TF Class Updates ’05/’04 and Alumni News…

updatesIn this issue, find out who occassionally moonlights as a Citizen Teacher at the Edwards, who just got a new job in Brooklyn, and read special messages from alumni Leanne Valenti and Will Gardner.    

 Class of 2005 (2)

Blast from the past: Class of 2005

Rebecca (Fendell) Crawford (‘05): “I live in Framingham, MA with my husband, one year old son, and our dog Guinness.  I work at the USS Constitution Museum as the Manager of Academic and Family Programs, meaning I run the school programs, develop curriculum, work on the family learning team, and sometimes even moonlight as a Citizen Teacher for the Edwards campus. I’m still in touch with Jenny Clark (actually worked for Community Teamwork in Lowell, but served as our campus director), Marta Magnus (got to go to her gorgeous at-home-wedding reception in Vermont last summer) and Patrick Bredehoft (who recently returned from working in Turkey and is marrying Nancy Aitcheson this spring).  I still constantly reach into my Citizen Schools bag of tricks regularly both for managing a staff, working with kids at the museum, and developing curriculum here at the museum. At work, I’m serving a primarily tourist audience, but am always looking for ways to connect to the communities that surround us by offering teacher workshops, developing programs for kids in the area, and working closely with community partners in our neighborhood. In a given year, I’ll reach 3,000 students with hands-on, minds-on activities about USS Constitution and the War of 1812.”    

Kimberly Hildebrand (‘05):  “I have been in Quincy, MA for about a year and a half with my fiance, Beth and our new puppy, Gretzky. I have worked at The New England Institute of Art (NEiA) in Brookline, MA for about 4 1/2 years. I run the Student Activities, Involvement & Leadership Center. Working with college students often mirrors middle school aged young people. College students have a lot of “out of school time” that I work to fill with opportunities that are social and developmental to build the campus community.  I keep in touch regularly with Leah Tuckman (she’s going to be a bridesmaid in my wedding this October), Carrie Baldwin on occasion, much to my delight Rachel Orsinger popped up in New England recently, but sadly we haven’t connected in person. Monica Duplessie and I catch up maybe once a year – wish it was more often. For about 6 months or so, Doug Sherman worked at NEiA, that was a treat! There are so many faces and personalities that I miss! I often reflect on the amount of professional development Citizen Schools provided and am ever grateful to have worked for an organization that cared so much about our potential. I appreciate the amount of praise, recognition, and support we received as Teaching Fellows. Within the NEiA Community, I try to encourage my students to learn something new everyday and reflect on their learning. While not providing direct instruction, I definitely have been able to foster a feeling of community on campus.”   

Max Fripp (‘05):   “I live in Roslindale (IRV–ING) with my wife Danielle and our 2.5 year old Xavier.  I’m the Metro Boston Executive Director of Playworks, where I’ve been for three years. Playworks maximizes the power of play to accelerate learning and health for 10,000 kids in 27 schools across Boston, Cambridge and Revere every day! The Breaks (featuring Raj Mitra on bass) just had a reunion gig, look out for more. I see lots of friendly Citizen Schools faces at various meetings, events and in the community.  I am still trying to integrate a Balanced Score Card into our performance measurement system!”   

Matt Thornton (‘05):  “Living in Washington D.C. with my wife Katie and our 8 month old Francesca.  I’m the Director of Volunteer Management for Higher Achievement DC Metro, and oversee the recruitment, recognition, and retention of our 500+ volunteers, and Americorps programs (side note: I saw our fearless leader Eric at a recent National Sevice event and we’re actually partnering with CS on some curriculum).  I’m still in touch with my HAMmates, Ken and Asha; Emmanuel and I have met up a few times, now that his GF is in DC, and his Bootstrap is making moves!  Also, now that Farden is in DC, we may need to start up an alumni kickball team, and redeem ourselves!   I use my Facilitative Leadership course skills almost daily, and I helped start an Americorp program here as well!   I’m recruiting and training mentors for an OST program here in DC, so my work is impacting them academically and bringing in much needed social capital to our educational system! for more details!”    

Marta Magnus (‘05): “I’m living in Nashua, NH (with my new husband!) and teaching art at the Wang (Shabang!) Middle School where I used to run the CS program in Lowell.  Love teaching, especially art, and I use CS skills EVERY day in my class and working with my colleagues from stars to shout-outs to teach backs.  I have been reaching out to the community more each year.  Most recently, I developed an initiative where schools partner with a local business to display student artwork on an on-going basis.  It’s been a hit and now there’s more student art out in the community!  I hope to reconnect with CS friends… too much time has passed!” 

John Farden (‘05): “I live in Washington, DC with my wife Lee and our dog Einstein.  We are expecting our first child in June.  I am working as the Director of Programs for Save the Children’s US Programs Department, overseeing education, health and emergency preparedness work across the country.  I am very excited to be working with Eric and Christin Driscoll on OST/ELT policy for the reauthorization of ESEA.  Dan Gorsky and I are also considering recording/releasing a West-Coast-style rap album of animal-themed children’s songs.  The working title is “Chimping Ain’t Easy.”   I appreciate that, in my time at Citizen Schools, I had lots of opportunities to both work directly with children and spend time thinking and learning about education policy at the local, state, and national level.  Save the Children US Programs work in partnership with more than 160 rural schools to ensure that children are healthy enough to learn and have the language and literacy skills to succeed in school and beyond.”

Daphne Ross (‘04): “I live in Sunnyvale, CA (about 40 minutes south of SF) with my husband, Max, and three-year-old daughter, Violet.  I’m currently focusing on our family, staying at home full-time with our daughter.  It’s been an interesting change of lifestyle, and while I sometimes very much miss having an impact on the larger community, I feel so lucky to be able to spend so much time with Violet (and pursue some other interests, like cooking).  In my spare time, I volunteer with a local non-profit education org called Building Futures Now, which works with elementary-aged students from under-resourced areas doing academic enrichment and skill building, while also providing mentorship (  Since leaving Boston in 2004, I have felt pretty disconnected from the CS community and would love to reconnect with other CS alums in the Bay Area.”

Kayron Wright (‘04): “Living in Dorchester, MA with my fiancee. I am in my 5th year of teaching Pre-Algebra at Boston Prep Charter Public School in Hyde Park. I keep in touch and work closely with many CS alums such as Nick T., Fernando S., Carrie B., Amy P., Mayron R., Kendra H., Ben and Ragan. A large part of my job is reaching out to parents on a weekly basis, and the impact of keeping an open connection between families and our school is wide ranging. CS taught me that being a conduit between schools and families only enhances the learning students have. Teaching is friggin’ awesome.”

Paul Friedmann (‘04):  “Allison and I are still living in Roslindale, but are contemplating a move this spring to a nearby community.  We’re the proud parents of Maya (16 months). I’m still teaching 7th grade math and science at the Edward W. Brooke Charter School.  I see Dan Restuccia and Alissa Farber when the stars align, and occasionally run into Kayron, Nick and Fernando.”   

Amy Parsons (‘04): “In June, I will finish my 5th year teaching 7th grade reading at Roxbury Preparatory Charter School. I recently accepted a position as a Dean of Curriculum & Instruction at Brownsville Collegiate in Brooklyn and will start there in July. I’m in still in touch with many good friends from CS days (Ruka, Jamie Lee, Derria, Nick, Kayron, Carrie, Ragan & Ben). I remain grateful for my experience at CS; those years taught me more than I can say.”   

Andrea Berger Berry (‘04): “Still living in Portland, ME with my husband Steve, our daughter Cora (who just turned 2!), dog Jelly and the 2 cats. I’m happily working as the Director of Partnerships and Learning at Idealware, a small nonprofit that helps nonprofits make smart software decisions through easy to understand research and training.  I’m excited to be a bridesmaid in Linda Baird’s wedding this fall and occasionally run into other Citizen Schools folks on visits to Maine.”   

Erika Werner (‘99):  “Living in Brookline, MA with husband John and 3 children (Javier, 7, Lucia, 5, and Mateo, 3).  I just took a position at the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education working on project management in the Office of District and School Turnaround. My experience at CS is what has driven me to work in education policy/reform.”   


In Other Alumni News…

Will Gardner says “It’s on” at Alma del Mar Charter School

alma del mar charter lottery 7 (2)Will writes: “I am thrilled for this opportunity to create an incredible school for a city whose kids have so much potential! We’re hard at work securing our site, hiring top talent and crafting the curriculum that will put our kids on the path to college and challenge them to lead and serve. We still have a few openings for lower elementary lead teachers and I’d love to see more Citizen Schools alums in the pipeline!  Check out the story of Joseph, one of our Founding Teachers, who I can’t be more excited about– he truly embodies our mission!  Featured on the left, one of our scholars accepts her “pre-diploma” from Board Member Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez at our lottery. We are fully enrolled (120 kids k-2) with a growing waitlist.”  Read more… 


leanne valentiA Message from Alumni Leanne Valenti: Achieving Life Balance through Food

We are an ambitious breed, current and former Citizen Schools staff. Through my tenure as a Teaching Fellow and Campus Director, I strived to balance my ambitious workload. One of the best ways that I learned to achieve balance in my life was through food.   

Did you know…   

· Starting the day with miso soup alkalinizes the body, helping to neutralize acid build-up that is caused by eating meat and sugar and drinking alcohol. Even better than Alka-seltzer, eating alkaline foods like miso helps your blood maintain its alkaline pH of 7.4, which makes it easier for your immune system to fight off illness.   

· If you boil fresh ginger with rosemary, lemon, and peppercorns it makes a fiery tea that is a great study aid because it stimulates the digestive fire in your mind and makes you more alert & ready to process information.   

· Having representation of all six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent) every day, and preferably at each meal, promotes feelings of satisfaction and diminishes cravings. This is because each taste has unique properties and fulfills different bodily needs.   

I didn’t start to learn about the power that food can have over our health until a few years ago. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn, and I realized that I had come upon a craft that would sustain my interest for a lifetime.   

With the ambition to learn as much as I could about nourishing cuisine, I decided to enroll in a culinary school specializing in Eastern approaches to cooking. Even though I had already completed Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, this time around I found myself poised to retain and gain much more than I had before, with much thanks to what I learned in my career at Citizen Schools about how to learn, lead and succeed.   

I graduated from the Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in January 2011, and am now pursuing a career teaching culinary arts. I’m getting started by following in the footsteps of my favorite teachers by steeping myself in ‘real-world’ experiences.   

As you read this, I am apprenticing in Central Japan where I am learning first-hand about the traditions of pickling plums, harvesting rice, and hunting for shiitake. If you are interested to follow my journey, I am keeping a journal and sharing recipes at   

If you are anything like me and you have goals that are a far stretch from where you are at right now, I urge you to patiently pursue the skills that will set you up to succeed. And remember, every industry has a demand for leaders and teachers, so I encourage you to think broadly about applying your Citizen Schools skill set to an area where your deepest interests lie.

~Leanne Valenti

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