Our Staff

All classroom guides hold NJ teaching certificates.
All RVCS staff are certified in Wilderness First Aid and CPR.

Ieva Alverson

Ieva Alverson

Nova Guide

After living in Hoboken, New Jersey for 15 years, Ieva headed to Sussex County where she lives with her son, who attends RVCS, and her husband.  Ieva joined the RVCS community in 2007.  Before coming to RVCS she taught elementary and special education in several northwest New Jersey schools.  Her experience helps Ieva guide her students on their educational journeys at RVCS.  Ieva has many passions including, yoga, baking, reading, hiking and swimming in the Catskill mountains.  She brings these passions into her classroom whenever she is able.  Ieva is also bilingual in Latvian and is actively involved in the Latvian community worldwide.

Education:
MA Special Education, New Jersey City University
BA Elementary Education and Psychology, Caldwell College (NJ)

ieva.alverson@ridgeandvalley.org

KristenCaggiano

Krissy Caggiano

Galaxy Guide

Originally from the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve area in Medford, Krissy moved back to New Jersey after spending twelve years traveling and honing her skills in forest conservation and experiential education.  Her background includes Vocational Forest Conservation education, Experiential Learning in Sciences, and Reading Intervention.  She taught at the elementary grade level in the public and private sectors, as well as provided Gifted and Talented online education.  Joining the RVCS staff in 2015, she shares her avocation and skills in Tai Chi and yoga with colleagues and students.  She lives in Sussex County with her husband and son, who attends RVCS.  Krissy brings her love of hiking, skiing, swimming, paddle boarding, reading, and music to school with her each day.

Education:
MS Education, Capella University (MN)
BS Forest Management, University of Maine

krissy.caggiano@ridgeandvalley.org

Nancy

Nancy Christian

Constellation Guide

Nancy grew up in the Morris/Warren county area of New Jersey. She lived in different parts of the country as well as abroad before settling back in the area with her daughter. Nancy began working as a full-time guide at RVCS in 2012. She brings a diverse background with her, with experiences ranging from teaching reading to adults in the New York prison system to being an FAA certified flight instructor and flight school operator. Additionally, Nancy has designed and organized aeronautical science camps, youth programs and college aviation programs. Nancy enjoys spending time with her family, camping, open water swimming, trail running, SCUBA diving, traveling and learning about other cultures.

Education:
MA Education, College of St. Elizabeth (NJ)
BA Arts, History and Anthropology, Marymount College (NY)

nancy.christian@ridgeandvalley.org

Joshua Donovick

Stardust Guide

Josh grew up near Binghamton, New York, and began his educational journey at The Susquehanna School, an alternative K-8 school built on democratic values and child-centered learning. He taught for six years in public schools in New York State, joining RVCS in 2018. Josh’s passions include books, cooking, music, law, languages, camping, and immersing himself in the natural world with his wife and son. His professional interests include developmental reading, writing workshops, mathematics, problem based learning, and progressive pedagogy. He loves to share his enthusiasm for learning with students, colleagues, and the community at RVCS.

Education:
MSEd Childhood Education, Early Childhood Education, and Literacy, Binghamton University (NY)
JD Cardozo School of Law (NY)
BA Philosophy, English — Creative Writing, Binghamton University (NY)

joshua.donovick@ridgeandvalley.org

Dan Eagan

Dan Egan

Galaxy Guide

Dan grew up in northern Maryland, just outside of Baltimore.  He initially moved to northwest New Jersey to teach outdoor education at YMCA Camp Mason, and has stayed in the area because of RVCS, where he can combine his passions for teaching and outdoor education.  Dan joined the RVCS community in 2013.  His eclectic background, including a tour in the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa, makes Dan a great addition to the RVCS community.  Dan enjoys camping and traveling abroad. He also volunteers his time with Eden’s Rose Foundation, which supports women’s empowerment and community development around the world.

Education:
BS Wildlife Conservation, University of Delaware

daniel.egan@ridgeandvalley.org

Kasey Errico

Kasey Errico

Galaxy Guide

Kasey grew up in Madison, New Jersey and is a lifelong outdoor-enthusiast and advocate of experiential education.  She has extensive training and participation in programs such as Outward Bound, Project Adventure, Trail to Every Classroom, and other outdoor personal development and team building programs.  She started her career working with troubled adolescents, helping children and families stay together in their home communities.  Inspired by the positive experience of her own children’s time at RVCS, she joined the staff in 2006.  She uses her multi-faceted outdoor skills, including her experience hiking the Appalachian Trail, to lead students on yearly field expeditions that strengthen students’ abilities to adapt to the rigors of hiking, cooking, and camping in the wild.

Education:
BS Psychology, Denison University (OH)
M Ed in Integrated Learning, Endicott College (MA)

kasey.errico@ridgeandvalley.org

Mike Florio

Michael Florio

Constellation Guide

Mike grew up in nearby Sussex County, and has been a Guide at RVCS since 2005.  He is inspired by the work of Rudolf Steiner, bringing his growing understanding of Anthroposophy and biodynamic agriculture into his work with students.  He facilitates hands-on work with students such as building root cellars to store vegetables grown by the students, cooking, and spoon carving to introduce colonial crafts.  Mike enjoys cooking and gardening on his small farm with his wife and children.

Education:
BS Education, East Stroudsburg University (PA)

michael.florio@ridgeandvalley.org

Becky Garceau

Becky Garceau

Nova Guide

Becky has a love for sociology, community service, and the natural world. While at Centenary College, she participated in three expeditions to New Orleans to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Becky has furthered her education in Earth Literacy, Sustainability, Experiential and Outdoor Education, and Project Based Learning since she started working at RVCS in 2009. Becky enjoys spending time with her husband and children, hiking with her dogs, tending to her chickens, needle felting, and cooking and preserving food.

Education:
BA Sociology, Centenary College (NJ)

becky.garceau@ridgeandvalley.org

Alyssa Garner

Alyssa Garner

Stardust Guide

Alyssa grew up in Connecticut and first came to the area to work as a Park Ranger in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.  Alyssa has been a Guide at RVCS since 2011.  Earlier in her career, Alyssa led outdoor adventure trips for students and worked as an environmental educator at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center.  Passionate about service to others, Alyssa was also a teacher trainer focusing on literacy development during her tour in the Peace Corps.  Alyssa enjoys camping, swimming, and introducing her two young children to the wonders of the natural world.

Education:
BA Elementary Education with a minor in Special Education, Loyola University (MD)

alyssa.garner@ridgeandvalley.org

Mark Garner

Mark Garner

Support Guide

Mark grew up outside of Philadelphia, PA.  He moved to the area in 2011 to work as a Park Ranger with the National Park Service and joined the RVCS community in 2012.   Mark developed a passion for learning about the natural world as a child, and works to inspire his students to do the same.  Before RVCS, he was an environmental educator and park ranger at various nature centers and parks in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Mark brings his passions for gardening, food preservation, kayaking/canoeing, hiking, backpacking, camping, birding, wild food foraging, and woodworking into his classroom on a daily basis.

Education:
BS Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management (including Environmental Interpretation and Adventure Based Programming), Pennsylvania State University

mark.garner@ridgeandvalley.org

 

Sundae Younkers

Sundae Greame

Nova Guide

Sundae grew up in Andover, New Jersey where she still lives today with her husband and three young children. Sundae joined the RVCS community in 2006. Prior to her years at RVCS, Sundae was an AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador and a watershed liaison at the Wallkill River Wildlife Refuge. Outside of school, Sundae teaches baton twirling, is the acting secretary for the Historical Society of Andover Borough, and volunteers at the Andover Museum. She enjoys kayaking, hiking, and playing outside with her children.

Education:
BS Marine Biology, Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ)

sundae.younkers@ridgeandvalley.org

HeatherBio

Heather Jorgensen

Support Guide

Heather grew up in South Plainfield, NJ and now lives in Warren County with her husband and two sons, who both attend RVCS. After spending six years teaching in a public high school, she got her certification as a Licensed Massage Therapist as part of her ongoing interest in holistic health and wellness. Heather joined RVCS in 2019. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading, cooking, and coaching various sports.

Education:
BA History and Secondary Education, College of St. Elizabeth (NJ)

heather.jorgensen@ridgeandvalley.org

Julia Kelly

Stardust Guide

Julia is a native New Jerseyan who has also lived in Kansas and Vermont. She and her husband moved to Sussex County in 2013. Julia taught at an environmental Charter School for 16 years and joined Ridge and Valley Charter School in 2018-19. She has experience developing curriculum with the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education and loves to share outdoor hands-on experiential learning with students. Julia is an avid gardener and helped design the garden, and supported it’s relationship with the school’s lunch program, at her previous school. She is passionate about native plant cultivation as well as the healing properties of plants. Julia and her husband have traveled cross-country through the United States and camped in many national parks. While living in Vermont, Julia was a professional pastry chef, and has an enthusiastic interest in baking. She enjoys biking, hiking and skiing, playing the guitar and singing. Julia and her husband have four adult children and one granddaughter.

Education:
BA Psychology/Elementary Education, Centenary University (NJ)

julia.kelly@ridgeandvalley.org

JessieKBioPic

Jessica Krause

Stardust Guide

Jessica grew up in the ridge and valley region of New Jersey. As a teenager she discovered Genesis Farm after searching for a deeper context of meaning in her life. She spent time studying cosmology at Genesis Farm in the hopes of gaining perspective about the place of the human in the natural world.  She went on to work in North Carolina at The Center for Education, Imagination and the Natural World, and Pickards Mountain Eco Institute where she had the privilege of working with amazing mentors in the fields of cosmology, education, anthroposophy, wild edibles, medicinal plants, and sustainability.  After traveling, studying, and working in various places she decided to return to the region to continue this work and joined the RVCS community in 2016.  Jessica’s hobbies include hula hooping, acro yoga, studying plants, and being in the woods.  She lives in the local area with her husband and two young children.

Education:
BA Sustainable Community Development, Prescott College (AZ)

jessie.krause@ridgeandvalley.org

 

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Sena Rasun-Mahendra

Nova Guide

Sena grew up in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and has been teaching children about nature in one capacity or another for almost two decades. Over the course of her career, Sena taught at several residential environmental education and nature centers, coordinated a nature-based learning program for a rural elementary school, directed a wilderness camping program for an urban charter school, and led 30-day backpacking trips for adjudicated youth. Before joining the RVCS community in the fall of 2019, Sena spent three years as the founding education coordinator of a non-profit nature preserve in western Connecticut, envisioning and implementing the environmental education and camp programs there. She enjoys hiking, looking for dragonfly nymphs and caddisfly larva in streams, reading, knitting, and hanging out with her cat.

Education:
MEd Foundations of Education, Antioch University, New England (NH)
BS, Psychology, Georgia College & State University (GA)

sena.rasun-mahendra@ridgeandvalley.org

Tyler bio pic

Tyler Thurgood

Galaxy Guide

Tyler grew up in the Blairstown area. After graduating from Blair Academy, he spent some time traveling and living on the southeast and western coasts of the US. He developed a passion for writing as a way to share and connect stories. Tyler returned to the Blairstown area to raise a family. Since graduating from Centenary University, he looks for ways to connect language with creativity and the interconnectedness of the world around him. After joining the RVCS community in 2016 as a support guide, he became a full-time classroom guide in 2018. Tyler’s passions include spending time with his family, hiking, traveling, poetry, novels, music, and cultivating friendships. The world has always been a classroom for Tyler, and he sees the RVCS mission as one that he can both learn from and support. He is interested in pursuing his passions while endeavoring to better understand his place in the universe.

Education:
BA English, Centenary University (NJ)

tyler.thurgood@ridgeandvalley.org

Kris Tucker

Kris Tucker

Galaxy Guide

A native of Sussex County, Kris joined the RVCS community in 2013 after her son began attending the school.  Kris has a diverse professional background, with experience teaching elementary education, special education, and middle school literacy.  As a staff developer, she has trained other teachers in the finer points of literacy and reading education. She enjoys sharing her passions for lifelong learning, experiential learning, place-based and outdoor education, humane education, reading, and writing with her students.

Education:
EdD Higher Education and Adult Learning, Walden University (MN)
MA Special Education, Kean University, (NJ)
BA Social Work, Kean University (NJ)

kristine.tucker@ridgeandvalley.org

Maggie Vetter

Maggie Vetter

Galaxy Guide

Maggie, whose children attend RVCS, is a native of the Highlands area of northwestern New Jersey, where she continues to live with her family.  Before joining the staff at RVCS in 2009, she had experience teaching all subjects in different public middle schools and high schools in New Jersey.  Her experience includes training in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy and relationship-based (DIR) therapy. She volunteers as a developmental interventionist, as well as at her local animal shelter. Maggie takes the RVCS philosophy into her home life, where she and her family enjoy the benefits of growing and preserving their own food, raising chickens, and generating alternative sources of energy for their home. She also enjoys sharing her knowledge of health, nutrition, hiking, running, and biking with her students.

Education:
BS in Elementary Education (Specialization in Middle School Math and Special Education), West Virginia University (WV)
M Ed in Integrated Learning, Endicott College (MA)

margaret.vetter@ridgeandvalley.org

Bradley White

Bradley White

Constellation Guide

Bradley grew up in Fredon, New Jersey, just a few miles down the road from RVCS. His deep knowledge and connection to the land can be traced back to his childhood in the area. Bradley joined the RVCS community in 2006. Before coming to RVCS, he worked as a field biologist and environmental educator and brings his passion for these things to his work with the students of RVCS on a daily basis. When he isn’t at RVCS, Bradley can be found birding, playing music, hiking, snowboarding and camping with his wife and daughter.

Education:
BS Ecology, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry

bradley.white@ridgeandvalley.org

Tonya Wikander

Tonya Wikander

Constellation Guide

Tonya is a native of northern New Jersey. She joined the RVCS community in 2009 after working as an environmental educator at a YMCA Camp and teaching at a private school. In addition to gardening at home with her daughters, who both attend RVCS, she enjoys working in the family vineyard with her husband. She also loves spending time exploring the various lakes, streams, and rivers throughout this region of the country.

Education:
BS Education with a minor in Environmental Education, State University of New York Cortland

tonya.wikander@ridgeandvalley.org

Staff

Sue Corcoran

Susan Corcoran

School Psychologist

Sue has lived in northern New Jersey for most of her life. She worked as a school psychologist in traditional public schools in New Jersey for 6 years before having children, joining the RVCS community in 2009. Becoming a mother moved her along her holistic journey and she was particularly inspired by her affiliation with the Holistic Moms Network, where she met like-minded people who connected her to RVCS’ holistic educational model. Sue has two daughters, one who currently attends RVCS and another who also attended RVCS from Kindergarten through graduation. She enjoys hiking, downhill skiing, inline skating, reading, yoga, meditation, and contra dancing.

Education:
MEd School Psychology, The College of William and Mary (VA)
Education Specialist in School Psychology, The College of William and Mary (VA)
BA Psychology, State University of New York, Binghamton

susan.corcoran@ridgeandvalley.org

Lisa Masi

Lisa Masi

Integration Coordinator, Leadership Team

Lisa discovered RVCS while looking for alternatives to traditional public schooling for her three children, two of whom attended and graduated from RVCS. She is a founding guide and joyfully explored the universe with the Stardust Team students from 2004 until 2018. She has been a member of the Leadership Team since 2008, taking this role on full time in 2018. Lisa brings a background in early childhood education, alternative educational practices, place-based and project-based education, as well as educating for sustainability. She has developed curriculum through Shelburne Farms, The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Trail to Every Classroom program, and was a participant in the Education for Sustainability Leadership Academy at Shelburne Farms. Lisa has an ongoing interest in farm-based education, obtaining her Permaculture Design Certificate with a focus in permaculture education for children. She has also been a member of a professional learning community exploring social justice and equity for the past few years. She is passionate about helping children deepen their understanding of, and connection to, our bioregion, particularly through experiences with local farms and food. Lisa loves to sing, and has been exploring the connection between music and hope within individuals and communities. She is a longtime member of the Community Supported Garden at Genesis Farm and enjoys swimming, ice skating, reading, theater/film, cooking, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.

Education:
M Ed Educating for Sustainability, Antioch University New England (NH)
BA Geology, Colgate University (NY)

lisa.masi@ridgeandvalley.org

Traci Pannullo

Traci Pannullo

Curriculum Coordinator, Leadership Team

Traci grew up in central New Jersey. She spent time out west, returning in 1998 and starting a family. Traci joined the Trustee circle in 2003, and then became the Curriculum Coordinator and a member of the Leadership Team after the school opened. Traci has a great respect for and kinship with the natural world, and uses that as a foundation to learn about and promote actions that are in alignment with the elemental processes of the universe, helping shape the school and its mission. She brings together her beliefs and practices of alternative forms of education, including Montessori, Waldorf, and Democratic, at RVCS. Traci enjoys organic gardening, cooking, yoga and tai chi, singing, making art, dancing, drumming, and spending time with her family. She is proud and grateful that all three of her children have had the opportunity to attend RVCS, and cannot imagine a more wonderful school experience for them.

Education:
Post-Master’s Ed. Leadership Program, Thomas Edison State College (NJ)
MA Science (Elementary Science Specialist), Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ)
BS Elementary Education, The College of New Jersey
BA Psychology, The College of New Jersey

traci.pannullo@ridgeandvalley.org

TheresaRadline

Theresa Radline

Business, Technology and Testing Coordinator

After living in Essex County for most of her life, Theresa moved to Warren County, NJ in 2006 where she lives with her husband and pets, enjoying a slower pace. Theresa began her journey in education as an elementary teacher, then worked as an administrator in charter school and private school environments. She joined the RVCS team in 2018 as the Business Coordinator where she combines her experience, passion for working with children, and interest in finance. Theresa loves to read and when not cuddled up with her pets and a book, she can be found embroidering, scrapbooking, gardening in her backyard, or exploring the White Mountains with her husband and friends.

Education:
M.Ed. Administration/Leadership, University of Phoenix (AZ)
M.Ed. Elementary Education, Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ)
BA Literary Studies, Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ)

theresa.radline@ridgeandvalley.org

Jen Ross

Jennifer Ross

Office Support Guide

Jen spent her childhood in New Jersey and had never heard of Blairstown until, as an adult, she went to an RVCS open house. She fell in love with the area, community and the school and relocated to Blairstown in 2012. Jen first became involved with the school as a parent volunteer, and then began working as a Guide in 2010. In her free time, Jen enjoys volunteering with the American Cancer Society, hiking, reading, and taking adventures with her two children who have been students at RVCS since kindergarten.

Education:
Gannon University (PA)

jen.ross@ridgeandvalley.org

donna

 

Donna Usinowicz

Nurse

Donna grew up in northern New Jersey and relocated with her family to the Blairstown area in 2000. She has worked as a registered nurse for 40 years and began working at RVCS in 2005. Her eclectic nursing experience in emergency rooms, pediatrics, early intervention programs, and camps makes Donna well suited to her work at RVCS. Donna enjoys sewing, handcrafts, gardening, and camping.

Education: 
Registered Nurse/Health Educator, Mountainside Hospital School of Nursing/Montclair State (NJ)

donna.usinowicz@ridgeandvalley.org

CONSULTANTS

Linda

Linda Maffei

Speech/Language Pathologist

Linda grew up in New Jersey and Connecticut. She moved to Blairstown in 1993 to raise her two sons in a rural environment. Linda is a licensed speech and language pathologist and began working with RVCS students in 2007. She has 35 years of experience specializing in working with school-age children. In her free time she loves to ski, dance, travel and play the guitar.

Education:
BS Communication Sciences, University of Connecticut
MS Communication Disorders, Emerson College (MA)

linda.maffei@ridgeandvalley.org

 

Karin DesmetKarin bio pic

Occupational Therapist

Karin grew up in rural northeast Pennsylvania and currently lives in the Pocono Region of Pennsylvania. Karin joined the RVCS community in 2016. She is a licensed and registered occupational therapist with 18 years of experience working in a variety of settings, including many of those years providing therapy in Pennsylvania and New Jersey schools. Karin has a passion for working with children and helping them to be more successful in their educational environment. She enjoys hiking, fishing, gardening, cooking, biking, and camping with her family.

Education:
MS Occupational Therapy, Misericordia University (PA)
BS Psychology, Misericordia University (PA)

karin.desmet@ridgeandvalley.org