Our new professionals join a community devoted to the learning and wellbeing of each and every student!
Name: Gina Bongiovanni
Position: Second-grade Teacher
Specializations: Dual certified in Elementary Education and Special Education
Hobbies: Hiking, traveling, boating, dancing, yoga, and drawing.
Surprising Fact: I taught in New Zealand for six months in 2016.
Belief on Education: I believe in using education as a driving force for equity and social justice. I strive to create a classroom environment that is inclusive and accessible to all students. My approach to teaching focuses on positivity, celebrating diversity, and teaching the “whole child.” I am committed to ensuring that my students can contribute and develop their unique talents, and feel a sense of belonging. I believe when you feel successful in school at a young age, that confidence will fuel a lifelong love of learning and bring forth joy and success.
Most Looking Forward to at Champlain: Building authentic relationships with our students and community, learning the school song, and time in the garden.
My name is Ashley Christiaanse and I am excited to be joining the Champlain team in the 2018-2019 school year as a fourth-grade literacy teacher.
In my spare time, my husband, two children, and two golden retrievers enjoy swimming, kayaking, and exploring together.
One surprising fact about me is that I am a world traveler and have lived overseas in Germany.
My belief on education is that every child has the ability to learn and grow. I also believe that encouraging a strong sense of community and citizenship lead to both academic and social success.
I am most looking forward to meeting the students and families at Champlain and forming relationships that are essential to educating each child.
Name: Gabriel Ely
Position: Behavior Coach
Hobbies: Gardening, cooking and reading
Surprising Fact: For six months in 2010, I studied abroad in Córdoba, Argentina.
Belief on Education: Equity in education is possible and necessary.
Most Looking Forward to at Champlain: Seeing the peer mediation program in action!
Name: Janelle Gendimenico
Position: English Learner Teacher
Specialization(s): Teaching students learning English as a language.
Hobbies: I enjoy reading, gardening, and spending as much time as I can outdoors with my family and friends – biking, hiking, and kayaking.
Belief on Education: All students can be successful. There is no single “best way” to teach all students. Believing in each student, finding each student’s interest, making strong connections with each learner and family, and motivating each student, all lead to success.
Most Looking Forward to at Champlain: Working with new students and staff.
Name: Christine Harvey
Position: Academic Interventionist
Hobbies: Knitting, reading, baking, boating, painting
Surprising Fact: I have a twin sister who visits Burlington often. If you see me and I don’t say hello, it might not be me!
Belief on Education: Learning is for everyone. The Power of Yet: “I don’t know.” “I can’t do this.” “I don’t understand.” Take a deep breath and remember the power of Yet! As in.. “I don’t know…yet.” “I can’t do this…yet.” “I don’t understand…yet.”
Most Looking Forward to at Champlain: I’m looking forward to making new friends and learning with the Champlain School community.
Name: Brian Kelley
Position: School Nurse
Hobbies: Cycling, hiking
Surprising Fact: I have run three marathons.
Belief on Education: A student’s health can impact their education.
Most Looking Forward to at Champlain: Working with all the families at Champlain to help their students have a healthy and successful school year.
Name: Terri Lessard
Position: Instructional Coach
Specialization: Literacy Instruction
Hobbies: Yoga, gardening, anything dog-related
Surprising Fact: Both of my children attended Champlain!
Belief on Education: I believe that as an educator I have a tremendous responsibility to do my best for each student every day. I can live up to this responsibility by doing my part in providing a safe, welcoming place to be and learn every day for every child. I can live up to this responsibility by continuing to learn myself – pushing my practice forward and encouraging others to join me in that work. I can live up to this responsibility by believing in and expecting the best for and from each student every day – communicating and supporting those expectations.
Most Looking Forward to at Champlain: I am looking forward to joining the group of amazing educators at Champlain to work and learn together over the course of next year. Research supports the success of an embedded coaching model and I am excited to do this work with the teachers of Champlain.
Name: Kaitlyn Morrissey
Position: School Counselor
Specialization(s): Mental Health
Hobbies: Rugby, running, knitting
Surprising Fact: I make my own kombucha.
Belief on Education: The elementary years are some of the most influential years in a child’s life and academic career.
Most Looking Forward to at Champlain: Helping the kids in my favorite town on earth!
Name: Susan Rogers
Position: Fifth-grade Teacher
Specialization: Grades 3-5
Hobbies: I love being outdoors and exploring new places.
Surprising Fact: Before I became a teacher, I was a sheet-metal worker, built commercial ovens, and drove a school bus part-time.
Belief on Education: My belief on education is that we learn something new every day. All students can learn when they are accepted for who and where they are in their educational journey. Effective learning requires a collaboration between teacher, students and parents grounded in mutual respect and trust.
Most Looking Forward to at Champlain: Getting to know my new fifth graders and their families. I hope they can teach me all about the state of Vermont, too!
Name: Erin Webster
Position: Third-grade Teacher
Hobbies: Snowboarding, mountain biking, walking my golden retriever, bikram yoga
Surprising Fact: I have driven from Paris, France to Ruse, Bulgaria, and back, and got stuck in the mountains in a snowstorm in Northern Greece while doing it. I have also been known to challenge my students to snowboard racing from time to time.
Belief on Education: I believe every student deserves access to an excellent education. I believe our mindset is our most important asset when learning new things, and that intelligence is malleable. If you believe you can do something, and work hard toward it, anything is possible.
Most Looking Forward to at Champlain: Teaching third graders with two new team teachers. Getting the kids in the garden! Restorative circles!
Name: Lindsey Zeigfinger
Position: Third-grade Teacher
Specializations: Math, English-Learner certified
Hobbies: Skiing, hiking, traveling
Surprising Fact: I just returned from two years of living with my family in Spain.
Belief on Education: I believe in equity in education and that students progress at their own developmental pace. I am in the classroom to provide support, encouragement, and challenge students to perform their best.
Most Looking Forward to at Champlain: I’m looking forward to getting to know the entire Champlain community, including parents, students, and staff.