities from New York University. Jennifer has worked as a free-lance theater teaching artist and actor in public and private schools, in the United States and abroad, using theater tools to help students engage in a variety of academic subjects.
Jennifer’s past projects include developing a summer camp called “The Acting Bug” producing a Women on the Fringe festival, and presenting at educational theater conferences showing how newspaper theater can be used for youth devised work and learning. Through her work for the National Theatre Institute and Masters Program at New York University, she has been able to travel to Russia, England, Mali, Ireland, and Brazil, working with cultural and community arts-based projects. These experiences have fueled her desire for educational collaborative work which connects classrooms and community organizations all around the world.
Randy Richardson, Headmaster, brings twenty-five years of experience as a teacher, coach, and administrator of independent schools to The Oliverian School. Randy graduated from Roxbury Latin School and then earned his BA at Hamilton College. He went on to earn his MALS Degree from Wesleyan University. In addition to running a boarding program at Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he served as Head of School of The Derryfield School in Manchester, New Hampshire. Randy loves politics and history, and has taught a range of history and social studies courses from geography to U.S. History, including electives in U.S. foreign policy and revolution. In addition, he has coached lacrosse, soccer, and ice hockey at many levels. He spent two years working as an educational consultant for Breakthrough Collaborative, a national students-teaching-students program dedicated to educational equity and teacher training.
Randy is proud of his family, including his wife, Susi, son, Josh, daughter, Liza, and their dog, Sabrina. He feels an even deeper connection to the Oliverian mission, students and families because Liza credits an alternative school similar to Oliverian as a key to her current well-being and success. Randy likes to be outdoors whenever possible, and especially enjoys hiking, running, biking, kayaking, rollerblading, snowshoeing, and ultimate frisbee. When he is indoors, Randy reads as much history and news as possible, and has been known to watch too many international soccer games.
Phone: 603-989-5100, ext. 7009
Charlie Smith, Photography and Graphic Design Teacher, is a native northeasterner, having grown up in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. After several years of teaching in New Orleans, he is thrilled to be back up in the mountains! Charlie holds a BS in Studio Art from Skidmore College where he focused in ceramics and photography.
In recent years, Charlie has taught a wide range of ages in both the arts and sciences. In New Orleans, he worked at a non-profit organization that ran overnight environmental science programs in the backwoods of Louisiana. He also ate a lot of po’ boys during his time in Louisiana. Charlie lives in Grafton, NH with his awesome wife, Cath, and their eccentric dog, Ben, and mischievous cat, Ralph. He enjoys soccer, hiking, kayaking (on lakes, ponds, and slow moving rivers), Sherlock Holmes (the books and the BBC series), taking pictures, cooking, road trips, and Cary Grant movies. He is thrilled to bring his creativity to the already imaginative Oliverian community!
Beth Spencer, Humanities Teacher, first joined the Oliverian community for the summer or 2012. She holds a BA in English and Political Science from Case Western Reserve University. Originally from the beautiful state of Maine, Beth is excited to be back in northern New England after a decade of time spent teaching and directing experiential education programs in other parts of the country.
Beth is an avid mariner, having worked aboard tall ships for many years. She has sailed over 15,000 miles in the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean and has earned a US Coast Guard Masters License. She also enjoys knitting, swimming, Scrabble, and photography. She brings a high level of enthusiasm to foster leadership and responsibility within Oliverian students.
Kelly Sweeney, Math Teacher, joined the Oliverian community in the fall of 2012. Kelly grew up in Ballston Spa, New York, and studied Mathematics and Inclusive Education at Nazareth College. She received her MS degree in Educational Technology at The College of St. Rose. During college, she spent five months living and studying in Sydney, Australia, and student taught in Wales, UK, where she was enlightened with a different approach to teaching, and the opportunity to travel and explore Europe on the weekends.
Growing up outside of the Adirondacks, Kelly has developed an affinity for the great outdoors. She really enjoys a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, running and biking. She completed her first triathlon last summer, and has run several half marathons. She loves sports and played soccer, basketball, and lacrosse in high school, and continued playing soccer throughout college. Kelly became a teacher to influence the lives of children, and there’s no better place to do that than here. She feels that Oliverian is more than a school, but is a community where the students and staff all learn from one another and grow together. She’s excited to bring a fresh and innovative perspective to learning, and hopes to instill some of her passion for math into the students.
Lizzy Swindell, Merrill Dorm Parent and Adventure Teacher, grew up in coastal Massachusetts and now joins us from Northern California. She has spent most of the last 4 years guiding, teaching and exploring in the Sierra Nevada Mountains smelling the butterscotch of the Jeffery Pines and leading school groups along pine duff trails. Lizzy’s recent winters have been spent chasing snow at Alpine Meadows in Tahoe, Sugarbush in Vermont and most recently in Alta,Utah teaching beginner skiing and studying the art of play.
Lizzy loves being outdoors and believes that nature is a powerful tool for self-exploration, self-discovery and for learning group dynamics. She hopes to help students discover new things about themselves and their community while here at Oliverian through the power of laughter, sunshine, relationships and the natural world.
Lizzy loves rock climbing, sliding on snow, riding bikes, swimming, paddling, singing songs, making art and jumping around. She can get a little antsy if cooped up inside too long and she loves sharing the outdoors with everyone!
Dr. Peter Tice, Dean of Studies and Science Teacher, was a new addition to Oliverian in the 2011-2012 school year. Following university teaching as a graduate student and several years teaching in public school alternative and mainstream programs, he decided to come to Oliverian to follow his passion for small-group, holistic education. Peter received his BS Degree in Geology from McGill University in 1995, and his MS and PhD Degrees in Magma Crystallization Dynamics and Alkaline Crystal Chemistry from the University of New Orleans in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Peter lives on Oliverian’s campus with his wife, Sherri, and their children, Justin, Calvin, and Emaline.
Peter was initially drawn to Oliverian because of its commitment to provide for individual students’ learning needs and interests while maintaining high academic standards. Peter believes that “students need to be challenged to become independent thinkers who use the information from their courses to develop their own analytical framework to consider the world and their place in it. In doing so, they become more active participants in their own lives and community. Cultivating students as independent thinkers commences with treating students as individuals; learning who they are and providing them with the means and support to blaze their own path.”
Outside of the classroom, Peter’s interests include horticulture, sustainable agriculture, woodworking and handicraft, wildlife observation, astronomy, mineral collecting, building scale railroad models, and railroad history.
Phone: 603-989-5100, ext. 7003
Ben Travis, Executive Chef and Culinary Arts Instructor, graduated from Union College in 2009 earning an inter disciplinary BA in Philosophy and in English, with a focus on naturalist writing and environmental ethics. Almost all of Ben’s postgraduate education has been experiential. Ben continues to manifest his own naturalist philosophy with the cultivation of an half-acre vegetable garden used to supply the family restaurant with fresh produce during the summer and early fall.
Before coming to Oliverian, Ben worked as Operations Manager and Head Chef at the Jonesville Store in Clifton Park, New York. Today, Ben owns and operates a gourmet food truck out of Saratoga Springs, NY during the summer months and has participated in events ranging from arts and music festivals, car shows and food truck contests, to weddings and graduation parties. Ben still works hard to maintain the garden in order to continue serving responsibly grown produce. It is safe to say Ben’s passion for a healthy environment and for cooking is ubiquitous all the way from the farm to the table and he is committed to sharing his knowledge with students an appetite for learning.
Phone: 603-989-5100, ext. 7018
Brett Wanner, Music Teacher and Soccer Coach, has had extensive experience as a performer, producer, and recording artist, and is still engaged in all three activities. When not immersed in the musical world, Brett enjoys an occasional soccer match. While he played soccer at a very competitive level in his youth, Brett now coaches others to their fullest potential. Brett lives in Lyme, New Hampshire with his wife Marilyn and two children, Addison and Lena.
Through his experiences and independent study, Brett is able to provide an interesting and unique perspective on the world of music at Oliverian. He is able to meet our students at their individual musical levels and provide them with opportunities for growth in varied areas ranging from songwriting to music business and recording arts. He wishes to provide our students with a music program that is engaging, challenging, fun, and focused on student compositions. Brett lives for those moments when “the creative spark ignites and gives birth to a work that was previously nonexistent.”
Lucas Weiss, Humanities Teacher, graduated from Westminster Choir College with a BM in Music Education in 1999. Over the next seven years he taught music in both independent and public schools in New York City, and had a brief foray into the world of the NYC Urban Park Rangers. He then returned to school and received an MS in Acupuncture from the Swedish Institute in 2009, followed by an MA in Chinese History from Columbia University in 2011. At Columbia, Lucas studied Daoism, mountain monasteries, and sacred geography, combining his love of mountains and Daoist philosophy. Lucas returned to full time teaching in 2012, at a charter school in Brooklyn for students who have struggled at their previous school.
From childhood, at a camp seated in the shadow of Mt. Monadnock, Lucas dreamed of living in New Hampshire. He is an avid mountaineer, and will more than likely disappear into the White Mountains in his off time. If not in the mountains, Luke might be found playing fiddle tunes on the mandolin, following his favorite soccer team, Tottenham Hotspur, or reading Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom again, because it is that good.
Luke is excited to bring his wife Karina, son Julian and their two cats, Marley and Ziggy to Oliverian. He is also excited to share his love of history, the humanities, mountains, music, and ping-pong with the community.
Susan Welsh, School Nurse, has a diverse background in nursing that has prepared her well for her job at The Oliverian School. Having graduated from Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing in Boston, she discovered her love for school nursing. Susan worked in both public and private schools in Massachusetts, one of which was an alternative high school in Worcester for adolescents with behavioral and emotional issues.
Susan came to Oliverian because of a longing to fulfill one of her life-long goals, a goal that she even articulated in her high school yearbook, ”to help adolescents find their identity.” She truly believes that each Oliverian student has extraordinary gifts and talents and once their potential is realized and unleashed, they can literally change the world. As an eternal optimist and woman of great faith, she hopes to inspire and challenge them to reach for the sky.
Susan has been married to her husband, Karl, for over thirty years and has a daughter who is a special education teacher; a son-in-law who is a middle school math teacher; and a son who is pursuing his Master’s Degree in Meteorology after completing a year-long internship at NASA researching atmospheric pollution. Other members of the family include a 4 ½ yr. old foster grandson with a big personality who loves to pop bubbles!
Phone: 603-989-5100, ext. 7006