Country School Welcomes New Faculty & Staff

New Canaan Country School welcomes several new faculty and staff members this year. In addition, seven new apprentice teachers have joined the community. “We have attracted a very talented group of educators with an impressive array of professional experiences who are passionate about children’s growth and development,” said Head of School Aaron Cooper.
Caitlin Bellagamba joins us as a second grade teacher. Caitlin has been a Grade 2 teacher at Wooster School for the last 5 years, where she also previously taught third grade and science. She has an M.S. in language and literacy and B.S. in human development with a concentration in elementary education from Wheelock College.

Karen Rolfini-Beckenstein joins us as a part-time Grade 5 Spanish teacher. Karen founded The Language School in Ridgefield where she is also a Spanish teacher. Prior to that, she was a Lower and Middle School Spanish teacher and Director of Diversity at the Wooster School. Karen has her B.A. from Trinity University.

Jadine Louie joins us as an Upper School Math Teacher. She was recently a Grade 7 & 8 math teacher at The San Francisco School in San Francisco,CA. Prior to that, she was a Grade 7 & 8 math teacher for the San Francisco Unified School District. Jadine has an M.A. in education from Adams State University and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.
Lacey Ramsey joins us as an Upper School Learning Resources Teacher. Lacey has been an educational consultant since 2017 creating instructional material for educational technology companies. Prior to that, she was a special education teacher at Eagle Hill School in Greenwich. Lacey has an M.S. in education from Mercy College and is pursuing an M.S. in transformative literacy from The City College of New York. She has a B.A. in communications and American culture from the University of Michigan.

Beth Lenhard, BSN, RN, has joined us as our School Nurse. Beth has substituted in the NCCS Health Office many times over the past few years while also working as a Registered Staff Nurse at Stamford Hospital. Beth has 15 years of experience in various departments throughout the hospital. She holds a B.S. in Nursing from LaSalle University as well as additional certifications.
John Neill joins us as our Facilities Supervisor. John will be moving here from California where he was Principal and Founder of JNL Builders in San Francisco since 2015. Prior to that he was the Principal and Founder of Neill & Lee Contractors. He holds a B.A. in Economics from Dickinson College.

Kojo Clarke will join us as our new Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Most recently, Kojo was a French teacher at Choate Rosemary Hall. In addition to teaching French, Kojo advised the Student Diversity Association and for the past two years has led SEED seminars for his colleagues focusing on topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion. Kojo’s work on the Diversity Education Committee led to the creation of the school’s first Director of Equity & Inclusion position. Kojo has also facilitated affinity group conversations at the National People of Color Conference (PoCC). Before joining Choate, Kojo taught high school in Illinois and Ghana. Kojo holds an MS.Ed. in French from Northwestern University and a B.A. in Psychology and French from Franklin & Marshall College.
Karl Palmgren is our new Head of Upper School. Karl was the Head of Upper School (Grades 9-12) at Chase Collegiate School in Waterbury, CT, a role he has held since 2017. Previously, he served as the Head of Upper School and Associate Head of School at the preK-12 University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods, MI, where he worked for three years. During that time, he also served as the Assistant Head of Upper School and Dean of Students. Prior to that he was an Upper School History teacher at Greenwich Academy for 11 years, also serving as a class dean. Karl holds an M.Ed. from Teachers College, Columbia University, an M.A.T. in Teaching Secondary Education Grades 7-12 from Sacred Heart University and a B.A. in Political Science, Environmental Science and Criminal Justice from James Madison University.
Reshan Richards is our new Director of Studies. He was the Chief Executive Officer of Explain Everything, Inc. which he co-founded in 2011. He previously served as Director of Educational Technology at Montclair Kimberley Academy in Montclair, NJ., and prior to that he was Assistant Director of Technology and taught 5th-8th grade math at The Town School in New York, NY. He is a lecturer at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies and adjunct assistant professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. Reshan holds an Ed.D. in Instruction Technology and Media from Teachers College, Columbia University, an M.Ed. in Learning and Teaching from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and a B.A. in Music from Columbia University.
Ryan Smith is our new Senior Director of Advancement. Ryan comes to NCCS with a proven track record of cultivating strong relationships, as well as achieving – and often exceeding – ambitious fundraising goals in a PreK-9 independent school environment. Ryan has spent the last 13 years working as an independent school advancement professional, most recently as Director of Advancement at Rippowam Cisqua School in Bedford, NY. Ryan previously served as Alumni Director at Collegiate School in New York City. He spent four years working at Morgan Stanley Investment Management earlier in his career. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of Mary Washington.