New Faculty and Staff Welcomed to Derby

Derby Academy is pleased to welcome a number of new faculty and staff members who are joining the Derby community at the start of the 2018-2019 school year. Our new team members offer a multitude of experiences to share with students, parents, and colleagues, and we look forward to their involvement and continuing Derby’s mission to “Improve Both Mind and Heart.”
 
Libby Bensten joins our Pre-K team as an assistant this year. She previously worked as a kindergarten teacher in Hingham Public School system, and also taught early grades in New York. Her career began in independent schools in Connecticut, where she coached tennis and lacrosse. Libby is a dog person and enjoys dance parties with her son and daughter. When not teaching, coaching, ‘momming’ or dancing, Libby enjoys playing the occasional round of golf and skiing.
 
Julie Browne joins the Derby community as our full-time school counselor this year, working with students and faculty across all divisions. In addition to collaborating on implementing our social emotional curriculum, Julie will work with students in our Learning Center. Julie has worked in schools and private practice since 2004. She earned her B.A. in Counseling at the University of Massachusetts and her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Boston College. Julie is a published author, and her clinical experience includes working with families and children. She lives locally with her husband and two children.
 
Colleen D’Alessandro joins the Communications Office from the private sector where she worked in graphic design and video production. She earned her B.A. from Stonehill College, graduating with honors from a double-major program in graphic design and visual and performing arts.
 
Rachel Dranoff is teaching our Primary and Lower School’s art classes this year, in addition to working with Andy Remillard on set design for our student productions. Rachel’s teaching career spans Pre-K through high school. She has worked in both public and independent school settings, and looks forward to working with our youngest students, introducing them to the world of visual art in all its forms. Rachel received her B.F.A from Mass College of Art, and went on to earn her Master’s and M.F.A. from Rhode Island School of Design.  
 
Madelyn Hawthorne joins our Grade 2 class as an assistant teacher. She comes to Derby from Lasell College with a BA in Early Childhood Education. She has teaching experience from Ward Elementary School in Newton and Winship Elementary School in Brighton. During her time at Lasell, Madelyn was involved in many collaborative teaching groups and projects, and we look forward to the enthusiasm and experience she brings to us.
 
Kate Howell joins Derby as the Head of Middle and Upper Schools, and comes to us from Ridgefield Academy in Connecticut, where she taught for nearly two decades. Her time at Ridgefield included teaching English, as well as French and Spanish. She created and implemented the school’s Advisory Program, and pioneered a Peer Leadership program. Additionally, Kate was the director of service learning. Prior to Ridgefield, Kate also worked at Greenwich Country Day School. Kate enjoys spending time with her family; Kaily and Pete will attend Hingham High, and her youngest son, Finley, will join Derby’s Grade 5 class.
 
Bridget Killian joins our community as the Lower School Reading Specialist. Previously, Bridget was a literary coach and learning services specialist at Inly School. Prior to that position, she worked at the Journeys School of Teton Science School. Bridget’s experience is diverse and wonderful, and she’s looking forward to opening the world of adventures in reading to our youngest students. Bridget’s children, Maeve and Finley, will join her in Grade 1 and Kindergarten, respectively.
 
Lorena Kavande-Flores comes to Derby from the Rashi School in Dedham, where she wore many hats, including assistant head of the Upper School, technology integrationist, and Spanish teacher. She earned her M.Ed from Endicott College, and her B.F.A. in teaching and choreography at the Boston Conservatory. She owned her own dance studio, and looks forward to putting those skills to use with our students. Lorena is also a long-time volunteer for Open Table and Cradles to Crayons.
 
Deb Lasala comes to Derby from the GEMS World Academy in Chicago, where she was the lead STEAM and innovation faculty member. In 2000, she began her tenure at Ridgefield Academy in Connecticut, which included positions as the dean of Upper School, director of science, mathematics and technology, and acting middle school principal where she taught Grade 6-8 science. At Derby, Deb will head the Science Department and teach Grade 6 Science in the fall.
 
Jessica Laughlin comes to Derby from Ohio, by way of Spain, where she taught for three years in various capacities. Prior to her work in Spain, Jessica worked with Latino/a teens assimilating to the American culture, including translating documents and assisting with college applications. She has also worked in volunteer capacities at Outreach Events, including the Columbus, OH Department of Health’s “Healthy Places” events. Jessica is fluent in Spanish, and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Ohio State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a double major in cultural anthropology and Hispanic linguistics.  
 
McKenzie Lynchwill be a Grade 2 head teacher. McKenzie spent the last several years teaching first and second grade on the west coast, most recently at the Woodland School located outside of San Francisco. She has experience with Responsive Classroom, Everyday Math, Fundations (Derby’s phonics program) and has been involved with the Institute for Social-Emotional Learning.
 
Daniel Muse joins Derby as a Middle School/Upper School music teacher and will focus much of his time working with our bands and other instrumental offerings. He comes to Derby most recently from the Bilkent Laboratory and International School where he taught grades 5-12, and prior to that from the 7 Keys School, where he taught grades 3-9. He also has choral and marching band experience and  has performed with the Marine Corps band.
 
Maria Ramirez comes to us from Belmont Day School to teach Grade 1. She has over ten years experience in early childhood education. Maria graduated from Simmons College with both a BA and MA in education. Maria lives in Duxbury and looks forward to a much shorter commute.
 
Chris Travis joins the Derby Athletic Department from Milton Academy, where he was part of the middle school athletics After School program. He was previously the Assistant Athletic Director at Bridgton Academy, where he coached men’s hockey, taught English, and acted as an academic advisor and the director of intramural sports.
 
Shawn Verrier joins the Arts Department as the Middle and Upper School theatre director. With a degree from Emerson College and as a longtime counselor at Summer Arts at Derby, Shawn has an extensive background in directing and choreographing musical theatre, dance, and performing arts. We can’t wait to see what he has in store for our theatre program this year!
 
Siyi Ye comes to us with a wide range of experience, most recently Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. A native Mandarin speaker, Siyi earned her B.A. in linguistics at U.C. San Diego. She has taught a wide range of STEM courses, including digital fabrication and 3D modeling. In the course of her west coast experience, she was active as a mentor to international students and taught Mandarin to students as young as three. We welcome Siyi to Derby and look forward to learning all she has to teach us!
 
To all our new faculty and staff, welcome to Derby!
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