Our Staff

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

Ieva Alverson

Nova Guide

Ieva Alverson lives a life of wonder in northwestern NJ. She believes conflict, contrast and silence hold the answers to her questions. Ieva has been a guide at the Ridge and Valley Charter School since 2007. She believes strongly in the school’s mission, education for a hopeful sustainable future, and strives to empower children to stewardship based on a deep love of the earth and respect for the planet’s systems and interconnectedness. Ieva has spent her life’s work in relationship and feels that Thomas Berry’s work evokes the awareness needed for earth’s next phase for humanity. Until then, she is loving the challenge of discovering her true nature. She is a certified yoga teacher and recently completed the Inner Life of the Child in Nature training certification. Ieva enjoys baking, yoga, kayaking, singing, wandering and gathering.

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

ieva.alverson@ridgeandvalley.org

Sarah Crosby

Galaxy Guide

Sarah, originally from the northern part of New Jersey, has been sharing her passion for the state’s nature and ecology, from Ringwood to Cape May. Sarah joined the RVCS community in 2022. She has a background in environmental education, sharing experiences as diverse as being a Monarch Field Naturalist at the Jersey shore to working as a Senior Educator/Naturalist in the NJ Highlands. Sarah enjoys nocturnal hiking, road trips, live music, and camping. She can often be found out on the trails with a field guide in hand.

Education:

AA Philosophy, Bergen Community College (NJ)

BA Philosophy and Environmental Studies, Rutgers University (NJ)

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

Mackenzie Cyr

Support Guide

Mackenzie joined the RVCS community in 2022. Growing up in the Blairstown area and working on her family farm, Mackenzie has always had a passion for the natural world. Her experiences raising livestock and participating in high school FFA led her to study Plant Science at Rutgers University. She helped design and maintain the Rutgers botanical gardens, as well as ran the production greenhouse there. Mackenzie believes her niche is in environmental-based education, with one of her interests being Horticultural Therapy, to help people use plants and gardening as a therapeutic modality. Mackenzie has been a trail steward for Worthington State Park and enjoys spending time outdoors hiking and identifying mushrooms. Her hobbies include baking, reading, and crocheting.

Education:

(pending) BS Plant Science, Rutgers University (NJ)

Dan Eagan

Dan Egan

Galaxy Guide

Dan grew up in northern Maryland and moved to northwest New Jersey to teach outdoor education. He 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, and a year backpacking through South America, makes Dan a great addition to the RVCS community. Dan enjoys camping, waterskiing in the Adirondacks, and traveling abroad. He lives in Stokes State Forest with his wife and three children.

Education:
BS Wildlife Conservation, University of Delaware

daniel.egan@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

Mike Florio

 

Kyle Freeman

Galaxy Guide

Kyle was born and raised in Dingmans Ferry, PA, near the Delaware River. He has worked on flower farms in both Maine and western New York and ran a market garden while in college. In addition to his farming experience, he also experiments with hydroponic systems and has a deep interest in the future of sustainable technology. Joining RVCS in 2021, Kyle considers himself a lifelong learner and believe that the school setting to truly be his niche. He enjoys bodies of water, observing insects and spiders, snowboarding, music, art, and exploring the Delaware River Valley.

Education:
AA Agricultural Technology, Alfred State (NY)
BA English, The State University of New York at Geneseo

kyle.freeman@ridgeandvalley.org

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/Elementary Education, 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

Galaxy Guide

Mark grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and joined the RVCS community in 2012 after moving to northwest NJ. He developed a passion for learning about the natural world as a child, and continues to work to inspire his students to do the same. Mark has experience being an environmental educator at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center in PA and a national park ranger at the Delaware Water Gap NRA and enjoys helping others to see the interconnectedness of the natural world. Mark brings his passions for gardening, botany, kayaking/canoeing, hiking, backpacking, birding, wild food foraging, and woodworking into his classroom on a regular basis.

Education:
BS Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management, The Pennsylvania State University

mark.garner@ridgeandvalley.org

 

Sundae Younkers

Sundae Greame

Stardust Guide

Sundae grew up in Andover, New Jersey and recently moved to Warren County with her husband and young children. Before joining the RVCS community in 2006, Sundae was an AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador and watershed liaison at the Wallkill River Wildlife Refuge. When she is not guiding children at RVCS, Sundae is the acting secretary for the Historical Society of Andover Borough and volunteers at the Andover Museum. She enjoys felting, sewing, kayaking, hiking, and playing outdoors with her children.

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

sundae.greame@ridgeandvalley.org

Julia Kelly

Stardust Guide

Julia has lived in New Jersey for most of her life. She and her husband moved to Sussex County in 2013 and she joined the RVCS community in 2018. She and her husband moved to Sussex County in 2013. She has experience developing curriculum with the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education and loves to share outdoor hands-on experiential learning with students. She has a special education certification from Saint Elizabeth’s College. Julia is an avid gardener and received her Master Gardener Certification from Rutgers University. She is passionate about native plant cultivation and runs a food pantry garden at her community garden. Julia and her husband enjoy traveling throughout the US and camping at national parks. Julia was at one time a professional pastry chef and still loves to bake and share her recipes with others. She enjoys biking, hiking and skiing, playing the guitar and singing and spending time with her husband, four adult children, and 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 in the hopes of gaining perspective about the role of the human in the natural world. She went to 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. In 2005 she got certificates in permaculture and natural building while living in the Patagonia region of Argentina. After traveling, studying, and working in various places she returned to her bone country, the ridge and valley bioregion to continue this work at Genesis Farm, and later joined the Ridge and Valley Charter School community in 2016. Jessica has many passions, including raising her two wonderful boys, hula hooping, acro yoga, studying plants, and just being in the woods. She holds a BA in Sustainable Community Development with an emphasis in ecopsychology from Prescott College in Arizona.

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

jessie.krause@ridgeandvalley.org

 

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Sena McClain

Nova Guide

Sena grew up in Ohio and has been teaching children about the natural world for more than 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 2019, Sena spent three years as the founding education coordinator of a non-profit nature preserve in 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:
M Ed Foundations of Education, Antioch University, New England (NH)
BS Psychology, Georgia College & State University (GA)

sena.mcclain@ridgeandvalley.org

Milly Paulson

Support Guide

Milly grew up in the Blairstown area and has always been an avid fan of the natural world. A 2011 RVCS graduate, she and her siblings all attended RVCS. Before returning to RVCS as a support guide in 2020, Milly worked as an experiential educator at local camps, farms, and outdoor centers. Milly enjoys drawing, hiking, playing board games, and spending time with her family and their pets.

Education:
AA Liberal Arts, Excelsior College (NY)

milly.paulson@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

Nova 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 are both current students and graduates of RVCS, is a native of the Highlands area of northwestern New Jersey, where she continues to live with her family. Before joining RVCS in 2009, she taught for over a decade at various NJ public middle schools and high schools. She has also worked as a developmental interventionist and therapist for children with autism. In addition to Maggie’s masters in Integrated Learning, she is certified in special education, K-12 and Middle School Math. Maggie brings the RVCS philosophy into her home life, where she and her family enjoy the benefits of growing and preserving their own food, raising chickens, milking goats, and generating alternative sources of energy for their home. She enjoys sharing her knowledge of health, nutrition, hiking, gardening, and making goat milk paint, soap, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.

Education:
BS in Elementary Education (Specialization in Middle School Math and Special Education), West Virginia University (WV)
M Ed  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 attended 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, The State University of New York at Cortland

tonya.wikander@ridgeandvalley.org

Staff

Robin Balles

Infrastructure Coordinator, Leadership Team

Robin grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania, where she split her time between forest, farm and lake. She lived and studied in Italy, Panama, Atlanta, NYC and Jersey City before moving to Blairstown in 2021 and joining the RVCS community as the Infrastructure Coordinator.  Prior to her work at RVCS, Robin worked as a multidisciplinary environmental designer in architecture, landscape and urban design.  She is passionate about biophilia, integrating this with holistic design problem solving to address social and environmental needs across various scales.  An avid gardener, she has led garden design, activities and educational programming in a community garden setting.  Robin loves to help others explore, discover, and foster their own creativity.  She enjoys anything aquatic, as well as creating artwork, biking and camping with her family.

Education:
M Urban Design, The City College of New York
BS Architecture, The Pennsylvania State University

robin.balles@ridgeandvalley.org

Meaghan Manole

School Psychologist

After growing up in Union City, NJ, Meaghan and her husband, drawn to the quiet and beauty of the area, moved to Warren County to raise a family. Meaghan is deeply passionate about supporting and empowering diverse students. As a graduate student at Montclair State University completing her School Psychologist certification, Meaghan performed several research studies which looked at the ways in which pre-service school psychologists learn about socially just practice. Over the course of her program, she completed internships at multiple school districts in NJ, and was able to work with students from diverse socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds, along with students with varying levels of disabilities. Meaghan joined the RVCS community in 2019 and enjoys hiking, rock climbing, running, reading, and crocheting.

Education:
MA Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology, Montclair State University (NJ)
BA Psychology, Rutgers-Newark University (NJ)

meaghan.manole@ridgeandvalley.org

Lisa Masi

Lisa Masi

Integration Coordinator, Leadership Team

Lisa, a founding guide, was exploring alternatives to traditional education when she discovered RVCS. While her two youngest children were benefiting from an RVCS education, Lisa also joyfully explored the universe as a guide for the school’s youngest students from 2004-2018. A part-time member of the Leadership Team since 2008, she took on a full-time role in 2018. Lisa has a background in early childhood education, alternative educational practices, place-based and project-based education, and educating for sustainability. She has developed curriculum through The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Trail to Every Classroom program, and is involved with the Education for Sustainability Leadership Academy at Shelburne Farms. Lisa has an ongoing interest in farm-based education and obtained her Permaculture Design Certificate with a focus in permaculture education for children. A member of the Community Supported Garden at Genesis Farm for over 25 years, she is passionate about guiding children in the deepening understanding of, and connection to, our bioregion, particularly through experiences with local farms and food. Lisa loves to sing and is grateful for the RVCS assemblies that foster a sense of community among students, guides, and families. In addition to singing, Lisa enjoys hiking, swimming, ice skating, reading, cooking, and spending time with her family, friends, and pets.

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

lisa.masi@ridgeandvalley.org

Toni Mazzariello

Nurse/School Health Coordinator

Toni was born and raised in central New Jersey. She relocated to Warren County over 30 years ago to raise a family. Before returning to Warren County, she spent time hiking, backpacking, and working as a chef while traveling in Europe and Australia. During her time in Warren County, Toni organized multiple backpacking expeditions on the Appalachian Trail for teens as a 4-H leader, and taught Holistic Health classes, organic gardening, and Herbal Medicine to homeschoolers at Fireside Academy. Toni has been practicing holistic healthcare for over 25 years and has worked as a med-surg nurse, school nurse and hospice nurse for over a decade and is certified in Clinical Aromatherapy and Reiki Level III. She loves spending time with her family and being a grandparent. Toni has a passion for organic gardening, playing with dogs, wild crafting, making herbal medicine, cooking and spending time outdoors. She joined the RVCS community in 2020 and believes a classroom without walls in the natural world can open the mind and the heart to cultivate love and respect for nature.

Education:
BSN Nursing, Moravian College (PA)

toni.mazzariello@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 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

Administrative 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. Jen is the mother of two RVCS graduates, one a US Marine and the other currently attending Ithaca College. She is a member of Blue Star Mothers of North Warren NJ. 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

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