FRCPS: Our Program: Clubs and Intensives

Sara Acton, Art

B.F.A. in Photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a M.A.T. in Visual Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design. Ms. Acton has taught art to students in high school in Michigan and Maryland, as well as through shorter programs around the pioneer valley. She has experience as an editor, in galleries, and as a board member at Artspace. She joined Four Rivers in 2012.

Elizabeth Beardslee, Spanish

BA, Biology, Brown University ; MA, Spanish Literature, Middlebury College . Eliza established an interdisciplinary ESL curriculum at the Monteverde Friends School , a middle/high school in Costa Rica and has taught Spanish and led school innovation at The Field School in Washington , DC . She joined Four Rivers in 2009.

Deborah Chamberlain, 11th and 12th Grade Assistant Teacher

B.S. in Education and Biology from North Adams State College (now MCLA). Ms. Chamberlain lives in Wendell and has been teaching Wellness at the Francis Parker Charter Essential School in Devens for the past 16 years. Deborah worked for 3 years prior to that at NYC Outward Bound and 8 years at the Hurricane Island Outward Bound in Florida. She joined Four Rivers in 2013.

Kate Conant, Academic Support Director

B.A., English and Community Service, Univ. of Massachusetts; M. Ed. In Special Education, Univ. of Massachusetts. Mrs. Conant's experience includes fourteen years special learning needs experience at Great Falls Middle School in the Gill-Montague District and five years at the Guilford, VT. Central Middle School. She is certified in Special Needs and joined Four Rivers in 2006.

Susan Durkee, Assistant Principal and Co-founder

B.F.A. in Sculpture; M.F.A. in English, University of Massachusetts/Amherst. Ms. Durkee has experience teaching Art in grades K-6 and teaching writing at the college level, and was a member of the Friends and Faculty Network at UMass, an organization to which one is nominated for outstanding service to students with learning disabilities. She joined Four Rivers in 2002.

Thomas Dunbar, 9th and 10th grade Science

B.A. Piedmont College, Demorest, GA;  M.Sc. in Environmental Studies, Antioch University, Keene, NH.  Thomas worked for a number of years at the Blue Ridge Outdoor Education Center in Georgia before moving to the Brattleboro area and pursuing teaching certification.  He student taught at the Compass School in Westminster, VT.  He joined Four Rivers in 2016.


Bob Etzweiler, Nature

B.A. in Psychology from Penn State University. Mr. Etzweiler has over 15 years experience teaching nature through summer programs and other wilderness programs near his home in Putney, VT and in Pennsylvania where he is from. He joined Four Rivers in 2011.


Anita Falco, 7th and 8th Grade Assistant Teacher

Anita has earned Highly Qualified Status as a paraprofessional and certifications through the MA Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Federation for Children with Special Needs. Anita was a Special Education Instructional Assistant in the Worcester Public Schools from 1997 to 2004 and for the Greenfield Public Schools until 2008, most recently coordinating an after school Community Learning Center through the Hampshire Educational Collaborative. She has extensive related volunteer and workshop experience and joined Four Rivers in 2009.

Jessica Farwell, 8th grade Math and Science

B.A., Psychology, Bard College. M.Ed., Science Teacher Education, UMass-Amherst. MA Institute for New Teachers, Boston. Jess has taught math and science to middle school students for over 10 years in various schools, including the Chicken Coop School, PVPA, and Hilltown Charter. She also taught for 2 years in our own Div 2 at Four Rivers. Jess joined Four Rivers in 2005 and again in 2015.

William Fogel, School Psychologist and Counselor (Part Time)

Ph.D., Child Clinical Psychology, St. John’s University; B.A., Psychology and Education, Hampshire College. Certified as a school psychologist. Dr. Fogel has worked in clinical and school settings for 10 years and most recently served as school psychologist in the Greenfield Public Schools. He joined Four Rivers in 2005.


Peter Garbus, Principal and Head of School

B.A. in History/Writing/Education, Brown University ; M.Ed. in Teaching, Harvard University . Mr. Garbus has been the founder and director of the North Central Charter Essential School in Fitchburg , a grade 7 – 12 school somewhat larger than Four Rivers. He is certified as a principal in Massachusetts . He previously taught for many years at the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School in Devens , MA and was part of the inaugural faculty of an innovative public high school in Arizona . He joined Four Rivers in 2007.

Anne Haxo, 9th and 10th Grade Learning Specialist

B.A. Education/Special Needs, Elms College. Ms. Haxo has three years experience in Special Education at the elementary and middle school levels prior to joining the Four Rivers faculty in 2003. She is certified in Special Needs (K-9). She joined Four Rivers in 2003.

Bethany Hobbs, 7th grade English and Social Studies

B.A. in Applied Linguistics and Spanish, Union University; M.A. in Social Justice, SIT Graduate Institute; M.A. in Teaching Social Justice Curriculum, Marlboro College Graduate School. Ms. Hobbs established an English educational program at El Ayudante, a non-profit organization in Leon, Nicaragua, and comes to Four Rivers after teaching 7th and 8th grade humanities at Compass School in Westminster, Vermont. Bethany also serves as a faculty member with the Vermont Governor's Institute and travels with international students through World Learning's Youth Leadership and Peace-building programs. She joined Four Rivers in 2012.

Joshua Hornick, 11th and 12th Grade Math

B.A., Politics and Peace Studies, University of California at Santa Cruz; J.D., University of Chicago Law School; M.A., Science Education, City College of New York. Mr. Hornick has taught math as well as physics, science, and robotics for many years locally at Amherst Regional Junior High School, Mariamante Academy and Holyoke Community College, in addition to self-employment as an executive coach. He joined Four Rivers in 2009.

Zach Jakub, Music

B.A. in Music Education, Keene State College, Keene, NH.  Zach spent 13 years teaching music at the Northwood School in Lake Placid, NY before moving back to this area where he grew up.  Zach has also worked as a raft guide and is an experienced kayaker.  He joined Four Rivers in 2016. 


Matthew Leaf, Dean of Students

B.A. Anthropology with a minor in Religion, Kenyon College. Mr. Leaf has 8 years of middle school classroom experience, and is also trained to teach Nature Studies and Outdoor Education. He joined Four Rivers in 2003.

Daniel Lederer, Director of Technology

Mr. Lederer attended New Hampshire Vocational Technical College, Berklee College of Music in Boston, and City College of San Francisco and has had web design and systems administration positions in private industry. He has had technology and teaching roles at area schools, including 10 years at Hilltown Cooperative Charter School in Haydenville. He joined Four Rivers in 2005.

Amanda Locke, 7th Grade Science and Math

B.A. Communication Studies with a minor in Environmental Studies, Hamilton College; M.S. Environmental Education with Middle School General Science Certification, Antioch New England Graduate School. She has experience as an Outdoor Educator and as a Life Skills teacher in youth groups, and completed a year-long internship teaching high school Science prior to joining Four Rivers in 2003.

Felix Lufkin, Nature Asistant

B.A., plant medicine at Hampshire College. Felix works with K-12 and college students at a number of programs in the Valley teaching nature awareness and homestead skills. He joined Four Rivers in 2008, working with the nature program and helping to nurture the Blatchford Garden.

Amanda McNamara, Wellness (Health and Physical Education);

B.A. Sociology and Anthropology, Wells College; M.A Social Work, Smith College. Ms. Griffith has had dual interests and experience in counseling adolescents at the Academy at Swift River, and an early college major in Physical Education, including as co-captain of her Wells College soccer team. She joined Four Rivers in 2005.

Jackie MacNeish, 8th Grade Humanities

B.A. in English Literature from Grinnell College and a Masters of Arts in Environmental Leadership and Experiential Education from Naropa University. Ms. MacNeish taught English and other subjects at the Academy at Swift River for 3 years and she taught multiple subjects for 2 years at the Antrim Girls Shelter School in New Hampshire. She's worked in outdoor and adventure programs and has worked and traveled in many parts of the world. She joined Four Rivers in 2013.

Aaron Mendlesohn, Spanish

B.A., English, State University of New York at Buffalo; M.Ed., Secondary English Education, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.  Aaron has taught Spanish for 3 years in Philadelphia after spending a year teaching in Costa Rica.  He joined Four Rivers in 2016.


Jeanne Milton, Nurse (Part Time)

RN, St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing, Providence , RI . Jeanne is experienced in all aspects of nursing and knows the local community health resources well. Her 27 years of practice in the local community includes 12 years as an emergency room and ICU nurse. She joined Four Rivers in 2007.

Andy Patari, 11th and 12th Grade Science

B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Pittsburg; M.S. in Environmental Studies from Antioch University New England. Mr. Patari comes to Four Rivers after teaching experiences at the Compass School in Vermont and two years with the Peace Corps in Guatemala. Mr. Patari is fluent in Spanish and rock climbs, among other interests. He joined Four Rivers in 2012.

Leah Plath, 11th and 12th Grade English

B.A. English, University of Massachusetts. Leah has teaching experience at New Leadership Charter School in Springfield and is College Board trained in Advanced Placement Instruction for English. She joined Four Rivers in 2007.

Terry Plotkin, Athletic Director, 7th and 8th Grade Sports

B.A. Economics, University of Massachusetts/Amherst. Mr. Plotkin has worked for several years as a coach of Ultimate Frisbee, and has also run after school programs in Greenfield schools. He joined Four Rivers in 2003 and serves as our Athletic Director.

Molly Pratt, 9th and 10th grade Math

B.A., Math, Boston University. For her honors thesis, Molly investigated how students develop opinions of mathematics inside and outside of school. She has worked in a series of volunteer positions, including as an Americorps member tutoring in Geometry and MCAS math. She taught Math this past year at the Phoenix Charter Academy in Chelsea, MA. She joined Four Rivers in 2015.

Rebecca Rice, Spanish
On Leave fall semester

B.A. Spanish Language and Literature/Education, Guilford College. Ms. Rice is a graduate of the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School in Devens, MA and after leading inter-cultural educational programs in Central and South America, she completed the Parker School’s teacher certification program and taught Spanish there for two years. She joined Four Rivers in 2011.

Lisa Ritchie, 9th and 10th Grade English.

B.A. in Comparative Literature from Brown University, an M.Ed. in English Education from Georgia State University, and an M.S. in Exercise and Sport Studies from Smith College. Lisa is returning to Four Rivers after earning her second masters degree. She has been teaching in the Exercise and Sport Studies department, as well as coaching cross country, at Smith College. Lisa taught 7th grade humanities at Four Rivers for 2 years and a short stint later filling in for half a year. Before that, she taught high school English and coached at an independent boarding school in Georgia. Lisa also worked three summers with Outward Bound, and 1 year as an Americorps member in Washington state. Lisa returned to Four Rivers in 2014.

Jessica Roll, 11th and 12th Grade Learning Specialist

B.A. in Spanish , Bates College ; M. Ed in Spanish and ESL , Boston College ; M.Ed. in Special Education, UMass Boston. Jessica taught special education at the Mystic Valley Charter School in Malden, has taught at Boston International High School and at Brookline High School and also has taught for two years at the Shackleton Expeditionary High School in Ashby , MA . Jessica worked as an assistant farm manager and led at-risk youth repairing trails in the mountains of Oregon . She joined Four Rivers in 2010.

Laura Stamas, 9th and 10th Grade Science
On Leave 2016-2017

B. A Biology, Bard College; M.A. Environmental Studies and Teaching High School Biology, Antioch New England Graduate School. Ms. Stamas has been a Science and Math Teacher at Eagle Mountain School, and a High School Biology Student Teacher at Northampton High School. She joined Four Rivers in 2005.

Andy Stenson, College and Guidance Counselor

B.A. Leeds University ; Post Graduate Certificate in Education, Bristol Polytechnic , England ; M.A., Education, Smith College . Mr. Stenson has extensive teaching experience in technology and special education, and he has also worked as an Outward Bound instructor. He joined Four Rivers in 2004.

Laura Tabachnick, 9th and 10th Grade Social Studies

B.G.S in Creative Art and Philosophy; B.S. in Education from Ohio University. She describes her motivation for her subject as "U.S. History is different; it is my passion. I know and love U.S. History. Even more so, I love teaching U.S. History. There is so much about our country that young adults do not know and likely have not been inspired to discover. I want to be that teacher that opens their eyes. I want to connect current events to our history.” She joined Four Rivers in 2011.

Leslie Taylor, Registrar

B.A. American Studies and English, Colby College. Ms. Taylor has worked for many years in non-profit and educational settings in Franklin County, including high school and college admissions, as Executive Assistant at a regional history museum, and as leader an area performing arts center. She joined Four Rivers in 2003.

Heather Viens, 9th and 10th Grade Assistant Teacher

B.A., Business Studies and Finance, Anglia University, Cambridge, England. In addition to parenting and a diversified background in sales and marketing, Mrs. Viens has been a substitute teacher in Franklin County and serves on public and private education boards and councils. She joined Four Rivers in 2006.


Amy Wales, Director of Finance and Operations

B.A. Environmental Studies, Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA; MBA, UMass Amherst.  Amy takes over for the retiring Harlan Smith who had been in this position from the beginning of the school.  Amy spent 11 years working as an auditor and the past 2 years as Finance Director for United ARC.  She also serves on the Finance Committee for the Town of Charlemont.  Amy joined Four Rivers in 2016.


Alex Wilson, 11th and 12th Grade Social Studies

B.A., Political Science, Bates College; M.A. in Teaching, Lewis and Clark College. Mr. Wilson has five years teaching experience, most recently at Conard High School, West Hartford, CT. He also has had some years’ experience playing basketball, coaching, and managing basketball teams and clubs in secondary schools, colleges, summer camps and overseas with an emphasis on athletics as a means for character development. He joined Four Rivers in 2011.

Perri Wexler, 7th and 8th grade Learning Specialist

B.A. and MEd. in Special Education, University of Florida. Perri has worked for the past 16 years as an English teacher and Education Coordinator at the Seaport Academy in Charlestown, MA. She has additional years of experience as a Learning Specialist and writing teacher. She joined Four Rivers in 2016.

Carolyn Wood, School Secretary

B.A, English, Boston College; Carolyn has many years experience in office management and advertising research and teaching at Full Circle School in Bernardston. She joined Four Rivers in 2004 and subsequently developed the SPED Secretary role. She assumed the role of School Secretary in 2009.