C-TLC Fellows and Ambassadors
C-TLC Fellows and Ambassadors
Stacy Bachelder Giles, MEd, Principal, Bridgewater Hebron Village School | Bristol, NH
Stacy is passionate and committed to helping all students, staff and stakeholders come together to support a healthy school community. Stacy has taught for 12 years and earned a Master of Education from Lesley University in Massachusetts and Principal certification from Rivier College in New Hampshire. As a school principal, she is an educational leader who promotes the success of all students by collaborating with families and community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources.
Ashley Benoit, MS/CAGS, School Psychologist, Broad Street Elementary School | Nashua, NH
Ashley Benoit is a dedicated and passionate school psychologist with the Nashua School District for over 4 years. Ashley works endlessly to make the social-emotional and overall well-being of her students her top priority. In addition to supporting the mental health and physical needs of some of the district’s most challenging students, Ashley also serves as a leader within the building and district by supporting and collaborating with staff, families and community members to achieve positive student and family outcomes. Ashley graduated with her CAGS degree in school psychology from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. She is passionate about expanding her knowledge and the knowledge of others related to trauma and hopes to continue to advocate for children with adverse childhood experiences, mental illness and other diverse needs. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, family, friends and two dogs, especially at the beach.
Elisy Blanco-Mercado, LICSW, School Social Worker, Carl G. Lauro Elementary School | Providence, RI
Elisy Blanco-Mercado is a Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years of experience working with youth and families. In 1998, Elisy earned a bachelor’s degree from Providence College in Public and Community Service with a concentration in Urban Politics and a Master of Social Work in 2003 from Rhode Island College with dual concentration in Clinical and Administrative Studies. Elisy has been working as a school social worker for the past 15 years, providing advocacy and support for students, teachers, and families. In addition, Elisy has a small private practice in Providence, RI where she extends her compassion to those seeking mental wellness. She finds joy spending time with her husband, two children and extended family playing games, listening to music, and watching sports. She strives to maintain “a sense of wonder” and to help others find their light while they heal from past traumas.
Joelle Brookner, MA, Principal, Williamstown Elementary School | Williamstown, MA
Joelle is the principal of Williamstown Elementary where she also taught fifth and sixth grades in an inclusive setting for nearly twenty years. Prior to that, she was a developmental educator with the Early Intervention Program and a health educator at Williams College. Through her work with children of all ages, Joelle has been committed to educating the whole child and working to create a continuum of support for families with children from birth through adulthood. As an administrator, Joelle strives to create a school community that focuses on fostering growth in both heart and mind for all students. She oversees the school’s child study team, collaborates with community agencies around student support, and provides professional development for staff focused on best practices in inclusion, trauma-informed teaching, and cultural proficiency. A “wannabe homesteader,” when she is not at school, Joelle can usually be found in the garden with her chickens or in the kitchen trying out new recipes with homegrown or locally sourced ingredients.
Tanya Bulls, LCSW, Dean of Students, South Side and Stafford Elementary Schools | Bristol, CT
Tanya is a highly motivated, dedicated, skilled, and resourceful educator committed to all students' academic, social-emotional growth, and development. Tanya has over 20 years in social work, with 16 spent as a school social worker, and is a licensed clinical social worker. As a school social worker, Tanya had. Currently, Tanya is an Elementary Dean of Students at South Side School and Stafford Elementary School for the Bristol Public Schools and a social work doctoral candidate at Southern Connecticut State University. When she is not studying, Tanya enjoys cooking, reading, and writing. A published author, "The School Services Sourcebook" and Wonderful: A Book About Self Esteem Through God's Love is where you can find her work.
Stacy Champey, MTSS District Coach, Manchester School District | Manchester, NH
Stacy is passionate about supporting students’ emotional and behavioral health. In 2019, she was accepted into the first cohort of the University of New Hampshire’s Trauma Informed Practice and Policy certificate program, and she recently completed her second year at the University of Connecticut for endorsement as a trainer in school-wide positive behavior supports. Stacy’s role as Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) Coach draws from her professional and educational background to establish the systems for MTSS implementation in her district. She is a member of the MTSS Collaborative in New Hampshire, which focuses on creating inclusive environments for student behavioral health. Stacy is interested in exploring animal assisted therapy as an approach to addressing trauma and mental health in the school setting. She enjoys flower gardening in the spring and summer; however, she is equally excited to see snowflakes in the winter and ski the White Mountains, a part of New Hampshire that she loves. After 25 years of owning cats, Stacy is now the proud owner of an active dog named Bailey!
Dwayne Conway, Dean of Workforce Development, Central Maine Community College and Former Principal of Maranacook Community High School (Readfield, ME)
After an eight-year stint as an educator and principal at Maranacook Community High School, Dwayne now serves as the Dean of Workforce Development at Central Maine Community College. At the collegiate level, Dwayne continues to employ his passion of helping students to see beyond their current reality. He has a firm belief that nothing is impossible and any challenges an organization may face, can be solved through collaboration and a positive mindset. Dwayne earned his Doctorate from the University of New England in Transformative Leadership. Of everything he does, what he loves most is spending time with his family and cooking with his son and daughter. He loves exploring, learning and challenging himself to be better each and every day.
Susie DaSilva, EdD, Superintendent of Schools, Ridgefield Public Schools | Ridgefield, CT
For more than 20 years, Susie has served children, families, and teachers in both urban and suburban settings. She has taught students in world language, general, and bilingual education. In addition to her work as a teacher, she has led schools as an elementary principal in both Waterbury and Westport, CT. Her expertise in scientifically-researched behavior interventions and elementary reading instruction have been an incredible asset to all of the communities she has served. Prior to her services as Superintendent of Schools, Susie supported teaching and learning across all curriculum areas, K-12, as the Assistant Superintendent of Schools for Curriculum and Instruction in Darien, CT. She has been recognized for her distinguished work as a school leader, specifically in reducing the achievement gap. Currently, she has been focusing her study on health and wellness across all grade levels Pre-K-12. This work has been inspired by her deep commitment to social emotional learning in schools. Susie lives in Connecticut with her husband, three children, and dog, Lucky.
Jaime Ela, MEd, Principal, Libby-Tozier and Carrie Ricker Schools | Litchfield, ME
Jaime is dedicated to supporting students, teachers, and their families. She was a teacher for 14 years and has held administrative roles for five years. Jaime is currently the principal for Libby-Tozier and Carrie Ricker Schools where she works with 400 Pre-K-8 students and the amazing staff who support them. Jaime began her career with technology integration. She enjoyed working with robotics and teaching coding to students in grades K-12. Jaime even won an award at the ACTEM (Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine) conference for her work with technology in education. When Jaime is not spending time with her students and staff, she enjoys spending time with her three daughters and her husband.
Kristen Levesque, EdD, Principal, Maranacook Community Middle School | Readfield, ME
Kristen is committed to creating school cultures in which students and educators embrace learning in a trauma-sensitive environment. Kristen has experience in teaching, school counseling, mental health counseling, school administration and leadership. She has master’s degrees in clinical counseling and school counseling, from the University of Southern Maine; a Certificate of Advanced Study in Counseling (with a focus in adolescent counseling) from the University of Southern Maine; a Certificate of Graduate Study in Children’s Literature from Penn State University; and a Doctorate of Education in Transformational Leadership from the University of New England. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on creating a school culture of learning. She is dedicated to creating a trauma-sensitive school environment for all students. She enjoys hiking and spending time with her family.
Julia Macek, Program Manager/Behavioral Specialist, Aroostook County Action Program | Caribou, ME
Julia is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 30 years of experience working with children and families. Julia earned her master’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis with a concentration in children and families, as this is her hometown and is a Midwesterner at heart. She and her husband moved to Northern Maine in 1995, and she has had a number of roles at mental health agencies, including therapist and supervisor of children’s case managers. She has worked in a special preschool that served children with special needs particular children on the autism spectrum; in the public schools as a therapist; and in the healthcare as a hospital/dialysis social worker. Julia is now a Behavioral Health Specialist in early care and education. As a social worker, Julia’s passion is to support children and families and to build partnerships to create environments that are safe, supportive and have the goal to advocate for the best possible early care and education so that children and their families have a foundation to be successful. When not working, Julia is active in CrossFit, running, supporting her husband in building their home, tending to chickens and their gardens, and supporting her 6 children.
Erica McLaughlin, MA, Principal, Randolph Elementary School | Randolph, VT
Erica is passionate about creating a safe, caring, rigorous, learning environment where all students and staff strive to be their best. Erica taught for eight years in Bridgeport, Connecticut and then moved to Vermont with her husband and two children. In moving to Vermont, she became the proud principal of RES for the last fourteen years. Erica works with her dedicated staff to implement Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) practices and is working toward implementation with fidelity. She uses professional learning communities (PLC’s) for teachers to collaborate and share their collective genius with each other for the benefit of students. Erica serves on the Executive Council Board for the Vermont Principals Association, serves as the State Representative and Federal Relations Coordinator for the National Association for Elementary School Principals (NAESP), and is dedicated to helping her district be trauma-transformed by taking courses through the Vermont Higher Education Collaborative. This dedicated educator enjoys time with her family, going to her children's sporting events, listening to children read with her therapy dog, London, and going for walks.
Amy Mello-Messenger, MSW, Project AWARE Coordinator, Providence Public Schools | Providence, RI
Amy received her Master of Social Work from New York University in 2005. She began her career as a Family Service Worker through the Rhode Island Department of Children Youth and Families and worked with children and their families for nearly ten years. She continues to have a strong interest in foster care, adoption, and how to best serve children and their families who have experienced trauma. Amy became a school-based social worker in Providence, RI in 2015. She also runs a small private practice working with children and families to help them grow in their understanding of themselves and others. Amy enjoys spending time with her children, husband and friends – particularly time spent outdoors, like at the beach or on the ski slopes. In her work, she uses a client-centered, strengths-based compassionate approach that focuses on self-development and healing.
Siza Mtimbiri, Assistant Principal, Student Services, Beaver Meadow School | Concord, NH
Siza is an Assistant Principal at an elementary school that has a vibrant faculty within an enviable environment that has outdoor classrooms, a green house and an aviary. He has also taught in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Morocco and the UK. He believes in helping students to practice being self-aware since that affects all else as succinctly articulated by Goleman that self-awareness ‘maintains self-reflectiveness even in the midst of turbulence...being aware of our mood and our thoughts about that mood – which is a fundamental emotional competence on which others are build (Goleman, 1997). Our Multi-Tiered Systems of Behavioral Health and Wellness form an integral foundation for our school. Siza’s PhD at the University of Cambridge explored the impact of HIV/AIDS, and the associated trauma, on infected and affected rural primary school students in Zimbabwe. He is married to Laura, a Registered Nurse and they have two happy boys, Raymond and Alex. He enjoys reading and being walked by the family dog Alfie (I pretend I’m walking him but it’s hard to tell who’s walking who most of the time!)
Meredith Nadeau, Superintendent, SAU 21 (Hampton Falls, North Hampton, Seabrook, South Hampton, and Winnacunnet) | Hampton, NH
Meredith is the Superintendent and Interim Director of Student Services for the school districts of Freedom, Madison, and Tamworth, NH. During her years in public schools, she has worked in a variety of roles including as a classroom teacher, special educator, and principal. Meredith is committed to developing safe and equitable school communities for students, staff, and families and to personalizing the educational experience to meet the needs of each student. Meredith’s family includes her husband, two adolescent daughters, and three cats. On rare occasions, Meredith has been known to binge-watch British mysteries.
Jim O’Rourke, MEd, Principal, Hillsboro-Deering High School | Hillsboro, NH
Jim believes that building and maintaining healthy relationships is the number one factor in student’s academic and social success. As Principal of Hillsboro-Deering High School, he empowers and promotes teachers and students to take risks and challenges them to take on leadership roles within the school community. Jim is an active member of the Headmasters Association, is a certified Principal Mentor for the State of New Hampshire, and is the host of the educational podcast, celebratED. Outside of his professional career, Jim enjoys spending time on Lake Winnipesaukee with his wife and three boys
Lisa Parker, MSW, LICSW, School Social Worker, Cumberland High School | Cumberland, RI
Lisa began her school career as an elementary teacher 33 years ago and soon after earned her Master’s in Social Welfare from UCLA. She has worked in multiple settings serving children and their families including outpatient counseling, a private practice of counseling, and school social work. She is an advocate for all students including those who identify on the LGBTQ spectrum and works collaboratively with both staff and administration to ensure that their transgender policy is supporting students as intended. She has also created a sexual assault discussion/support group in collaboration with a school advocate from Sojourner House. Lisa is deeply passionate about social justice and equity, and this passion drives her work in making meaningful connections with students and helping to maintain an inclusive and supportive learning environment. When not working, she can be found rejuvenating by camping with her wife and puppy or traveling to visit her three children in North Carolina and Washington.
Kathryn “Katie” Burns Retzel, MA, MEd, CAGS Ed, Principal, Muddy Brook Elementary | Great Barrington, MA
Kate is an experienced educational leader and gushing parent of three children and a Husky puppy who could use a bit more schooling, frankly. She has taught over 13 years in both public and private schools in the county and has been the Principal at Lee Elementary School for the past eight years. She holds a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Administration from American International College. In concert with past and present school staff, regional consultants, local mental health professionals, a school resource officer, local philanthropic agencies, and the District Attorney’s office, she created an advanced system of Response to Intervention (RTI) in her school. This system comprises a tiered approach to early identification of and enduring support for students with learning and behavioral concerns of many types. Much of her and her staff’s time in the past three years has been spent realizing students’ behavior has arisen out of many forms of childhood trauma. At the core of this program is compassion for every student’s circumstance.
Rachel Santa, EdD, Director of Special Services, Cumberland School Department | Cumberland, RI
In addition to her work with the Cumberland School Department, Rachel is an adjunct lecturer for the Community College of Rhode Island and the University of Rhode Island. She has her doctorate in educational leadership and advanced education in autism studies. Early in her career, she was a music therapist and special educator for a state mental health hospital and for a residential facility for students with emotional and behavioral health needs. She then developed and taught for an alternative learning program in a public high school. Rachel uses her therapeutic and creative background to develop systems of supports to meet the academic, functional, and emotional needs of students. She enjoys going to the beach, traveling, and hanging out with her husband and two daughters.
Ashley Tavarez, LCSW, School Social Worker, Providence School District | Providence, RI
Ashley Tavarez is devoted to supporting children and families by creating a safe school environment conducive to learning. She believes in the whole child approach where a student’s social-emotional intelligence and state is equally as important as academics. Prior to working in Providence Schools, Ashley worked facilitating groups at a social skills agency and at a mental health hospital where she helped children and families navigate the various factors that go into their success. Embracing a trauma-informed approach has been essential to Ashley’s work with students and families. During the winter, she looks forward to cuddling with her puppy, Milo, and in the summer, you can find her at the beach.
We also recognize the participation and support of past C-TLC Fellows: Joan Cavallo (VT), Andrea Elliot (NH), Sherene Kennedy (CT), Heather Pach (CT), Nadia Pearce (CT), Pamela Reed (VT), and Alison Sumski (MA).