Before assuming the role of Interim Head of School at AC, Shannon served as the Assistant Head of School and Director of Enrollment Management and Financial Aid, leading AC’s admissions efforts. She comes to us from The Gunnery School in Connecticut where she served as the Director of Admissions, Associate Director of Admissions, and Director of International Enrollment. Shannon earned a BA at Hamilton College and has also served as Assistant Director of Admissions at Canterbury School and as a Head Lacrosse Coach and Assistant Soccer Coach at Stevens Institute of Technology.
What do you love most about your job? I love the opportunity to meet families and hear their stories about why they’re considering AC. Each child is different and unique – it’s fun to be able to learn more about them throughout the admission process.
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? From the moment I visited AC, I was struck by the friendliness of the community as well as the excitement surrounding the changes happening on campus. I’m excited to be part of a school community that is always looking at improving the overall experience for its students.
What’s your favorite hobby and why? I enjoy going to flea markets to look for hidden treasures. Some of my favorite pieces in my home are from scouring local markets.
Lindsey earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and master’s degree in Creative Writing at SUNY Brockport and holds New York State Teacher Certifications in Primary Education with a Bilingual Extension, Spanish (7-12), and English (7-12). She earned her Certificate of Advanced Study from SUNY Oswego and is a certified building and district leader in New York. . Before coming to Allendale Columbia, Lindsey worked in community health and taught in the Upward Bound Program at the University of Rochester. She is the Executive Director of the Summer LEAP Program and the Director of Equity and Community Engagement.
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? I love working with such caring and innovative colleagues. The independent philosophy of Allendale Columbia challenges me to teach at my creative potential and holistically serve each student in my classroom.
What or who is your biggest influence? My biggest professional influence was a shop teacher that I had in Middle School. I have no interest or talent in building or design, and I did not develop one as a result of his class. He was a genuine mentor to all his students. In his presence, we felt that we mattered and that we could achieve anything.
What’s your favorite quote? “What an educator does in teaching is make it possible for a student to become themselves.” – Paulo Friere
At Allendale Columbia, Courtney is responsible for planning, leading, and executing all internal and external marketing and communications initiatives, as well as brand management and public relations. Prior to joining AC, she served as an account supervisor at Dixon Schwabl, a local advertising and communications firm. There she was responsible for developing marketing strategies for a variety of organizations and leading communications initiatives for the company. Courtney holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Communications from Syracuse University and a Master of Science in Strategic Marketing degree from Roberts Wesleyan College where she is an Adjunct Professor.
What do you like most about your job? I love that every day is different, and I have the opportunity to work with so many people with different backgrounds, different ideas, and one common goal. The energy and passion at Allendale Columbia is infectious, and it’s impossible to have a boring day here!
What’s your favorite quote? “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” -Maya Angelou
At Allendale Columbia, Tina serves as the Head of Middle School. She has taught Science and Leadership at AC for over 20 years. She previously served as Assistant Head of the Middle School and Dean of Students. Tina earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Sciences with a concentration in Environmental Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She brings her natural curiosity, energy, and excitement to education. Tina is also a die-hard Red Sox fan.
Why did you decide to go into this line of work? I’m a curious person by nature and teaching and advising Middle School students allows me to help fuel that curiosity. Bringing energy and excitement to education brings me great satisfaction.
What inspires you? Nothing inspires me more than students who dig deep and continue to challenge themselves, stretch their limits, and not give up when things get tough.
What’s your favorite hobby? Baseball has always been something that connected our family, and listening to games on the radio at night with my family as a child is always a memory that I hold dear. I’m a die-hard Red Sox fan!
Head of Lower School & Director of AC Little School
Michelle began her career in Baltimore, Maryland teaching first grade students and moved on to faculty and leadership team roles in London, Hong Kong, and Germany. Most recently she was the Head of Lower School at the International School of Ulm in Germany. Michelle holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership, both from the University of Notre Dame in Maryland.
What motivated you to seek a new job opportunity with Allendale Columbia? I knew that I wanted to work with educators who are passionate about children and innovation in education. I started to work on a design of my own school and came across the AC website while researching schools. The next day I saw a post for this job and immediately applied.
If you were a kid again, what’s the first thing you would do? I would climb my favorite tree which still stands tall in my parents’ back yard. Then I would gather all of my friends and family and have a BBQ in the same spot.
What book are you reading right now? I always find myself in the middle of 5-6 books at a time! My favorite, at the moment, is Kids Deserve It! Pushing Boundaries and Challenging Conventional Thinking, by Todd Nesloney & Adam Welcome.
Tell us something about you that would surprise most people? I am a five-time gold medalist in a sport that originated in Hong Kong.
Karen has been a fundraiser since 1991 and is responsible for driving the school’s fundraising efforts for ongoing annual support as well as capital needs and special projects. She has extensive experience in the Rochester area, holding senior leadership roles at the University of Rochester Medical Center, St. John Fisher College, and the YMCA of Greater Rochester. She also founded and ran her own fundraising consulting firm for six years prior to joining the AC team. Karen earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from Hartwick College and a Master of Science in Management from Roberts Wesleyan College.
What do you love most about your job? I meet incredibly generous people who care deeply about the community.
What or who inspires you? I am inspired by people who believe in a cause and support it through both their actions and their giving.
What’s your favorite quote? “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe
Tyler joins AC from his most recent role as Property Manager for the Girl Scouts of Western New York, where he was responsible for two properties totaling 100 acres. He is a dedicated property manager and HVAC professional with eleven years of experience fulfilling a broad range of needs. His previous work experience also includes nine years at East Irondequoit Central School District and ten years volunteering with the Penfield Fire Company. Tyler earned a bachelor’s in Organizational Management from Roberts Wesleyan College and holds an associate’s degree in Fire Protection Technology from Monroe Community College.
What is your favorite part about working at Allendale Columbia? AC provides an environment that supports continued learning where I can be myself and utilize all of my skill sets.
What is your favorite hobby? I enjoy anything and everything outdoors. Camping is my favorite summer activity and skiing is my favorite during the winter.
Share something about yourself that people may not know. I have always enjoyed American history, and I grew up visiting several Civil War battlefields around my father’s home town in Virginia.
Christina joined Allendale Columbia as our Chief Financial Officer in 2017. She is responsible for managing all of the school’s financials in addition to overseeing human resources. Prior to AC, Christina served as Director of Finance and Accounting as well as Controller at Rochester Community Baseball, Inc. She also brings experience from her previous roles as Senior Operational Accountant at Superior Plus Energy Services and General Ledger Accountant and Senior Financial Analyst at ITT Corporation. Christina earned a Master’s in Business Administration as well as a B.S. in Management from St. John Fisher College.
What do you love most about your job? I have the opportunity to see past the numbers and showcase how this position is able to drive positive change within an organization.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be and why? I would be a kindergarten teacher. I was always going to be in business or a kindergarten teacher. I went the business route, but if I ever chose anything different it would absolutely be teaching. I love kids, and that age group is so excited about learning something new every day!
What’s your favorite hobby and why? My favorite hobby is swimming. I was a competitive swimmer, and the pool is a place to focus, release stress, and my happy place!
A graduate of Allendale Columbia School (Class of 2008), Shelby returned to AC as Assistant Director of Admissions in 2014. In 2020, she assumed the role of Interim Director of Enrollment and Financial Aid. Shelby earned a degree in journalism from Rochester Institute of Technology and had six years of experience working in television as a Producer and Entertainment/Sports Reporter prior to joining AC.
What do you like most about your job? The AC community is like no other. I genuinely love coming to work every day.
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? The students! They are excited and happy to be here. They are learning and growing every day and it is incredible to watch and be part of.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be and why? I would be a traveling food critic, so I could explore the world while being wined and dined.
Phil began his career in academic technology and went on to hold positions including Dean of Faculty and Curriculum, Middle School teacher, and the founding Head of Upper School at The New School in Arkansas prior to joining AC. Phil holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Management from Elmhurst College and went on to receive an M.A. in Educational Technology and Curriculum Development from Illinois Benedictine University.
Why did you decide to become an educator? Every day as an educator, I have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. I am a product of a large public school system that I did not find engaging until my senior year of high school. I wanted to help create an educational environment that was very different from the one that I experienced, so working towards a degree in curriculum development and technological integration gave me the ability to change the institution from the inside. (Read more about The Maker Movement in K-12 Education on the Education Week blog.)
What songs can we expect to find on your playlist? Right now I am listening to a lot of Beatles music. I saw the recent James Corden Carpool Karaoke with Paul McCartney, which inspired me to go back and listen to his music. I have also been listening to Band of Horses.
If you could travel back in time to witness one historical event, which would it be and why? I would like to attend the 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. It doesn’t matter how many times I hear this speech, I am moved and inspired by it. I would like to be present to witness a pivotal moment in our nation’s evolution and just get a chance to immerse myself in that atmosphere.
What is your favorite way to spend an evening or day off? I like to spend my free time with my family. Attending concerts or just going for a walk with my family are my favorite times.
Mike plays an integral role as the Director of the Athletics Program at Allendale Columbia, supervising all sports programs as well as serving as Director of Summer Programs. He is responsible for the organizational management of the HAC Athletics program, HAC website, social media, athletic event planning and coordination, and handles Summer Camp registration and coordination. Mike has also been an HAC coach for more than 14 years. He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications & Rhetoric with a concentration in Multicultural Studies and a minor in History from Nazareth College of Rochester.
Why did you decide to go into this line of work? I began coaching for HAC between my senior year of high school and freshman year of college and that experience showed me how much I loved working with student-athletes. I love sports and seeing our students grow each and every day, and my role at Allendale Columbia provides a unique opportunity to help shape a student-athlete’s athletic experience to be the best possible.
What’s your favorite part about working at AC? The best part about working at Allendale Columbia is the people. Our faculty, staff, and community are truly connected and invested in our students and each other.
Share a fun or interesting fact about yourself. I love to travel and have spent time living and being with my biological family in South Korea.
Patricia Babcock is the Assistant Manager of the Food Service team. She started in 2003 and is a Certified Food Handler. She is a mother of four and a grandmother of four. She loves being part of the AC family and spending time with her co-workers.
Welcome Desk Associate & After School Program Coordinator
As AC’s Welcome Desk Associate, Julie collaborates with several AC departments and ensures that everyone who visits or calls campus feels welcome. Prior to joining AC, she worked for Mattiacio Orthodontics, Rochester Wedding Magazine, and Cardiac Life. She received her Associate’s Degree in Sports Tourism and Marketing from Finger Lakes Community College and is in the process of earning a Certificate in Business and Entrepreneurial Studies from Monroe Community College.
What do you love most about your job? No two days will ever be the same! You never know who is going to walk through the door and what story you might hear on a particular day and to me that is exciting!
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? From the moment I stepped into the school, I could feel the energy and the passion that each and every one of the faculty and staff members has for their roles here.
What’s your favorite hobby and why? I love to travel to the beach because it’s such a relaxing place and I feel at home when I am there.
Becky comes to AC with more than two decades of experience teaching mathematics at colleges in New York, Maryland, and Delaware. Over the years, she has taught at St. John Fisher College, Monroe Community College, Genesee Community College, Community College of Baltimore County, Goldey-Beacom College, and the University of Delaware. In addition to teaching, Becky has presented at the AMATYC National Conference in Orlando, Florida, as well as doing multiple presentations at CCBC on the use of cooperative exploratory learning techniques in teacher prep courses, statistics, and liberal arts mathematics. Becky earned her undergraduate degree in mathematics from SUNY Oswego and her masters from the University of Delaware.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be? I don’t know, but it would probably involve making something.
What’s your favorite hobby? Do I have to pick just one?! I love quilting, sewing, basket weaving, knitting… Honestly, I’ve never met a craft that I didn’t want to at least try!
Share something that people may not know about you. I have been to 33 states and 6 foreign countries.
Director of Center for Humanities & Upper School English Faculty
Vince earned a B.A. in English and Philosophy at Marietta College in Ohio and a Ph.D. in English from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where he focused on British poetic and philosophical writings from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. He has published articles on Coleridge, Dryden, Tennyson, and Adam Smith. Vince has taught English at Allendale Columbia School since 2010, previously teaching English at the college level for over ten years, in addition to tutoring students in writing and helping faculty to incorporate more writing across the curriculum. Vince is also the Director of the AC Center for the Humanities.
What do you love most about your job? Thinking about literature and learning new things. Every time I teach a book, I get to reread it and talk about it with students. Thinking about how to present it to them helps me to see it in new ways, and I am repeatedly impressed by their insights in class discussions and in their written work.
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? I’ve been in teaching situations where my only interaction with students was when they were in my class. That makes it easy to forget that the student has a life outside of my class. And then, when they are no longer my student, it’s easy to forget them. At Allendale Columbia, I get to know students by seeing them, not just in my classroom, but in other contexts: office hours and mini-assemblies, the stage and the sports field, from one year to the next. I get to be impressed by them in so many ways, see them deal with hard times and see them triumph in small and big ways. I get to see the whole person.
What’s your favorite quote? We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. -T.S. Eliot
Angie most recently served as a Field Auditor at Rochester Housing Authority, assisting in the administration of various subsidized housing programs. She also brings a wealth of experience from her roles as a Senior Billing Analyst at Frontier Communications, a Benefits Administrator at Plumbers and Steamfitters Local #13, and accounts receivable and bookkeeping positions in the medical billing field. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Rochester and has taken several accounting and business management courses at Monroe Community College. At AC, she handles payroll, as well as accounts receivable, accounts payable, purchasing, and general HR duties.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be and why? I really enjoy planning intergenerational community-building events because of the opportunity to draw a diverse group of people together toward a common goal and break down communication barriers. Trust and mutual understanding can be gained by getting people together in a non-threatening environment sharing a common experience.
What’s your favorite hobby and why? I find landscape gardening very therapeutic and it has been an easy way to start up a conversation and form a bond with many of my neighbors. And you certainly can’t argue with the results!
Please list a fun or interesting fact about you people may not know. I have participated in an amateur pool league since 2008 and have had the opportunity to participate in several local and regional singles and team tournaments.
Director of Center for Global Engagement & Upper School French Faculty
Daouda Camara teaches French and is the Director of Global Engagement at AC. Prior to joining AC in February of 2020, Daouda worked at BuildOn in Senegal as a Trek Manager where he trained, monitored and evaluated the host country trek team, arranged trips, and built schools committed to gender equality. He has been teaching French since 1986 in various locations, including California and Illinois, and he has served as trainer and cross cultural guide in the U.S. Peace Corps in Senegal, Niger, Nigeria, and Mali. Daouda graduated with his baccalaureate from Lycèe Charles de Gaulle in Senegal and continued his university studies at the Universitè de Dakar. He also has a certificate in Educational Administration and Management from Ecole Normale Superieure, Senegal and a certificate in Adult Education from Accord Paris Ecole de Langues, France.
What do you love most about your job? I am not in this job for the income… but for the outcome.
What inspires you? Learning every day from students as I facilitate their learning.
Kaitlin is an instructor in AC’s after school program, Rainbow Room. She is responsible for helping students with their homework and after school activities. Prior to joining AC, Katilin taught English to second graders in Thailand at the Anuban Phayao School. She received her Bachelor degree in Legal Studies from Champlain College.
What do you love most about your job? Being able to be around kids in a setting where they can express themselves. I love seeing how each of their minds work.
What’s your favorite quote? “If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.” – Anthony Bourdain
Share an interesting fact about you people may not know. I taught English in Northern Thailand!
Kristin Cocquyt’s primary focus is to support, guide, and advise AC students on their college search and application process. She has been in the field of college admissions since 2004 and has visited more than 200 colleges, giving her a solid basis for recommending colleges that are great matches for our students. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Hamilton College and completed the College Advising Program at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Kristin is a member of both the New York State Association for College Admission Counseling (NYSACAC) and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), in addition to the Association of College Counselors at Independent Schools (ACCIS).
What do you like most about your job?
Through my role, I have the opportunity to learn our students’ stories and help them highlight their strengths and unique experiences through the college application process. What I love about this work at AC is that our students are incredibly diverse and so are their experiences, strengths, intellectual interests, and goals. Our student talent runs deep, and their academic and extracurricular experiences at AC help them present compelling college applications.
What inspires you?
In order to stay current on college admission trends and to best support AC families, it’s important that I remain professionally active and engaged with fellow college counselors and college admission counselors. Each year I attend the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s annual conference where I am energized by the opportunity to share best practices and discuss hot topics in the college admission field with thousands of colleagues around the world.
Who is your biggest influence?
I have to thank my high school English teacher for leading me to select the college that was a stronger match for me than the colleges I was initially considering. She told me she would only write my letter of recommendation if I went to visit Hamilton College, so I heeded to her suggestion, and the rest is history! While I would never take that approach with a student I am advising through the college search and application process, I do make personalized college suggestions for each student at AC and encourage students to consider a broad range of colleges.
Chrissy earned her undergraduate degree in Physics at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, and she is currently finishing her Masters of Education in Physics with an Alternative Certification at Buffalo State College. Chrissy has experience teaching Algebra Based Classical Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, and Astronomy, in addition to her previous work with robotics, electronics, and 3D printing technology.
Why did you decide to get into this line of work? I was a TA in college, and I realized that I loved working with students in labs and helping them with homework. I have really always liked science, but what I enjoyed more was sharing it.
What is your favorite hobby? My favorite hobby is martial arts.
Share something about yourself that people may not know. I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
As an instrumental music teacher at Allendale Columbia School, Gabe leads ensembles for students in grades 4 through 12 and teaches courses in music composition, technology, and theory. He held the David M. Pynchon Chair in the Visual and Performing Arts from 2008 – 2013 and is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. He earned bachelor’s degrees in Music Education and Music Composition from SUNY College at Fredonia and a master’s degree in Music Composition from Bowling Green State University.
Why did you decide to go into this line of work? I love sharing my passions, whether they be in music, gardening, or other areas with our students.
What’s your favorite part about working at Allendale Columbia? AC challenges its teachers to be active learners and to think outside of the boundaries of conventional educational thought. I have been given the independence to develop programs that go beyond the typical school ensemble paradigm and provide students with genuine experiences in music. From creating recordings with students as the performers, engineers, and producers to partnering with local artists and alumni in providing music for traditional school events, there have been many explorative opportunities at AC that I never would have imagined as a music ed student contemplating a career as a teacher.
What or who is your biggest influence? There is no single person or thing. All of the most valuable experiences I have had and amazing people I have known are always right there, in the back of my head or in the pit of my stomach, guiding me through everything I do.
What’s your favorite quote? “Practice makes permanent.”
Lisa has been working at Allendale Columbia School since 1996, starting in our Admissions Department as the Admissions Assistant as well as a substitute teacher before securing her current role as a Pre-K teacher in 2002. Prior to joining AC she worked at Monroe Community College as the Student Association Secretary where she supervised office operations for the Student Senate, and at Progressive Childcare Center as a preschool teacher. Lisa is a graduate of Nazareth College where she earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in English Literature with a concentration in Elementary Education.
What do you like most about working at Allendale Columbia? The students, faculty, and staff are what I like most. I enjoy the supportive, creative, friendly atmosphere. AC has always felt like home to me, and the Lower School faculty is like a family.
Who or what inspires you? People who aren’t afraid to take chances and step outside of their comfort zones.
What’s your favorite quote? “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss
Jenny Crego has been teaching in elementary schools since 2007. Her experiences include public title 1 schools, religious, private and international schools. Jenny earned her Bachelors of Science Degree in Early Childhood Studies from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. She loves to grow by putting herself in new places and learning about different cultures which led her to teach in an all boys Muslim school in Abu Dhabi, UAE and a Jewish Day school in Portland, Oregon. The knowledge gained and experience of being immersed in new cultures and new communities is what Jenny brings to AC. In her eyes, the recipe for success comes down to the same thing: building relationships. Relationships with students, families, and colleagues. Besides landing in new spaces, attending literacy workshops at Columbia University in New York City is also how she strives to grow as a teacher in supporting young readers and writers in her classroom. Jenny is from Maine and her life is ruled by dogs, sports, being outdoors and food!
Maya earned her Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of Rochester, where she studied science and communications, and then worked in biotech and scientific publishing. While at the University of Maine for a Master of Science degree in marine microbiology, she loved being a teaching fellow so much that she shifted her focus to fostering science education and experiences for all students. After several years of teaching science, computer science, and technology, she became the Director of Innovation and Technology at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle, Maine. She also brings experience as a Developmental Biology and Microbiology Instructor at Bowdoin College, an Education Coordinator at the Gulf of Maine Foundation, a Science Editor for Blackwell Science, and a Research Technician for ImmuLogic Pharmaceuticals.
Why did you decide to go into this line of work? I am a science and technology evangelist. It’s my passion to get people excited about all things S.T.E.M. and make fresh connections to the science and technology in their daily lives.
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? It was evident before I even walked through the door that AC was a special and unique place – people were so warm and welcoming and also clearly stellar at their work.
What or who is your biggest influence? My mother. She was a single mom who worked very hard but always took the time to show me the wonder in the world.
Tammy joined Allendale Columbia over 15 years ago working in the Pre-Primary School and Rainbow Room after school program before becoming a pre-kindergarten teacher full-time. Prior to AC, Tammy taught in a variety of educational settings including creative arts, the YMCA, and daycare programs. She’s a graduate of SUNY Brockport where she earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Interdisciplinary Arts for Children.
What do you like most about your job? I love watching our youngest students blossom socially, emotionally, and academically. I also love the fact that I have the ability to explore creative opportunities outside of the pre-k classroom like teaching summer camps, AC’s Encore programs, and choreographing the Middle School musical.
Why or how did you decide to go into this line of work? Growing up on Long Island, I was very fortunate to have so many wonderful teachers during my Lower School years. Their passion, dedication, and wisdom motivated me to become a teacher.
What’s your favorite quote? “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa
Gini Darden is an administrative professional with experience at WHEC-TV, The Rochester Red Wings and Browncroft Community Church. She is married to Charles and together they raised their four children. She enjoys gardening, solving puzzles and live music. Fun Fact: I was captain of my high school cheerleading squad and coached Irondequoit youth cheerleading.
Stephanie brings a wide range of experiences to her role as a Lower School teacher at AC, having taught children and adults in public, parochial, and independent schools. She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s equivalency in Elementary Education from Millersville State University, and she completed her Master of Education Degree in Curriculum and Instruction in 2015. Stephanie has also recently taken a course on Visible Thinking from Harvard University. Her professional interests are community-driven and have led her to use her skills in many volunteer positions. She has been a teacher at AC since 1995.
What do you like most about your job? The ability to create a curriculum that engages and inspires children to learn and become lifelong learners. I love opening minds to all the possibilities the world has to offer.
How did you decide to go into this line of work? My mother was a high school English teacher and my father was a coach for over 28 years. For me, it was what I was naturally drawn to from an early age. I always question – was it fate or was it my destiny to teach?
What is your favorite hobby and why? Kayaking is currently my favorite hobby. I love the freedom on the water and the empowerment of going where I want to go using my own physical strength. I also love the peacefulness of exploring places I would otherwise miss from land.
Charlotte comes to AC from Virginia where she previously served as an Early Childhood Case Manager & Head Start Mental Health Consultant at New River Valley Community Services. Prior to that she was a teacher in the Child Development Center for Learning and Research at Virginia Tech, where she implemented Reggio Emilia inspired education for toddlers and preschoolers. Charlotte earned her undergraduate degree in Human Development from Virginia Tech, and she went on to earn her masters in Education from Radford University.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be? If I could have any other job in the world, I would choose to be a dolphin trainer.
What’s your favorite hobby? My favorite hobby is sewing.
Share something that people may not know about you. I helped to run a camp for underprivileged children in Latvia.
An Allendale Columbia teacher since 2000, Rob moved into the role of Director of Information Technology in 2018 to pursue his passion for problem-solving and love of technology. He is in charge of all hardware and software for students, faculty, and staff at AC. He holds both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Mathematics.
Why did you decide to go into this line of work? I have always enjoyed helping people in any way that I can and I also love technology. I taught Middle School computer classes for 12 years at AC and was in charge of setting up and managing all the machines during that time. I’ve been the “unofficial” back up for IT support at the school for years and was thrilled to have the opportunity to make this my full-time work.
What’s the best part of working at Allendale Columbia? The best thing about working at AC has to be the people here. Students are hard working, enthusiastic, and a blast to get to know, and I like and respect every one of my colleagues. I consider myself fortunate to be working with them every day.
What’s your favorite hobby? It’s a tie between ultimate frisbee and gaming. Both of these hobbies are extremely fun to play, challenging to master, but different every time. They are a good combination, because one is physically challenging, while the other is mentally challenging.
Shari has been an educator for more than 30 years. During the academic school year, she teaches Lower School art and in the summer, she is a valued member of our AC Summer LEAP faculty. Shari brings with her experience teaching second, third, and fourth grade, in both the public school system and independent schools. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education from Bluffton University.
What do you like most about your job? I love working with students and their families! Watching students build relationships, grow as learners, think creatively, and problem-solve is an awesome part of my job!
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be? I would love to work with senior citizens and provide enriching and creative experiences for them. To bring a little happiness into their world each day would be perfect.
What’s your favorite hobby? My favorite hobby is cooking. I love experimenting with spices, flavors, and fresh ingredients. I very rarely make the same recipe more than once except for chocolate chip cookies!
Associate Director of Advancement and Communications
Amelia is the Associate Director of Advancement and Communications, assisting in the planning, leading, and execution all marketing and communications initiatives for admissions, alumni relations, and development. She joined Allendale Columbia after six years in boarding school admissions at Saint James School in Hagerstown, MD and Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg, FL. Prior to that Amelia worked in marketing and communications for nonprofit clients in Tampa/St. Pete, Florida and London, England. Amelia earned her undergraduate degree in Advertising and Public Relations from the University of Tampa with minors in Government World Affairs and Communications and a concentration in Graphic Design. She also holds a Masters in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management from George Mason University.
What’s your favorite hobby and why? Travel and dance! Both of these provide creative and expressive outlets for me and help open my eyes to new/alternative ways of viewing and experiencing the world.
Nicholas came to Allendale Columbia School in 2021 from DC International Public Charter School where he was a Student Discipline Coordinator and utilized his skills in Restorative Justice there since 2018. He has been engaging with young adults and children since 1999 in New York, Maryland, and DC. His previous 7 years in education, Nicholas taught Science, Math, PE and ELA. While attending college he was an assistant teacher for a Pre-Kindergarten room at a daycare in New York.
Prior to moving back to New York, Nicholas worked for the Washington Nationals, and during his time with the Washington Nationals they hosted the MLB All-Star Game and won the World Series!
As the Lower School Learning Support Specialist, Arielle relishes the chance to work with each of AC’s Nursery through Fifth grade students. Arielle’s key responsibilities include providing coverage for teachers, co-teaching and collaborating during lessons, administering assessments, running the Morning Room program for Grades Two through Five, and assisting in the library. Besides teaching at AC as a Third Grade teacher for two years, Arielle brings experience from Mary Cariola Center, which serves students with disabilities, and several long-term substitute teaching roles in the Webster, Penfield, and Newark school districts. Arielle received her B.S.Ed in Childhood Education from SUNY Fredonia, and her M.S.Ed in Literacy Education from SUNY Geneseo.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be? I would be an artist. In my free time, I’m always doodling, drawing, and sketching to get out the abstract visions floating around my mind.
What’s your favorite hobby? One of my favorite past-times is walking the trails along the Erie Canal. I love seeing the mix of human-made structures against natural surroundings.
Share something that people may not know about you. I am an avid gamer! Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon are my favorite video game series.
Patty joined AC in 2020 after serving as a long term substitute science teacher in Pittsford schools and as a pre-service teacher in Lexington, Massachusetts. Prior to teaching, Patty was a research associate at CETCO Technical Center in Arlington Heights, Illinois where she assisted with the development of new offshore wastewater filtration products and created experimental parameters for evaluations of these offshore products. Patty earned a B.S. in Earth and Environmental Science with a minor in Philosophy from Lehigh University. She also holds a Master of Arts in Teaching in Science from Tufts University.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be? I would love to be involved in researching the efficacy of mindfulness and meditation practice for students.
What’s your favorite hobby? My hobbies are yoga, reading, being at the lake, and live music.
Share something that people may not know about you. Something people don’t know about me is that I once scuba dived to 189 feet.
Travis holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Allegheny College, a Master of Science Degree in Zoology from the University of New Hampshire, and a Master of Science Degree in Science Education from Oregon State University. He taught high school Biology in Dallas, OR for five years and moved to the Rochester area to be closer to family.
What do you love most about your job? I love helping students see the amazing aspects of our natural world and how they are affected by them.
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? Being part of a great community of teachers, students, and parents.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be and why? I would be a field Biologist. I would still be working in a field that I’m passionate about and my office would be the outdoors.
Lindsay joined Allendale Columbia School in 2021. Before starting at AC she worked at Belmont Day School outside of Boston, MA as a Pre-Kindergarten Teacher and Athletic Coach. Prior to teaching, Lindsay spent more than five years in the marketing industry in Boston. Lindsay has a Bachelors Degree in Communications and Advertising from Boston College and a Masters Degree in Elementary Education from Lesley University.
Lynn Grossman has been teaching general music to elementary-aged children in the Rochester area for more than a decade. As a leader in her field, she has shared her work and research as a clinician for the New York City Department of Education, the National Association of Music Education, and many other conferences in the United States and the United Kingdom. In 2015, she won the Yale Music Educators Award for her collaboration with a local arts organization. Her current research focuses on student creativity, improvisation, and composition. She serves as the past-president for the NY Chapter of the Gordon Institute for Music Learning, where she helps create professional learning opportunities for local music educators. Lynn holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and Bassoon Performance and a Master’s degree in Music Education, both from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester.
What do you love most about your job? I love working with the Lower School students because they are so eager to explore and create through musical play. The best part of my work is helping students become more independent music-makers. I truly enjoy seeing their progression as learners; creating and expressing meaningful, musical ideas while making connections to their broader learning.
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? Allendale Columbia is a unique environment in which students’ ideas, inquiries, and personal creativity are valued and cultivated every day. Through our strong sense of community, we see the strengths in all children, and have opportunities to develop strong, meaningful relationships with our students and families.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be and why? If not Music, then you would probably find me teaching Art instead! The visual arts have always been a personal interest of mine. As in music teaching, I am happiest when I can share knowledge and skills that help others develop and express their own creativity.
Please list a fun or interesting fact about you people may not know. The first “teaching job” I ever had was not in a classroom, but instead on a farm in the Hudson Valley. This farm’s mission was education-based, and I had attended many programs and participated in 4H as a child. By high school, I was teaching children how to care for animals, as well as homestead skills, like making candles and baskets, felting wool, and baking bread. Through this experience, I discovered my own passion for working with young people.
Fangzhi has about 20 years experiences of teaching English at the secondary and tertiary levels, and she has accumulated many rich experiences while teaching Mandarin. She is currently pursuing her PhD in teaching and curriculum at the University of Rochester and is a part-time Chinese instructor at AC.
Why did you decide to get into this line of work? I love teaching because I can bring my students entertainment, knowledge, inspiration, and opportunities to the unknown world.
What is your favorite hobby? I love yoga and do it almost every day. I also love hiking and set a goal of exploring one spot every week when the weather is fine.
Share something about yourself that people may not know. I grew up in a traditional village in China. I believe I have more to say about the rural life, traditions, and culture in China than those who grow up in cities, and I can provide a more accurate picture than many books.
Administrative Assistant to the Middle and Upper School Heads & Registrar
Gwyneth has a background in developmental psychology and has worked in behavioral research labs since 2017, both as a research assistant and, most recently, as a lab manager. She has a BS in Brain & Cognitive Sciences from the University of Rochester. In her free time Gwyneth enjoys creative writing, playing video games, and listening to music and podcasts.
Seth brings 22 years of teaching experience at the Middle and High School level from Wellsville Central School District, The Charter School for Science and Technology, and most recently, The Norman Howard School. Seth holds a CAS in Educational Administration from The State University of New York College at Brockport, an MS in Adolescent Education in English from The State University of New York College at Geneseo, and a BA in History from The State University of New York at Stony Brook. Seth also holds New York State Certifications in Social Studies (Grades 7-12), English (Grades 7-12), Students with Disabilities (Grades 7-12), School Building Leader, and School District Leader. Additionally, Seth has been involved with grant writing efforts and curriculum development, and has served on a variety of professional committees.
What do you love most about your job? Working with kids keeps me young.
What’s your favorite hobby and why? Reading because there is so much to know.
What or who inspires you? I am inspired by people who have achieved something in the face of others who said that they could not.
Ted has been teaching since he graduated from Dartmouth College in 1977. He spent his first few years teaching at Vermont Academy, a boarding school in Saxtons River, Vermont. Upon leaving the academy in 1982, Ted joined Allendale Columbia as a history teacher. He teaches history and economics to eleventh and twelfth graders.
Why did you decide to go into this line of work? Teaching and coaching allowed me to engage with high school students in areas that have always been my passions – history and soccer.
What is the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? The students at our school are, by and large, bright, enthusiastic, and engaging.
What’s your favorite hobby? Reading; I am constantly looking for new history stories to make my classes come to life.
Deanna graduated from St. John Fisher College with a bachelor’s degree in Adolescent English Education and went on to get her master’s degree from SUNY Brockport in English Literature. Prior to joining Allendale Columbia eight years ago, she student taught at Freddie Thomas Learning Center and Canandaigua Middle School. Deanna also tutors at St. John Fisher College in their Higher Educational Opportunities Program.
What do you like most about your job? I love getting to know the kids and having the opportunity to teach them and watch them grow through their Middle School and Upper School years.
How did you decide to go into this line of work? I have always loved reading and writing, and my mom was an English teacher, so when I started working with Middle School students, I knew that was what I was meant to do.
Share a fun or interesting fact about yourself. I am an aspiring Adirondack 46-er, I was a competitive dancer for 11 years, and I love to do crafts, including knitting and scrapbooking.
Lyndsay began her teaching career in Baltimore, Maryland. She then moved overseas where she taught at international schools in Turkey, Tanzania, China, Thailand, the Netherlands, and Italy. Most recently she served as a Grade 5 teacher at the International School of Brussels. Lyndsay holds an M.A. in Instructional Systems Development/Bilingual Education from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
What inspires you? Getting kids excited about learning!
What’s your favorite hobby?
Pilates and exploring new places.
Tell us something about you that would surprise most people? I was Peace Corps Volunteer in Paoskoto, Senegal.
After pursing her passion for teaching, Ann became a long-term substitute at Allendale Columbia before beginning to teach first grade full-time at AC. Prior to beginning her teaching career, Ann was in the financial industry as an Assistant Vice President, Financial Analyst, and Corporate Trainer at two different regional banks. Ann earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics from Penn State College and her Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Roberts Wesleyan College.
Why did you decide to go into this line of work? Teaching has truly been my life-long dream. I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to teach.
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? The best part is being surrounded by people who share the same teaching philosophy and NOT having to “teach to the test!”
Share a fun or interesting fact about yourself. When I was a young girl, I used to accompany my dad (an amateur archeologist) on many “digs.” I have helped him uncover mastodon bones, Native American pottery, and Colonial coins!
Barbie has 27 years of experience and came to AC from Cobblestone School where she served as a Primary School Teacher and Summer Camp Director. At AC, she is a Kindergarten teacher, AC landscaper, AC After 3 p.m. teacher, and Camp Cobblestone Summer Camp Director. Barbie earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education with a Concentration in Fine Arts at Saint Bonaventure University.
What do you love most about your job? I love working with children and their creative minds!
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be? I would be a traveling food critic!
What’s your favorite quote? “Art is the most effective mode of communication that exists. Learning by doing.” – John Dewey
Please list a fun or interesting fact about you people may not know. I’m a black belt in mixed martial arts.
Donna has been teaching nursery school at Allendale Columbia for 30 years! Prior to teaching at AC, Donna was a Graduate Assistant at the Early Childhood Research Center at the University of Buffalo while getting her master’s degree in Elementary Education with Specialization in Early Childhood Education. She is also New York State certified in nursery through grade six and holds two bachelor’s degrees in Early Childhood Education and Psychology.
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? My job at AC allows me to teach at the nursery level in a real-school setting. When I graduated from college, nursery schools were typically located in church basements or daycare centers. I hit the jackpot when I saw that AC, nursery through grade 12, was looking for a nursery school teacher! There’s nothing like a three-year-old, and to spend my days with them in a beautiful classroom, on a spacious campus with a playground, fields, and nature trails… what more could I ask for?!
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be? Considering that I think I have the best job in the world already, if given the chance, I would pick up AC and place it in the middle of a beach somewhere. I am not a fan of our cold, snowy winters here in Western New York!
What’s your favorite quote? “You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” – Glinda, Wizard of Oz
Susan joined the AC faculty after serving as the Head of School and Teacher Programs at the Rochester Museum and Science Center. Prior to her work at the RMSC, Susan worked at a number of science centers in Massachusetts, including the New England Aquarium, the Needham Science Center, and the Boston Museum of Science. Her career has also taken her into schools as a teacher in Georgia, and she has been a researcher of aquatic birds at the Bronx Zoo in New York and a researcher of bottlenose dolphins at the School for Field Studies in North Carolina. Susan earned her undergraduate degree in Biology with a minor in French from Hiram College, and she also has her Masters of Education in Middle Grades Education from Armstrong Atlantic State University.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be? I would love to host my own “Ocean Adventures” television show, traveling the world teaching others about the importance of protecting our Blue Planet!
What’s your favorite hobby? I really enjoy doing anything outdoors! My favorite activities include swimming, hiking, and kayaking in our beautiful Finger Lakes region.
Share something that people may not know about you. I helped relocate loggerhead sea turtle nests on the coast of Georgia. I also had the wonderful opportunity to see the hatchlings dig out of their nest, and make their way to the ocean.
Andrea is a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree from St. John Fisher College. Her experience is primarily in pediatrics. Andrea has been working in a school settings since 2016. Before coming to Allendale Columbia School, she worked for Monroe #1 BOCES and Daystar Kids.
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? The best part for me is that we educate toddlers to 12th graders. It is a privilege to get to work with and care for students of all ages.
What’s your favorite quote? “Always be a little kinder than necessary.” – J.M. Barrie (but also a former nurse manager and wonderful person)
What’s a fun fact about yourself? I started learning Russian in 2020/2021 and I love it!
Upper School English Faculty & Writing Lab Faculty
Katie has been teaching English since 1994 (minus a few years working as a senior editor in educational publishing). New to the Rochester area as of 2019, Katie taught Western Humanities and supervised pre-service English teachers at SUNY Geneseo before joining the Allendale Columbia community in January 2020. Prior to that, she taught high school in Evanston, IL, where she also directed the school’s writing center. Katie holds master’s degrees in English Literature and in Writing, both earned in Chicago where she was born and raised.
What do you like most about your job? I get to listen to what young people think and then help them develop and express their ideas through writing. I especially love working one-on-one with students on their writing.
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? I love the way Allendale Columbia promotes such a strong sense of community while also honoring and celebrating students as individuals.
What is your favorite quote? “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” — Frederick Douglass
Aurora has been teaching for nearly 25 years and has worked with students in kindergarten through grade 12. After college, Aurora moved to Mexico to raise her family, where she also co-founded two schools- one in San Miguel de Allende and one in Veracruz. There she was part of the steering team, served on the parent education group, and trained teachers while also serving as a classroom teacher at both schools. In 2014, she moved back to the United States and became a Middle School Spanish teacher at the Seattle Waldorf School before moving back to Rochester as a substitute teacher in Webster and a medical interpreter at the University of Rochester. At AC, Aurora brings her extensive background in education to our Middle School where she teaches Spanish. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from American University.
Why/how did you decide to go into this line of work? I have always known I wanted to be a teacher; I believe it’s the only way to bring about change in the world.
What do you love most about your job? I love working with children and seeing those “a-ha moments” of discovery.
What’s your favorite quote? “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – William Butler Yeats
Bridgette began at Allendale Columbia School in 2020 after working as a Lead Teacher at the Palma Ceia Presbyterian Preschool in Tampa, Florida. Bridgette has a passion for engaging her young students in their natural surroundings through the Reggio Emilia approach. She graduated from the University of Tampa with a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies and Instructional Support.
Why did you decide to get into this line of work? Working with children has always been a passion of mine. Through my experiences, I have seen how important it is for children to learn through play and because of that, I am pursuing my passions through the Reggio way.
What’s your favorite hobby? I love to spend my free time exploring and spending time outside. I love to go on runs and do yoga.
Share something about yourself that people may not know. I am originally from New Jersey and I come from a big family. I am one of four children!
As Allendale Columbia’s Lower School Mathematics Learning Advocate, Kristen loves empowering children, watching them grow, and seeing the light inside of them shine. She has been at AC since 1995, serving in a variety of roles over the years. Kristen holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in Educational Technology Leadership, both from The George Washington University.
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? AC is special because of our community! I love working with students throughout their Lower School careers. I’m also lucky enough to see them mature and develop into amazing young adults as they continue through Middle and Upper School. Connecting with alumni and even teaching former students children is a gift. I can’t imagine working anywhere else! These relationships are very special.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be? If I wasn’t teaching, I’m not sure what I would do!
What’s your favorite hobby? I am passionate about travel! I don’t get to do it as often as I used to, but I love exploring different places and cultures. I also love to read! My current favorite genre is historical fiction.
Amanda holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Therapy from SUNY Fredonia, has studied Vocal Performance and Music Education at Eastman School of Music, and is currently completing a master’s in Creative Arts Therapy at Nazareth College. She brings experience as a board-certified music therapist, rehabilitation therapist, private voice instructor, and youth community musical theatre director. At AC, Amanda manages and directs the Upper School musicals and plays, teaches Upper School theatre classes, leads the Boys Ensemble, and teaches Middle School music electives and Drama Foundations.
What do you love most about your job? I love knowing that I can teach the way I believe my students will learn best.
What or who inspires you? Teenagers, and their capacity to take on so much in their lives at once.
What’s your favorite quote? “The mind is like an umbrella – it functions best when open.” – Walter Gropius
What’s your favorite hobby and why? Playing piano. I always say music was my first language, as I started to learn piano at 3 years old. When I sit down to play for fun, I can tune everything else out and enjoy the ease of doing something so familiar, but challenging at the same time.
Brent joined Allendale Columbia in 2012 and has more than 30 years of experience as an educator. Prior to teaching at AC, Brent worked at Hornell City Schools, educating students in virtually all levels of middle and high school mathematics up to, and including, Advanced Placement Calculus. In recent years Brent has also been selected as a Question Reader where he and about 1,000 colleagues score the over 450,000 AP Calculus exams taken each May. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mathematics and Master of Science in Education Degree from the State University of New York College at Geneseo.
Why did you decide to go into this line of work? I have always wanted to teach ever since my childhood friend and I would play school, and she would always be the teacher. In my heart, I knew I was better suited for that role, and the desire to teach never left me.
What’s the best part of working at Allendale Columbia? The opportunity to work with great people.
What’s your favorite quote? “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Albus Dumbledore/J.K. Rowling
Associate Director of Admissions and College Advising Consultant
Emily is Associate Director of Admissions and College Advising Consultant at Allendale Columbia School. After serving as the Interim College Advisor in Fall 2018, Emily took on a role to offer students and families outside AC with guidance in the college admissions process. Her role has since expanded to the Admissions team, where she helps prospective families learn more about AC’s innovative education. Emily joined AC from Emory University where she directed the selection process for more than 20,000 freshmen candidates each year. She started working at the university level in 2003 and was a senior member of the admission committees for University of Miami, Emory University, and UNC Chapel Hill. Emily holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Duke University, a Master of Higher Education Administration and Enrollment Management from the University of Miami, and a Certificate in College Access Counseling from Rice University.
What do you love most about your job? I love that I get to work with families at the beginning and end of their journeys through AC: admission to AC and admission to college.
If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be and why? I’d have lunch with Mike Krzyzewski, Duke’s Head Basketball coach for more than 40 years. I’d like to get a few pointers on his leadership style and incredible drive to succeed.
What’s your favorite quote? “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream” – CS Lewis
In 2020, Emily joined us with two decades of experience spanning the fields of higher, secondary, middle, and early childhood education. As a higher education professional, Emily recruited students across the globe and supported graduate programs in Singapore and Hong Kong. Emily has taught children ages 18 months – 4 years old since 2011 and is an active member of the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance. Emily holds a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and a minor in Psychology from Brigham Young University-Provo and has completed post-graduate work in Special Education.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be? I’d like to operate a non-profit U-pick and Christmas tree farm accessible to City of Rochester residents.
What’s your favorite hobby? I love watching reruns of Downton Abbey!
Share something that people may not know about you. I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, and I am passionate about emergency preparedness.
Director of Center for Creativity and Entrepreneurship & Middle School Art Faculty
Amy has been a part of Allendale Columbia School’s Art Department since the fall of 2010 and serves as Director of AC’s Center for Creativity and Entrepreneurship. Amy holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Illustration, a Concentration in ASL, and a Master of Science Degree in Teaching Art from the Rochester Institute of Technology.
How did you decide to go into this line of work? I taught dance from the time I was 14 until after college. There is something incredible about seeing a student light up when they understand something they didn’t before.
What’s the best part of working at Allendale Columbia? The best part of my job is the freedom to create a curriculum with my students. I can learn from them just as they can learn from me. The flexibility of an open-ended classroom that is student-driven really challenges me as a teacher. That is an experience that I look forward to daily.
What is your favorite quote? “We are all just walking each other home.” Ram Dass
Mengqian Ou began her teaching career as both an English teacher and a music teacher of the Chinese lute after receiving her Bachelor’s degree in English from Chengdu University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. She has been teaching professionally since 2014 at a number of schools both in China and in Rochester, NY. She is also a CSL (Chinese as Second Language) teacher in the Chinese School of Rochester.
What’s your favorite hobby and why? I like playing the Chinese lute, also known as pipa, because after 23 years of playing it, it has come to feel like another part of me.
Teresa joined the Allendale Columbia team as a part-time Middle School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) teacher in 2014 and became a full-time AC faculty member in 2015, after spending 15 years in the engineering industry. She was a product engineer and then she transitioned into marketing and business development. As a business development manager, she created and provided product training, and it was in that role that she discovered her passion for teaching. Teresa earned a Master of Science Degree in Education from Nazareth College, and she also holds a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Engineering/Management from Clarkson University and a bachelor’s in Physics from the State University of New York College at Geneseo. She is a National Geographic Certified Educator and CK12 Certified Educator.
What do you like most about your job? I love the challenge of engaging students in their learning and those moments when you know you have been instrumental in their success in learning something new.
What’s your favorite hobby? It’s hard to pick just one! I really enjoy being outdoors with family and friends. Golfing, biking, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, and just walking the dog all bring me joy!
What is your favorite quote? “Connection is why we are here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.” Brene Brown
Andrew came to teach Middle School History at Allendale Columbia School after 20 years in educational publishing and living in Pittsburgh, New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto, and the Adirondacks. He began writing for young people at Junior Scholastic magazine, and has since published hundreds of articles in such magazines as JS, Scholastic News, Disney Adventures, Creative Classroom, and more. After teaching freshman composition at the University of Southern California for several years, Andrew served as the Senior Editor for Disney Adventures Magazine. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Communications, with honors, from Carnegie Mellon University and his master’s degree in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.
What do you like most about your job? I love being able to share my passion for history with young people and the opportunity to continually explore new avenues of history with my students.
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? The best parts about working at AC include the daily opportunity to work with dedicated and creative colleagues, the freedom and encouragement to try new approaches to teaching, the privilege of exploring history with our fantastic students, and the support we get from their parents.
If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be? I would have lunch with Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States. He was outspoken, progressive, and forward-thinking. He took on the monopolies and initiated our national park system, among many other achievements. He even finished a speech after being shot in the chest. That would be an interesting lunch.
Alex brings a decade of teaching experience to Allendale Columbia School. He has held numerous teaching positions throughout North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC before moving to New York. He’s taught STEM, math, physics, coding and computer science. Alex earned his B.A. in Physics and received his 9-12 Science Certification through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also earned a Master’s in Software Engineering from RIT.
Why did you decide to get into this line of work? In the third year of my undergraduate studies in Physics I was presenting research at the University of Chicago, and my favorite part of the conference was a simple demo in the science building’s lobby that elegantly showed how water droplets form, using strobe lights to make the water droplets appear in slow motion. Ever since then, I’ve come to realize that I am very interested in finding elegant ways to convey difficult topics— and teaching is a natural way to apply that type of interest.
What is your favorite hobby? I enjoy hiking at the state parks in the area.
Share something about yourself that people may not know. In 2010 I finished an Ironman triathlon in Louisville, KY!
Laura Reynolds-Gorsuch is Allendale Columbia’s Food Service Director. She started in 1997 and has her B.S. in Management from Keuka College as well as a Manager Level Food Handler Certification. She truly enjoys being part of the AC family and feels lucky to watch our students grow into amazing adults. Some of her happiest memories at AC include seeing an alum at new parent orientation and realizing that she had become a multi-generational lunch lady and the time a kindergarten student, quite seriously, asked, “Do all of you lunch ladies live together in the same house?” (As much as I love my co-workers, we do not!)
Aly joined the AC faculty in 2020, but she has been an active PACK (Parents of Allendale Columbia Kids) member since 2017. Aly most recently served as a teacher assistant at Room to Bloom Therapy, where she assisted in implementing therapeutic programs for students with autism and other learning differences. Prior to that, Aly was a teacher assistant at the Communication Center for Hearing and Speech as well as a universal pre-kindergarten teacher at the YMCA of Greater Rochester. Aly earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from SUNY Brockport, and she went on to earn a Masters in Inclusive Early Childhood Education from Nazareth College.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be? If I could do any job in the world besides what I do now I would be a veterinarian. I’ve always loved animals, and prior to pursuing education, I worked at an animal hospital and on a horse farm.
What’s your favorite hobby? My favorite hobby is pottery. I love getting my hands muddy and throwing something on the potter’s wheel!
Share something that people may not know about you. Something you may not know about me is that I love genealogy! Even as a child I was asking questions and studying photos to understand the connection I had with my ancestors. Currently I am researching Mayflower descendants to confirm how my family connects to the early settlers.
Middle School Dean of Students & Lower and Middle Music Faculty
Rachael has been an active member of the Rochester music community since 2010. She completed her undergraduate degree at the Eastman School of Music with majors in Music Education, Musical Arts, and a minor in Social Psychology. She then went on to complete her masters degree at Ithaca College with a focus in Popular Music Education. She recently began her Ph.D. studies at Eastman with a focus on Secondary General Music Education. Rachael is frequently invited to speak at conferences on topics around general music making with middle and high school students, and she is currently working on several research studies on related topics. She also continues to enjoy an active performance career around Rochester.
What do you love most about your job? I love the range of ages I get to teach and I’m looking forward to watching students grow as musicians. I also love playing instruments with students, singing, and dancing.
Why/how did you decide to go into this line of work? I have been performing and actively involved in music since age 3 when I joined my first choir. As I got older, I realized one of the reasons I loved music so much was because I had fabulous music teachers. Music is my passion and I love sharing it with others.
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? I love the team I get to work with. The music/drama department teachers are absolutely fabulous. They inspire me to be a better teacher and are incredibly supportive. Everyone at AC seems to love what they do; I couldn’t ask for a better school.
As Admissions Assistant, Lisa helps introduce families to Allendale Columbia School and assists them throughout the admission process. In addition to her role in admissions, Lisa also co-manages the Welcome Desk at AC. She studied Philosophy at the State University of New York College at Brockport and has been at AC for seven years.
What do you like most about your job? I like the diversity of each day and that no two days are ever the same.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be? A teacher; after seeing how much fun they have each day at Allendale Columbia, I wish I had chosen that path.
Share a fun or interesting fact about yourself. I have a secret love of power tools.
Middle School English Faculty & Middle School History Faculty
Aaron has 16 years of experience as an educator and has been teaching at Allendale Columbia for ten of those years. He began working at AC as a long-term substitute teacher for fifth grade and began teaching in the Middle School full-time shortly after. Prior to joining AC, Aaron was a special education teacher at BOCES and in the Bradford Central School District in Bradford, New York. He earned a Specialized Technology Degree from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary and Special Education, with a focus on English, from the State University of New York College at Geneseo, and a master’s degree in Educational Psychology, specializing in gifted and talented education.
What do you like most about your job? Sharing my love of reading and writing with my students makes me look forward to coming to work every day. Taking ten eighth grade students to the Adirondacks during AC’s 2013-2014 May Term was a highlight of my teaching career. The seventh grade Pathfinder Trip is also a significant event for me. Helping kids experience nature is a passion of mine.
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? The freedom to design my own curriculum and the emerging support for outdoor education is the best part. I also love working in the Middle School, because we are moving into a new era and retiring some of the old practices and habits.
Share a fun or interesting fact about yourself. I am working on climbing the 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks. I have done ten so far.
Director of International Students and House Parent
Terrence has served as the Director of International Students and House Parent here at Allendale Columbia School since 2021. Prior to coming to AC, he was a Music Director in several schools in the United States as well as in China. Terrence has been actively engaged in Residential Life since 2000. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music from Indiana University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Tulane University.
What do you like most about your job? I enjoy working with students from different cultures and helping them be as successful as possible.
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? The best part is working with a fantastic team of professionals who care a lot about the wellbeing of the students.
Teaching since 2009, Jessica has extensive experience teaching Pre-K, Kindergarten, and First Grade. She spent five years teaching Kindergarten and First Grade at Bayvale Elementary in Atlanta, Georgia where she was awarded Teacher of the Year and the Golden Apple Teacher Award. Prior to Bayvale Elementary, Jessica taught Pre-K at Dunwoody Academy in Dunwoody, Georgia and Crabapple Academy in John’s Creek, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Education. She recently earned a Masters degree in Instructional Technology and School Library Media Studies from Georgia Southern University.
Why/how did you decide to go into this line of work? I love working with kids!
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? Or if you’re new to AC, what made you want to work here? AC let’s kids be kids! My teaching philosophy completely aligns with AC’s philosophy. Kids need to explore and learn through play. AC gives students these amazing opportunities.
What’s your favorite hobby and why? I like to run. I even ran my first half marathon this fall!
Anika joined the Allendale Columbia School Development Office in 2019 as the Manager of Gifts and Donor Records. Here at AC she is responsible for donor record keeping, gift processing, and reporting. Prior to joining AC, Anika worked at Hillside Children’s Foundation, the Landmark Society of Western New York, and Central Coast YMCA in Monterey, California. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Goucher College and a Masters of Urban Planning from University at Buffalo.
What do you love most about your job? I love the research, investigation, and problem solving.
If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be and why? My late father. He inspired me to be a lifelong learner and his influences still permeate my every day.
What is your favorite hobby and why? Hanging out with my family and two dogs.
As an Upper School faculty member, Eleanor teaches AP European History; Revolutions and the Modern World; and Morality, Democracy, and Justice at Allendale Columbia. She brings over 28 years of experience as an educator to AC, spending nine of those years here. Prior to joining Allendale Columbia, she served as a lecturer at Harvard University and Director of Orientation and New Student Programs at the University of Virginia. Eleanor earned her Ph. D. from Brandeis University.
Why did you decide to go into this line of work? I love to read and learn about history, and I wanted to share this passion with others.
If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be? I’d have lunch with Winston Churchill, because I admire him and I would like to hear about his exploits first-hand!
What’s your favorite quote? “To be content with what we possess is the greatest and most secure of riches.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE)
Morgan completed her Bachelor’s Degree at Le Moyne College in 2014, majoring in Psychology with a concentration in Elementary/Special Education, and earned her Master’s Degree in the Math/Science/Technology Program at St. John Fisher College. She came to AC in 2017 from the Victor Central School District, where she taught 5th grade for two years. She has always had a passion for mathematics and helped develop the Lower School mathematics curriculum. In addition to her role in the classroom, Morgan also coaches HAC girls soccer and enjoys providing students with authentic learning opportunities and chances to apply their experiences, both in and out of the classroom.
Why did you decide to go into this line of work? Ever since I was a little kid I loved learning and being in school. During my senior year of high school I chose to volunteer as a tutor in the City of Rochester and had a great experience.
What do you love most about your job? I love creating a community and getting to know my students. I also get to learn something new each and every day!
What or who is your biggest influence? My mom because she is the most caring person I know!
Wendy came to AC in 2021 from Mendon Childcare Center where she worked as a Teacher in the Toddler Classroom. She has an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education from Cazenovia College. She also did her college internships at the college’s nursery school on campus. Throughout Wendy’s 20+ year career in Early Childhood, she has had many experiences working with children in a variety of settings, including daycare, residential treatment, as well as working as a Nanny for some beloved families.
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia?
Everyone at AC is so warm and welcoming! I am working in a classroom with three amazing teachers who welcomed me with open arms. The ebb and flow of the class in many ways seems so natural. All of the employees and children are so thoughtful and caring. It is nice to be working in such an amazing environment and beautiful campus. To quote Annie, “…I think I’m gonna like it here… could someone pinch me please?… I know I’m gonna like it here.”
What is your favorite hobby?
I enjoy a lot of hobbies, indoor and outdoor. I love to ski, which I’ve been doing since I was four years old. I also enjoy yoga, SUP and SUP yoga, camping, hiking, theater, concerts and traveling.
Tell us something about you that would surprise most people.
I packed up and moved to Los Angeles with only my cat and dog and whatever else would fit in my car. No apartment or job to speak of. I’d saved for a couple years for the move and was fortunate to have friends who worked at a pet-friendly hotel where I stayed, and they helped me find a place to live. I have made that cross country drive a total of six times… so far! I absolutely loved the cross country drive!
Physical Education Teacher
Middle and Upper School Faculty & Student Support Center Specialist
Since starting at Allendale Columbia in 1994, Tony has taken on many different roles. He has coached a variety of sports, including Varsity Girls’ Basketball and Varsity Golf. He taught physical education for seven years, kindergarten for seven years, and served as the Director of Curricular Technology for five years. Tony is currently serving as a faculty member in the Center for Entrepreneurship where he teaches electives for both middle and upper school students. He is also the Faculty Professional Learning Coordinator and Co-creator of TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool. Recently, Tony was Co-chair of the NYSAIS Accreditation Steering Committee and is a member of the Upper School Student Success Team responsible for Student Life. Tony was also the Program Coordinator for the Iraqi Youth Leadership Exchange Program (IYLEP). He holds a master’s degree in Education from Roberts Wesleyan College. Tony is the proud father of two children, Gabi and Trip. He enjoys hiking, reading, travel, cooking, and learning about new things.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be? I would co-host the T.V. show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. Who wouldn’t enjoy touring the country discovering the best food places and sharing that with the world?!
Jenna is the Upper School English Teacher responsible for English 1, AP Language & Composition, and Creative Nonfiction Writing. She joins AC from Morristown-Beard School in Morristown, NJ, where she taught Upper School English for 6 years. She has held various teaching roles since her teaching career began in 2008, including Upper School English, violin and music instruction, and Advanced Writing and Literature. Jenna has a Bachelor of English and International Relations with a minor in music from Lehigh University, and a Master of English from University of Virginia.
How did you decide to go into this line of work? I was drawn to teaching because I love literature and I love young people. What I love about literature is that it opens us up to new ideas, gives us a stronger understanding of the world, and makes us more compassionate human beings. What I love about my students is that they make every day an adventure: they are fun, creative, and always surprising.
What or who inspires you? I’m inspired by beauty—in the natural world, in particular poems I come across, and especially in music.
What is a fun or interesting fact about you that people may not know? I grew up at a camp in the Poconos on 280 acres of Pennsylvania woodland. I know how to build fires and tap maple trees, and I love silly camp songs almost as much as I love classical music.
Jenn has been teaching since 2002 and started at Allendale Columbia in 2013. She is a life-long learner who loves to introduce creative ways to use technology in the classroom with her students and colleagues. Jenn received the Virginia and Fred Gordon Chair in Elementary Education in 2018. She is a National Geographic Certified Educator, a Seesaw Ambassador, and an aspiring Google Certified Educator. She has prior teaching experience in the Rochester area, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in Reading, both from the State University of New York College at Geneseo.
What do you like most about your job? What I love most about my job is the opportunity to inspire young minds each and every day.
How did you decide to go into this line of work? As a child, I would play “school” with my friends during play dates. I was always the teacher, and I loved every minute of it!
What’s your favorite quote? “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Tracey joins Allendale Columbia with 18 years of classroom experience. She is responsible for teaching History 9: Morality, Democracy, and Justice. Additionally, she is teaching varied electives and serving as the library assistant in the Rumsey Library. Tracey has taught numerous history courses in a variety of settings. Her first position was at Marion Jr/Sr High school where she taught 10th grade Global History & Geography II and AP World History. From 2007-2008 she spent 10 months in central France as an assistante d’anglais. She taught lessons on American culture and traditions at a French high school and spent her down time traveling throughout western Europe. After France, Tracey spent three years in rural Wisconsin teaching World History to 6th, 7th and 10th grade students, before relocating to Northern Virginia in 2011. She spent two years working as a licensed DC tour guide and as a volunteer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum before accepting a position at George Mason High School. At GMHS she partnered with Northern Virginia Community College and piloted the dual enrollment program teaching US HIS121 & US HIS122 to high school juniors and seniors. Although living in the DC area as a history fanatic was amazing, she recently returned to her hometown to be near family and is excited to be joining the talented team at AC.
Why did you decide to get into this line of work?
I’ve wanted to teach since I was four years old, but at that young age, I had no idea what subject. By the time I started middle school I knew it was the humanities for me, but I was unsure of which discipline to focus on. It was my eighth grade social studies teacher, Gene Benoit, who solidified my interest in teaching history. He has been one of the greatest influences in my life and we still keep in touch.
What is your favorite hobby?
Definitely reading and hiking. However, I must admit that I’m a bit of a LEGO enthusiast as well. I developed a fondness for all things LEGO during the pandemic and even built my two sons a LEGO room.
Mardie is a School Counselor and has been practicing in the field since 2008. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from The University of Pittsburgh and a Masters of Education, Counselor Education degree from The Pennsylvania State University. She has worked as a school counselor in Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Prior to working in the school setting, Mardie provided behavioral health services to children and families. Mardie now provides full-time, on-campus counseling services to AC’s Lower School Students. She works closely with faculty and staff, parents, students, and outside providers to ensure that students at AC feel welcome, safe, included, and ready to learn!
Mardie loves to spend time with her husband Mike and their two boys Victor and Leo. Mardie is an exercise enthusiast and loves to spin, run, and hike. She also enjoys reading.
As a member of AC’s Physical Education Department, Laura teaches PE classes to a variety of grade levels and help to create and implement innovative curriculum. She taught Physical Education in the New York City Public Schools for two years before teaching for ten years at an independent school in Manhattan. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Fordham University, a Bachelor of Science from the SUNY College at Brockport, a Master of Arts from Teachers College at Columbia University, and has almost completed a Master of Education from the same institution.
Why/how did you decide to go into this line of work? I started out by coaching soccer and found that I love working with kids in a movement-related setting.
What do you love most about your job? I love the variety of personalities I get to work with – students and co-workers included!
What’s your favorite hobby and why? I like watching soccer because I really enjoy the beautiful game.
Kristy is an alumna of Allendale Columbia School and began teaching in the AC Little School in 2020. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Elementary Education from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, and she obtained her Master’s degree in Education of the Deaf from Smith College. Kristy’s career has been spent teaching preschool students, with an emphasis on working with those who are deaf and hearing impaired. She has worked at the Memphis Oral School for the Deaf, Pittsford United Nursery School, St. Louis School, and The Harley School. Kristy’s most recent position before coming to AC was at Liberty POST, an integrated preschool in the Rochester area. Her professional accomplishments include designing a science curriculum at the preschool level that was inspired by the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy. Kristy also has experience as an education director and site manger.
What do you love most about working at AC? Since starting at AC, I’ve been overwhelmed by how welcoming all of my colleagues have been and how supportive everyone has been of The Little School program.
What is your favorite hobby? Skiing with my family!
Favorite quote: “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” — Socrates
As an alum of Allendale Columbia (Class of 1988), Brooke has experienced an AC education first-hand. After graduating from William Smith College, she came back to AC to help with the Rainbow Room program. A year later, Brooke became the Director of the program, where she has excelled for the past two decades!
What do you like most about your job? I LOVE what I do! People always ask why I don’t teach in the classroom, and it’s because I really enjoy having students year after year and watching them grow. I also enjoy seeing parents every day. The relationships I have developed over the years mean the world to me!
What’s the best part about working at Allendale Columbia? AC is such a warm, welcoming community of people who really care about what they do. It just feels like home.
Share a fun or interesting fact about yourself. I have traveled around the world twice. I have been to France, Germany, Switzerland, England, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Kenya, Tanzania, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Nepal, Brazil, and Venezuela.
Aaron joined AC as a P.E. and Health teacher in 2019, but he may look familiar to you because he also coaches baseball, modified cross country and modified boys basketball for HAC Athletics and has been a substitute teacher at AC since 2018. Aaron graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Adapted Physical Education from The College at Brockport, and he is currently working on his Master of Science in Adapted Physical Education.
What do you love most about your job? I love working at AC because of the welcoming atmosphere and the positive energy from every student and staff.
What’s your favorite hobby? My favorite hobbies are hiking and fishing.
Share an interesting fact about you that people may not know. I spend two weeks out of my summer teaching children who are blind and visually impaired how to play sports.
Kate is a Licensed Master Social Worker and has been practicing in the field since 2007. She started her career with 10 years of medical social work at the University of Rochester Medical Center working with palliative care patients and their families. Most recently she has been providing services to children and families at Bivona Child Advocacy Center as a forensic interviewer. Kate now provides full time on campus support to AC’s middle and upper school students and provides referral services as needed.
Kate and her family love to camp, canoe, and hike. She also enjoys reading and listening to audio books, especially historical fiction.
Lori has 18 years of experience as an educator and has been an art teacher at AC for 14 of those years. She has taught grades 9 – 12, elementary and middle school students, as well as university undergraduates. Lori is a practicing artist with bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and art history from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the College of William and Mary, where she focused on drawing, painting, and modern art history. She earned a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she concentrated on photography and video.
What do you like most about your job? I like the company that I get to keep: my incredible students and colleagues. It’s pretty great to look forward to coming into work every day.
How did you decide to go into this line of work? One summer in graduate school, I got a job working with middle schoolers in a pilot arts program called “Baltimore Youth Television.” I loved it so much that I realized that teaching was what I wanted to do with my life.
If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be? Tom Waits. Hopefully he would feel like breaking into song once or twice.
Share a fun or interesting fact about yourself. I grew up in the deep South. My parents were born in Mississippi and Alabama. I love the cooking and the hospitality, which frequently overlap. Even though I don’t live there anymore, it’s a culture that has stayed with me my whole life.
Charles brings 10 years of experience to his role as a facilities technician. Before coming to AC, he served as an Assistant Manager at Valvoline, where he managed staff and safety protocols, mechanical repairs for the store, training and coaching of staff, in addition to other responsibilities. He holds a New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Inspectors License and Refrigerant Certification as well as a Certificate in Carpentry.
At Allendale Columbia, we prepare students for the world they will inherit. In our trusting and responsive environment, students in nursery through grade 12 grow in confidence and develop scholastic independence.