|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 is the administrative assistant for Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT). She graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree 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 and two cats, Athena and Bear.
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.
Kim Noivadhana is the School Counselor at ACT. She graduated from Western Connecticut State University in 2010 with a Masters in Counselor Education and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut in 2005. While attending the University of Connecticut, she was also a part of the UConn Women’s Soccer Team. During the 2009-10 school year, she interned in the Guidance Department at Norwalk High School. Prior to joining ACT, Kim worked as a School Counselor at EASTCONN’s Quinebaug Middle College. As a School Counselor, Kim enjoys being a part of ACT and looks forward to assisting the students throughout high school and thereafter. In her free time, she enjoys playing soccer.
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.
Bethany Pomerantz is a Social Studies teacher at ACT who teaches a variety of courses from History to Psychology. Bethany has received her Bachelor of Arts in History and Master of Science in Secondary Education with certification in Social Studies from Eastern Connecticut State University. She was previously employed as a teacher for a Jumpstart program in Hartford, CT. Bethany was also a substitute teacher for Windham Public Schools. She has worked and volunteered at the Connecticut Historical Society for several years. Outside of the classroom, Bethany likes to spend time hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and camping throughout New England. As a lifelong learner, Bethany also enjoys reading historical nonfiction and fiction as often as possible. She loves teaching social studies and integrating the arts at ACT!
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 bringing the arts into his history and social studies classes at ACT. 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. 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. He completed his M.A. in Teaching in Secondary Education at Sacred Heart University in 2012. In his free time, Preston enjoys playing music, attending concerts, finding great places to eat all over New England, as well as watching and studying films of all genres.
Randy teaches math, and considers it a privilege to be a part of the ACT community. He chose teaching as a career while attending Central Connecticut State University where he earned a B.S. in History and Social Studies Secondary Education. Following his passion for archaeology, Randy pursued a master’s degree at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA, which he earned in 2004. Upon returning to Connecticut, he began working as an archaeological technician at the Pequot Museum, where he excavated archaeological sites and conducted laboratory analysis of artifacts and vertebrate remains. Randy has been teaching in Connecticut middle and high schools since 2007, and in 2010 he fulfilled the requirements for teacher certification in mathematics. In his free time he enjoys listening to music, playing guitar, running, and spending time with his wife and daughter.
Physical Education and Health
Jacob Reilly teaches Health and Physical Education at ACT. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education (PE) from Eastern Connecticut State University. He enjoys educating his students about the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, and establishing meaningful relationships with his students. He integrates lifelong fitness activities into his PE program, and provides his students with the necessary tools to be successful, both in and out of the classroom. In his spare time, he enjoys biking, hiking, skiing, and experiencing new cultures through international travel. Jacob is extremely excited to be a part of the ACT community!
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. For several years she has been teaching English at ACT, and enjoys incorporating the arts into her curriculum. Miss Vocasek has led student tour groups around the world, including Italy, Costa Rica, England, Ireland, and Scotland. She looks forward to traveling internationally with more students. Currently living in Ellington, Miss Vocasek enjoys spending time with her rescue dog, Weezie. When not teaching or writing, Miss Vocasek can be found hiking, kayaking, crafting or cooking.
Rebecca Hayes graduated from Salve Regina University in Rhode Island with a double major in Secondary Education and Biology in 2014. She has always loved science because she loves learning and then knowing how things work. 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 looks forward to getting all of her students excited to learn about how science is used in the arts and everyday life.
Creative Writing and English Teacher
Sarah Aceto lives with her two children ages 14 and 10, her three cats, and her four chickens in Middletown, CT. She is thrilled to be joining the ACT community as an English and creative writing teacher. After all, the performing arts, writing, literature, reading, and being an educator and enthusiastic learner are what make her world go round. After attending various experiential and creative arts high schools in CT, Sarah earned a BA in an interdisciplinary major (literature, writing, education, social justice and a semester abroad in Dharamsala and Sarnath, India) from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. After trying out homes in Louisiana and California, Sarah moved back to CT to earn her teaching credential and an MS in Education from the University of New Haven. Working for over a decade and a half in the high schools of East Lyme, Durham/Middlefield, and Middletown, Sarah gained valuable experience to build on here in Willimantic. “Ms. A.” is hoping to put down roots in this remarkable school, supporting her students as they become the readers, writers, and people they want to be.
Born and raised in Connecticut, Melissa has loved to dance all her life. At 2 years old, she was enrolled in her first dance classes and has been hooked ever since. Her love for dance is matched only by her passion for teaching, and that passion is fueled by her students with each moment of accomplishment, each goal reached, and especially each “impossibility” turned into a confident ability. Melissa has great enthusiasm for choreography and rhythmic expression and she loves blending different forms of movement. Her favorite styles are hip hop and jazz dance, acrobatics and tumbling, and martial arts tricking. She is also an avid traveler, having recently returned from a tour of Europe with her tricking team, training with other athletes and soaking up cultures across the globe.
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.
Ara’s ballet training began over 30 years ago with Northern CT Ballet, CT Concert Ballet, Hartford Ballet and Milwaukee Ballet. She’s worked with many renowned instructors including Franco DeVita, one of the designers of ABT's National Training Curriculum, Alla Osipenko, and Rolando Yanes. In her early twenties she danced professionally as a guest artist with CT Concert Ballet and Northern CT Ballet, and Tim Martin Choreographies of New York. During this time she was featured in many roles including The Evil Queen in Snow White, Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker and the lead role in a contemporary version of The Red Shoes. For the last 15 years she has been teaching and choreographing all over the state with schools such as Connecticut Concert Ballet, Christian Academy of Dance and Mystic Ballet. She enjoys teaching the classical ballet techniques and training methods of Vaganova, Cecchetti, and American Ballet Theater. She has also been trained in Lindy Hop and East Coast Swing by globally celebrated dancers such as Frankie Manning, the leading authority on Lindy Hop while he was alive. As a dance teacher, she wants to give her students the personal attention and encouragement they need to find their creativity and a love for music and movement.
Jayme Horton has been an Instructional Assistant at ACT since 2015. She studied Business at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Willimantic, CT, from 2008-2009 and plans to go back to college to pursue a career in education. Before working at ACT, Jayme worked in daycare and was a mail carrier for the USPS for 7 years. She has always enjoyed helping kids and loves to work with the students at ACT. Jayme is very excited to be part of ACT, looks forward to going to work every day and plans to stay at ACT for many years. When Jayme is not working, she spends time going on adventures with her daughter Kandace. Her other interests and hobbies include her pets (5 cats, parrots, chickens and ducks), photography, hiking, crafts, shopping and traveling.
Ava Molnar is an Instructional Assistant at ACT. Previously, she was a substitute teacher and theatre artist so she is delighted to be able to combine these two worlds by working in her hometown at ACT. She graduated from Clark University in 2014 with high honors and a B.A. in Theatre Arts. She enjoys being able to help students achieve their best academically and artistically, and on the weekends she enjoys hanging out with her dog.
Jade Starbala graduated from Boston University in 2009 earning a B.A. in Philosophy. Since graduating, Jade has traveled extensively in Europe and South America, learning Spanish and Italian. She decided to turn that passion into a career and enrolled in the Interpreter Training Program at Northwestern CT Community College. She graduated in 2016 and became certified as an educational sign language interpreter. She feels privileged to be a part of the ACT community.
Peter retired at the rank of Captain after serving 21 years in the Willimantic Fire Department, and a culmulative 31 years’ experience in the fire service. He is certified by the State of Connecticut as a Fire Service Instructor, Fire Officer I, Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Specialist, and Fire & Life Safety Educator. Peter also served as Vice President of Willimantic Firefighters Local 1033 as well as an Emergency Medical Technician. Prior to his career in Willimantic, he volunteered in the Putnam, CT fire department. Peter was involved in life safety education of children and adults for most of his 31 years in the fire service, and helped develop the Juvenile Fire Setter Program in the Willimantic Fire Department. He served on the Board of Education in Hampton. Peter enjoys movies, playing softball, coaching his children in recreation level sports, and spending quality time with his family, including his 2 dogs.
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.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.
Michelle Smith, R.N., B.S.N. joined the EASTCONN team to start the 2018-2019 school year as the RN covering the Educational & Vocational Center, EASTCONN Autism Program and ACT Magnet School. Michelle earned her BSN from Central Connecticut State University in 1997, and has enjoyed providing nursing care in many areas. Michelle has experience in pediatric/adult homecare, pediatric primary care, camp nursing and has 11 years of experience as a school nurse. Michelle is a devoted mother of two teenagers and spends most of her time watching them as they participate in football, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, track and soccer. Michelle enjoys movies, the beach, hiking, Audubon activities and outings with her family and friends. Michelle is excited to be part of the team and is looking forward to the adventure!