|Student Support Services||Performing Arts Staff|
|Performing Arts Staff|
Sarah Mallory graduated from Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) in 2008 earning a B.S. in Physical Education with cross-endorsements in Health Education and Dance Education. Sarah has had the opportunity to work with Paul Dennis of the Limon Company, Jennifer Muller, the Paul Taylor II Company, Hubbard Street, cast members of Broadway’s the Lion King and the Albano Ballet. Sarah earned a M.S. in Special Education from CCSU in 2010 and 092 Administrative Certificate from Sacred Heart in 2014. Sarah served as Vice President of Dance for the Connecticut Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance from 2010-2012 and Secretary from 2013-2014. Sarah currently serves on the Connecticut High School Dance Festival planning committee. Sarah started teaching at ACT in the fall of 2008 as the Physical Education and Health teacher, and Ballet and Hip Hop teacher. In 2013, Sarah took on an administrative position as Dean of Students and in 2015 became Principal. She believes she has found her forever home at ACT; a place where she can share her passion for the arts with her students.
Jessica Folta started as the administrative assistant for Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) in February of 2011 after graduating from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2010 with a B.S. in Business Administration. While in her senior year at ECSU, she completed an internship at the Windham Chamber of Commerce and organized that year's Home & Business Expo at the Eastbrook Mall in Mansfield. Jessica's administrative support skills spring from working as an office assistant at a family-owned company for many years. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, cooking and spending time with her husband, dog, and two cats.
Special Education Teacher
Raised in a household that combined the best of both her Chilean and American heritages, Jane Glenn is very proud to be working as a Special Educator at ACT since 2007. Jane holds a degree in Latin American Studies from The University of Connecticut, a Master’s of Science in Special Education at Southern Connecticut State University and a degree in Administration from Sacred Heart University. Jane worked as a bilingual special educator for the Windham Public Schools for seven years prior to her position at ACT. Jane is committed to the unique and specialized program at ACT that allows students to explore and reach their creative and academic potential in the Quiet Corner of Northeastern Connecticut. This community of artists and highly qualified school personnel allows students to be themselves and achieve their goals. Personally, she has lived in and traveled extensively throughout Latin America and Europe, and finds that the unique experience of ACT is the culmination of her varied interests. Jane feels privileged to work with young people who share her passion for creating and appreciating the arts.
Nina Shea is the School Social Worker at ACT, where she provides mental health support services to students and their families. She received a Master’s in Social Work from UCONN in 1999. Prior to becoming a Social Worker, Nina was a Broadcast Journalist. Her school social work experience includes working in a wide variety of settings, from parochial and public schools to clinical day treatment programs. Nina loves school social work for the chance to help young people grow emotionally and succeed in school and in the years after. She very much enjoys the creative energy at ACT and the passionate students she works with on a daily basis. When not working, Nina enjoys doing almost anything outdoors, traveling and spending time with her family, horses and dogs.
Special Education Teacher
Hailing from Kazakhstan, Olessya Barbo brings a wealth of experience for teaching our English language learners and special education students. She holds a degree in Germanic Philology and Pedagogy from North-Kazakhstan State University, a Master of Arts in Elementary Education from Sacred Heart University, and a Master Degree in Special Education from University of Saint Joseph. Olessya holds certifications in Special Education, Bilingual Education, and TESOL. Prior to joining ACT, Olessya worked as an Instructional Assistant at EASTCONN’s Quinebaug Middle College. In her spare time, Olessya enjoys travelling and spending time with her family. She is very proud to be a part of ACT’s unique group of artists and scholars.
Anna Hilbie is the School Counselor at ACT. She graduated from Central Connecticut State University in 2019 earning a M.S in Counseling for Education, and earned her undergraduate degree at CCSU in 2016. While attending Central Connecticut State University, Anna was a member of the University Singers and participated in Spring 2013 concert tour in China and Japan. Anna’s love of music began at a very young age and she is excited to have both of her passions for the arts and for counseling, meet here at ACT. Prior to joining ACT, Anna was the School Counseling Intern at Terryville High School. As a School Counselor, Anna looks forward to assisting students through high school and thereafter. In her free time, you can find Anna singing, doing crafts, watching crime shows or spending time outside!
Teen Outreach Program Facilitator
Kimberly Jacques is the Teen Outreach Program (TOP) Facilitator for Arts at the Capitol Theater. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Bay-Path University in Longmeadow, MA in 2014 with a concentration in Psychology. After she attended the University of Connecticut where she earned a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology as a School Counselor where she graduated in 2016. She completed her practicum at Stafford Middle School, and her internship at South Windsor High School, where she gained a wide variety of experiences and knowledge. While in school she performed multiple service-learning project; the Ronald McDonald house in Springfield MA, Crystal Lake School - Library in Ellington CT, and Manchester High School - Career Center in Manchester, CT. While working to achieve her degrees she continued to drive a School Bus in the Town of Ellington, which she just retired from after 20 years of service in November of 2019. Kimberly has spent the past two years working with children who have Autism and continues to work with them today, which lead her to the decision to return to school to earn a Postmaster’s Degree as a Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA).
Prior to teaching, David lived and served as a missionary in Guatemala, Central America. David is a graduate of SUNY Geneseo, where he majored in Spanish and secondary education. He also holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, with a minor in ESOL. David has completed study abroad programs in both Madrid, Spain and San Jose, Costa Rica. While in college, David served as the Spanish club president and the student government roundtable coordinator. In these roles he was able to participate and manage many community service projects with the Spanish speaking community of Rochester, NY. Since 2003, David has worked as a community college instructor, high school Spanish teacher, and coached both soccer and wrestling.
Preston is always enthusiastic about supporting the academic as well as artistic growth of ACT students. Prior to joining the ACT staff as a Social Studies teacher, Preston received a B.A. in History and Social Science from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2006 and a M.A. in Teaching in Secondary Education in 2012. Preston also worked for four years in local schools such as Parish Hill Middle/High School and Lyman Memorial High School as a long-term substitute teacher, paraprofessional and tutor. In his free time, Preston is passionate about studying the history and art of cinema. He also enjoys puns, live music, traveling the world, and spending quality time with family and friends.
Randy teaches math, and is proud to be part of the ACT community. He chose teaching as a career while attending CCSU, where he earned a B.S. in History and Social Studies Secondary Education. Following his passion for archaeology, Randy completed a master’s degree at Western Washington University. Upon returning to Connecticut, he began working as an archaeological technician at the Pequot Museum while continuing graduate studies in archaeology at UCONN. Randy has been teaching in Connecticut middle and high schools since 2007, and earned teacher certification in mathematics in 2010. In his free time he enjoys listening to music, playing guitar, running, and spending time with his wife and daughter.
English and Creative Writing
Stacy Vocasek received a B.S. in English and Secondary Education with specializations in Creative Writing and Writing for Business and Industry from Southern Connecticut State University in 2004, and a Masters of Education in Curriculum & Instruction with a focus on Common Core State Standards Leadership from Concordia University in 2015. She teaches English and creative writing at ACT, and enjoys incorporating the arts into her curriculum. Miss Vocasek founded the international tour program, and has traveled with students to Costa Rica, Italy, England, Spain, Ireland, Nicaragua, Scotland, and France. As a life-long learner, Miss Vocasek has participated in several summer opportunities. Most recently, she was awarded a Coffelt fellowship at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; she presented arts-based reading and writing strategies at the national TEACH convention in Washington, DC; and she participated in the National Endowment of the Humanities Landmarks Workshop: Gullah Voices in Savannah, GA.
Rebecca Hayes has been teaching science at ACT since 2014 and has enjoyed working with all of the creative minds here. She received her Bachelor’s of Arts and Science with a double major in Secondary Education and Biology from Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island in 2014. She then became certified as a Biology and General Science teacher. While working at ACT, she returned to school for her Master’s of Professional Science, graduating from Unity College in 2019 with a major of Sustainable Natural Resource Management. This program allowed her to explore topics about natural resource use and the environment that she incorporates into her Biology, Physical Science, and Environmental Science courses. Prior to joining ACT, Rebecca worked as a Mad Science Instructor for three years which brought her to schools and rec programs to conduct fun science experiments with kids. She currently lives in Preston, Connecticut with her husband, son, and two dogs. She always looks forward to getting to know all of her students and exciting them to learn about how science is used in the arts and everyday life.
Creative Writing and English Teacher
Sarah Aceto loves teaching creative writing and English here at ACT. She lives in Middletown with her two children and also enjoys working on her own writing, reading, and gardening projects.
James Rowley received his B.S. in Mathematics in 2018 and a M.S. in Secondary Education in 2019 from Eastern Connecticut State University. He has done student teaching in both Manchester and Woodstock while attending Eastern, and is currently shared between ACT and the new EASTCONN school LEAP, both in Willimantic. He loves both Mathematics and the arts, and has several years of experience doing community theater in Northeast Connecticut. James is fortunate to be able to work with students who are interested in and passionate about the arts.
Physical Education and Health
Peter graduated from Central Connecticut State University in 2017 with a B.S in physical education and health. Peter has a great passion for building confidence and teaching real-world skills through physical activity. He believes in helping students create lifelong healthy habits throughout his courses. Outside of work, Peter enjoys hobbies such as golfing, lifting weights and spending his summer in Narragansett Rhode Island.
Audio/Video and Technology Education Teacher
Dan has been teaching at ACT since 2007. After graduating from Lyndon State College in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in Communications he has been working on enhancing his video/film production skills. In 1988, Dan worked as a production assistant for Castle Rock Entertainment during the filming of Lord of the Flies. After moving back east, he was hired by Colony Cable in Rhode Island, where he was named director of photography and senior editor in the video production division. Dan was Director of Production and Co-Owner of QMedia in New London, CT, for four years before joining ACT. Dan is currently on the Board of Education in Montville, CT. In his spare time, Dan is an avid golfer and sports enthusiast.
Director of Theatre
Sandra Evans-Abbott has been with ACT since its inception in 2003. She is a theatre artist with a wide and varied background in the arts, holding three degrees in the field, one of which is a MFA in acting/theatre from UConn. She is an acting and vocal coach with extensive knowledge of dialects for the stage. She has performed in over 12 states as an actress and singer with companies such as the Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival, Hutchinson Repertory Theatre, Minnesota Repertory Theatre, Company One and the Nutmeg Summer theatre. Sandra is a trained stage makeup artist whose makeup designs include a live recreation of the Thomas Hooker statue at the Old State House in Hartford, CT, done for the 1999 UConn Basketball team’s victory parade. She has also worked as a TV makeup artist for ABC news. Sandra served as an instructor of acting at Eastern Connecticut State University for over 17 years where she directed many productions. She also served as a visiting assistant professor of Theatre at UConn and the University of Rhode Island.
Katherine Popovic (“Kasia”), holds a master’s degree in Piano Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, and a bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from the Eastman School of Music. She has had performances throughout the United States and Europe including venues in Hungary, Poland, England, Washington D.C., and New York City. In 2005, she became an Artists International Alumni and performed her Carnegie Solo Debut as an award winner for the Artists International competition. She has taught through Education Through Music in New York City, and held private studios at the Brooklyn Conservatory, and community school of the arts at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. Outside of ACT, Mrs. Popovic is a devoted mother of her three daughters. She has been a teaching artist at the ACT school since 2007.
Director of Dance
Tiana Mancuso is a Connecticut native and a graduate of University of Connecticut. Upon graduation she began teaching for UConn’s School of Dramatic Arts, where she was named Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers in 2002. Tiana has had a full and extensive professional career on stage, in video and photography. She has performed with a number of Connecticut dance companies including; Stop/time Dance Theater in West Hartford, Breakin’ Through in Putnam and DancEnlight in Hartford. Tiana was a principal dancer with Full Force Dance Theater in Hartford, CT, for ten years and she is grateful for the many years spent collaborating with other dancers and artists, specifically the opportunity to work with dance veterans like Adele Meyers of Connecticut College and Mary Cochran formerly of Paul Taylor Dance Company. Over the last fifteen years, Tiana has held various teaching positions throughout CT and NY for both public and private institutions and has worked with dancers of all ages and ability. Tiana has been the Dance Director at ACT for the last thirteen years and is an original faculty member of the school. As a professional working artist, Tiana’s focus is on creating curriculum and choreography that reaches each student individually, and providing quality, tailored instruction in each course. Tiana encourages students to take ownership of their own learning, train intensively and foster their own authentic creative voice.
Costume Design Instructor
Sarah Murphy began sewing, and making costumes through museum education work and historical reenactment. Her costume portfolio includes several historical reproductions from the Renaissance through the Victorian era. She studied at Smith College, earning a B.A. in History in 2005. She earned the Connecticut Social Studies teaching certificate in 2008 from the University of Saint Joseph. After teaching in a few long-term substitute positions, she came to ACT to teach Costume Design in 2013. Sarah is currently pursuing a Masters in Art Education from Central Connecticut State University.
Randy Cochran recently moved to Connecticut from Florida where he worked in the Osceola County School District teaching Technical Theatre and serving as Scenic and Lighting Designer. He has worked for various professional companies across the United States, including Disney World as scenic, props and puppet lead for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, American Heartland Theatre in Kansas City MO, Stage One in Louisville, He has taught at the Youth Performing Arts High School in Louisville, KY, Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts Camp in Steamboat Springs, CO, JCC in Manhattan, NY. In Florida, Randy also held a certification in Technology. He taught STEM related courses and was the advisor to three schools who competed nationally in the Technology Student Association programs. He is a graduate of Stephens College in Columbia MO with a degree in Theatre Design.
Nichola Johnson is an educator, director, choreographer and arts administrator. Nichola studied Dance Pedagogy at The Hartford Camerata Conservatory, holds a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts and an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. Nichola is the founder and director of The Complex Performing and Creative Arts Centre in Putnam, CT and an adjunct faculty member in the Performing Arts Department at Eastern CT State University. Nichola has devoted much of her professional life to developing creative opportunities for young artists in the Northeastern CT area and providing platforms for those creative voices to be heard. Ms. Johnson has developed and directed creative work for many colleges, performance companies, and organizations over the past 20 years and has shared her teaching practice with students of all ages. Johnson’s direction and choreography can be found in musical theatre, conceptual movement, site-specific work, devised and experimental performance, and ballets. Johnson has served on the faculties of Nichols College, The Eagle Hill School, Pomfret School, and Bentley College. Nichola served as the Associate Director of The Cultural Arts Centre in Hardwick, MA.
Jayme Horton has been an Instructional Assistant at ACT since 2015. She studied Business at Quinebaug Valley Community College and plans to go back to pursue a degree in education. Before working at ACT, Jayme worked in daycare and was a mail carrier for the USPS for 7 years. She enjoys helping people and loves to work with the students at ACT. Jayme is very excited to be part of ACT and has always had an interest in the arts. When Jayme is not working, she spends time going on adventures with her daughter Kandace. Her other interests and hobbies include her pets, photography, hiking, crafts, shopping and traveling.
Ava Molnar is a teaching artist with an emphasis in Theatre, Poetry, and Playwriting. She received her B.A. in Theatre Arts from Clark University and is currently pursuing her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Windham Theatre Guild and a founding member of Fractured Theatre at WTG. She has previously directed for The Windham Players; written 10 minute, full length, one-act, and solo shows that have been produced across New England; and has been a stage manager, choreographer, costume assistant, and actor with the Worcester Shakespeare Company. She has worked in education for over half a decade and takes pride in fostering creative thought in her teaching practice. In her free time, Ava enjoys taking in and creating art across a variety of mediums, as well as spending some time in nature with her dog.
Amanda received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing at Alfred University in Alfred, New York. She was born in Yokohama, Japan, but raised in Buffalo, New York (go Bills). Amanda has had a variety of nursing experiences, but most enjoys working with high school age students in teaching healthy choices and maintaining wellness. She currently resides with her husband of 35 years and her dog "Lulu". She also has three grown children, two are married. Amanda enjoys gardening, hiking, and spending time at her family cottage on Lake Ontario. She is delighted to be part of the staff at the ACT Magnet School
Prior to joining ACT as an Instructional Assistant in 2017, Joanne worked for five years as a reading and math interventionist at Veterans School in Norwich. Before that, she spent time in the fields of journalism, public relations and insurance. Joanne earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Sacred Heart University with certification in elementary education. Joanne is delighted to be part of the creative atmosphere at ACT. When not at school, she can be found watching movies or spending time with her husband and their Siberian Husky, Jake.
Bilingual Instructional Assistant
Prior to working at ACT, Emily Pacheco worked for Windham Public Schools as a Bilingual Special Education Paraprofessional for seven years. She attended Goodwin College in East Hartford and received a Patient Care Technician certification. Emily is a mother of a former ACT graduate. In her free time, she likes to go mountain biking, and gardening. She is very excited to be working at ACT as an Instructional Assistant.