Faculty & Staff Bios

Linda Ashe-Ford is our Aftercare Coordinator. She has a degree in Communication and Theater and a M.Ed. in Administration from Antioch New England, and has almost 40 years of experience working with children.  For the past 15 years, she's been a lead teacher at Cricket Hunt School in Freeport, supervising staff, developing and implementing curriculum for children preschool through first grade, planning staff training and student assessments, and communicating with parents. She loves creative time with children:  cooking, theater games, movement, and art--"free form down time," as she calls it. Linda has developed and consulted on issues of inclusion, diversity, and early education and is currently working with the Abyssinian Meeting House in Portland to help tell the forgotten stories of the African American people.  She spent this past summer training teachers in Ghana.


Brooke Burkett is our Development Coordinator. Brooke comes to us from Camp Ketcha, where she directed programs and development over the last seven years. She's currently an adjunct professor at USM teaching courses on outdoor recreation, and was instrumental in creating the Portland Gear Hub, a non-profit outdoor gear thrift shop and bicycle center. Brooke is committed to to making the world a better place for children and teens. We know she will connect beautifully with children, parents, grandparents, and friends beyond the walls of the school.

Lee Chisholm teaches math, science, and social studies in grades seven and eight.  Lee joined FSP in 2008 and came to us with 13 years of experience in Waldorf education.  Prior to his calling to teach, Lee was an attorney for 14 years, practicing in Portland.  Lee and his wife, Sukie Rice, a member of Durham Friends Meeting, were co-founding parents of Merriconeag Waldorf School.  Lee has a BA from Harvard, JD from University of Maine School of Law, and a Waldorf Teaching Certificate from Antioch New England.


Xanthe Charov is our grade 1-2 Co-Teacher. She earned her BFA in Design from Emily Carr University in Vancouver and worked for more than 20 years as a graphic designer and as the Art Director at a children's science museum in New York City. After moving to Maine in 2012 with her husband, she earned her Master’s in Teaching and Learning from the University of Southern Maine’s ETEP program. Most recently, she spent two years teaching kindergarten in Limerick. She lives in South Portland and enjoys reading, traveling, and swimming in the ocean with her husband and two boys, Huck and Max.


Pete Curtis is the assistant teacher in our 3-4 classrooms. He received a B.A. from Lewis and Clark College and an M.S. in Teaching Methodology from The University of New England. Before joining the staff in 2014, he interned at Berwick Academy, coached several sports, and filled in for local teachers on leave, K-8. His interests include throwing a frisbee, photography, and aimless walking. He lives in Falmouth with his wife, four children, two dogs, and leopard gecko. Two of his children are FSP graduates.


Jonathan Ewell is the preschool assistant teacher.  Jonathan joined FSP in 2006 and has been an assistant teacher in every classroom.  Prior to FSP, Jonathan taught in Montessori schools for 6 years.  He has a BA in Sociology from Haverford College.  He lives in South Portland with his wife, Anne, and son, Isaiah (an FSP third grader).



Nicole Favreau is the grade three and four teacher.  Nicole joined FSP in 2007. Her roots in education are grounded in her work as an environmental educator and wilderness trip leader. Nicole has a degree in environmental studies and a minor in plant science from the University of Vermont. She also has a master's degree in Teaching and Learning at the University of Southern Maine. She lives in Falmouth with her husband and two young children.


Laura Glendening is the art teacher for all students in preschool through grade 8. Laura has worked for over twenty years teaching art in schools and community programs, and holds a Master’s degree in Art Education.  She enjoys teaching and working in various disciplines including drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture and textiles.  Ten year ago she co-founded the Peaks Island Fiber Arts Camp as a place to teach traditional fine practical art skills. Laura’s recent textile work has focused on a series of felted blankets and wraps which she shows in local galleries and shops.  She lives with her family on Peaks Island.

Aliza Gordon teaches first and second grade. Before coming to the Friends School she spent the last few years working in Environmental Education and leading backpacking trips in the Pacific Northwest. She earned her B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Vermont and her Masters in Elementary Education from Antioch University New England. She enjoys backpacking, traveling and any activities that take her to the wilderness.


Susan Hayhurst teaches 5-6 Science and co-teaches 7-8 Human Ecology. On her days not teaching, she is also a small animal veterinarian in southern Maine. Before vet school, Susan spent four years as the Science Translator in the education department at Gulf of Maine Research Institute, taught science in local schools through an NSF program in graduate school, and taught for 2 years at Echo Hill Outdoor School in Maryland. She holds an M.S. in marine science from University of Maine, and a B.S. in Biology from Stanford University.  Susan enjoys hiking and painting, and recently finished a first draft of a young adult novel. She volunteer fosters with AWS, and recently started volunteering with the seal rescue group of Maine. She lives in Falmouth, Maine with her husband Kyle and her twin daughters.

Lindsay Holt is one of our grade 3-4 Teachers. Lindsay has taught in multi-aged classrooms in grades one through four for the last 12 years at both Breakwater School in Portland, ME, and Telluride Mountain School in Telluride, CO.  She is interested in experiential education and hands-on learning. She lives in South Portland with her husband and young son.



Keith Jones is our Business Manager. Keith, a CPA, comes to us by way of Unity College, Baker Newman & Noyes, and North Yarmouth Academy, where he has been for the last 3 years as Senior Accountant.  It's great to have someone with experience in an independent school--with audits, financial aid, board reports, parents, budgeting, and financial modeling.  In addition, Keith is a Registered Maine Guide and, like a true Mainer, loves getting into the back country.


Dareth Law is our Spanish Teacher (grades 3-8) and grade 7-8 advisor.  Dareth came to us with a wealth of experience:  25 years growing up in Spain and about 10 years of Spanish teaching at all levels.  Dareth was one of the founders of the Boxberry School in Norway, Maine.  She is also an occupational therapist!  Dareth has an amazing ability to get to know children quickly and see them as whole beings.



Matt Loosigian hails from Woolwich, where he lives with his wife and 7 year old son on their small farm (Mahalo Farm). He graduated from Bowdoin College in 2003 with a major in Biology and a minor in music, and he has been running his children’s music business, Earth Jams, since 2005. Matt has previously taught music at Cricket Hunt School (Freeport), St. John’s School (Brunswick), and has led Music Together Classes and preschool music classes since starting his business. Matt also performs widely across Maine and NE as a solo children’s musician and with his bands, String Tide and Porch Light. When he is not making music, Matt is busy farming, swimming, practicing yoga, and foraging mushrooms.


Billy Maley, the Physical Education teacher and after-school activities coordinator, had several years of experience working with students in outdoor education and camp programs.  Prior to joining the FSP in 2007, he worked as a naturalist in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and as part of a living history program for the San Francisco Maritime Association. He has a BS in Recreation Management from Springfield College and lives in South Portland with his wife, Laura,  son, Theo, and his daughter Susanna.


Jen McNally is Director of Admissions and Marketing. She has an extensive background in marketing and previously served as the school's Marketing Coordinator beginning in March 2011. Jen has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration and a graduate degree in German from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She has experience working in educational settings, including time spent both as an admissions counselor and an instructor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. An avid traveler, Jen has visited 6 continents and 31 countries. Jen's two daughters have attended FSP since 2007.

Katie Nowak teaches grades one and two.  She joined FSP in 2007 and previously had one year of teaching experience with 2nd graders and one year as a Special Education Assistant in New Hampshire and Maine.  She has also coached basketball, soccer, and softball at the middle school and high school levels.  Katie has a BA in anthropology from Colby College and an MS in General Childhood Education from the Bank Street College in New York City.  Katie loves living in Portland and teaching at a school that values community, children's natural curiosity, and nature.  When she is not at school, Katie can often be found cooking, gardening, reading, and enjoying the outdoors by bike or by foot with her husband and two sons.

Peter Nowak teaches grades five and six. Pete started at FSP in 2008; prior to that, he worked at The Foote School in New Haven, Connecticut. Pete completed his BA at Colby College in 2003 and his M.Ed. at the University of Southern Maine in 2012. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his family, riding his bicycles and eating sandwiches.



Julie Perkins is our Kindergarten assistant. She came to us after teaching in grades pre-K-3 at Fiddlehead School for the Arts and Sciences in Gray, Maine.  Prior to working at the Reggio-inspired Charter School, Julie was Education Coordinator at the Children's Museum of Maine, taught several years as a naturalist and worked as an assistant teacher at Breakwater School.  Julie and her husband, two daughters and dog live in North Yarmouth where she loves to run, garden, swim, and play games outside.  She earned her BA in Anthropology from Bates College and Master's in Elementary Education from Antioch New England Graduate School.

Sally Plourde is a grade 1-2 Co-Teacher. She excitedly joined the staff of FSP after twenty-nine years teaching for the Westbrook School Department; the last twelve years at grade two. Sally’s education includes a BS dual degree in Elementary Education and Speech Pathology from U Maine-Farmington, MSEd in Elementary Education from UNE, and a National Board Certification in Early Childhood. Her love of science and inquiry paved the way for her to be selected for a two-year fellowship on the Governors Academy for STEM Education Leadership. What better place than FSP to share all that she learned? Sally lives in Westbrook with her husband Stephen. In her spare time she loves to stay fit by doing Jazzercise. However, her favorite pastime is spending time with her family, especially her seven grandchildren; three who attend FSP.

Marie Reimensnyder is the lead teacher in our nature-based, play-based preschool. She taught kindergarten at Fiddlehead School of Arts and Sciences in Gray, a public charter school, and preschool at Fiddlehead Center. She holds a B.F.A. in Ceramics from the Portland School of Art (now MECA), and a Master’s in Ecological Teaching and Learning from Lesley University. Marie is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach and place-based learning, and works to cultivate inquiry and a sense of wonder in early childhood. She loves animals, the magic of children, music, sharing her love of nature with children, playing hockey, growing things, and being with family and friends. Marie and her husband Tim, dog (Nellie), and cats live in New Gloucester. They have two grown children and a granddaughter.

Jenny Rowe began as Head of School in summer 2012.  Jenny is a deeply committed, community-minded leader, building on the success of the school's first six years. Jenny has extensive experience with strategic planning, admissions and development, and has enjoyed helping Friends School continue to grow and flourish. A practicing Quaker, Jenny firmly believes "that we all have something to teach and something to learn." She has served as a teacher at a variety of schools throughout New Hampshire, Vermont, and Central America since the early 1980s, instructing elementary and middle school students in Spanish, German, English, music, and social studies. From 1999 to 2005, Jenny served as Director of Monteverde Friends School, a bilingual Quaker K-12 school in Costa Rica.  Following that, she directed The Community School for six years, a grade 6-12 school in Tamworth, New Hampshire.  Jenny and her husband live on Munjoy Hill in Portland.

Nell Sears is the Director of Studies.  Nell is a graduate of Germantown Friends School and began her teaching career at George School.  Prior to coming to FSP she worked as the  Assistant Principal at Freeport Middle School.  Before moving to Maine with her family in 2012, she was the founding Middle School Principal at Paul Cuffee School, a charter school in Providence, RI.  Nell has  BA from Bowdoin College and an MEd from Harvard University.  She completed intensive residency programs at the Upper Valley Teacher Institute (Lebanon, NH)  and the  Principal Residency Network (Providence, RI).  Nell lives in Portland with her husband, Ted, and her three children: Max, Eli and Will, FSP students.

Aja Stephan joined FSP in 2012-13 to teach Kindergarten. She was involved with the school as a parent and an occasional substitute for the previous two years. Aja's teaching experience ranges from Pre-K through 5th grade, but she has primarily focused on early childhood since 2004.  She earned a double major in Elementary Education and Psychology from New York University and has extensive professional development pertaining to the social and emotional development of young children, the Reggio Emilia philosophy, and using science-based and emergent curriculum in the classroom.  Aja's passion for photography and her strong background in the arts is a big influence of how she documents and co-constructs the collective knowledge within the classroom. She enjoys cooking, gardening, and traveling, and lives with her husband, their two children, dog, guinea pig, and rabbit in Falmouth.

Aila Tholl teaches language arts in our seventh and eighth grade class. She has been an individual support provider here since 2016. She holds a degree in communication with a minor in elementary education from the University of Southern Maine. She holds credits towards a master’s degree in Teaching and Learning at the University of Southern Maine. She completed her student teaching internships in sixth and eighth grade classrooms at Gorham Middle School. She is grateful to have been working with children professionally for over 20 years. She lives with her husband and toddler in Portland where she has been practicing meditation, carving out time to read for pleasure and cooking good food for the people she loves.