Jasmine Smith; Founding Director, Teacher, Woodland Class
Jasmine has taught in public and private schools, across the grades, on the east and west coast, and is deeply tied to the mountain and sea scapes of New England. She grew up in the White Mountains, where she first developed a reverence for the natural world, and a deep seated sense of place and outdoor adventure. She is a graduate of College of the Atlantic (COA) and now makes her home in an old farm house, with lots of stories, in Bar Harbor. Jasmine has also designed curriculum and led wilderness trips for the Chewonki Foundation, where she now sits on the advisory board and she served as the director of COA’s Summer Field Studies for several years. She has been an educational consultant for bringing garden and greenhouse projects into public schools in coastal Maine, and she has home-schooled a number of children on Mount Desert Island. Her teaching is deeply inspired by the rhythms of the natural world, along with the ecology and the dynamic communities of the Maine coast. Jasmine's lifelong dream of becoming Miss Frizzle has come to fruition, as she leads the school in a Place-Based curriculum that takes them on many learning adventures. She sees great value in children connecting with the people and places where they live as a part of their school life, and truly loves coming to work to teach and learn each day.
Amy tolman; class teacher, alpine class
Originally from the South Shore of Massachusetts, Amy worked in a number of diverse educational settings before happily settling on MDI to teach The Community School's oldest students. Amy spent her college years at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, focusing primarily on race, class, and gender studies. She then went on to receive her Master’s degree in Education. She dedicated her student teaching to working in both urban and rural elementary schools, teaching all subjects in both lower and upper grade classrooms. After completing graduate school, Amy worked for a non-profit in New Hampshire providing environmental education to 5th-8th graders. This experience solidified her love of teaching middle schoolers and helping students connect to the outdoors. Amy believes strongly in experiential learning and the power of providing a calm and nurturing environment in which students can learn and grow. Outside of school, Amy has enjoyed a great deal of traveling to backpack, eat good food, and work on small-scale organic farms across the United States. She feels very fortunate to teach in a school that nurtures children’s interests and values happiness as an essential part of education.
Marie LaRosee; English/Language Arts and Math Workshop
Marie has been passionate about her work with children of all ages. She grew up in Massachusetts and started working with children in a high-school work-study program. She attended Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon and returned to the east coast to teach in a one-room K-8 schoolhouse on one of Maine’s outer islands. After four years of island life, she moved to Mount Desert Island to teach third and fourth grade, to co-teach for seven years in a public school multi-age class for six- to ten-year-olds, and then worked as a tutor to home schoolers. She received her Master’s Degree in Administration and Community Development and worked as administrator in a small non-profit private school for three years. To serve the community’s need for quality child-care, she co-founded, directed, and was a provider at The Village, a LifeWays Childcare Center for infants to school-aged children. When Marie first heard about The Community School, she connected with the school’s vision and mission for education and wanted to become involved. Marie started her work with The Community School in its first year. She currently is leading English/Language Arts and Math Workshop in the Woodland Class. She is especially grateful for the talented faculty and loving children and their families that she works with every day. Marie enjoys nature and is a Maine Associate Naturalist. She loves her garden, traveling, reading and collecting books, and laughter.
Mel Steinberg; Support Teacher, Woodland class
Mel came to The Community School as an intern during the school's first spring. While in college, she studied Sustainable Food Systems, worked in bread bakeries in Italy, taught 6th Grade Farm-to-School classes at Conners Emerson School, and developed an Agricultural Arts curriculum for Growing Season, a farm-based summer learning program at Peggy Rockefeller Farms. After graduating, Mel was thrilled to continue working with The Community School. She appreciates the mindfulness, intention, and connection to others and the environment that The Community School has made such a core part of their rhythms. Mel especially loves building gnome homes, gardening, Thursday Outings, Friday Feasts, and read aloud time at The Community School.
Karen Ressel; Hand Work
Karen's lifelong love of handwork began at a young age, when as a child she learned to crochet alongside her grandmother. Over the years, her hands were never idle, as she developed a passion for many types of handwork. In 1993 Karen created Sara Rose, a knitwear company that she operated for 10 years. Karen has taught handwork to children of all ages, privately as well as in the MDI public schools. She was the Handwork teacher at the Acadia Waldorf School. Karen has been teaching at The Community School since its beginning. She is delighted to be a part of the school community and enjoys sharing her love of Handwork with the students. Karen lives in Bar Harbor with her husband and 3 children.
Ian Heyse: Community outing and leadership Coordinator
Ian is a passionate ecologist and outdoor educator who grew up in Lamoine, Maine. Ian left Maine to attend Colorado College in Colorado Springs, where he researched wildlife ecology and conservation, and worked as an outdoor leader for the school's outdoor program. After graduating, Ian worked throughout the Rocky Mountains, including studying mountain lions and Canada lynx, as well as working with sled dogs. During the summers, Ian is a leader for National Geographic Student Expeditions, where he takes high school students on wildlife ecology workshops in Tanzania. Now happily settled back in Maine, Ian works Community School on Thursdays coordinating and leading school outings.
Nick Jenei; Music
Nick found the saxophone in the 4th grade and has been playing music ever since. Through the years he picked up the oboe, piano, and banjo and particularly enjoys playing jazz, classical and ragtime music. Originally hailing from Los Angeles, Nick thought he wanted to go to music school, but came to Maine to study not only music, but also business, and philosophy at College of the Atlantic. He credits his passion for music to his elementary music school teacher and is honored to be working with the children of The Community School to inspire that same kind of love for music. Additionally he is the Business Director at the Community School and facilitates the outdoor program at College of the Atlantic.