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Teachers and Staff

Katharine Dudley

Katharine Dudley

Katharine Dudley is very excited to be part of Polaris Charter School’s team as one of the three primary teachers. After graduating with a BA in History and a BS in Elementary Education from Keene State College, Mrs. Dudley taught a variety of grade levels from Kindergarten all the way up to 7th grade though the majority of her time has been teaching 1st grade. Doing projects, experiments, discussions, and crafts are all up Mrs. Dudley’s alley! She also loves technology and all the opportunities it offers, recognizing how well all children respond to learning with technology tools.

When Mrs. Dudley is not inside school walls, she has a great husband and three small children, ages 6, 4 and 5 months. Polaris students will hear all about them because they are a big part of her life. Mrs. Dudley loves doing crafts with her son, exploring all the great things New England has to offer, and when she and her husband can sneak away to travel. She also loves to cook and organize, and sit poolside as much as possible.

 

Lori Bresnahan has joined the Polaris team as an educational assistant at the intermediate level.  She has a lot of teaching experience, as a classroom teacher, certified for Kindergarten to grade 8, and as a certified reading and writing specialist.  She has even taught art and music, and worked with Navajo children in New Mexico!   She earned her BS in Elementary Education from Plymouth State College, her M.Ed. in Foundations of Learning from Antioch Graduate School, and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Literacy from University of New England.  She has also taught courses at the college level on how to teach literacy, and literacy assessment.  She is very happy to be back working with elementary aged students!

She lives in Webster with her husband, two cats, and a few aquarium fish.  When not at school, she enjoys kayaking, hiking, gardening, watching birds, listening to music, and, of course, reading.

 

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Christin Crowell

Christin Crowell

Christin Crowell is very excited to start her journey as a primary education assistant at Polaris! Miss Crowell recently graduated with a degree in Childhood Studies at Plymouth State University and is pleased to be working with multi-aged students, and see how creative and motivated they are when it comes to trying something new and helping one another when needed. Miss Crowell has been working at Camp Carpenter, a Cub scout camp for the past 4 summers as the Handicraft Director and this coming summer she will be the Program Director. 

Miss Crowell feels that summer programs bring out a different side of students, inspires their imaginations, creates the excitement of the outdoors and more. She also is one of the Site Directors for our after school YMCA Program here at Polaris. 

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Jesse Drake is one of our primary Educational Assistants.  He is a Manchester, NH native and a Plymouth State University graduate in music with a vocal concentration. Outside of Polaris, Jesse teaches private lessons, both vocal and instrumental at Smash Music in Derry, NH. In his free time, he is also the lead singer in his ’80’s rock band Bandana. He is thrilled to be a part of this dynamic team and wholesome environment and hopes to have a greatly positive impact on the school and its community.

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Alyssa Gilbert

Alyssa Gilbert

Alyssa Gilbert is a highly qualified, certified K-8 teacher and is entering her third year at Polaris as one of our three primary classroom teachers.  Ms. Gilbert received her B.A. in Psychology and her M.Ed. in Elementary Education from the University of New Hampshire. Prior to beginning her teaching career at Polaris, Ms. Gilbert completed her yearlong graduate internship in a 4th grade classroom at the Deerfield Community School. Ms. Gilbert has also had additional experience working in multiage classrooms at the elementary level while completing her undergraduate fieldwork in Somersworth, Rochester, and Portsmouth. Ms. Gilbert loves to be outside and enjoys hiking, kayaking, and relaxing at the beach in her free time. She loves owls, Taylor Swift, and anything that is nautical or reminds her of the beach.

Ms. Gilbert credits her background in psychology with having a powerful influence on her classroom practices, as her program at UNH valued the importance of educating the whole child- socially, emotionally, and developmentally. Ms. Gilbert describes her teaching style as a reflection of a quote once made by Benjamin Franklin: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”. Ms. Gilbert likes to use simulation models and hands-on approaches during instruction to engage her students. Her goal this year is to instill a positive work ethic in her students by motivating them to go above and beyond the minimal requirements during independent work and projects. She hopes to achieve this by teaching her students how to peer evaluate and model their best work. To help build a positive learning community in her classroom this year, Ms. Gilbert is providing her students with weekly opportunities to engage in collaborative STEM challenge tasks. 

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Lea Fesh

Lea Fesh

Lea Fesh is entering her 5th year as a K-8 Certified primary teacher at Polaris Charter School.   Mrs. Fesh holds a Bachelors degree in English from UNH and a Masters degree in Elementary Education from Southern New Hampshire University, and has done some post-graduate work as well. She worked as a Reading Interventionist, Health Teacher and assistant before finding her home at Polaris.   

Mrs. Fesh resides in Londonderry with her husband Randy and 4 children, Rodney, Hayley, Alexander and Elizabeth.  

In her spare time (which is a bit limited!) Mrs. Fesh is an avid reader and writer, and enjoys spending girl time with Hayley, attempting to understand Rodney’s video games, playing with Alex and likes doing crafts and shopping.  And of course, she is still very excited to be a teacher at Polaris!

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Katie Haynes

Katie Haynes is an intermediate classroom teacher here at Polaris. She has been working at Polaris since the school has opened, now entering her fifth year. She has earned her B.A in Elementary Education from New England College and is a certified, highly qualified teacher in the state of New Hampshire for grades K-8. 

Miss Haynes has experience teaching using project based learning. She helps students create their own multi-disciplinary projects which foster growth in both their strengths and weaknesses. Katie’s philosophy of education favors Multiple Intelligences as well as including student interests into learning so that all students are engaged and enjoying their work. Also, her high energy allows her to understand and relate to children’s need for movement.

Miss Haynes previously worked as a camp counselor at the NH Audubon, planning and teaching lessons on environmental education. She also previously worked in the Pembroke school district as a paraprofessional. Katie finds herself the happiest when working with children, but when she is not doing that, she can be found enjoying the outdoors – rock climbing, hiking, biking, running, playing soccer or softball, etc. She can also be found reading a book, writing, drawing, or painting. She is thrilled and grateful for the opportunity to work with the students and staff at Polaris for another year!

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Jennifer Murdock-Smith

Jennifer Murdock-Smith

Jennifer Murdock-Smith is Polaris Charter School’s Director of Student Services and she is also a certified school counselor. Ms. Murdock-Smith obtained both her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Psychology at Niagara University and Connecticut College respectively. Following, she spent ten years working in the hospital setting developing systems to evaluate program performance and implement improvement. After taking a hiatus to spend time at home with her three children, she returned to the classroom and earned her certification as a school counselor as well as her Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Counseling at Rivier University.  Her role at Polaris combines her ten years of experience in healthcare with her eight years working in education. Ms. Murdock-Smith is committed to working toward meeting children’s social, emotional and educational needs.

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Martha Pepek

Martha Pepek

Martha Pepek is excited to be joining the Polaris Community as an Educational Assistant. With a BA in English from UNH, she has worked in many fields including journalism, law and advertising. In 2005, she decided to pursue her lifelong passion for teaching and subsequently worked as a substitute teacher in the Manchester School District as well as a paraprofessional at Jewett Street Elementary and co-director of the school’s drama club all while studying to get certified to teach English, grades 6-12. As happens in life, she welcomed her only child in 2008 and she and her husband decided she would stay home while working part-time. After volunteering at Polaris for two years and as her son finished second grade, she decided to dip her toes in the educational pool once again and it thrilled to be back. When not teaching or homemaking, Mrs. Pepek loves to sing a cappella, read vociferously, travel to exotic locales and follow her niece JoJo’s rocketing music career on social media.

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Elizabeth Putnam

Elizabeth Putnam

Elizabeth Putnam is both a Founder and the Director of Operations/Admissions for Polaris Charter School. With her background in management, education and administration, Mrs. Putnam has been instrumental to the successful completion of the Polaris Charter and has taken the lead with our admission process and enrollment. Prior to her work with Polaris, Mrs. Putnam held the position of Director at the former Scholars’ Academy, a school for the Gifted in Hooksett, NH. Before joining the education community, Mrs. Putnam worked for 10 years in the business field as owner and chief financial officer of a manufacturing corporation in central New Hampshire. All three of Mrs. Putnam’s children have been home-schooled and have attended the Academy for Science and Design Charter School. Mrs.  Putnam realized a life-long dream with the opening of Polaris Charter School in September 2012.

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Ashley Rainey

Ashley Rainey

Mrs. Rainey is so excited to be entering her fourth year at Polaris! She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in History and her Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from the University of New Hampshire. Her Master’s colloquium focused on meeting the needs of a variety of learners. She loves how Polaris allows her to get to know each student as an individual and help them learn and grow in a way that works best for them. She is dedicated to honoring the uniqueness of each child and providing them with an education that best meets their needs as individual learners. This environment has allowed her to teach in a way that lets students experience the content they are learning.   Prior to coming to Polaris, she worked at North Hampton School as a paraprofessional, cross-country coach and advisor for student government. Outside of school, Mrs. Rainey loves being outdoors, spending time with her many pets and her family. Students will hear all about the most recent addition to her family, her daughter Aubrey! 

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Angelica Rosenthal

Angelica Rosenthal

Angèlica Rosenthal is a Music and Theatre teacher who is new to The Polaris Charter School. She is a recent graduate of Plymouth State University and has experience teaching both music and theatre to all ages. She has worked and volunteered in many different performing opportunities as well as local theatres and children’s workshops. Though she finds working and teaching kids to be extremely rewarding, by showing them just how much they can truly accomplish. She believes that the most important thing when it comes to music and performing is self expression and enjoying the experience. When she is not at Polaris Angèlica goes out of her way to stay up to date with the most recent art to find new ways to help kids learn to express themselves.

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IMG_5326Nancy Sherwood is thrilled about working at Polaris Charter School as an Administrative Assistant.  She has had an extensive number of years working in a child care environment and is looking forward to applying those skills.  Mrs. Sherwood has earned early childhood credits, as well as received a BA in Business with a Psychology minor.  She out started subbing for Polaris and enjoyed it so much that she was happy to take on this role when the need arose.  Mrs. Sherwood also enjoys her time with her family when she is not at Polaris.

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Lisa Vlasich

Lisa Vlasich

Lisa Vlasich is one or our Intermediate classroom teachers at the Polaris Charter School.  Mrs. Vlasich received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Child and Family Studies and a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education from the University of New Hampshire.  She took a break from teaching to raise her three sons Sam, Josh and Matty.  She is excited to be back to teaching and looks forward to learning and growing with the children this school year.  In her free time she enjoys attending her son Sam’s rock music events as well as Josh and Matty’s college soccer games.

 

 

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Christa Zuber

Christa Zuber

Christa Zuber is excited to join Polaris Charter School as the Art Teacher this year. Ms. Zuber earned her Master of Teaching in Visual Art and Drama from the University of Sydney in Australia. She brings over ten years of experience developing and implementing diverse educational programming in schools, museums and the business sector, including over three years as the Group Tour and Educator Resources Administrator and Outreach Instructor at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH and two years as a Teacher’s Assistant and Long-term Substitute Teacher at Evergreen Mill Elementary School in Leesburg, VA. Most recently, Ms. Zuber opened her own independent do-it-yourself art studio in Concord, NH – The Place Studio & Gallery, where she welcomes all ages and abilities to be creative in several different mediums, including canvas, ceramic and glass painting, as well as decoupage and alcohol inks!

Ms. Zuber believes strongly in the importance of creativity in everyone’s life, and is excited to bring her passion to the Polaris community. She is most looking forward to collaborating with the classroom teachers to incorporate Art into project-based learning.

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Shirley Butterfield

Shirley Butterfield a recent graduate from Plymouth State University is extremely excited to begin her teacher career at Polaris Charter school. Miss Butterfield graduated from Plymouth state with a degree in Physical Education. She hopes to one day continue her education and specialize in Adapted PE, she has many experiences working with special olympics. Miss Butterfield enjoys working with children of all ages and loves the positively and happiness that derives from teaching. All in all, she wants nothing more for all her students to succeed and spread kindness to one another. She wishes for her students to leave her gymnasium after every PE class and say ” I love PE!” 

Miss Butterfield lives in North Hampton NH and enjoys being physically active, spending time at the beach with her friends and family and trying new things.