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Faculty & Staff Bios

Administration & Office Staff

Carolyn Sheehan, Executive Director

Carolyn became interested in the problem of inequality in educational opportunity as a high school student while working on student rights and responsibilities issues in Massachusetts. At Hampshire College, she studied history/philosophy of education and educational policy studies. She spent some time pursuing philosophy of education in the graduate school of education at the University of Illinois. Her undergraduate thesis was a study of turn of the century working class and immigrant education in Holyoke, Massachusetts. This began an intrigue with urban mill towns and education that later drew her to work with youth in Central Falls where she coordinated community projects, youth run businesses and workshops throughout the Central Falls Schools. She left to become Executive Director of The SPIRIT Educational Program in the late 1980s and grew the program from a summer program to a year round educational enrichment program for middle and high school students in the Providence area. She served briefly on the Central Falls School Committee.

In the mid-nineties, SPIRIT merged with Rhode Island Youth Guidance Center, Inc. and she became Associate Executive Director where she continued with SPIRIT and oversaw school based and after school prevention programs. She coordinated the planning team for Blackstone Academy and has been an active participant in the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools.

At Blackstone Academy, Carolyn shares administrative responsibilities with Kyleen Carpenter while focusing on the non-profit management and supervision of the non-teaching staff and out of school programs

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Evelyn Soto, Office Staff 

Evelyn Soto is an administrative assistant who joined Blackstone in 2013 and works with Leslie in the front office.

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Kyleen Carpenter, Head of School

Kyleen served as a founder of Blackstone Academy through her role as a Teacher Leader in the Spirit summer program. Kyleen was a Spanish and Psychology double major at Amherst College and became inspired to teach. She began her career at Dana Hall School and moving to Providence Country Day School. While there she was awarded a summer fellowship in teaching and learning at the Klingenstein Institute at Colombia University. She spent an intense year at Harvard School of Education earning her Masters in Education. One of her projects during her year of study there was the design and execution an evaluation of the SPIRIT Educational Program. She later taught and became a Dean at The Rivers School in Weston, Massachusetts. After several years of planning with the team, Blackstone opened in 2002 with Kyleen as Head of School. Since then, Kyleen has become a certified principal through the Antioch New England School Leadership Program. She is trained in leading Critical Friends groups and has been an active participant in leadership for service learning projects.

At Blackstone Academy, Kyleen shares many day to day administrative responsibilities with Carolyn Sheehan while focusing on teaching and learning, supervision of teachers and curriculum oversight.

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Melissa Cornejo, Business Manager

Melissa Cornejo joined Blackstone in 2012 and serves as both the Director of Finance and as the Business Manager at the school. She studied accounting at the University of Rhode Island.

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Administration & Office Staff

Student Support Team

Elizabeth Thurber, Student Support Coordinator & Advisor

Elizabeth (Beth) joined the staff during the second year of the school. She has worked at Rhode Island Youth Guidance center where she was placed at Central Falls High School as a Behavior Specialist working with at-risk students. Previous to that she worked at Somerset High in Massachusetts as a Conflict Resolution Coordinator and at Bradley Hospital as a Milieu Therapist. Beth received her undergraduate degree at UMass Dartmouth and her MA in Educational Psychology from Rhode Island College. She has certificates in School Social Work, Social Studies, Mediation, and Critical Incident Debriefing. In addition to her duties as a counselor at BACS, she has taught senior seminar, and Community Improvement Projects including Literacy leaders, Elderly Outreach, Service-to-Service, Student Summit, and Events Planning.

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Maria Silva, Special Services Coordinator

Maria is the Special Services Coordinator and arranges parent programs and other student and family gatherings. She also organizes discipline, advises the Event Committee and is an advisor.

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Gilbert Rodriguez, Student Support & Advisor

Gilbert Rodriguez, Student Support Counselor, Outreach Coordinator and Advisor helped with the start of Blackstone in 2002. He had worked for six years as an Outreach Coordinator for RI Youth Guidance Center where he coordinated career counseling and attendance outreach for at-risk students in Pawtucket high schools. A certified mediator and emergency medical technician, Gilbert coordinates our wellness efforts and camping program. He is an EMT and certified advanced first aid trainer.

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Dr. Matthew Bowen, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Matthew Bowen is a clinical child psychologist who has been providing consultation and evaluations at Blackstone Academy since the school opened. He holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University. He has been working in RI since 1993 and was a staff psychologist at RI Youth Guidance Center in Pawtucket for over 10 years. In addition to regular school consultation, he maintains a private practice in Providence.

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Becky Minard, Clinical Social Worker

Becky Minard is an attorney turned clinical social worker. She is a co-founder of the Providence Mediation Center and an active mediator. She has served on many non-profit boards. Becky is here as a part-time social worker / counselor.

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Elsa Viti, Mathematics Support

Elsa is a retired math teacher from the Cranston School District. She provides math support to students who need it.

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Anna Wood, Mathematics Support

Anna Wood joined the Blackstone Academy team in February, 2018 as a Math Specialist.  She previously taught high school math for ten years at Mount Hope High School in Bristol, RI and seven years in Michigan.  She also served as a middle school Math Interventionist for a year and a half in Fall River, MA.  She is a graduate of Wittenberg University in Springfield, OH where she earned her B.A. in Mathematics and minor in Education.  She earned her Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from IPFW (Indiana/Purdue University, Fort Wayne, IN).  In addition to Blackstone, she instructs at Mathnasium in Portsmouth, RI, tutors, and works retail.  In her free time she enjoys running road races.

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Rhonda Hanaway, Career Advisor and Career Exploration Instructor

Rhonda joined BACS in 2014 and is our Career Exploration Instructor. She works with grades 9-12 on career exploration tools such as: Career Assessments, Job Shadows, Internships, Service Learning Projects, Senior Projects and also coordinates Career Fairs, Industry Panels and a Job Fair.  She is our "Business Development" specialist and often connects local organizations to our school for external learning.  She taught our "Non-Profit Academy" and "Workplace Skills" Community Improvement classes her first year at BACS.  Rhonda is the former Executive Director of the Career Partnership Program in Meredith, NH, a Non-Profit, where she also linked community businesses to high school students for career experiences.  She has served and continues to serve on various local committees centered around volunteerism, external learning and career fair planning.  Rhonda and her husband are knowledgeable on how a business operates as they are currently running their second successful business.  Rhonda's background is Business Development, Real Estate (she currently holds her NH Real Estate License), and Retail Management.

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Diego White, SPIRIT Director, After-School, Dean

Diego has a multi dimensional role at BACS - Program Director for the SPIRIT Educational Program and after-school programs at BACS. He is also an advisor.

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Glenda Guglielmo Special Education

Glenda is a retired teacher from Providence where she worked as a special education teacher and administrator. She has coordinated the Special Ed. hotline at RIDE and consulted to school districts in New York and Rhode Island.

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Al "Doc" Augusta, Student Support

Al “Doc” Augusta was born and brought up in the Fox Point neighborhood of Providence where he taught at Vartan Gregorian School for 28 years. A founding teacher in the SPIRIT program, Doc now coordinates the program year-round and tutors students at Blackstone Academy. Doc graduated from Rhode Island College and gained advanced degrees and certificates from Providence College and Brown University.

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Heather Rheaume, Social Worker

Heather is a social worker at BACS, who provides clinical supervision and is involved in research/evaluation projects. She has a Phd in Sociology/Social Work from Boston University, an MSW from RIC, and an MTS from Harvard. She also teaches in the Social Work Department at RIC.

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Alan Leach, Student Support

Alan provides academic support (including math) to Blackstone Academy students who need extra help.

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Student Support Team

English Language Arts (ELA) Department

Paul Healy, English, Special Education & Advisor

Paul Healy is an advisor and English teacher for grade eleven. He recently received his Masters in Education from Rhode Island College and his certification in Special education from the RIDE. He is now teaching English 11 and joining the Student Support Team focusing on students in all grades with diverse learning needs and styles. Originally from East Greenwich, Paul is a graduate of Temple University. Prior to joining BACS Paul did his student teaching in an urban school and worked with adjudicated teens in a community program. He has spent two years traveling the state as a member of the Governor’s Advance Team. Paul also teaches in the SPIRIT Program.

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Erin (Mal) Malcom, English 

Erin Malcolm is a native Rhode Islander who began her professional career in the theater. She taught and developed English curriculum in Chicago charter schools before moving home to RI in the summer of 2016. Since returning, "Mal" has been working at BACS as an advisor, reading teacher, ELA 11 teacher, and drama club coach. She received her Masters in English education from Roosevelt University and holds a bachelors in theater performance from Millikin University in Decatur, IL.

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Reza Clifton, English

Reza Clifton is a writer, artist, educator, and 15 year veteran of radio broadcasting from Providence, RI. She has been awarded for written and multimedia projects she’s led; for her research, advocacy and community organizing in relation to communities of color, women, and other marginalized and oppressed groups, locally, nationally and internationally; and for contributing to the music and art scene in RI and New England.  In 2018, she earned a nomination from Motif magazine for Best Spoken Word Artist in RI, and she performed poetry at the Women’s Rally that was held at the State House - simultaneously with marches and rallies held around the world; she also shared poetry and remarks at the first Women’s Rally, the year before. As an educator, in addition to her experience as a High School English teacher, Reza has worked in after school programs, community settings, and at conferences, locally and nationally, as a Teaching Artist, Middle School Creative Writing instructor, and as a “Digital Media and Multimedia Storytelling” teacher. She strongly believes that in her classroom, “everyone is a teacher” and “everyone is a learner,” and that it is her job to model the idea that “we all respect and appreciate what it took for each other to get here.” Her undergraduate degree is from the University of RI, and she is currently pursuing a Masters in Education from Providence College.

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Crystal Diaz, English & Advisor

Crystal Diaz is a proud Cape Verdean and life long resident of Rhode Island who graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2007 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary English. During the school year, Crystal teaches 9th and 10th grade English while also coordinating the major social events of the school year. Crystal has also enjoyed working for the Spirit Summer Program for many years.

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Tasche Bryant, English

Tasche Bryant started her teaching career as a New York City Teaching Fellow where she spent a decade teaching English to grades 8-12 in schools in Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn. She was the head of an English department and worked as a teacher-leader to help school improvement efforts. She has been with Blackstone since 2012, teaching English 12 and Senior Seminar. Tasche has received grants and fellowships to further her pedagogical knowledge in China, India, Sri Lanka and in South Africa, where she participated in a Fulbright program.  She holds a Bachelors Degree in journalism from Boston University, a Masters Degree in English Education from Brooklyn College and is a National Board Certified Teacher.

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English (ELA) Department

Social Studies Department

Stacy Joslin, Social Studies & Advisor

As a teenager, Stacy became a Peer Leader in the SPIRIT program and her enthusiasm for working with urban youth was born. While attending Colby College she received her degree in middle and secondary social studies while competing on the ice hockey team. After playing semi-pro in Europe, she returned to Rhode Island. After teaching in an alternative teen parent diploma / adult GED program in Woonsocket, she joined the middle school faculty at Times 2 Academy. Having been a peer leader, teaching assistant, and teacher in the Spirit program, Stacy joined the planning team of Blackstone Academy School in 2002. Amongst her course offerings are US History, “We the People” Civics class, and Community Improvement Project classes including Facing History, Immigration Project and "Fill the Bucket." She also teaches Senior Seminar and helps to coordinate the schedule.

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Greg Grossman, Social Studies & Advisor

Greg Grossman earned his BA in Political Economy from UC Berkeley and his J.D. from the UCLA School of Law. Prior to coming to Blackstone, Greg taught Humanities and Civics at Gateway High School in San Francisco for 13 years where he also coached the boys basketball team. Previously, he worked for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and practiced law at Morrison and Foerster LLP in San Francisco. He recently moved to Rhode Island with his wife and three young children and is still trying to get over the fact that his beloved Los Angeles Rams and Dodgers just lost championships to New England teams.  Greg is an 11th grade advisor and teaches U.S. History and Civics as well as a Street Law/Criminal Justice CIP.  

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Thomas Finlay, Social Studies & Advisor

Thom Finley grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and completed his undergraduate degree and teacher preparation at Brown University. After stints working as a teaching assistant in New York City public schools, language educator in Germany and high school history teacher in Oakland Unified School District, he excitedly returned to Rhode Island in 2018 to join the BACS faculty. He believes strongly in the power of social studies education to help students critically respond to the world around them and loves getting to learn from his students every day. He currently teaches World History, Economics and Senior Seminar, and has also taught Civics and local history electives in the past. When not teaching, you can find him practicing Spanish, taking improv classes or at home with his nose in a book.

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Social Studies Department

Math Department

Brian Webb, Mathematics & Advisor 

Brian Webb joined Blackstone Academy in 2009 after being selected for the first Rhode Island Teaching Fellows cohort. In additional to being a math teacher and advisor, Brian is a professional musician and enjoys building everything from amplifiers to music studios. He also coordinates the Philosophy Club at BACS.

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Marina Goodman, Mathematics & Advisor

Marina Goodman came to teaching after a career in actuarial science, personal financial planning, and investment management.  She has worked at MetLife, Brinton Eaton Wealth Advisors, Giralda Advisors, and U.S. Trust / Bank of America.  She graduated from Cornell University with degrees in math and economics, and Providence College with a certificate in teaching.  She has previously taught at the Rhode Island Nurses Institute Middle College Charter High School, as well as several private schools.  She is passionate about history, particularly African-American and women's history, and believes math is essential to understand and advocate for civil rights issues.  She lives in Providence with her husband and three children.  Marina teaches Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, and SAT Prep at Blackstone Academy.

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Paul Pasaba, Mathematics & Advisor

Paul Pasaba graduated from Brown University with a BA in Computer Science and received his MAT from Providence College. He worked for several years in the non-profit sector as Director of Education and Organizing for the Providence Youth Student Movement and as the technology specialist for OpenDoors a non-profit serving formerly incarcerated individuals and their families. Most recently, he worked as a Tech Systems Administrator managing servers, software, and databases. He teaches Algebra and Geometry, is a 9th grade advisor and coordinates technology.

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Bryant Estrada, Mathematics & Advisor

Bryant serves as an advisor and teaches Geometry, Calculus, and Core Secondary Mathematics. Prior to joining BACS in 2018, Bryant worked as a math teacher and support staff at a couple of other urban charter schools. Originally from Central Falls, Bryant received his bachelor’s degree in Education Studies and Psychology from Brown University and his Secondary Math teacher certification from Providence College. He is now in the process of completing his M.Ed. in Urban Teaching at Providence College. 

Bryant is a firm believer that urban education reform begins in the classroom, where culturally responsive teaching and the incorporation of student identities/experiences in curriculum/pedagogy is considered when deciding upon and implementing urban education policies. 

Aside from teaching, Bryant is a founding member of the Central Falls Alumni Association, a member of the Board of Canvassers for Central Falls, and belongs to a semi-pro salsa team at Mambo Pa Ti Dance Company.

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Math Department

Science Department

John Horton, Science & Advisor

John Horton is an Advisor and Science Teacher who has been with Blackstone since our second year. John spent five years as a high school science teacher in the Philadelphia public schools before coming to Blackstone. A native Rhode Islander, John received his BA in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania and his Masters in Education at Temple University. John teaches biology, advanced placement biology, and Environmental Studies. His Community improvement Projects have included Born To Run, Nature trail and Environmental Club. John has coordinated many learning experiences with Blackstone Valley conservation and environmental groups.

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Emily Berman, Science & Advisor

Emily Berman was a student teacher for Blackstone Academy two years ago and returns to us after having taught at the Learning Community for one year. She holds a BA in Neuroscience from Wesleyan University and an MAT, Science Education from Brown University. In addition to being a 9th grade advisor, she teaches Biology, Chemistry and a CIP related to stigma and mental health.

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Brianna Balke, Science & Advisor

Brianna is a graduate of Ponoma College and received her MAT from Brown University. A native of Colorado, she loves the outdoors and is a runner and biker. She is an accomplished musician. At Blackstone, she teaches Chemistry, Physics and a CIP, “Recycle a Bike."

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Science Department

World Languages

Christina Lee, Spanish & Advisor

Christina Lee taught Spanish for 4 years in her native Tennessee and for one year in the Providence Public School District. She and her husband moved to Rhode Island in 2011 as he began studying law at Roger Williams University. Christina is teaching several different levels of Spanish at Blackstone and she has a variety of interests including public speaking and debate. She is also an advisor.

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Cindy Pires Portuguese, Spanish & Advisor

Cindy Pires has been teaching for the past decade—most recently at Portsmouth High School. In addition to teaching Spanish and Portuguese, she also served as a class advisor to the Foreign Language Honor Society and member of the Technology Task Force. She received her BA in Secondary Education, Portuguese from Rhode Island College. She has been a community leader and volunteer with the Cranston Portuguese Club. In addition to Portuguese, she also teaches Spanish, 21st Century Workplace Skills and is a 10th grade advisor. Her combination of skills and experience allowed us to bring Portuguese back to Blackstone!

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World Languages


Meghan Healy, Art & Advisor

Meghan Healy teaches Art at Blackstone after having spent time working as a corporate graphic designer in Boston. Meghan is originally from Pennsylvania and attended Temple University. In addition to teaching Visual Arts classes, she is also an advisor and has taken responsibility for beautifying the public spaces of the school by displaying her students' artwork. She also guides the Yearbook Committee.

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Greg Payette, Physical Education & Advisor

Greg Payette completed his BS in Physical Education and Health Education with a specialization in Adapted Physical Education at Rhode Island College. He spent the last several years working for Tides Family Services overseeing daily operations as its Dean. While there, he helped develop academic and social skills for students with a variety of behavioral and academic challenges. He is teaching a variety of creative Physical Education classes and is a 9th grade advisor.

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