Faculty and staff transitions, September 2022
New to the team
Megan Ali she/her
First grade, interim
Mrs. Ali is a seasoned early elementary educator who taught second grade at Roscoe Wilson Elementary in Texas for four years and, for the past two years, at Hope Academy in Providence. In Texas, she also served as a Campus Academic Leader and a mentor teacher, and she helped lead the implementation of restorative justice practices at Hope. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Texas Tech University and is certified in Rhode Island for Early Childhood Education. Mrs. Ali’s ability to meet the individualized needs of learners in her classroom is a wonderful match for Gordon's first grade, as is her embrace of Gordon’s work in anti-bias instruction, rooted in progressive, child-centered pedagogy.
Jeanne Cannarella she/her
Ms. Cannarella comes to Gordon with fourteen years experience teaching elementary-aged students in public and independent schools in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. She spent the past five years teaching in the second and fourth grades at Boston's Advent School. Jeanne holds a B.A. in Studio Arts from Eastern Connecticut State University and a Master of Science in Education from Hunter College. Jeanne brings with her a love for lower schoolers, an understanding of the cognitive and emotional needs of students in this age group, and a wealth of experience in service learning and social justice.
Lucy Carpenter ‘12 she/her
Admissions Associate and eighth grade advisor
A Gordon graduate, Ms. Carpenter returned to campus last year to assist with the Middle School musical and lead Middle School music and advisory while Kevin Vélez was on parental leave. She previously worked on the sets of Walt Disney’s Hocus Pocus 2 and Federal Hill: The Beginning, and on the waitstaff of Providence's Plant City, discovering a love for working with the public in fast-paced team environments, a passion that will be put to good use in her new position. Ms. Carpenter graduated from Clark University with a B.A. in Psychology. She is a Gordon School classmate of Middle School faculty member Sophie Jackson ‘12 and is delighted to be back in a permanent role helping lead the work of introducing new families to Gordon.
Brenda Elliot she/her
After school programs
Brenda Elliot joins the after school team with a background in both adult and child care spanning four decades. She graduated from Our Lady of the Elms in Chicopee, MA with a B.A. in arts education, and is a Certified Nursing Assistant. Her child care experience includes opening and running a small neighborhood day care, and her work with adults includes private care as well as time on staff at Cornerstone Adult Day Center.
Marcus Grant he/him
Middle School arts elective
Marcus Grant will be leading an elective in music and social justice in the Middle School this fall. He is currently a graduate student at Brown University in Musicology & Ethnomusicology, focusing on Black Lives Matter protest music and hip-hop, and the intersections of musical protest and digital culture. He holds a Bachelor of Music in jazz performance from Temple University, a Master of Music in jazz performance and a Master of Music in musicology from the University of Miami, Florida.
Minna Ham she/her
Lower School Director
Ms. Ham first came to Gordon as a first grade teacher in 2002. She would later say that she found her voice as a multicultural educator during her Gordon years, helping steward Common Ground through its crucial early years and eventually becoming Gordon's Lower School literacy specialist, helping develop the Pathways Program to support emerging readers. Ms. Ham returns to Gordon after four years leading the Lower School at Belmont Day School where her legacy includes a significantly diversified teaching community, a new comprehensive literacy instruction framework, and a restructured divisional communication plan that increased classroom transparency and strengthened the school-home partnership. She is looking forward to commuting to Gordon with her son Cole Kaufmann who is a rising seventh grader.
Ngina Johnson she/her
Ms. Johnson is a familiar face at Gordon, having taught first grade and coached basketball and lacrosse at Gordon from 2014 to 2016. She returns after two years as director of the Genesis Early Learning Center in Providence, bringing with her fourteen years experience teaching and developing curricula in early childhood programs in Massachusetts, New York City, and Hong Kong. Ms. Johnson consults with learning institutions and toy designers, promoting authentic, exploratory play-based education, and has spoken at the Rhode Island State House to push for legislation supporting quality, affordable child care. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Development from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and a M.Ed in Integrated Teaching Through the Arts from Lesley University.
Alison Lewkowitz she/her
Admissions Associate, interim, October to March
Ms. Lewkowitz joins the Admissions team bringing a rich background in education and community development. With a B.A. in American History and Religion and a M.Ed in Elementary Education, her teaching experience includes work across the globe, from middle schools in the Bronx to preschools in Beijing. Outside of the classroom, she has developed programming for families, preschoolers and teens in synagogues, cities, and schools, and spent six years working in undergraduate admissions at Case Western Reserve University. The mother of two enthusiastic Gordon Lower Schoolers, and a third child eager to join her siblings at school, Ms. Lewkowitz is thrilled to be joining the professional Gordon community, supporting the team on a part-time basis during the height of admissions season.
Dave Melo he/him
Building and Grounds
Mr. Melo joined the Buildings and Grounds team during the last school year with extensive painting, carpentry, electrical and plumbing expertise gained through six years as a licensed residential contractor, and three years experience leading a landscaping team. With a wife who is a school teacher and previous experience as a custodian in the Barrington School District, Mr. Melo arrived on campus with a deep understanding of schools and classroom needs, and he has quickly become an indispensable member of the Gordon community.
Robert Merritt he/him
Early Childhood resident teacher
Mr. Merritt first came to Gordon in 2021 to lead the Summer at Gordon filmmaking class, drawing on his B.A. from Brown University in Modern Media and Culture and his MFA in Creative Writing from the California Institute of the Arts where he taught for two years. During the 2021-2022 school year, Mr. Merritt supported every grade at Gordon through substitute teaching, and also taught a Middle School arts elective in documentary filmmaking. As he explored Gordon, and helped lead the Kindergarten Gators program, he discovered a passion for teaching Early Childhood students, and he's delighted to be joining the team full-time.
Dr. Olivia Ordoñez she/her
A native New Yorker, Dr. Ordoñez is returning to the Northeast after seven years completing graduate studies at the University of Michigan: a Masters in Social Work and a doctorate in English Literature and Language, with specializations in African-American Cultural Studies and Disability Studies. Dr. Ordoñez also holds a B.A. in English and Political Science and an M.A. in Children’s Literature, both from the University of Florida. Dr. Ordoñez’s work with young people, from the university to the elementary level, has focused on responding to acute trauma in schools, helping historically underrepresented students navigate academic institutions, and offering proactive, structural interventions for mental health wellness that benefit everyone in a school. Dr. Ordoñez is looking forward to partnering with consulting psychologist Judith Gnys this year to support students, families, faculty and staff schoolwide.
Anna Slate she/her
Early Childhood creative arts
Ms. Slate is a New England-based singer, actor, writer, and performance artist who has also been working as an early childhood arts educator for the past ten years, developing and implementing a wide variety of play-based creative curricula for children aged one through eight. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Vocal Performance, and she has been active in the Providence theater community, performing alongside Milly Massey and Sophie Jackson ‘12 this spring. She looks forward to listening, observing, improvising and creating with Gordon's youngest students this year through an integrated program, laying the foundation for a lifelong love of the arts.
Amelie Tartaglione she/her
Admissions Associate, interim, October to March
Amelie joins the Gordon professional community after several years as a Gordon parent, trustee and GCA president, bringing with her years of experience working in educational settings in Chicago, Albany and Providence. She has helped medical students and resident physicians navigate their experiences at medical centers in both New York and Illinois, and managed campers, students, coaches and counselors during eight years of leadership in Wheeler School classrooms, camps, and athletics fields. Now, she will be supporting the Gordon team part-time during the height of admissions season. Amelie has a deep immersion in Gordon culture through her family: her two sons are Gordon students, and her spouse is a member of the Class of 2001. Amelie graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and Studio Art from Wheaton College, MA.
New name alert
Gordon's nurse is getting married in early September, and will start the school year as Nurse Mary Straub. Congratulations to Mary and Ben!
Cendhi Arias Henry is phasing in her compound last name with her tranisition from second grade to become Early
Familiar faces in new places...
As announced last spring, Cendhi Arias Henry is now Early Childhood Director and Caroline Mullaney is Admissions Director. With Ms. Mullaney's move, Veronica Jutras is no longer serving as Admissions Director and will be concentrating fulltime on her work as Assistant Head of School for Institutional Advancement and Community Engagement.
Jenny Alario's title is changing to Auxiliary Programs Director to better reflect the world of after school programs, summer camps, and other beyond-the-classroom experiences that she leads. Longtime teaching assistant and after school staff member Taylor Motta will be joining Ms. Alario fulltime as Auxiliary Programs Coordinator.
With the addition of Anna Slate as Early Childhood Creative Arts teacher, Bridget Baird will be focusing exclusively on Lower School music, and Erica Tonsgard will teach some Middle School visual arts electives along with her work as Lower School visual arts instructor.
There will be some reshuffling in the seventh grade team as that grade moves to accommodate three sections: Sophie Jackson '12 will teach one section of humanities, and Irene Horton, Eric Kravitz and Afiya Samuel will each take on one section of math.
The athletics department team of Damon Ray and Hannah Rossheim '11 were in interim positions last year, but they have accepted their positions as permanent: Mr. Ray as Athletic Director and Ms. Rossheim as PE teacher.
Beginning last spring, Angela Alston moved out of the Admissions Department to join the Philanthropic Engagement team full time as Engagement Specialist. That team included Director of Philanthropic Engagement Alexandra O'Connor, who began at Gordon in January, and Anne Marie Ticaric, whose title has been updated to Philanthropic Engagement Operations Manager to match her current responsibilities.
Andrea Del Sesto will continue teaching first and second grade Pathways and supporting first grade literacy, and has also agreed to serve as interim Director of Student Services, coordinating academic support at Gordon, and partnering with the division directors, the Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning and other members of the student support services team to help ensure every student gets the support they need to thrive at Gordon.
Anna Misurelli '02, TRP '13 will be moving from Nursery to first grade, and Mateal Lovaas Ishihara moves to an interim position in fourth grade where she will reconnect with many of her former third grade students.
Jeremy Garcia '08 will move up to Lower School to become a teaching assistant in second and third grade, while Huey Lincoln and LeAnne Treanor will continue as teaching assistants in Early Childhood and Lower School.
Finally, some familiar faces in the same places: Lou Balfuso and Sara McEntee will be returning next year as Gordon's security team, which is good news for the dozens of students, parents, teachers and staff who connected so well with them over the course of last year.
...one last fall at Gordon for two gifted professionals
In the past three weeks, two longtime members of Gordon’s professional team have shared with Dr. Thomas López that this fall at Gordon will be their last.
After twenty-nine years at Gordon, Administrative Assistant Kim O’Donnell has
decided that she is ready for retirement, and she will end her tenure in Gordon’s front office this December.
Director of Fine and Performing Arts Milly Massey will be leaving Gordon in November to take on the newly created position of Production Manager of the Woodman Center at Moses Brown.
Dr. Thomas López shared the news with the community on August 12th, with an email
that included reflections on the lasting impact both of these professionals have had on the Gordon community.
The news came several weeks after Dr. Thomas López shared Norma Barsom-Morcos’s decision to leave her position in Gordon’s Nursery. All three of these professionals leave a lasting mark on this school, and Gordon will gather to celebrate their legacy at the end of the school year.