Program and Faculty at Our Independent School

TSS believes that learning happens best and students progress faster in small groups. This approach enables teachers to tailor instruction at our independent school to the individual learning needs of each child while focusing on the strengths he or she brings to the classroom. Students who are elementary and middle school aged challenged with dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorders, and other language-based learning differences can in time successfully transition to more traditional programs that fits his or her needs.

Each TSS student has the following academic classes every day:

Tutorial

  • Specialized daily instruction in decoding, spelling, reading fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension
  • Evidence-based approaches and methods help students "learn to read" and "read to learn"

 

Literature

  • Reinforces reading, comprehension, language, and listening skills through a shared-book experience
  • Creative projects extend understanding, foster connections to text, and deepen analysis skills

 

Writing

  • Daily practice in language conventions, sentence writing and paragraph development centered around the writing process, helps students develop a structured approach they can use across the curriculum.

 

Social Studies & Science

  • Hands-on/project-based learning that integrates the arts, technology, field trips, assemblies, lab experiences, and research projects to actively engage students with the material

 

Mathematics

  • Focuses on acquiring underlying mathematical concepts, building computational skills and developing problem-solving strategies

 

Study Period

  • Provides time for students to work with teachers to practice executive function strategies and develop self-advocacy skills

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching Faculty

Aline Araujo Teacher

BA - Roger Williams University, Elementary Education
MS - Southern Connecticut State University, Remedial Reading & Language Arts
Connecticut Certification Elementary Education, Grades 1-6

Current Years at TSS: 2 Years in Education: 7
Megan Aversano Teacher

BS - University of Connecticut 
MA - University of Connecticut 
Connecticut Certification in Elementary Education, Grades 1-6 

Current Years at TSS: 23 Years in Education: 23
Justin Behn Teacher

BS - University of Connecticut
MA - University of Connecticut
Connecticut Certification in Elementary Education, Grades 1-6

Current Years at TSS: 12 Years in Education: 12
Karin Bowman Teacher

BA - University of Massachusetts 
MS Ed - University of Bridgeport 
Certified, Orton-Gillingham Academy 

Current Years at TSS: 8 Years in Education: 25
Melissa Brown Teacher

BA - Sacred Heart University 
MAT - Sacred Heart 
University 6th Year - Southern Connecticut State University 
Connecticut Certification: Remedial Reading/Language Arts K-12 
Connecticut Certification: Professional Educator, Elementary Education K-6 

Current Years at TSS: 22 Years in Education: 23
James Bruce Teacher

BA - University of Oregon
MS - University of Bridgeport

Current Years at TSS: 6 Years in Education: 10
Julia Cascio Teacher

BA - Fairfield University 
MA - Fairfield University

Current Years at TSS: 3 Years in Education: 3
Bianca Cenatiempo Teacher

BS - Western Connecticut State University
MA - Fairfield University 
Connecticut Certification: Health Education Pre-K-12 and Special Education K-12
Classroom Educator, Orton-Gillingham Academy

Current Years at TSS: 6 Years in Education: 11
Theresa Collins

Orton-Gillingham Academy, Fellow & Trainer
Department Head, Tutorial

BA - Colgate University
MS - State University of New York 
Fellow, Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators 
Current Years at TSS: 8 Years in Education: 35
Sarah Crupi Art Director
Teacher

BS - Southern Connecticut State University
MA - Boston University
Connecticut Certification: Professional Educator, Art Education Pre-K-12
Classroom Educator, Orton-Gillingham Academy

Current Years at TSS: 8 Years in Education: 11
Brandon DeMunnik

Teacher
Student Advisor

BA - University of Rhode Island
MS - University of Bridgeport

Current Years at TSS: 22 Years in Education: 22
Joanne Dowling Teacher

BS - The Catholic University of America
MSED - Fairfield University (Certified K-12)

Current Years at TSS: 8 Years in Education: 27
Kristin DuCharme Teacher

BA - Sacred Heart University
MAT - Sacred Heart University 
Connecticut Certification-Initial Certificate K-6
Classroom Educator, Orton-Gillingham Academy
New Jersey CEAS K-6 (Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing)

Current Years at TSS: 4 Years in Education: 12
Christine Filep Teacher

BA - Fairfield University
MAT - Sacred Heart University
Classroom Educator, Orton-Gillingham Academy

Current Years at TSS: 23 Years in Education: 24
Janine Forry Teacher 
Student Advisor 
Department Head, Language Arts 

BS - William Paterson University
CAS - St. Thomas Aquinas College
MSED - Walden University
Associate, Orton-Gillingham Academy

Current Years at TSS: 20 Years in Education: 22
Jeannine M. Gallagher Teacher

BS - Marymount College -Tarrytown, Special Education 
MA - Fairfield University, Special Education 
Connecticut Certification: Professional Educator in Comprehensive Special Education K-12 
Connecticut Certification: Professional Educator in Elementary Education K-6 
Classroom Educator, Orton-Gillingham Academy

Current Years at TSS: 8 Years in Education: 13
Melanie Higgins Teacher

BS - University of Connecticut
MS - Southern Connecticut State University
Connecticut Certification: Special Education
Associate, Orton-Gillingham Academy

Current Years at TSS: 21 Years in Education: 21
Heather Humphries Teacher

BS - Southern Connecticut State University 
MA - Fairfield University 
Connecticut Certification: Professional Educator in Comprehensive Special Education, Pre-K-12 
Associate, Orton-Gillingham Academy

Current Years at TSS: 26 Years in Education: 34
Erin Johnson Teacher

BA - Marist College
MA - Sacred Heart University
Connecticut Certification: Initial Certificate, Elementary Education 1-6

Current Years at TSS: 2 Years in Education: 2
KC Koshansky

Teacher

BA - University of Connecticut 
MAT - Sacred Heart University 
6th Year Degree-102 Certification in Remedial Reading/Language Arts K-12 – Fairfield University 
Connecticut Certification: Provisional Educator, Elementary Education K-6 
Classroom Educator, Orton-Gillingham Academy 

Current Years at TSS: 3 Years in Education: 8
Tricia Marini Teacher BA - Fitchburg State University, Early Childhood Education 
BS - Fitchburg State University, Sociology 
MS - Fairfield University, Teaching and Learning 
Connecticut Certification: PreK-12 
University 6th Year - University of Bridgeport, Remedial Reading & Remedial Language Arts 
Connecticut Certification: Grades 1-12
Current Years at TSS: 1  
Taylor Myers Teacher

BA - Roger Williams University 
MA - Sacred Heart University 
Connecticut Certification: Initial Certificate, Elementary Education 1-6 
Classroom Educator, Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators

Current years at TSS: 7 Years in Education: 12
Talya Oral Teacher

BS - Texas Christian University, Early Childhood Education
MS - Texas Christian University, Special Education

Current Years at TSS: 3 Years in Education: 3
Kylie Palmer Teacher

BS - University of Dayton, Early Childhood Education 
Connecticut Certification: Early Childhood/Elementary Ed. N-3 and Special Ed. N-K

Current Years at TSS: 1 Years in Education: 1
Julie Papp Teacher
Student Advisor

BA - Boston College
MA - Fordham University

Current Years at TSS: 18 Years in Education: 23
Sharon Plante Chief Technology Integrator
Teacher Mentor
Student Advisor

BA - Connecticut College 
MEd - George Mason University 
092 Leadership and Administration - Sacred Heart University 
Connecticut Certification: Professional Educator: Special Education: Comprehensive, Grades K - 12 
Classroom Educator, Orton-Gillingham Academy 
Wilson Reading System Level I Certification 
Co-Author - "Using Technology to Engage Students with Learning Disabilities" 

Current Years at TSS: 18 Years in Education: 26
Brianna Pruchnicki

Teacher, Health & Wellness 
Teacher, Lower School

BA - Manhattanville College 
MS - University of Bridgeport 
Current Years at TSS: 2 Years in Education: 4
Jim Renehan Teacher's Assistant

BA - Johnson & Wales University
MAT - Sacred Heart University
TSS Alumni - T '05

Current Years at TSS: 2 Years in Education: 7
Shelbey Roy Teacher

BA - Iona College, Political Science
MAT - Sacred Heart University
Connecticut Certification: Initial Certificate, Elementary Education 1-6

Current Years at TSS: 2 Years in Education: 2
Kim Ruggiero

Department Head, Math
Teacher

BS - Southern Connecticut State University 
MS - University of Bridgeport 
Connecticut Certification: Elementary and Special Education 
Associate, Orton-Gillingham Academy

Current Years at TSS: 26 Years in Education: 26
Marisa Scott Teacher

BS- Salve Regina University
Connecticut Certification: Initial Certificate, Elementary Education 1-6

Current Years at TSS: 4 Years in Education: 5
Laurie Strazza Teacher

BA - Southern Connecticut State University
BS - Southern Connecticut State University
MA - Sacred Heart University

Current Years at TSS: 2 Years in Education: 7
Jaclyn Shuster Teacher's Assistant

BS - Quinnipiac University 
MAT- Quinnipiac University K-6 
Connecticut Certification: Initial Certificate, Elementary Education 1-6

Current Years at TSS: 1 Years in Education: 8
Tom Turner

Physical Education Teacher
Teacher's Assistant

BS- Southern Connecticut State University Current Years at TSS: 2 Years in Education: 2
Kylee Vitka Teacher BA – Southern Connecticut State University, Early Childhood Education 
Connecticut Certified, Early Childhood/Elementary N-3 and Special Education N-K
Current Years at TSS: 1 Years in Education: 2
Audra Whitmore Teacher 
Student Advisor 

BS - Saint Joseph's University
MS - Saint Joseph's University
Classroom Educator, Orton-Gillingham Academy
Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner
Wilson Reading System Level I Certification

Current Years at TSS: 3 Years in Education: 6
Jessica Wyton Teacher, Upper School
Music Director

BA - Berklee College of Music 
MS - University of Bridgeport 
Classroom Educator, Orton-Gillingham Academy 

Current Years at TSS: 3 Years in Education: 9
Clorasteen Wilson Teacher

BA - University of Connecticut 
MS - University of Bridgeport 
Connecticut Certification: Initial Certificate, Elementary Education 1-6 
Classroom Educator, Orton-Gillingham Academy 

Current Years at TSS: 4 Years in Education: 4

Staff and Administration

Samantha Berg Director of Admissions

BS - Western Connecticut State University

Current Years at TSS: 8 Years in Education: 15
Dr. Hallie A. Buckingham Head of Upper School
Student Advisor

BS - Southern Connecticut State University
MS - Southern Connecticut State University
6th Year - Southern Connecticut State University
EdD - Southern Connecticut State University
Connecticut Certified: Special Education

Current Years at TSS: 33 Years in Education: 33
Rick Fedeli

Facilities Support

  Current Years at TSS: 3  
Mario Fiallo

Director of Facilities

GED - Brian McMahon High School Current Years at TSS: 22 Years in Profession: 34
Dr. Kathleen Gallagher Head of Lower School
Co-Director of Summer Programs
Student Advisor

BA - College of New Rochelle
MA - College of New Rochelle
EdD - St. John Fisher College
Connecticut Certification: Special Education

Current Years at TSS: 28 Years in Education: 27
Melissa Kinyon, C.C.C./SLP Speech-Language Pathologist

BS - Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, Ithaca College
MS - Communication Disorders, Emerson College
ASHA Certified, CT Licensed

Current Years at TSS: 11 Years in Education: 31
Peggy Lewis Chef, Caterer

CDM - Auburn University

Current Years at TSS: 4 Years in Profession: 33
Maggie Macari

Chief Operating Officer

COVID Response Coordinator:
covid19@southportschool.org

BS - Villanova University Current Years at TSS: 10 Years in Profession: 36
Claire Millerick Advancement Coordinator

BA - Quinnipiac University, Public Relations

Current Years at TSS: 2 Years in Profession: 3
Elizabeth “Zibby” Perkins Director of Advancement

BA - Syracuse University, English/Public Relations

Current Years at TSS: 8 Years in Profession: 24
Dr. Benjamin N. Powers Head of School
Executive Director, The Southport CoLAB

BA - La Salle University
MBA - Rochester Institute of Technology
DBA - Grenoble Ecole de Management
Associate, Orton-Gillingham Academy
Affiliated Research Scientist at Haskin Laboratories

Current Years at TSS: 10 Years in Education: 23
John Robbins Director of Student Programs
Co-Director of Summer Programs
Student Advisor

BA - University of Colorado
MA - Fairfield University
University 6th Year - Southern Connecticut State University
Connecticut Certification: Special Education

Current Years at TSS: 23 Years in Education: 23
Jeffrey Ruggiero Director of Education BS - Southern Connecticut State University, Special Education 
MS - Southern Connecticut State University, Learning Disabilities 
University 6th Year - Southern Connecticut State University, School Administration and Supervision 
Connecticut Certification: Special Education K-12 
Connecticut Certification: School Administration 
Associate, Orton-Gillingham Academy
Current Years at TSS: 31 Years in Education: 31
David Sylvestro School Psychologist

BA - Trinity College
MA - Fairfield University

Current Years at TSS: 30 Years in Education: 48
Jennifer Szweda, RN

Nurse

COVID Response Team:
covid19@southportschool.org

ADN - Waukesha County Technical College
BSN - Chamberlain University 2022
Current Years at TSS: 3 Years in Profession: 32
Lauren Jones Executive Assistant, Head of School

BA - University of North Carolina-Wilmington, Elementary Education
MA - Southern Connecticut State University, Education

Current Years at TSS: 2 Years in Profession: 6
Joyce Tracey Business Manager

BS- Towson University

Current Years at TSS: 6 Years in Profession: 13
Dede Warner Front Office Administrator

AA - Bennett College
BA - University of Connecticut

Current Years at TSS: 28 Years in Education: 32
Cadia Wiley School Counselor
Student Advisor

BS - John Carroll University
MEd - Cleveland State University

Current Years at TSS: 4 Years in Education: 6