46 Barre Street
Montpelier, VT 05602
River Rock School is a community comprised of students, teachers, families, and board members. All are essential and vital to our mission and our ongoing operation. The Purpose of River Rock School is to join with families in helping a child develop to their fullest capacity--intellectually, socially, and emotionally.
Our teachers/co-directors are the heart of our school. They are dedicated, inspired, well-trained, and experienced. Their integrity, insight, creativity, resilience, and humor make each day at River Rock rich. Individually, they are extraordinary people; together, they are truly a dynamic team. Though much of a River Rock day is spent as a community, academic portions of the day are different: Shawn works with the younger children (5-8), and Allison works with the older children (9-14).
Shawn Perry has been working with elementary school aged children since 1992, at Turtle Island Children's Center and River Rock School. She received her B.A. in Elementary Education from Johnson State College with a specialized focus and certification in reading instruction for grades K-12, with post-graduate course work through Trinity College and St. Michael's College, and intensive seminars at Dartmouth College in the study of Reggio Emilia, focused on emergent curriculum and curriculum design.
Shawnee spent over a decade working during summers with high school students in the Upward Bound Program, and taught integrated high school coursework in biology, English composition and creative writing. Other teaching experience included working with migrant children through the Vermont Rural Education Project and volunteering for the Adult Basic Education organization.
Shawnee's strengths include teaching conflict resolution skills. Her patience, creativity and genuine respect of children provide a uniquely supportive and safe environment through which students can explore the often difficult techniques of compromise and negotiation. She brings a love of the "Old Arts" into the classroom, including storytelling, baking, gardening and weaving. Shawnee believes that learning is a lifelong experience and strives to instill respect and value in all aspects of a child's daily being.
Allison Caldwell has been an educator since 1976 and holds a Vermont K-8 teacher's certification. She received a B.A. from Wheaton College and an M.A. in Education from Goddard College, culminating with a thesis entitled: "Drama: A Powerhouse in the Curriculum." She trained, and then taught elementary and middle school for nine years, at the Prospect School in North Bennington; co-founded, co-directed and taught at the Southshire Community School and after-school program in Shraftsbury, VT. She founded and directed a children's theater program in Cambridge, NY for two years; was Program Director at Turtle Island Children's Center for four years; and taught at River Rock School at Turtle Island for three years. She has extensive experience in educational administration and supervision.
Allison's long history in alternative education combines with a deep commitment and enthusiasm to bring a high level of competence, integrity, and creativity to her work. Allison's gift for working with children in drama is immediately apparent to anyone attending a River Rock show.
Lottie Maker has worked in the field of education since 2000. She received her B.A. in Elementary Education from Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina where she taught 2nd and 3rd grade at an arts-based charter school. She now holds a Vermont teaching certificate.
Lottie worked with both Allison and Shawnee at Turtle Island Children's Center where River Rock was born. She has stayed closely involved with the school's development over the years and is very pleased to be part of the teaching team.
Lottie has a strong commitment to alternative education. In her work she strives to create a dynamic and engaging learning environment in which students are valued as serious partners in their own education. Lottie often integrates her diverse interests and passions into the classroom. These include a fascination with the natural sciences and Spanish, as well as a love of sewing and fiber arts.
Lindsey Desrochers has worked in the education field since 2003. She has a B.S. in Animal Science from the University of Vermont, an M.A. in Early Childhood Education from Goddard College and a Vermont Teaching License.
Lindsey was introduced to alternative and holistic education at the Bellwether School in Williston, Vermont. After spending time in various educational settings she has determined that a "whole child" approach is what best fits her teaching style and philosophy.
Lindsey first became connected with the River Rock School as a student teacher in the Spring of 2011. After finishing her student teaching semester she continued her involvement with River Rock School as a part time teacher and Afterschool Program Director. During this time she was instrumental in getting River Rock’s afterschool program licensed with the State of Vermont. In the Fall of 2012 she was thrilled to join the teaching team full time as the East Group classroom teacher. Lindsey believes that forming meaningful relationships is one of the most important pieces of being an educator. She strives to know her students, colleagues and community in order to provide a socially and emotionally integrated curriculum.
Our board is very active, comprised of dedicated parents, teachers, and friends of River Rock.
Lauren Quinn, Board Chair, is a graduate of Harvard University and Tufts University Veterinary School. Her son and daughter have been happy River Rock students since January of 2009. She co-owns Onion River Animal Hospital, where she is a practicing veterinarian.
Ruth Ann Sullivan, Treasurer, is the proud parent of two River Rockers. She is a Nichols College Cum Laude graduate with a BS in Business Administration and a 2010 class graduate of the Vermont Leadership Institute at the Snelling Center for Government. Ruthann is employed by the Vermont Mutual Insurance Group as the Director of Information Technology Infrastructure in Montpelier, VT.
Gina Ritscher, Secretary, taught at The Prospect Center where she worked with Allison Caldwell. After teaching in public and private schools for many years, questions led her to further study at Darmouth and Harvard, where she earned an EdD while studying with Eleanor Duckworth and Patricia Carini. She is currently a professor of education at Johnson State College and teaches "Gina-math" at River Rock School.
Leslie Roth graduated with a BA in Anthropology from McGill University. She earned a graduate certificate in Conflict Studies from Woodbury College. She currently co-owns The Knitting Studio, though most of her prior work has been in the field of human services advocating for victims of violence, managing a stress line for parents, and directing a hospice that provided non-medical supportive services. In her 20's, she was a member of a site-based council for a publicly funded alternative high school. Her sons Noam and Micah are both students at River Rock.
Stephanie Rubin holds a BA in history from the College of the Holy Cross. She’s worked in the field of family literacy for over 15 years, and currently runs an alternative high school program for pregnant and parenting teens in Barre. She has two children, Ethan and Nicholas; they both attend River Rock School.
Sienna Flanders has a BS from The Evergreen State College in Environmental Chemistry and is currently studying homebirth midwifery, expecting to get her license this spring. She has taught middle school/high school, been an accountant for a nationally distributed natural foods business, and home-schooled with her children (prior to coming to River Rock). She has served on the boards of her town library (Woodbury) and of Earthwalk Vermont. Sienna is the mother of three River Rock students—Taran, Elias, and Neah.
Les Birnbaum is married to River Rock teacher and co-director Allison Caldwell. Les and Allison are the parents of a founding student. Les has a number of interests. Chief among them--at the moment--is learning how to play the guitar. Les is also our chief falafel chef!
Jen Pia-Needleman, mother of three River Rock students, is a Goddard grad whose training in (and commitment to) alternative education led her to RRS. She is an avid music fan.
Allison Caldwell is a teacher and co-director at the River Rock School.
Shawn Perry is a teacher and co-director at the River Rock School.
While children and teachers are the core of the daily activities of the school, River Rock would not survive or be such a vibrant community without its families. Family involvement at the school is four-fold:
Celebrations and Events are a regular part of the school year. Annually, we gather for a Harvest Meal and Variety Show, Potluck Solstice Celebration and Show, fall and spring all-school campouts, All Species' Day parade, school theater productions, and other events. Parents, siblings, and extended families and friends frequently join in.
In-School Participation brings enrichment to the curriculum. Offerings have included beading, cooking, building electric model cars, singing, building birdhouses, helping with theater productions, organizing and driving on field trips, making crab apple jelly from our trees, and much more.
Fundraising provides many opportunities for involvement! Our Annual fundraisers include food vending, auction, plant sale, yard sale, fudge sale, jazz nights, and more. Without fundraising help from families, we could not have our strong Scholarship Program.
Levels and Types of Involvement vary widely. While we hope everyone will participate in the many aspects of our school, we realize families need to tailor their involvement to fit their schedules and lives.