Faculty and Staff

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Julie Hansen, Director
English/American Studies: Seventh
English: Eighth

Julie Hansen holds an M.A. in English from Middlebury College, with studies at Oxford College, and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley.

She is our school director, but her first love is teaching middle school. She continues to teach courses in English and history.

After graduation, Hansen taught English at the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara for three years, during which she studied Spanish and traveled throughout Mexico. She combines literature and history for both American Studies and Global Studies in order to provoke discussions about what she calls “the big ideas.”  One of Ms. Hansen’s favorite quotes: “If you expect an answer to your question in your lifetime, you haven’t asked a big enough question (I.F. Stone).

Upon returning from Mexico, she taught English as a Second Language (ESL) at Madison Middle School in Seattle, Washington.  It was during these years that she discovered her affinity and passion for teaching young teenagers.

While in Seattle, Mrs. Hansen had the opportunity to move to Honolulu and teach at St. Andrews Priory School, an independent K-12 school for girls.  During her tenure there she facilitated the school’s accreditation self-study and participated as a visiting team member for the Punahou Academy’s accreditation process.  These experiences gave her a broad understanding of the elements involved in a sustaining a quality school.

Mrs. Hansen first came to Vermont when she enrolled in the Master’s program at The Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College.  She and her family moved to the state full time when she assumed the Directorship of The Thaddeus Stevens School.  During her first year with the School, she enrolled in a class on Vermont Education Law through UVM to brief herself on specific statewide issues.  She also made contact with receiving schools such as the St. Johnsbury Academy to identify their expectations for incoming students.  Hansen then fused what she had learned during her years of middle school teaching with the Vermont Frameworks in order to create an appropriate curriculum.

Under Mrs. Hansen’s guidance, Thaddeus Stevens School received approval from the Vermont State Board of Education for the 1999-2000 school year. After a review of that year’s student portfolios and the following year’s curriculum, the State Board granted Hansen and the School an additional five-year approval.

Mrs. Hansen guided the School’s addition of grades 3-5 with the idea of a strong alignment among the grades to ensure that the courses incorporate local and national standards.

She led the School through its initial accreditation granting process in 2011.  In 2012 the School was approved to offer kindergarten and grades 1 and 2.

In 2006 the Vermont Bar Association awarded Hansen as Civic Educator of the Year.

 

Jonathon Forrest
Administrative Assistant

Mr. Forrest was raised in Northern Utah and relocated to the Northeast Kingdom in January of 2005. Jonathan studied English at Lyndon State College and Communications at the Community College of Vermont. As an administrative assistant he benefits from years of experience in customer service from Kinko’s, where he learned how to operate a variety of office machines and navigate ever evolving technology, to the world of retail clothing with J.C.Penney and Kohl’s, where he supervised associates, handled ever changing customer experiences, and attended to the many details of a corporate and customer focused agenda. Jonathan also garnered experience as a supervisor for the in-bound call center Catalog Retail Marketing International where he excelled at phone etiquette, and he learned hospitality as a front desk manager in the hotel industry. Mr. Forrest has also worked as a one-on-one for a child with behavioral issues.

Jonathan believes in the restorative powers of exercise, meditation and humor. He follows a philosophy of kindness and compassion, always offering a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, and a willingness to see things from all perspectives. He is often caught singing along whenever music is playing and dances when he thinks no one is watching. He loves meeting new people and making human connections for he knows that everyone has something of value to offer.

 

Lower Elementary (Preschool through fourth)

Gabrielle Mathewson
Montessori Preschool Director

Gabrielle Mathewson is a native of the Northeast Kingdom, having grown up in Sheffield. Ms. Mathewson graduated from Lyndon Institute and then continued on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Lyndon State College. She has taught preschool for two years, during which time she has attended numerous trainings that widened her study of teaching and knowledge of child development. Ms. Mathewson is enthusiastic about teaching at TSS because she is invested in the education of the children of the Northeast Kingdom. She understands and appreciates that TSS is a place that values not only the academic growth of a child, but also the personal growth of a child as a person. Ms. Mathewson is continuing her education with Montessori through trainings. She connects regularly with former Montessori Director Michele Ruggles to ensure a seamless transition from the Kingdom Montessori founding director. Ms. Mathewson enjoys long distance running and competed in cross-country running throughout her high school and college career. In her spare time, Ms. Mathewson is an avid reader and possesses a large collection of books.

 

Heather LaValley
Kindergarten
Art: Kinder through Second
Physical Education: All School

Heather holds a B.S in Physical Education and carries 100+ hours of training in Early Childhood Education.  She began her career at Thaddeus Stevens School in the Montessori Preschool program.  Her understanding of the natural curiosity in children and their ability to learn through play permeates her classroom and the learning activities she creates for her students.  As our PE teacher, Heather includes team building and health awareness into her courses.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time her husband and their three children. Her creative impulse guides her to painting and crafting in wide range of media.

 

Emily Robarts
First and Second

Emily holds both a Master’s Degree in Education Studies and a Primary Montessori Certification.  She brings considerable experience in Montessori education to her classroom, scaffolding higher level thinking skills in her thematic units of study.  She believes that students must be active participants in their learning. During her free time she enjoys hiking, snowboarding, reading and spending time with her family, which includes her husband, 3 children and dog Apollo!

Emily is excited to be a part of the Thaddeus Stevens Community because she believes in educating the whole child and appreciates the school’s emphasis on character development as well as academics.

 

Debi Smith
Recorder Instruction: Fourth Grade
Individual Instruction: Trumpet and Trombone

Ms. Smith plays in both the St. Johnsbury Town Band and the Lyndon State College Orchestra.  She brings years of study and performance to her instruction of the brass instruments.

 

Upper Elementary (fifth through eighth)

Yuka Livingston
Japanese: First through Eighth

Yuka holds a degree in Sociology from Hope College in Holland, Michigan.  As a student there, she led groups of students during their study abroad program through the Komoro English Project, Meiji Gakuin University’s American Studies Program, and Ferris University’s English Language Acquisition Program.  Yuka is a recipient of Technos International Prize for commitment to developing global awareness and has presented at several professional conferences.

As a new Vermonter, Yuka and her husband spend week-ends exploring the Northeast Kingdom and Vermont.

 

Seth Talcott
Humanities: Fifth and Sixth
English: Fifth
Computer Literacy: Third through Eighth

Mr. Talcott is a first year teacher at Thaddeus Stevens School and is excited for this endeavor.  Originally from Old Lyme, CT,  Mr. Talcott’s experience in teaching stems from his seven years as a summer camp counselor at Camp Hazen YMCA. After graduating from Lyndon State College in 2014 with a BFA in Animation and Illustration, he started working with a YMCA after school program in Glastonbury, CT where he served as the Head Teacher.

In 2016, he felt the strong need to return to Vermont.  He moved to Lyndonville and worked at the Burke Town School after school program. One year later, he is excited to work with children and developing their ability to succeed through teaching in this new environment. Mr. Talcott enjoys participating in outside activities, cooking, drawing, and watching movies.

 

Leah Benedict
Art: Fourth through Eighth

Mrs. Benedict infuses the study of ancient civilizations with the conviction that art is a human endeavor that has accompanied the rise of civilizations to convey values, establish identity, and to provoke questions about those values and identities.

Mrs. Benedict studied Textile Design at SUNY Fashion Institute of Design.  She also studied classical painting with artists at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League in New York.

Mrs. Benedict is a professional artist, curator, and art conservator. Her enthusiasm and love of great art encourages her students to believe that original creation is for everyone. Her personal mission as a teacher is to explore with students the concept of art as a cultural artifact, understanding the arts as a footprint of cultures past, present, and striding into the future. “As teachers building sustainable communities, we need to create connections among races, religions, countries, ethnic groups, professions, students, and teachers, building bridges, past, present and future. Teaching at the Thaddeus Stevens School is the opportunity to meet these goals through an inter-disciplinary approach to curriculum, preparing students for high school, college and responsible adult life.”

She holds a Bachelors Degree in Art from Johnson State College, Johnson, Vermont, and her paintings are in private collections as well as local and national galleries.

Mrs. Benedict has participated in graduate courses at the Shelburne Museum and Dartmouth College.  As a participant in teacher institutes, she has written curriculum for the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Arts, The Smithsonian, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

 

Jon Snyder
Math:  Fifth through Eighth

Mr. Snyder was born and raised in the Philadelphia area and has been living in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont since 2004.  He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Bucknell University, and has been teaching mathematics since 2005. Mr. Snyder most recently taught at The King George School, whose student population consisted mostly of children with behavioral and or learning disabilities. Of his time at King George he says, “It was a very challenging but rewarding time.  It is a great feeling to get a child to reestablish confidence and understanding in a subject he or she has given up in.  By emphasizing proper study skills and a certain amount of structure in daily activities I was eventually able to have the students understand that math does not have to be difficult.  Students have the power to make any problem as difficult or easy as they want it to be.”

Mr. Snyder has been married since 2002 and a father since December of 2005 (a daughter named Chloe).  He enjoys the outdoors, hiking, camping, snowboarding, and all other sports.  He played Division I basketball in college and participated in the NCAA basketball tournament in 1989.

 

Tom Forster
Science: Fifth through Eighth

Mr. Forster was raised in Baltimore, Maryland and has been living in Northern Vermont for the last 12 years.  Mr. Forster is married and has two children: Ethan (11) and Emma (9).  He has a bachelor’s degree in Geology from the College of Wooster (Ohio) and a Masters in Education from Portland State University (Oregon).  Mr. Forster has 15 years of teaching experience and has taught middle school science and math in area schools including Walden, Danville and St. Johnsbury School.

Before getting his teaching degree Mr. Forster worked and lived out west for ten years.  During that time he worked for the National Park Service as a ranger naturalist and firefighter.  He spent his free time adventuring in some of the wildest places in North America including Alaska, Montana, Utah and Arizona.

After meeting his wife, Dr. Dana Kraus, in Oregon, they spent six months living and working in a small village in Rural Nepal.  Tom helped build a school and helped train a young Nepali teacher while Dana worked at a small rural hospital.  Living in Nepal was a life changing experience for them.

Mr. Forster is especially excited to teach science in an outdoor setting at Thaddeus Stevens School and has already been working with students to build trails and set up an outdoor classroom.  Mr. Forster is a big outdoor enthusiast and enjoys hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, camping and skiing.

 

Emma Hansen
English:  Sixth
International Studies:  Eighth
Life Skills: Seventh and Eighth (Girls)
Director of Rosie’s Girls at TSS

Ms. Hansen is a graduate of Thaddeus Stevens School, St. Johnsbury Academy, and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Vermont with a minor in Ethnic Studies. She has attended numerous writing conferences, was the first place winner of the Kenyon Young Writers competition as a high school student, and has edited several national and local literary publications.

Her first year of college was spent at Hunter College in Manhattan, New York, where she was identified as a rising scholar. She was an editor on the Olivetree Review, Hunter’s literary publication, and assisted with a Green Energy project to replace all lighting sources with CFLs. She realized that although she loved the energy and diversity of New York, she missed the small communities of Vermont. She transferred to the University of Vermont where she joined the Vermont Cynic, UVM’s newspaper. She was a member of the first Vermont Cynic video team, and produced weekly video and written pieces on nightlife in Burlington.

After graduation, she was the Communications Director for Attorney General William Sorrell during his 2012 re-election campaign. In 2016, she spearheaded the fundraising to purchase a license to host Rosie’s Girls, a program by Vermont Works for Women in Winooski, VT. After a highly successful first year, Ms. Hansen is determined to continue to host this camp for girls.

In her spare time, Ms. Hansen enjoys video games, horror movies, and hanging out with her dog, Josie, and her cat, Professor Chaos.

 

 

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