This week on the FWSU STORY, we are excited to introduce new educators who have joined our growing #FWSU learning community. Today, you can learn about some of our new teachers at BFA Fairfax!
MELISSA SMITH, Early Educator
Hometown: Fairfax, VT
Hobbies/Interests: Reading and hanging out with my son
Colleges Attended/Degrees Earned: Champlain College BS in Early Elementary Education
Teaching Experience: I have worked in childcare since 1999, but this is my first year teaching in a school system.
Why Teaching? I love seeing the magic and wonder that children view the world with.
Quotable: “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” Mr. Rogers
SAYBRA VARISANO, Elementary School Counselo
Hometown: Blairs Mills, PA
Hobbies/Interests: Traveling, hiking, running, reading, spending time with my huge family and friends.
Colleges Attended/Degrees Earned: West Chester University of Pennsylvania B.A. Psychology M.Ed. School Counseling
Teaching Experience: 6 years
Why Teaching? I believe the meaning of life is to make your life meaningful. My work as a School Counselor brings me meaning every day and allows me to be a change-maker by advocating for students in need and nurturing them into respectful, compassionate and resilient individuals.
Quotable: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” -Anne Frank
JENNIFER KALBFLEISCH, Second Grade Classroom Teacher
Hometown: Fairfax, VT
Hobbies/Interests: Music (I play the Soprano Saxophone), reading, travel, exploring nature, and spending time with my family.
Colleges Attended/Degrees Earned: BA Childhood Education & Liberal Studies: concentration in Music & Literature, Currently working towards my Masters in Science Education and STEM Leadership Certificate through NASA’s Endeavor Program
Teaching Experience: I have worked in early childhood and elementary education for over 10 years but this is my first full year as a teacher.
Why Teaching? I love new experiences and enjoy supporting kids as they learn to navigate our world. The curiosity and spirit kids bring into the classroom gives me an opportunity to learn something new every day.
Quotable: “The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” ~Khalil Gibran
MICHELLE SHEEHAN, Elementary School Nurse
Hometown: Fairfax, VT
Hobbies/Interests: Love to play soccer and love to play with my kids.
Colleges Attended/Degrees Earned: UVM Bachelors in nursing, 18 credits away from my Masters in Public Health
Teaching Experience: 10 years of school nursing experience in South Burlington, 17 years of total nursing experience.
Why Teaching? I love nursing and I love working in a school! It’s the perfect job.
Quotable: Live, laugh and love!
BEN MANNING, Elementary Speech Language Pathologist
Hometown: Jericho, VT
Hobbies/Interests: Weightlifting, Volleyball
Colleges Attended/Degrees Earned: University of Southern Maine, B.A. in Geology, University of Vermont, M.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders
Teaching Experience: 2 years of Pre-K through Elementary in Essex and Williston
Why Teaching? A good SLP drastically improves the lives of people with communication barriers. I speak from personal experience!
Quotable: It is called trashCAN, not trashcannot.
KIM DESJARDINS, Elementary Art Teacher
Hometown: Essex Center, VT
Hobbies/Interests: I love experimenting with many art media and techniques and have recently been painting ‘Plein Air’ or outdoors. My favorite place to paint is the point of our camp on Hathaway Point in St. Albans. I also love to sing, play drums, and hike.
Degrees Earned: Bachelors of Science in Art Education
Teaching Experience: For 15 years I have taught art in a variety of non-profit community centers like Burlington City Arts, and VSA Vermont. I taught K-6 art in Maine and recently at Hiawatha in Essex. I also teach UVM undergraduate art education course.
Why Teaching? My passion is helping children express themselves through visual art. Children imagine and create amazing things, and they inspire me daily. Art is community-building, reaches the whole child, and is true personalized learning! Integrating art with science, math, and literacy excites me because disciplines are all connected. I love teaching art and couldn’t imagine a better profession.
Quotable: “Color is the keyboard, the eyes are harmony, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another to cause vibrations in the soul.” -Wassiky Kandinsky
JAIME DUANIS, First Grade Classroom Teacher
Hometown: East Greenbush, NY
Hobbies/Interests:knitting, reading, photography
Colleges Attended/Degrees Earned: Emerson College/BA in Visual and Media Arts; Lesley University/MEd Elementary Ed.
Teaching Experience: 2007-2013 Alburgh Community Education Center Grade 5; 2013-2017 Saint Albans City School Grade 1-3 Team Literacy Teacher
Why Teaching?It’s different everyday!
Quotable: “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today”
DYLAN CALLAN, Middle School PE Teacher
Hometown: Fairfield, VT
Hobbies/Interests: Working out, playing sports (volleyball, basketball, and softball), spending a lot of time with friends and family and being a huge Boston sports fan!
Colleges Attended/Degrees Earned: Castleton University, Bachelors
Teaching Experience: First year
Why Teaching? I am teaching because I enjoy working with kids, love seeing students make progress and succeed and am passionate about lifelong health and wellness.
Quotable: “It’s not about where you start, it’s about where you finish.”