Sharon Dolby-Capeless, Chickadee Clan Leader (Pre-K) begins her first year as preschool teacher beginning September 2016. Sharon has a BA in child psychology and Masters level course work in Early Childhood Education. She began her teaching career in 2005 in a preschool/childcare classroom and evolved into the lead teacher and then the director. She also worked as a career counselor for early childhood educators for a year and a half on a grant. She missed teaching and went back to it as the director of Busy Bee Preschool in Lee MA.
Sharon grew up in Great Barrington MA and currently lives in Monterey MA with her wife and two adopted boys’ ages 4 and 8. She strongly believes children need to be actively involved in their learning and that school should be fun and exciting. It has been Sharon’s long time goal to teach in nature and work with children to create their curriculum.
Danielle Kush, Black Bear Clan Leader (K-1) returns to Mountain Road School for her seventh year of teaching. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood education from The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY and a Master’s of Science degree in early childhood education with a concentration in literacy from The University at Albany. Danielle began her journey in the teaching field in 2002 and has since worked with children ranging in age from birth to second grade. Danielle has a passion for teaching and devotes her days examining her teaching practices in order to meet the best interests of each child under her care.
Danielle grew up in Columbia County and staying close to family and friends is important to her. She currently lives in Castleton, NY with her husband and young daughter. Danielle brings her belief in the essential nature of close relationships to the classroom, where children are guided to love and respect one another.
Beth Schmidt, Otter Clan Leader (2nd-3rd grade) is thrilled to be joining the Mountain Road School community. She completed her master’s degree at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY. There Beth spent three years studying literacy, special education, and issues facing students from grades K-12. While most recently working with middle and high school students, Beth is elated to be returning to her true passion – the foundational skills and childhood development at the elementary level. She cannot imagine a more wonderful or nurturing place to help children grow than Mountain Road School.
Beth currently lives in Albany, NY where she pursues her myriad interests including but not limited to singing and playing the ukulele, writing poetry and songs, and going on nature walks and hikes with her boyfriend, James, and their inquisitive and playful ferret, Eeki. She also has interests in photography, graphic design, and dance. Beth can’t wait to learn more about her students and help foster their own passions.
Jon Stevens, Team Teacher, Red Foxes and Gray Wolves (4-8), is embarking on his tenth year of teaching at Mountain Road School. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of New Hampshire and continued on there for his Master’s Degree in Elementary Education.
Jon is currently spearheading “The Compassion Project,” a school-wide investigation of learning about compassion through experience, dialogue, reflection and an in-depth study of the mysteries of the universe.
Lauren Liberati-Conant, Team Teacher, Red Foxes and Gray Wolves (4-8) is a dual-certified New York state licensed teacher, with certification in Educational Theater (K-12) and English (7-12). She received her Master of Arts degree from New York University in 2009, and her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from Rutgers University in 1999. Lauren happily taught the Gray Wolves from 2012 – December 2014 before going on maternity leave. She is delighted to be back for her fourth year at Mountain Road School and organizing the theater program. Before coming to Mountain Road Lauren taught at an urban middle school called Achievement Academy Charter School in Albany, NY where she taught Latin, English and Math.
Her most fulfilling theater work to date has been here at Mountain Road School where she has co -written and directed school plays, The Twelfth Stone (2013) and The Egg (2014) with her students. Students take on the roles of playwrights, directors, prop masters, costume designers, scenic artists, stage managers and runners.
Cynthia Gray, Director of Education and Financial Operations is in her fifth year at Mountain Road School. She earned a BFA in Visual Arts from Purchase College, and after working as an account executive in the fashion and celebrity photography industry New York City, continued on to earn a Master’s Degree in Art Education. She is a NY State Certified Art Teacher for grades PreK-12, and knew since she first stepped foot into a school that she would eventually continue on to work in academic administration. Prior to coming to Mountain Road, Cynthia taught at Darrow School, Columbia High School, and Taconic Hills High School, as well as working as the Family and Community Partnership Manager and Enrollment Coordinator for Columbia Opportunities, Inc., the non-profit that oversees the Columbia County Head Start Program. Cynthia is a self-proclaimed foodie who spends much of her free time crafting nourishing meals for her family and friends.
Betsy Feathers, Student Affairs and Development Coordinator: Betsy has been a parent and board member at MRS for 15 years and has led fundraising efforts during that time. She has a BA from Hamilton College and a MA in Psychology from Goddard College. Betsy’s duties range from behavioral intervention (which is her expertise) to wiping sticky hand prints off the walls.
Dan Corral, Spanish Teacher and Flying Deer Educator, has been working with kids for the better part of a decade, borrowing from the wilderness awareness cultural mentoring model as well as his own zest for life and fun. The Mountain Road School community is dear to his heart as he draws on his extensive travels in Spanish-speaking world to bring to our students his knowledge of Spanish language and culture. In his own words, Dan feels blessed to be a member of this community and to have pretty much the coolest job in the world – getting to spend quality time in the beautiful Mtn Rd outdoors and classrooms with the wonderful, vibrant children of our tribe.
Devin Franklin, Co-Director, Flying Deer Nature Center, discovered his thirst for the Wilderness Teachings in 1994 and has been walking the wilderness path ever since. Devin studied survival, tracking, and awareness skills with Dan Fisher of Wilderness School in Maine and Tom Brown Jr. at the Tracker School in New Jersey. He trained for six years in Naturalist Mentoring and Community-Building skills through Jon Young and the Wilderness Awareness School, as well as with Mark Morey and the Vermont Wilderness School. Devin received a degree in Environmental Education from Prescott College in Arizona in 2001. He joined Flying Deer Nature Center in 1998, where he was mentored by Leonard Brown in the ways of Coyote Teaching and the Medicine Wheel. Devin deeply loves working with children and nature through creating the Naturalist Community that has been his home since 1998.
Michelle Apland, Co-Director, Flying Deer Nature Center, launched her world of wilderness skills at the age of nineteen when she spent five and a half months hiking the length of the Appalachian Trail. Soon after, she began taking classes with the Tracker School in New Jersey, focusing on philosophy and healing. Michelle continues to complement these studies with training in naturalist mentoring and community building with The Wilderness Awareness School and The Vermont Wilderness School. In 2001, Michelle earned degrees from Prescott College in Environmental Education and Eco-psychology. She enhanced her skills by studying herbalism and mentoring with Lorene Wapotich of Her Feet on the Earth and becoming a Kripalu-certified Yoga teacher. Michelle discovered Flying Deer Nature Center in 1999 and fell in love with the beauty of what she saw. She returned in 2000 to take a leading role in guiding its growth as a Naturalist Community. Michelle is passionate about working with children and families and specializes in leading “Daughters of the Earth” programs, a concentration for women and girls within The Flying Deer Nature Center.
Anne Walker Laier, Chickadee/Early Childhood Assistant Teacher, brings her love of children,infectious enthusiasm,and creativity to Danielle’s classroom. Born and raised in the area, and coming to us with a degree from Siena College, Annie says, “I am beyond excited to be a member of Mountain Road School’s community. I love working with these kids!”
Angelique Phoenix, Art Teacher: With a BFA from UMass/Dartmouth (focus on bookbinding, metalsmithing, and textiles) Angelique has taught art at the Friends Academy in Dartmouth,MA, as well as art classes for kids and adults. She is especially excited to have her students at Mountain Road self-identify as artists and develop a strong sense of competence and confidence when approaching visual projects. Her motto for her class is, “I am an artist. I can do it.”
Tistrya Houghtling (Hamilton), Music Teacher, is very excited to bring her passion for music, teaching, dance, and FUN back to where it all started for her: Mountain Road School. Tistrya will be focusing on basic music theory, reading and writing music, vocals and harmonizing, learning basic instruments from recorder to guitar, listening and performing together as a group, and — most of all — having fun with the music that is all around us. Tistrya is looking forward to sharing her passion for music with the children at Mountain Road School.