Chris Smith, Dean of School
Chris Smith is a native of Massachusetts and graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology/Philosophy. He also holds master’s degrees in Secondary Teacher Education and Educational Leadership and has previously worked as a principal in Vermont and New Hampshire. Mr. Smith is excited about technology in education and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Instructional Design; he is actively working with the teachers to help increase technology integration at The Birches Academy. Before returning to the East Coast in 2014, Mr. Smith lived in Arizona for 14 years and worked at a residential treatment center for ten years before taking a job as a high school English teacher. Mr. Smith lives with his fifteen year old son, and when he is not working on school projects or being a dad he likes to play video games and solve the Rubik’s cube.
Ruth Templeton, Dean of Students
Ruth Templeton is a native of New York. She joined The Birches staff in 2014 as the Director of Student Affairs. She previously worked in a variety of educational settings, from Early Intervention to an Elementary Special Educator running a Resource Room serving over 30 students. Ms. Templeton started and ran an Early Intervention program serving Southern New Hampshire for five years. She holds a BA in Elementary Education and Psychology from the State University of New York at Potsdam, and a Masters in Education in Special Education from the University of Colorado at Denver. She holds a Level 1 Certification in the Wilson Reading Program and she is a certified Educational Therapist from the University of California Riverside. At The Birches Academy, Ms. Templeton serves as both an administrator directly involved with policy making, discipline, scheduling, planning events and travel, and special education. She also serves in an educational capacity to support students emotionally and academically in the classroom and individually. Ms. Templeton lives in Atkinson with her husband and three children. As a founder of The Birches Academy, she also served as a Trustee for three years before becoming a member of the staff.
Jessica Wachsman, Dean of operations
Jessica Wachsman is a Windham, New Hampshire native and attended St. Anselm College where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. After working for 10 years in Finance for Putnam Investments she took time off to raise her children. She is a Founder at both Mill Falls Charter School in Manchester as well as The Birches Academy. She has been working at The Birches Academy since its inception as the Business Manager. In this role she also works with students and staff on technology as well as all the behind the scene tasks that makes The Birches Academy run day to day. She and her husband have three children and live in Salem. NH. In free time she loves to travel with her family and take the family dog on long walks.
Deborah LeBlanc, Administrative Assistant
Mrs. LeBlanc has been at The Birches Academy since its opening year in 2012. She has worked in a number of small companies being the all-important “jack of all trades” before coming to the school. She has done a little bit of everything from shipping and receiving to inside and outside sales and marketing to being a project manager in a small computer company. She loves children so she volunteered at the Salem Athletic Club in both the nursery and revolution room teaching and playing developmental games and crafts. Mrs. LeBlanc has a BA in Liberal Studies with a minor in Early Childhood development.
Michelle Cole, Office Assistant
Mrs. Cole began volunteering at The Birches Academy in 2013 and now also works in the Business Office as an Assistant to the Dean of Operations. She has a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and previous experience working in non-profits and Human Resources. Mrs. Cole resides in Windham with her husband, two children and dog. In her spare time she enjoys traveling with her family and reading.
Aimye Haroutunian, Donor Relations & Event Director
Mrs. Haroutunian has been an active volunteer and Foundation Board member at The Birches Academy since the founding in 2012, and in January 2016, she joined the staff as the Donor Relations & Events Director. She has a BA in marketing from Endicott College in Beverly, MA, where she started down the path of fundraising as the treasurer of the Business Club. Her previous experience includes event planning and donation coordinator for the Christina Capozzi Foundation and the Merrimack Valley Montessori School. Mrs. Haroutunian has a passion for event planning and engaging volunteers. She continues to volunteer her time supporting the Haverhill Elite Track Club. She resides in Salem, NH with her husband, son and her pampered pooch Bleu.