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.

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.

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.

Niki Gilbert, 8th Grade Math and Science

B.S. Biology, University of Kentucky; M.S. Environmental Studies, Antioch New England Graduate School; Graduate Certificate of Environmental Education, University of Minnesota-Duluth. Ms. Gilbert has done research and taught environmental science and ecology in many settings around the United States with students from middle school through college ages. She joined Four Rivers in 2005.

Amanda Griffith, 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.

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, 11 th and 12 th 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.

Russ Kaback, Music

B.A. in Studio Art from Clark University; M.S. in Education from Drexel University. Mr. Kaback, who taught for 4 years in Philadephia, has been teaching the past two years at the Lander-Grinspoon Academy in Northampton. He's been writing music and performing over the past few years, and recently has ventured into recording. He joined Four Rivers in 2012.

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, Technology Coordinator (Part Time)

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 nine years at Hilltown Cooperative Charter School in Haydenville to which he has added Four Rivers in a dual position, supported at Four Rivers by Technology Assistants. 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.

Jackie MacNeish, 8th Grade Humanities -- (one year position)

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.

Melinda McCall, 7th and 8th Grade Learning Specialist

B.A. in Environmental Design from UMass, and a M.S. in Forestry from UMass. Ms. McCall was an assistant teacher at Four Rivers for 9 years prior to receiving her teaching certification. She did her student teaching in Ms. Locke's 7th Grade Math/Science classroom and filled in for Ms. Locke for a semester. She joined Four Rivers in 2004.

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.

Pamela Noyes, 8th grade paraprofessional

AS in Early Childhood Education, Greenfield Community College. Ms. Noyes worked for years in the Greenfield Public Schools providing assistance to students with special needs. She joined Four Rivers in 2013.
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.

Rebecca Rice, Spanish

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, Div 2 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 for the past two years. She 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
John Schatz, Div 2 Math

B.S. in Mathematics and Environmental Science from Bucknell University and an M.A. in Education from Teacher's College, Columbia University. John is coming to us most directly from the Bahamas, where he has been the Head of School at the Island School after having different teaching and administrative responsibilities there. He taught Math and Science at the Academy of Charlemont for 2 years and taught Math at Beaver Country Day School outside of Boston. He also coached various sports in each of these schools. He joined Four Rivers in 2014.

Harlan Smith, Director of Operations

B.A. Sociology, Tufts University; Master of Hospital Administration, University of Minnesota/Minneapolis. Mr. Smith has over 30 years of experience in financial management, including 13 years as President and CEO of Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield. He has also served on the Board of Trustees of Greenfield Community College and on the Board of Directors of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. He joined Four Rivers in 2003.

Laura Stamas, 9th and 10th Grade Science

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. Ms. Tabachnick taught 7th grade Social Studies and English this year at Four Rivers and is taking over for Mr. Wallace in Div 2. Here are a few words from her application explaining why she wants to make this change: “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, Administrative Coordinator

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.


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.

Robin Wilson, 8th grade Humanities

B.A. in History from the University of Montana, and an M.A.T. from Lewis and Clark College. Robin taught social studies for 2 years at an independent school in Portland, OR, where she is from. She also has experience with outdoor education, camp, and after-school programs. She and Jackie MacNeish will share the job of 8th grade Humanities, with Robin teaching Social Students and Jackie teaching English and leading a crew. She joined Four Rivers in 2009.

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.