kindergarten Lead Teacher
Mrs. Simard has been with The Birches since 2013. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from Rivier University. While attending, she gained experience teaching in many grade levels including preschool, second, and fourth grade. She has also had experience directing a special education resource room with kindergarten through fifth grade. During the school year Mrs. Simard has taught an afterschool science program to underprivileged children in elementary schools. She was Mrs. Cox’s assistant when she joined us here at The Birches and has been the Kindergarten teacher ever since we opened the grade in 2016. Mrs. Simard was previously the kindergarten teacher in Bedford NH. She comes to us from Nashua New Hampshire.
kindergarten Teaching Assistant
Mrs. Stone has been volunteering at The Birches Academy since the founding in 2012 and is now a Teaching Assistant. She has a degree in Travel and Tourism from Johnson and Wales University. Her previous experience includes serving as an aide at North Salem Elementary and as a flight attendant for US Airways. Stacy resides in Salem with her husband, 2 girls and a very spoiled golden retriever.
grade 1/2 lead Teacher
Mrs. Mulligan has been with The Birches Academy since it opened in 2012. Previously she had been a toddler, kindergarten and first grade teacher at schools in Massachusetts. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Education from Endicott College in Beverly, MA and a Masters in Education from American International College, which has a program strong in literacy. In her free time she enjoys traveling with her family and reading.
Grade 1/2 teaching assisant
Mrs. Dineen has been volunteering in The Birches Acaedmy community since the schools opening in 2012, and joined our staff in 2015. She received her B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Salem State University in Massachusetts, and has completed graduate level coursework focused on learning disabilities at Rivier College in Nashua. Her previous classroom experience at the Abundant Life Christian School in Wilmington, MA solidified her love and passion for teaching. She has lived in New Hampshire for the past 10 years with her husband and two boys. They enjoy spending time as a family, whether skiing, hiking, or rooting for the boys in youth sports.
Grade 1/2 lead Teacher
Ms. Cox has been at The Birches Academy since its opening year in 2012, coming to us from Derry, NH. She has lots of experience in pre-school, Head Start, grades K-2, and was a Title I reading tutor at Pollard Elementary in Plaistow. In addition to her M. Ed. in Early Childhood Development and experience with both literacy and math curriculums, Ms. Cox has a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from Mass College of Art and is insanely creative. She also teaches courses at Nashua Community College in Foundations of Early Childhood Education and Emergent Literacy.
Grade 1/2 Teaching Assistant
Mrs. Biel joined our staff in 2014. She is a mother of four and comes to us with over 15 years of teaching experience. She has taught kids from infants (in a water babies class) to 11th grade in both private and public schools. She began her teaching career in Texas public schools. Later in Arizona, she taught at and was the board president of a co-operative pre-school. Mrs. Biel received her BS in Communication Sciences and her MS in Education for Hearing Impaired, both from Texas Woman’s University.
Grade 3 Teaching Assistant
Grade 3 Lead Teacher
Grade 4/5 Lead Teacher
Mrs. Black-Ward has been at The Birches Academy since 2013. She lives in North Andover, MA but originates from Maine. She graduated from the University of Maine with her B. A. degree and has been teaching ever since. She has taught the majority of her years in multiage classrooms in K-2 and 3-5. After being a classroom teacher for several years, she was an RTI teacher for math and reading in Windham, NH. She is so happy to be back in the classroom! One of Mrs. Black-Ward’s passions is writing – especially poetry. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors and reading children’s books (they are the best books around!)
Kristin Sellitto, Teaching Assistant
Grade 4/5 Teaching Assistant
Mrs. Sellitto began volunteering at The Birches Academy in 2015 and joined the staff in 2017. She comes to us with a diverse background. After receiving her B.S. in Biology from UMASS Amherst and her M.S. in Biotechnology from Worcester State College, she pursued a career in the pharmaceutical development industry. After having children, she stopped working in the biotech industry to take on the role as business administrator and owner of a family Landscaping and Property Maintenance business. She began working with preschool children in 2016 and is excited to continue her work with children here at The Birches Academy. She lives in Salem, with her husband and four children, and loves going to the beach and camping!
Grade 4/5 Lead Teacher
Miss Livingston came to The Birches Academy in 2013 after receiving her M. Ed. in Elementary Education. She previously graduated with a B.S. in Family Studies with a minor in Psychology in 2012. Prior to joining us, she spent one full year student-teaching in a second grade classroom in the Oyster River School District in Durham, NH, as well as working for a full year with kindergarteners in North Hampton, NH. Miss Livingston’s experience with students goes beyond teaching in the classroom and includes things such as running academic science programs in the summer, tutoring, and beyond. These experiences have allowed her to work with a variety of age groups. Miss Livingston knew she wanted to be a teacher as a young child, and absolutely loves working with students. When she is not teaching, she loves traveling, camping, and being outdoors. She has a background in dance as well!
Grade 4/5 teaching assistant
Middle School Social Studies Teacher
Mrs. Balfe has been at The Birches Academy since its opening year in 2012. She came to us from UNH where her undergrad degree was in Theater Education and her M.Ed. was in Elementary Education. She is our Middle School Social Studies and Government teacher, as well as a Google expert! Mrs. Balfe currently lives in Derry, NH with her husband Matt and their three cats. Mrs. Balfe enjoys going to the beach, reading, hiking, and anything Disney!
middle school Science Teacher
Mrs. Kinson came to The Birches Academy in 2013. A lifelong resident of Plaistow, NH, she graduated from UNH in 2003 with two Associate’s: Civil Technology & Applied Business Management. In 2012 she achieved her Bachelor’s in Secondary Education: Business from Grand Canyon University and is currently working towards her Master’s in Curriculum & Instruction. Mrs. Kinson is certified to teach in Business and also has her SOE in middle school Math, Science, General Special Education and Comprehensive Technology. She has been The Birches Academy middle school science teacher for the past four years. In her spare time, Mrs. Kinson is a professional drag racer and she enjoys spending her free time at the race track with her husband and one year old daughter, Kayla.
Middle School English Teacher
Ms. Edwards joined Birches Academy staff in 2018 after receiving a B.S. in Secondary Special Education and Fine and Digital Arts. Originally from Rhode Island, she attended Seton Hall University in New Jersey. She was formerly an Assistant Teacher at Birches Academy, and currently is the English Language Arts teacher in the Middle School. She previously worked at the Institute of Reading Development where she had the opportunity to travel and teach classes across New England. She loves books, dogs, books with dogs, and dogs with books.
Middle School Math Teacher
¡Hola! Mrs. Hopkinson (also known as Profe.) joined The Birches Academy as the Spanish teacher in 2018. She holds a B.A. in Spanish from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Vanderbilt University. A native of Erie, PA, she has lived in 5 different US states and 2 different countries—Mexico and Brazil! While traveling is clearly one of her biggest passions, Mrs. Hopkinson is finally done packing her bags. She now lives with her husband and their two cats in Pelham, NH. In addition to Spanish, she also speaks Portuguese. When Mrs. Hopkinson is not at school, you can find her outdoors no matter what the weather. She loves hiking, kayaking, snowboarding, and is also a voracious reader.
Special Educator & 504 Coordinator
Mrs. Crocker has been with The Birches Academy since its opening year. She received her B.S. in Elementary Education and Special Education from Fitchburg State University and a MEd. from Plymouth State University. She began her teaching career teaching students with severe disabilities in Massachusetts. She then worked for 5 years in Raymond, NH, followed by almost 30 years in Windham, NH as a Special Educator. Mrs. Crocker works with students with IEPs at The Birches Academy and cooordinates 504 plans. Services range from consultation to specialized instruction, based on individual student needs.
Math & Reading Interventionist
Mrs. Doyle came to The Birches Adcaemy in 2015. She graduated from North Adams State College in Massachusetts with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. She worked in the non-profit sector with the homeless population as Volunteer Coordinator overseeing a soup kitchen and food pantry while working with transitional assistant recipients. From there she worked in Corporate Marketing for a Fortune 500 company before leaving to raise a family. During this time she earned her Master’s of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a Literacy Focus from Franklin Pierce University. She has experience teaching 4th-6th grade, Kindergarten and has extensive training in Wilson Reading Systems. Outside of the classroom, Michelle enjoys camping, reading, listening to music and baking. She resides in southern New Hampshire with her husband and four daughters.
Mrs. LeBlond joined The Birches Academy family in 2015 as a volunteer and as a staff member in 2017. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Anselm College and worked for many years in the insurance industry. In her spare time, Mrs. LeBlond enjoys crafting and photography. She resides in Windham with her husband, daughter and French Bulldog Emmy.
Mr. Comtois has been at The Birches Academy since its opening year in 2012. He is an accomplished musician in his own right specializing in the bass and guitar. However, he plays the drums, keyboard and can probably teach just about any musical instrument there is, including a mandolin! He teaches all of our third graders the ukulele and taking off from there. In addition to his instrumental skills and the many private lessons he gives, he works part-time at the Presentation of Mary Academy as their band director and has put on drama club presentations of Grease and Godspell that received rave reviews to name a few. He has self published his own guitar book, Yes You Can!, to help his students learn to play the guitar.
Mrs. Stolar has been with The Birches since 2013. She is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a B.S in Music Education with a emphasis in voice, flute and piano. Mrs. Stolar has had the privilege of teaching music in the Merrimack Valley for 39 years. Mrs. Stolar recently completed 31 years as a K-8 music classroom teacher and choral director in the Wilmington, Mass Public Schools. From 1985-1994, she held the positions of Music Teacher at Salem Christian School, and Merrimack Valley Montessori School. Currently she serves as the Salem Centerpoint Community Church Choir Director. She continues to teach piano, flute and voice in her private studio and is pleased to join The Birches Academy in her home town of Salem.
Mrs. Hawkes came to The Birches Academy in 2014 from Atkinson, NH where she lives with her husband, two little boys and dog Azul. Mrs. Hawkes’ love of art started at a very young age. She remembers getting in trouble for coloring on her babysitters house, and thinking she was only trying to make it more beautiful. Mrs. Hawkes has BA in art education from Colby-Sawyer College and an MA in creative arts from Fitchburg state. She is always finding some artistic project to work on like painting superheroes in her boy’s playroom, or hand painting dresser knobs for her “Hawkes Hollow” shop on Etsy. Mrs. Hawkes has over 10 years’ experience teaching art and has choreographed several school plays.
Art Teaching Assistant
Mrs. Skerry joined The Birches Academy staff in 2016. She is currently our Teaching Assistant in the art room. She graduated from Regis College with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Elementary Education. Following graduation Mrs. Skerry and her sisters founded the Hogarth Country Day School an arts-integrated preschool and kindergarten, and she worked as the Kindergarten teacher until she married. Mrs. Skerry then became employed at the Rainbow Preschool and Kindergarten in Plaistow where she helped develop and teach the Kindercare program which provided music and art education to area Kindergarteners. She remained with the school until it closed in 2014. Mrs. Skerry resides in Plaistow with her husband Paul. She is the proud mother of two daughters.
Mr. Pruslin lives with his wife and 11-year-old son in Wilmington, MA. He has been a teacher, coach, and counselor for over 30 years. He enjoys playing and coaching sports, especially his son’s baseball, basketball, and flag football teams. He creates, plays, and records music and now performs with his son. Some fun facts about Mr. Pruslin are that he has been in every major league baseball stadium since 1989 and even sang the National Anthem at a minor league baseball game!