Working at Apple Orchard
One of the ways we support teachers is through a generous Teacher’s Fund. We offer financial assistance to teachers seeking their master’s degrees and other areas of interest that enhance a teacher’s classroom competency and well-being. For example, teachers in the past have pursued professional development in areas such as:
- Yoga certification
- Workshops focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Education on Farms workshops
- Reggio Emilia training in Boulder, CO
- EEC certification classes
- NAEYC Annual Conference
- Travel to schools in Turkey, Thailand, and Israel
We continually seek to support and build a diverse group of teachers who embrace a broad range of identifiers. A person who both views nature as a means to educate children, as well as one who holds the belief that an anti-racist education is an essential aspect of an excellent education would be a good fit for our community of teachers.
Martina Albright | Director
I received my Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Harvard College and my Masters and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from New York University. I am EEC Director II certified. After many years as a consulting psychologist to Apple Orchard, I assumed the Director role in 2015. Before joining Apple Orchard full time, I worked at Massachusetts General Hospital in child psychiatry. I began to shift my focus to early education and how to build foundational skills at this early age as a key way to foster healthy, happy lives. All three of my children attended Apple Orchard so I know the school as a parent, as well as an administrator. The natural environment and play are the best educational backdrop for skill development in early educational experiences. I live with my husband and three children and enjoy playing ice hockey, tennis, skiing and making raspberry jam with my family.
Diana (Dee) Bunstein | Business Director
I have a Bachelor of Arts in Young Children with Special Needs from Fitchburg State College. I also have a Masters in Early Intervention from Wheelock College. Before joining Apple Orchard in 2002, I spent 12 years directing child daycare programs. I wear several hats at Apple Orchard. I am an administrative assistant, Early Education & Care (EEC) Licensing Coordinator, and have been a Class III Teaching Assistant. I wake up each day looking forward to going to work. I live with my husband, two boys, both Apple Orchard alums, and our rescue dogs. We spend time with extended family, exploring outdoors, walking, swimming, and hiking. One of our favorite family places to visit is Martha’s Vineyard.
Sherry Landry | Classroom Director
I hold a Bachelor of Science in Education from Tufts University. I began as a Sandwich Club teacher in 1984, and then in 1986 became a Class I Lead Teacher. In 2006, I assumed my current role as Classroom Director and have oversight over all age levels as well as Sandwich Club. I feel like Apple Orchard is a second home; it is a magical place and it is a joy to expose children to nature in such a unique environment. I feel a deep responsibility to provide the best possible educational foundation for all the students. Both of my children attended Apple Orchard and return as often as they can. I live with my husband and enjoy taking long walks with my dog, knitting, and sewing.
Martin Familia | Business Office
I’ve been working in finances in different capacities since graduating from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2009. Originally born in the Dominican Republic, I came to Boston at the age of two where he has resided ever since. I demonstrate a commitment to community with his involvement at different organizations including his former school Codman Academy Charter Public School where I am an active member of Codman Academy’s Board of Trustees. I also hold financial literacy seminars for different groups of high school students, including current students as they prepare for life after high school.
Diana Walcott | Admissions and Development Director
I hold a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Denison University and an EEC Teacher Certification. Upon graduating from college, I knew I wanted to work with children so I began working at The Park School, both as an intern in the Pre-Kindergarten, as well as in Admissions. In 1993, I was hired at Apple Orchard to assist in Class I and to lead Sandwich Club. I always wanted to work in admissions and development and in 1994 the opportunity arose. In my free time I love reading, watching movies, and walking on the beach.
John Farrington | Music Coordinator
I graduated from UMass Boston with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. I have been teaching at Apple Orchard since 1994 and my current role is Music Teacher. I love playing music with the children and I also play guitar and sing with my band, The Porter Squares. I enjoy photography, traveling, collecting musical instruments, and going for walks with my dog.
Jeremy Aron | Facilities/Animal Curriculum and Sportsjam
I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Childhood Studies with a minor in Coaching from Plymouth State University. I also have a Masters in Elementary Education from Lesley University. I started at Apple Orchard in 2000 as an Assistant Teacher. I left to complete my masters degree and returned as a Lead Teacher in 2007. I am passionate about all the animals on the farm, nature, sports, and teaching the children about all of these. Both at Apple Orchard and in the greater community, I run a program called Sportsjam that teaches young children about sports. I have over 20 years experience coaching soccer, basketball, tennis, and baseball with students ranging from age three to Division 3 men’s college soccer. In my free time, I enjoy being with my family and friends, playing basketball and golf, and taking long hikes with my dog Hunter.
Chicken Coop Teachers (2.9-year-olds)
Laurie DePinho | Lead Teacher
At Apple Orchard since 1989, I was part of the original team that designed a program for our youngest students in the Chicken Coop (2.9-3.5 years). I am Director II Certified as well as Lead Teacher Certified for 0-8 years of age. My background includes economically diverse experiences. As a teacher I embrace awareness of differences. In our classroom we celebrate differences through books, projects, and everyday communication. I am a natural nurturer of children and their parents as they embark on this earliest stage of learning in a school setting. I work especially well with this age group because I am intuitive to their needs and believe my extensive experience has provided me with unparalleled expertise in these early developmental years. I love mud, worms and every sensory experience that the farm offers. When not at Apple Orchard, I enjoy time with my family in New Hampshire.
Annika Tate | Teacher
I recently graduated from Gordon College with a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Psychology. I am excited to be a part of the Apple Orchard team as an Assistant Teacher. As a warm and caring educator, I strive to create and maintain an environment where students can grow and thrive while exploring the world around them. I come from a Danish family where most of my childhood was spent outdoors so I grew up knowing the importance of outdoor learning and play. I love traveling, cooking, playing tennis, and spending time with family and friends.
Class I Teachers (3-year-olds)
Michelle Cusick | Lead Teacher
I graduated from Lesley University with a Bachelor of Science in Education. I have been working at Apple Orchard since 2000 and am excited to teach children about the environment and nature. I love taking the children on adventures with our two goats and exploring the changing seasons on the farm. I have two dogs that I love to take on long hikes.
Annie Blakslee | Teacher
I am thrilled to be joining the Apple Orchard team as an Assistant Teacher in Class I for the 2022-2023 school year. I wholeheartedly believe in the magic that the natural world brings to the lives of children. Before graduating with my BA in Environmental Studies and Education from Bates College I was an assistant teacher in local schools ranging from kindergarten to high school. I spent the last year working with students K-8 in outdoor experiential education, with a goal of empowering them to contribute positively to their community as leaders. In my free time I enjoy exploring the outdoors walking, running, or Nordic skiing. I also like finding a new craft and spending time with my friends and family.
Kacia Savage | Lead Teacher
With a BS in Elementary Education, a Master of Arts in Teaching and more than 20+ years of experience working with children of all ages and ability types, I am thrilled to be joining the Apple Orchard community this year. It will be exciting to help foster learning with the children through play, nature exploration, and tapping into their natural curiosities about the world around them. In my free time I love reading, listening to music, baking bread, bike riding, and spending time with my family and friends.
Kali Noneza | Teacher
I graduated from Boston College in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal and Social Justice. After working as a camp counselor and as a nanny, I’ve discovered how rewarding it is to play an active role in fostering a child’s growth and education through connections made with nature. I’m very excited to be joining the Apple Orchard community this year and look forward to being a part of an environment that links the appreciation and exploration of nature as well as inclusivity with learning. In my free time I enjoy reading, drawing, going for hikes, and collecting sea glass whenever and wherever I see the chance.
Sara Cirioni | Lead Teacher
I am a recent graduate of Northeastern’s Masters in Special Education Program. While there, I studied the effects of the disproportionate percentage of black students placed erroneously in special education programs within Boston Public Schools. Through thoughtful conversation and practice, I am committed to providing a loving and inclusive environment for all students at Apple Orchard. At school, you can find me singing and dancing alongside students and enjoying adventures on the farm. When I am not at school I love to bake, try new restaurants, indoor cycle, hike, and go on adventures with my dog, Taco.
Christa Schmidt | Teacher
I hold a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and Sustainability and a social studies teaching license from Northern Michigan University. After graduating with my Bachelors, I knew I wanted to work with children so I became a Naturalist at Foothill Horizons Outdoor School in Sonora, California. My time at FHOS revealed the irreplaceable value that learning in nature has on students of any age. As a teacher, I love to experience the power of imagination and exploration alongside my students. I am thrilled to begin teaching at Apple Orchard where I feel my love of learning, nature, and animals come together. In my free time I enjoy baking, weaving, and spending time with my cat.
Class II Teachers (4-year-olds)
Kate Buchholtz | Co-lead Teacher
I am looking forward to starting my second year at Apple Orchard. During 2019-2020 I was an Assistant Teacher in Class III. Prior to joining Apple Orchard, I received my M.ED from Lesley University. While studying at Lesley, I also completed a year-long Associate Teacher Program at Belmont Day School (BDS). At BDS, I taught in Kindergarten and 1st grade. Previously, I taught Pre-K at Evolution Enrichment Center in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I believe in supporting children’s social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development through a play-based curriculum which works so well with Apple Orchard’s emphasis on an outdoor environment. As a teacher, I always strive to value and celebrate the uniqueness of each child and promote this attitude in my classroom. I am excited for another year at Apple Orchard! In my free time I enjoy cooking and playing with my dog, Bodhi.
Delayne Austin | Lead Teacher
Having loved this community for many years as a parent of three AO alums, I am thrilled to join the teaching team this year! After graduating Harvard College and Harvard Law School, my love of working with children and families initially led me to a career as a child protection attorney. After taking an extended leave to raise my own children, I followed a life-long passion for school and young people into the classroom. I assisted for two years in a Boston Public School kindergarten before pursuing my Master’s of Education. While earning my degree at Lesley University, I taught pre-K and second grade at the Shady Hill School in Cambridge. In my free time you can find me taking long walks with my dog Oscar and plotting adventures with my husband and kids. I have always felt my best while doing something active in a beautiful place, and I am so excited to share that feeling with your children on the farm this year!
Julia McClain | Teacher
As a recent graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, I am excited to begin my teaching career at the Apple Orchard School! I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with minors in environmental and education studies, and look forward to combining these three passions in my work here. I grew up surrounded by Wisconsin’s natural beauty, which inspired my love of the outdoors. I can’t wait to see my students discover and explore the wonders of nature. I enjoy dancing and listening to music, lifting, hiking, doing yoga, and photography!
Greta Poler | Co-lead Teacher
After pursuing child psychology and environmental studies at Amherst College, I received my Masters in Education from Lesley University. During my graduate school program, I taught 2nd Grade at the Shady Hill School in Cambridge and 1st grade at Gardner Pilot Academy in Allston. While studying abroad in college, I taught at a forest Kindergarten in Denmark and from there I decided to further explore nature-based education and child development. As a teacher, I love helping students to discover their interests and passions and guiding them through their curiosity about the natural world. I am excited to join the Apple Orchard team and bring my love of teaching and outdoor education with me. In my free time I love to read books, go for hikes, and paint or draw.
Liesl Gilman | Co-lead Teacher
After receiving a BS in Business and working for a year in corporate America, I realized that children were my real passion and I pivoted my career path. While working at The Park School, I earned an MS in Early Childhood Education and Child Development from Wheelock College. Over the course of 25 years, I taught numerous grade levels. I love sports and coached field hockey and lacrosse at Park and in my hometown to five to fourteen-year-olds. In addition to teaching, I have extensive experience working in Admissions. Beginning this fall, I am excited to observe and foster a four-year-old’s natural sense of wonder, particularly when it relates to our natural world. Being outdoors and experiencing nature is a gift, and I am thrilled to be part of this unique outdoor learning environment. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my husband and daughter, traveling, hiking, walking in the woods with my dogs, and catching up with friends around a fire pit.
Class III – Kindergarten Teachers (5-6 year-olds)
Heather Cedrone | Co-lead Teacher
I graduated from Lesley University with a Bachelor of Arts in Education and a minor in Reading. I also received a Masters in Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Lesley. I hold EEC Director I & II Certification and am trained in Sheltered English Immersion and Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking Assessment. My culturally responsive teaching honors differences and counteracts bias by building relationships with my children to ensure they feel respected. Building relationships invites the children to be proud of themselves and their families as we create an open culture that values, supports, and promotes learning about each other’s differences. I am an energetic teacher and love using a multi-sensory approach to learning. I have two children of my own who have both experienced the wonder and joys of Apple Orchard. Some of my favorite activities are walking barefoot through grassy fields, finding sharks teeth at the beach, and roasting food over a campfire with my family.
Donna Johnson | Co-lead Teacher
I have been working with young children for over 25 years and in 2015 I earned my degree in Early Childhood Education from Fisher College. I am licensed through EEC in Preschool, Toddler, and Director I and II. I have taught in a kindergarten classroom for the past 5 years and this opportunity to connect the outdoors and nature to children’s learning is a perfect setting for me. I am passionate about bringing anti-racist education and equality into my teaching. I am committed to sharing the importance of this with my students. My husband and I love to visit our three grown children and new places. I am so excited to work with your children and this amazing team of teachers!
Floating Teachers & Sandwich Club
Katie Sawatzky | Floating Teacher
I am thrilled to return to Apple Orchard this year as a floating teacher working with all classes. I have been an assistant teacher in both 3 and 4-year old classrooms and love interacting with all ages at AO. I have a background in 3rd grade classroom teaching in New York City, creating family education programs at DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, and teaching empowerment workshops in Newton and Brookline Public Schools. I hold a BA from Colby College and an MA degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Apple Orchard is a special place for my family as all three of my daughters are happy graduates. Thanks to their Apple Orchard experiences, they developed a love of learning and respect for nature we value every day. I enjoy skiing with my family, spending time in Maine, and playing with our dog Winnie.
Riana Richardson | Floating Teacher
Currently immersed in my Early Education studies at Liberty University, I am teacher certified and eager to put my academic passions into use at Apple Orchard. Growing up on a farm in Rhode Island and caring for the land and animals has led to my belief in supporting nature based learning for children and teaching children about keeping the earth healthy. I am thrilled to fuse my love for children and the outdoors with the school’s philosophy. At Apple Orchard, you can also find my daughter, Riley, learning and exploring with her friends. In our free time, we play with our puppy, Raya!
Shah Peray Ahmadi | Floater
I arrived in the United States in 2022 with my family and come from Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan. I feel very excited and grateful to be a teaching assistant at Apple Orchard. The thing I love most about Apple Orchard is the opportunity children have to learn in an open and natural setting. I am a proud mother to three young children and hope to continue my studies in education if the opportunity allows. My favorite hobbies are cooking, walking outdoors with my family, and watching movies.
Natalia van Bilderbeek | Floater
I am so excited to help teach children developmentally appropriate learning, and create an exciting environment for our students to learn, grow, and thrive. I have a MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Expressive Arts Therapy, a BA in Psychology, and experience leading groups of children in Boston’s top hospitals and learning centers. A fun fact about me is that I was born in The Netherlands, and lived in Europe for part of my life. Aside from teaching, I love farm-to-table cooking, celebrating, entertaining, and decorating for the holidays!
Noreen Casimir | Substitute Teacher
I have taught all age levels at Apple Orchard since 2004. I was born in Dominica, moved to Canada, then England, and finally to the United States in 1996. I have three grown children and take any opportunity to get home to my extended family in Canada and Dominica. My favorite pastime is walking, so being outside at Apple Orchard much of the time is perfect for me.