Six educators came together in 2002 to establish Franklin Academy and create a model program for an extraordinary group of students. Sixteen years later, we are still here, collaborating to advance the mission of the school. Without a doubt, this has been the most important and gratifying work of our careers. In fact, if one’s rationale for being a teacher is to make a positive difference in the life of students, it does not get any better than right here, right now at Franklin Academy.
No teacher stands alone at our school. To ensure that the academic, residential and clinical aspects of our holistic curriculum are closely integrated to ensure student success, our Program Director works closely with the Coordinators of every teaching team to hone the academic curriculum, develop teaching strategies, provide oversight regarding staff training, coordinate services, and create a positive and supportive community where every student feels accepted and valued.
In the Point Position
The vital point position in our partnership with students, classroom teachers, and parents is managed by our Residential Deans, Learning Specialists, and Counselors. They implement the program, serve as supervisors, and provide a range of supports for teaching faculty on our high school teams. They plan and deliver the team’s Individual & Community core class. They also serve as parent contacts and regularly communicate with home to discuss a student’s progress at Franklin Academy.
We believe that great schools require great teachers, and we invest a great deal of time to find the right mix of veterans and novices who possess the attributes to be successful in a college preparatory boarding school that values the “teachable moment” in and outside of the classroom. What impresses our new colleagues most about Franklin Academy? They frequently cite the enthusiastic and gracious welcome, the potential of our students, our collaborative educational environment, and the focus on community.
One educator for every two students
Here are the numbers. We employ one educator for every two students enrolled at our school, making possible a level of attention, service, and support that our population deserves. There are twenty-three women and nineteen men on the faculty. Each member of the administrative team averages 39 years of experience; our teachers average almost 12 years. Thirty-six percent of the faculty has been at Franklin Academy ten years or longer. Seventy-four percent of us have advanced degrees, and we have attended sixty-five different colleges and universities to earn our Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate degrees.
Number of Women Faculty
Number of Men Faculty
Average years of experience—Admin
Average years of experience—Teachers
Faculty at Franklin 10+ years
Faculty & Admin with advanced degrees
Number of colleges and universities attended by staff
A fundamental building block of Franklin Academy’s premier program is our organization by team, allowing a small group of seven educators to know well as unique individuals their 18 to 24 students. The team’s counselor, residential dean, learning specialist, and 4 teachers (1 mathematics, 2 humanities, and 1 science instructor) design and adapt curricula and strategies that support each student. Because these educators teach the classes, intervene in daily life to provide counsel and advice, sponsor the co-curricular activities, and supervise at night in the dormitory, they provide a consistency across all facets of daily life. This fosters academic, social, and emotional growth in each student.
Partnering with Parents
We want what you want: a happy teenager who is be able to thrive in high school, earn a diploma, and pursue college and career goals. Helping to forge our collaboration are weekly updates about student performance from your parent contact, special conferences and seminars, regular written progress reports, frequent communications from the Headmaster’s office, and social occasions for parents and teachers to foster a network of support. When home and school are on the same page and clear in their understanding, expectations, and care for the student, growth and transformation happen.
Special is the teacher who inspires students, parents, and colleagues because of intellect and academic curiosity, enthusiasm and creativity, dedication and hard work. This is Amy Bigelow, our Mathematics Chair. She is a graduate of Middlebury College and has Master’s Degrees from both the University of Louisville and Wesleyan University. She believes destiny sent her our way, given her own transformative experiences at a young high school with a distinctive academic mission and an incredibly close sense of community in a rural setting. Here is what she shared about career aspirations during the initial campus interview: “I want to be that 70 year old teacher who has been at one school forever.” Eleven years later, Amy updated this aspiration, stating: “I am hoping to remain a bedrock at Franklin who is able to share stories that otherwise might be forgotten, be a familiar face for returning alums, and a friendly ambassador to welcome newcomers to our community.”
Great schools require a cohort of great teachers. Such is Byron Crozier, a Westminster College graduate and veteran educator who joined Franklin Academy when it opened. Sixteen years later and counting, he has gained tremendous experience as our college counselor, helping students secure acceptances at more than 300 colleges and universities across the country. When considering his tenure here, Byron offered this assessment: “Although I have worked at five boarding schools in four different countries during my entire career, Franklin Academy is the one school that has been the most rewarding for me. Why? Two factors, in particular, come to mind: the opportunity to have such a significant and life-changing role in the academic and social growth of the students whom I teach, and the chance to work as a member of a team with colleagues who are so caring and dedicated to the students and to the overall mission of the school.”
After fourteen years at our school, Kinsley is asking the question – what is next? In her own words, she states: “First and foremost, it is Franklin Academy’s students who command my loyalty. I truly believe our program transforms lives.” A graduate of Smith College and a thirty-year veteran of independent schools, it will be no surprise for our colleagues and alumni that Kinsley has been promoted to Coordinator of the Franklin Learning Institute, a program that serves our college-bound seniors and postgraduates. She also directs our Summer Sojourn intern program, overseeing young alumni who return to campus to mentor current students. Her years of service and the vast network of close relationships with students place Kinsley at the nexus of the school and its alumni, fulfilling the prophecy of Cindy Pope, our Admissions Director who was previously a colleague of Kinsley: “We will be so lucky if we can hire her! I have never met anyone as dedicated and passionate about student success. Call her now!”
When we hired Sara several years ago to be a Science Instructor, we immediately knew that Franklin Academy was incredibly lucky to attract such a talented young educator who was coming to us with an undergraduate degree from Syracuse University and a graduate degree in special education from Southern Connecticut State University. We also believed that she possessed the potential for leadership beyond the classroom. We were right on both counts. Rarely has a new teacher been such a positive influence in the life of every student crossing her path. Blessed with an ever-present smile, a great sense of humor, solid training, and good instincts, Sara is able to forge alliances in and out of the classroom. Asked about her ability to make a difference, Sara simply stated: “I love these students!” Now, Sara has been promoted to Learning Specialist – a tremendous opportunity early in the career of a gifted educator, and she is offering expertise as well in directing our assistive technology initiatives.
Franklin Academy Educators for the 2019-20 Academic Year
|Last Name||First Name||Position||Years in Profession||Graduate Degree(s)||Undergraduate Degree|
|Barsom||Lee||Operations Director||42||B.A., Hill University|
|Hays||Rebecca||Program Director||37||M.A., Univ. of Hartford; Ph.D., Temple University||B.A., Eckerd College|
|Hays||Tom||Assistant Head of School||36||M.A., Univ. of Hartford; Ph.D., American Univ.||B.A., St. Vincent College|
|Murphy||Mary||Development Director||46||M.P.S., SUNY–New Paltz; D.Min., Wisdom Univ.||B.S., University of Pittsburgh|
|Pope||Cynthia||Admissions Director||37||M.F.A., Bard College||B.A., Wilson College|
|Weissbach||Frederick||Head of School||44||M.Ed., Mississippi College||B.A., Dartmouth College|
|Acocella-Stollerman||Josh||Counselor & Evaluation Center Coordinator||18||M.A., Psy.D., Argosy University||B.A., Southern CT State University|
|Bennett||Lorrie||Humanities Instructor||18||M.S., University of New Haven||B.S., Rhode Island College|
|Bigelow||Amy||Mathematics Chair & Instructor||15||M.A.T., Univ. of Louisville, M.Phil., Wesleyan||B.A., Middlebury College|
|Camolli||Samantha||Mathematics Instructor||6||M.S., Quinnipiac University||B.S., Eastern Connecticut State Univ.|
|Cecchini||Ellen||Counselor||18||M.S., Central Connecticut State University||B.S., Central CT State University|
|Cherubino||Richard||Humanities Instructor||22||M.A., University of Saint Joseph||B.A., University of Connecticut|
|Connors||Julie||Humanities & Art Instructor||18||M.A., The Graduate Institute||B.F.A., Pratt Art Institute|
|Cove||Shannon||Academic Dean||9||M.S., Central Connecticut State University||B.S., Central CT State University|
|Crouch||Kayla||Science Chair & Instructor||7||M.S., University of Connecticut||B.A., Connecticut College|
|Crozier||Byron||College Counselor||44||B.A., Westminster College|
|Dziekan||Jennifer||College Transition Advisor||17||M.S., Fordham University||B.A., University of Connecticut|
|Ford||Ariel||Humanities Instructor||6||B.A., University of Connecticut|
|Giroux||Sara||Learning Specialist||4||M.S., Southern Connecticut State University||B.A., Syracuse University|
|Govert||Pete||Residential Dean||31||M.A., University of London||B.A., University of Illinois|
|Horgan||Brianna||Science Instructor||2||B.A. & B.S., Dickinson College|
|Howard||Jill||Humanities Instructor||6||M.Ed., Fitchburg State University||B.A., Framingham State University|
|Humiston||Kristen||Program Manager||18||M.S., Central Connecticut State University||B.S., York College|
|Hussey||Tristan||Science Instructor||2||B.S., Rensselaer Polytechnic Univ|
|Lazos||Chelsea||Dean of Students||12||B.S., Suffolk University|
|Lopez||Stephanie||Learning Specialist||9||M.Ed., Concordia University||B.S., University of Texas - San Antonio|
|Mariano||Kristin||Learning Specialist||6||M.A., Meredith College||B.S., Southern CT State University|
|McDonald||Caitlin||Counselor||6||M.Ed., Colorado State University||B.A., Arizona State University|
|Oakes||Michael||Humanities Instructor||12||B.A., Suffolk University|
|Padua||Roberto||Science Instructor||8||M.A., Central CT State University||B.S., Central CT State University|
|Parker||Benjamin||Mathematics Instructor||7||B.A., Central CT State University|
|Paxson||Amy||Humanities Chair & Instructor||15||M.A., Northern Illinois University||B.A., Northern Illinois University|
|Petty||Billy||Counselor||4||M.S., Penn State University||B.A., Fairleigh Dickinson University|
|Rafiq||Fahd||Humanties Instructor||13||M.S., Central Connecticut State University||B.S., SUNY–Stony Brook|
|Sanders||Kinsley||Dean of Transitional Services||31||B.A., Smith College|
|Schultz||John||Residential Dean||37||M.S., St. Bonaventure Univ., Ed.D., Duquesne||B.A., Gannon University|
|Spindler-Virgin||Melissa||Residential Dean||18||M.Div., Andover Newton Theological School||B.A., Smith College|
|Stoops||Michael||Mathematics Instructor||13||M.A., Bard College||B.A., Columbia College|
|Tomlinson||Wade||Learning Specialist||19||M.A.T., Johns Hopkins University||B.A., Guilford College|
|Turner||James||Learning Specialist||5||M.A., University of Connecticut||B.A., University of Connecticut|
|Weissbach||Josh||Residential Dean||11||M.F.A., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee||B.A., Hampshire College|
|Wilkie||Sarah||Counselor||3||M.A., Lesley University||B.A., Marywood University|