Koren Coughlin, a twenty-year resident of Oakland, has joined Snow Pond Arts Academy as the Academic Department Head. Coughlin brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this position, having worked for AOS 92 for the past seven years teaching junior high English and senior high social studies. Additionally, Coughlin was a job specialist with Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program for three years and coached cross-country for nine years.
Mrs. Coughlin completed her undergraduate work at the University of Maine at Farmington, earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Secondary Education with a concentration in English. She completed her first Master’s degree at Thomas College and her second Master’s degree at New England College, earning an M. B. A. and M. Ed., respectively. Coughlin will also teach English Composition as an adjunct faculty member at Thomas College this fall.
In her free time, Mrs. Coughlin enjoys traveling, reading, running, and spending time with her husband, David, and their three children.
Stephen Culbertson, currently Music Director for the Society of Musical Arts, has conducted over 35 orchestras, opera productions, and ballet companies, ranging from major to community level, in Europe and the United States. Major engagements include a Spoleto USA debut on the 20th-Century Perspective Series and a new production of Prokofiev’s Cinderella for the San Joaquin Ballet in California. In recent seasons, Culbertson has appeared with the Montclair Chamber Orchestra and Orchestra Society of Philadelphia. He has served as Music Director of the Sussex County (New Jersey) Community Orchestra and Associate Conductor of the Bergen (New Jersey) Philharmonic Orchestra. With the latter two orchestras, he conceived and conducted a series of family concerts for the community to great acclaim. He served on the board of Unity Concerts of NJ and was its Artistic Director for the 2002-3 season. Culbertson’s recent activities include conducting a production of Le Nozze di Figaro with the State Repertory Opera of New Jersey and various stints as interim Music/choir director at the Presbyterian Church of Upper Montclair.
After graduating from University of the Pacific in his native California, Culbertson was awarded a scholarship to study at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki (Finland) with famed conducting teacher Jorma Panula. During his five-year stay, he studied the works of Sibelius with the composer’s son-in-law, Jussi Jalas, and conducted most of Finland’s major ensembles: The Finnish National Opera, the Helsinki Philharmonic, The Finnish Radio Orchestra, The Vaasa and Tampere Operas, and the Oulu Philharmonic. In addition to conducting, he gained valuable experience (not to mention much-needed income) by singing in a number of professional choruses, including the Finnish Radio Choir, Savonlinna Opera Chorus and the Helsinki Festival production of Britten’s Church Parables.
Culbertson introduced Finnish audiences to works by Copland, S.R. Beckler, John Forsman and many others. He introduced local listeners to American music by writing a six-hour series of radio programs entitled A History of American Music for the Finnish Broadcast Corporation. As a guest conductor, Culbertson has worked for the Netherlands Opera and appeared in Czechoslovakia (with the Košice State Philharmonic), Italy, Hungary, and England.
Culbertson has been a strong advocate of American music as both a conductor and a publisher. In 1993, he co-founded Subito Music Publishing and became its President in 1997. From 1987 to 1992, he was director of the rental and publications departments for G. Schirmer, Inc., where he supervised the music preparation of, among others, John Corigliano’s opera The Ghosts of Versailles (for the Metropolitan Opera) and Symphony No. 1 (for the Chicago Symphony). He serves on the board of the Music Publishers Association of the US and the Symphony and Concert Committee of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).
Holly Gannett lives in Central Maine with her family where she is a dance educator. Her experience in teaching has extended for over twenty years at Kennebec Dance Centre, a guest instructor at Colby College, a Dance Educator at the University of Maine at Augusta, Thomas College Dance Director in addition to other schools in Maine, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Holly travels as a master teacher and competition judge and continually holds master classes across the country. Her concentration in teaching jazz and musical theatre encompasses much of her training in college from the techniques of: Luigi, Phil Black, Matt Maddox, Ron Lewis, Jack Cole, Bob Fosse, Gus Giordano and Tom Ralabate, Vaganova, Cecchetti, Limon, Taylor, & Balanchine. She is the former Fitness Program Supervisor of 12 years at the Eastside Wellness Center in Augusta for MaineGeneral Medical Center as a personal trainer and instructor of Zumba, Cardio Kickboxing, & Pilates.
Holly began her dance training at Kennebec Dance Centre and with Andrei Bossov of the Kirov Ballet. Mr. Tom Ralabate was able to recruit Holly to UB (State University of New York at Buffalo) where she majored in Dance. She is a 1999 graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. As a member of the Golden Key National Honors Society, she graduated with honors achieving Magna Cum Laude status. Holly was employed at the Central Wisconsin School of Ballet where she was hired to expand and develop the professional ballet school’s jazz, tap, and musical theatre programs. While in Wausau, Holly had the opportunity to choreograph for The Carnival of the Animals which was narrated by actor Tony Randall.
Holly’s Musical Theatre performance and choreography credits include the roles of: Dance Captain for the US premier of Fame Forever, Carmen Diaz in Fame, Ariel Moore in Footloose, Marge in Suds, June (Squish) in Chicago, Adelaide in Guys & Dolls, as well as dancing ensemble roles in Cabaret, Oklahoma, Little Shop of Horrors, West Side Story, Man of La Mancha, and Working.
Holly is thrilled to be a part of Snow Pond Arts Academy and looks forward to sharing her knowledge & love of dance with her students and colleagues.
Melissa graduated from Smith college with a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature, having previously received an associate’s from Southern Maine Community College. While at Smith, she received two academic awards for her writing: one for excellence in writing nonfiction prose, and the other for the best essay in Jewish religious thought. Representative of her love for the arts – and dance in particular – Melissa studied ballet, improvisation, and West African dance alongside English. In addition to her passions for literature and dance, Melissa is an avid year-round surfer, endurance runner, and a connoisseur of squats and push-ups. Melissa is elated to have joined the Snow Pond Arts Academy team, where she hopes to not just spread her appreciation for literature, but also to support her students in their pursuit of academic and artistic excellence.
Bruce Judkins is a professional musician, resident of Central Maine with his Wife, Cecilia, and Step-Daughter, Isabella. He is an adjunct Guitar Instructor for Introduction to Guitar and Basic/ Intermediate Guitar. His focus is to provide the fundamental skill sets to beginner guitar students, to allow their progression to understanding Music Theory (TASK), and intermediate to Advanced Guitar instruction/ ensemble.
Bruce retired after 30 years with the US Army Airborne Soldiers, and returned to Maine. As a former New England Music Camp student, 1966-69, Bruce is honored to have studied at The University of Maine, American Popular Music program, and enjoyed his studies with his mentors, Dexter Huntoon, Bill Mosely, Roswell Rudd, and Chuck Winfield.
As a professional musician, Bruce has performed locally with his wife, Cecilia, a talented professional performer and Vocalist, with various local professionals for the past ten years. His combination of experience in Leadership, with a Masters in Military Science and Leadership, Graduate of the Battle Staff College, and extensive performances for over 15 years with some great recording artists such as James Cotton, legendary blues artist, and Jon Pousette Dart help establish his credibility to be an advocate for beginner guitarists.
Jenn Kelly graduated Summa Cum Laude from Hesser College with a degree in Early Childhood Education. Since graduating in 2000 she has held positions in school systems ranging from personal and educational technicians at Benton Elementary School, teaching at Andover School of Montessori and most recently teaching Art at St. John’s Elementary School. Mrs. Kelly and her family currently reside in central Maine where she and her husband own Pool Tech in Winslow. This is where she works full time during the summer months. Raising 2 children is what she is most proud of and now that they are growing older she was ready to pursue a school year career again.
Mrs. Kelly is a passionate individual who is eager to pursue the position of Supervisor to the students at SPAA. She supports and encourages the students to maximize their learning while giving them the individual attention that meets their needs. Building a strong rapport between herself and the students will be her main focus as they adapt to their new environment. One of Mrs. Kelly’s roles will be motivating each student to ultimately strive for their personal best.
Her favorite way to spend free time is with her family as they go on adventures and explore their favorite state, Maine. Getting to know new places and talking with people along her journeys are what she enjoys most.
Student Service Coordinator
I am lucky enough to live in our picturesque state of Maine, where I am raising three vibrant teenagers who inspire me to be a better human being every day. Along with a rich family life, I have taught for 20 years, over half of that time was spent at the high school and college levels.
I have taught remedial English, reading, advanced composition, speech, western literature and American literature, and Title 1 math. I have worked in special education and as the Student Support Coordinator for another district. I have planned school events such as career days, diversity days, and job shadowing. Time management and study skills are a passion of mine and I have taught extensively on the subject for many years. I look forward to sharing those skills with all of the SPAA students.
My educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Master of Arts in English, along with several doctoral courses in Educational Leadership. I am dedicated to giving back to the community and have served on the Unit 12 Board of Directors and National Board for Curriculum Assessment – Kaplan University.
There is still nothing I enjoy more than putting pen to paper and am proud to be the author of the children’s book, Peace of Trash. I also enjoy presenting at various writing workshops around the community such as, the China Lake Writer’s conference on narration and self-editing. I come with a unique combination of online-teaching and classroom teaching. I believe all of these experiences have brought me to a place called Snow Pond and I look forward to meeting all of you!
PreCalc, Algebra II, Physics & Chemistry Teacher
Thomas has a particularly diverse background in both the Arts and Sciences. He received his Ph.D. in Biophysics and Carbohydrate Chemistry from the Biochemistry Department at the University of Notre Dame in 2008. While there he also took medical school course work at the South Bend Center for Medical Education, the Indiana University Medical School satellite on campus at Notre Dame. This latter training has enabled him to teach Human Anatomy and Physiology courses at a variety of colleges including most recently Colby College, where his wife is a faculty.
In terms of the Arts,Thomas is a classically trained flautist that has had a myriad of musical experiences, including being a part of an improvisational ensemble who play soundtracks to silent films in live performance. He is also an actively producing multi-media visual artist that has exhibited his work across the United States and in Europe, including galleries in Tribeca Manhattan and at Urbis, the contemporary arts museum in the city center of Manchester England.
His first teaching experience came nearly twenty years ago through training at the High/Scope Institute for Ideas, a non-profit independent educational institute that has been researching choice based, active learning approaches to education for many decades. He particularly enjoys adapting active learning techniques to the teaching of math and science and has significant experience teaching in “flipped classroom” environments amenable to the blended model used at SPAA.
He enjoys spending his time out of doors exploring with his two young children, ideally in a canoe, is an angler, audiophile, and bibliomaniac.
Betsy Kobayashi Betsy Kobayashi, (Violin) B.A. University of New Hampshire, studied with Shinichi Suzuki for two years and graduated from Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto, Japan in 1988. She taught for 10 years with Buffalo Suzuki Strings in Buffalo, NY, founding and organizing the Suzuki viola program and a summer week-long workshop there. She maintains a studio in the Augusta area where she has taught for over 20 years. She is director of Pineland Suzuki School which is now located at Snow Pond Community Music School in Sidney. Pineland Suzuki School has grown from 20 students of co-founders Betsy and Ellen Gawler doing group classes and concerts together to about 100 violin, viola and cello students studying chamber music, string orchestra and fiddle as well as Suzuki repertoire classes. She has been active in the Maine Suzuki Association, as tour and workshop organizer, founder of Sonata Festival for advanced students and most recently, president. She loves to be home taking care of her family, garden, a new puppy and cooking healthy food, but also loves to take students performing often in the community, locally and around the world.
Joseph C. Mattos
Interim Head of School
Joseph (Joe) Mattos has worked as an educator in Maine for more than 40 years in Central Maine as a teacher, principal, Assistant Superintendent, and Superintendent of Schools. He also was employed by the Maine Department of Education as a Title IA Educational Consultant, responsible for assisting school systems in developing School Improvement Plans.
During his career, he has been involved in several professional organizations, serving as President of the Maine Elementary Principals’ Association, President of the Kennebec Valley Superintendent’s Association, and Director of the Maine Principal’s Academy. Joe has also served on Boards for Inland Hospital, Mount Merci Academy, and the Alfond Youth Center/YMCA.
Joe has received several awards and honors for his work as an educator, earning the NAESP National Distinguished Principal Award (Maine), Milken National Educator Award, and Maine School Superintendents’ Association Outstanding Leadership Award.
Born and raised in Rhode Island, Joe attended college in Maine, earning his BA at Colby College, and his MS and EDD degrees from the University of Maine at Orono. Presently Joe works as a part-time Superintendent of Schools in Otis, Maine, while also providing services as an independent, educational consultant for Maine school systems.
John Neal holds a bachelors degree in music education from The Ohio State University and a masters degree in conducting performance from the University of Connecticut. A piano student from the age of eight, Neal continues a career in music education which began in 1978 and includes teaching positions at Van Buren District Secondary School, Edward Little High School in Auburn, the University of Southern Maine, Bates College, Oak Hill High School in Sabattus and his current position as Director of Music at the Snow Pond Arts Academy in Sidney, Maine. Neal’s students have won numerous awards including First Place in the National Independence Day Parade in Washington, DC with the ELHS Band in 1988, and a Carnegie Hall performance in New York City with the Oak Hill HS Voices of Color in 2003; many of his students have gone on to careers in music education and performance. Neal was recognized by the Maine Music Educators Association in 1994 as the Maine Music Educator of the Year, and by WCSH6 and the Maine Education Association as an “Inspiring Educator” in 2016.
Mark is a vocalist, a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and sailor. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Geography from Kutztown University in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, where he studied voice with Dennis Williams, tuba with John Metcalf, and remote sensing with Percy Dougherty. Mark spent 12 years teaching music, chorus, and band in Maine public schools and he regularly performs a solo act around Maine, performing many of his original, Americana influenced compositions. He has performed with many groups, including the Black Bear Men’s Chorus at the University of Maine and Kenny Rogers.
Seth Pillsbury grew up in a musical family; both of his parents played music extensively throughout Maine as he grew up. He graduated from the University of Maine at Augusta with a degree in Jazz and Contemporary Music. He has been playing guitar for 20 years, and teaching for 15. He plays all over the state year round, playing electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and occasionally mandolin
Jeri Pitcher is a professional theater director, actor, playwright, and teaching artist. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Theater at The University of Maine at Augusta where she created the UMA Interactive Theater Program with the support of grants from the Oak Grove Foundation, The Maine Arts Commission, and UMA Presidential Mini-Grants.
Jeri most recently directed, The Lonely Soldier: Women at War in Iraq, a documentary play that addressed issues faced by women in the military. The production was a partnership between Pitcher, The Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, and The UMA Veterans Achievement Project and was performed at locations in Augusta, Portland, and Bangor in March 2015.
Jeri worked at The Theater At Monmouth for 13 years as a company member and eventually Associate Artistic Director. In Maine, over the years, she has worked for Everyman Repertory Theater, Freeport Factory Stage, Camden Shakespeare Festival, Browns Head Repertory Theater, Cold Comfort Theater, The Belfast Maskers, and The Actors Theater of Maine. Her play, Chasin’ Night Birds won the New England Playwright’s award and was produced in NYC at Muse of Fire’s Sirens Festival.
Prior to coming to Maine, Jeri was a company member of The East-West Fusion Theater, a theater company dedicated to bringing Asian Masters to the US to create original fusion productions. Jeri received a BFA in Acting and Directing from The University of Bridgeport where she studied with Phoebe Brand and Morris Carnovsky, original members of The Group Theater.
The Academy’s Dance Advisor
The Academy is proud to welcome famed Belgrade resident Alphonse Poulin who will be acting as The Academy’s Dance Advisor. This international dance legend has been teaching at the Juilliard School since 2000 and throughout his remarkable career, Poulin has choreographed over 30 opera productions throughout the United States and Europe.
“Dancing has been my life long compass, like all of my friends at Cony High school I loved to socialize on a Friday night but I always went home at a reasonable time to our 3 bedroom home at 15 Arsenault Street in Augusta Maine. I wanted to take care of my body so that I could be my best in the dance studio on Saturday morning.
We didn’t have much that was extra. My father worked night and day, often at several jobs simultaneously including his role as custodian of Old Fort Western so that we always had what we needed. My nickname was Elevan (pronounced Elavahn) as I was number eleven of fourteen children. My mother was always in the kitchen, doing laundry or tending to cuts, scrapes and heartaches. We listened to Opera on the radio and Red sox games on the little black and white TV. There was always laughter and an extra place at the table for whoever stopped by for supper.
Ed Tech III
Nathaniel White was born and raised in Waterville. Nathaniel graduated from Thomas College in 2008 with a Bachelors in Education and worked with the Waterville public schools for many years. In addition, he ran the American Heritage Tours at the Waterville Boys and Girls Club and YMCA for many years.
Nathaniel was a member of the Waterville Fire Department for 12 years and is now working with the Winslow Fire Department. He is very involved with the community and has been a Waterville City Councilor for 3 years. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his niece Brooklyn and coaching soccer, baseball and basketball at the Vassalboro Community School.
Math Teacher – PreAlgebra, Geometry, Algebra
Rachel graduated from Unity College with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology with a concentration in Sustainable Agriculture. She is currently pursuing a Master’s of Fine Arts in Intermedia at the University of Maine at Orono. She is excited to be teaching math at Snow Pond Arts Academy as well as providing some science-based electives.
Rachel is also the program director for the Friends of Messalonskee Watershed, a non-profit environmental group that will be working in partnership with the school on projects and volunteer opportunities. Rachel also operates an equestrian business down the road from the school, teaching horseback riding and animal husbandry for almost ten years.
In her free time, Rachel enjoys hiking with her dog Faye, skiing, fishing, and hunting. She actively competes with her horses in Dressage.