Our Administration Team
Leadership & Company Culture Consultant/Culture Architect, Sapient Corporation
Courtney Dickinson is a passionate educator with a strong belief in public service and innovation in education. Initially, Courtney was certified as a teacher and planned to work in public education. Things did not unfold that way, however, and she spent the first 15 years of her career in industry – both as culture architect at Sapient Corporation and then as a management consultant for other high growth organizations.
After her own children started in public schools, Courtney saw that there was a disconnect between what kids needed in school and what they were getting, and in the 20 years away from education, things in the public space had become worse, not better. Realizing that a return to education was essential, she became an advocate for change.
The decision to found a bootstrap start up school was a difficult one. Courtney dove in, galvanizing prospective parents and teachers around a shared mission for what school could be. A year later, Acera opened in Melrose with an inaugural class of 37 students.
“Building the engine while you fly the plane” has not been easy, but with persistence and emphasis on continual improvement, the concept came alive: early and deep exposure to STEM, individual learning plans for every child, an eclectic blend of pedagogy that empowers teachers to create environments of discovery, authentic engagement, learning, and growth in their classrooms, and partnerships with scientific thought leaders in Greater Boston to link learning to real innovations and the challenges of our time.
From the very beginning, Courtney’s intent was to create a model that could happen anywhere. After years of developing and pilot-testing innovative curricula at Acera School, Courtney and her team launched AceraEI – an outreach division that brings Acera’s Tools to Transform Schools into public education. Through professional development workshops, ongoing support, and metrics for success, AceraEI partners with public schools to implement these Tools in a way that fits each school’s unique setting and needs, empowering educators to be change agents and leaders in their schools and school districts.
B.A. English, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Kerry brings more than 20 years of marketing and public relations experience to Acera, including a combined 16 years at the nonprofit organizations The Nature Conservancy and Boston Bar Association. Kerry creates and shares Acera’s stories of innovation in education via the school’s website, Annual Report, social media channels, and in local and statewide media outlets. She lives in Wakefield with her husband John, their children Ben and Erin, and their (very spoiled) rescue dog Luna. When not at work, Kerry can usually be found reading, walking in the Fells, or getting into a wide variety of shenanigans with her book club.
ADN, North Shore Community College
An Early Childhood Educator and Director for over 35 years – as well as Director of Admissions in independent and private schools for the past two decades – Tami is inspired by each child’s potential and embraces and supports every family in their quest for a school that meets their child’s individual learning needs. “There’s so much joy associated with children and their natural curiosity that I never tire of exciting and meaningful learning experiences focused on their interests. It’s only then that the learning is organic and this is what is found here at Acera!”
With her roots in Maine, Tami enjoys everything outdoors including hiking, beaching, skiing, fishing and animal watching. Her love for musical theater goes back to her childhood and attending a live performance is one of her favorite things to do. Quieter pursuits include enjoying a great read, playing cribbage and a nice walk. Tami and her husband Rick reside on the North Shore and marvel at the fact that they can take in the ocean, the mountains, a lake or the city, all within a short hour’s drive. They have five grown children, 8 grandchildren, and a revolving door for their busy household as family time is her greatest joy.
After 20 years as a Senior Design and Construction Project Manager for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Kevin accepted a company-wide early retirement offering and joined Acera. The opportunity for more hands-on work – and to be a mentor for inquisitive students – drew Kevin to this role, and he’s looking forward to enhancing the lives of our students and helping to expand the mission of the school. Kevin lives in North Reading with his wife, youngest son, and his son’s girlfriend. He rebuilds old cars with his son, and they enjoy winter hiking in the White Mountains as a family.
Sara has a background in Human Resources and Operations Leadership in the for-profit world, and is also a music and fiber arts performer, creator and educator. At Acera, any time she can spend with students is time well spent; she loves seeing what the students here are thinking, creating, and planning to do next. She’s been told by a colleague that she’s a monster* for drinking iced coffee in winter, but that’s a born and raised New Englander for ya.
*colleague stands by her statement.
Alice is a seasoned Executive Assistant with over 25 years in account service and business development. Her experience has spanned the advertising and public relations fields, consulting firms, veterinary hospitals, and childcare organizations. Alice has also launched and managed her own dog walking business, which she grew to more than 40 clients, and is a volunteer at the Perkins School for the blind. In her spare time, Alice enjoys cooking, movies, and attending live theatre and music events. When the weather cooperates, you’ll likely find Alice at the ocean! She has three cats – Bud, Lou and Tony – and loves hanging out with her daughter Kathryn.
I enjoy supporting teachers, staff and students through many little ways! Being at the front desk, I get many questions each day and those from the little ones just makes my day! Outside of school, I love going for nature walks with my family.
B.A. Anthropology, University of Massachusetts
David is the creator and mentor of Acera’s TechHub, the facilitator of various “respectful disassembly” Creativity Stations – in which students can take apart technology to better understand it – and a sought-after mentor and content coach for technology-related IMPp projects. Formerly the Network and Systems Engineer for WGBH and Bike Mechanic at Laughing Alley Bicycles, David loves the hands-on approach to learning at Acera. You’ll frequently find him repairing, refurbishing, or repurposing pretty much anything electronic or mechanical and digging into the history of technology with students. When not at school, David keeps busy building, making, and designing all sorts of things, mushroom hunting, night driving, and gaming with his teen.
M.A., Secondary School Science Education, Columbia University Teachers College
B.S., Architectural Engineering, Drexel University
A deep believer in innovation in education, George is excited not for just any job, but to be at Acera! George brings twenty years of experience in STEM teaching, teacher leadership, and school administration in both public and private schools, including Boston Public Schools, Framingham High School, and the Cathedral School in New York. Prior to entering his career as a teacher and education leader, George worked as an engineer. His educational philosophy is a perfect fit for Acera:
"I believe that education is an empowering experience for people of all ages to learn new things. Educating is hard and takes a tremendous amount of thought and care to design and deliver authentic, purposeful learning experiences. When working with teachers, I emphasize the distinction between teaching and learning and that learning doesn’t necessarily happen despite a teacher’s attempt to teach. It’s important that teachers can defend why they teach what they teach the way they teach it. Everything matters. Their time – and their students’ time – is precious, so it is important that we know what we are doing and why, and share with each other with an open mind to accept feedback that can help us improve learning experiences."
B.A., Trinity College
Sarah is an experienced educator (10 + years in independent schools), with a love for children, a creative and engaging approach to teaching, and a passion for coaching and supporting her peers. Sarah joined Acera as a Math Block Teacher, emphasizing hands-on learning and working with children’s interests as the basis for inquiry. Through a child-constructed approach to teaching and an atmosphere of trust, warmth, and curiosity, Sarah maximized students’ intellectual engagement and enjoyment in the classroom. Her role at Acera has now grown into that of a Teacher Mentor; Sarah supports our elementary Core Teachers and Math Block Teachers by sharing strategies, stepping in to offer support, and through thoughtful coaching and collaboration. Sarah helps our teachers by supporting their individual growth, while building on their strengths. She also places an emphasis on the whole child as a unique individual and believes that differentiated instruction and tending to students’ social and emotional growth are vital in the classroom.
M.S. Applied Mathematics, DePaul University
B.S. Mathematical Sciences and B.S.C. Finance, DePaul University
Irina Uk is a teacher, a curriculum creator, and educational change agent. She joins Acera from Boston Public Schools, where she taught mathematics to 6th through 8th graders. Irina is adept at using design interventions, multi-model, and multi-disciplinary supplemental lessons to engage and meet the needs of all learners, and she is experienced in building partnerships with education and research institutions. As AceraEI’s Program Manager, Irina will help bring Acera’s innovative approach to K-12 education to more public schools in Massachusetts and beyond.
B.A.Ed Indiana University, Indiana
An urban public school graduate, Sarah’s life has been dedicated to giving all students high-quality education. Prior to her work in education leadership and program design, she was an art teacher in K-12 classrooms for 10 years, she has taught in the lowest- and highest-performing urban public schools. Sarah has worked on numerous policy issues advocating for students and has received numerous awards for her work, including Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Urban Scholars Fellowship and the Sontag Prize for Urban Education, and has had works published by Education Leadership, Ed Week, and Americans for the Arts.
Our Board of Directors
Acera’s Board of Directors has as its foremost charter to safeguard the fiscal stability and sustainability of the school. Its approach is modeled more after the for-profit sector than the typical non-profit board approach, enabling the rapid and flexible growth of a start-up school.
Holly Whittemore, C.P.A
Richard J. Morello, M.B.A.
President, Life Sciences Division Aptus Health
Courtney Dickinson, B.A.
Founder & Director, Acera School
Jane Moulding, A.L.M.
Principal, SmarterWisdom Consulting
Former Head of School, The Cambridge School of Weston
Greg Phelps, M.B.A.
Independent Advisor, Former Chairman of the Board, Charles River School
Our Core Classroom Teachers
MEd, Lesley University
Emily has been teaching elementary grades for over ten years, with a special focus on the lower and intermediate grades. She is a self-described 'brain nerd', who loves tying social-emotional learning and understanding of how the brain works into academic content. Outside of the classroom, Emily loves spending time with her family, being active outdoors, cooking and reading.
B.A., Literature, Bennington College
Vered is passionate about developing and following student inquiries to ensure that learning is authentic for her students. She brought this approach to several years of teaching in public schools before coming to Acera, where student inquiry drives every class. At Acera, Vered loves to encourage deep thinking and inquiry around fiction and creative writing, as well as the history that one has to understand to be able to fully appreciate writing. She encourages students to always see the possible avenues of continued exploration in everything they look at. When not at school, Vered is an avid reader, especially loving speculative fiction, and gardener.
M.A. Philosophy Brandeis University
B.A. Wheaton College
B.A. English Wesleyan University
Prior to joining Acera in 2017, Bob taught for seven years at Odyssey Day School in Wakefield, where he taught children of all ages from toddlers through eighth grade. At Acera, he loves helping math students attain both the joy and discipline of advancing their skills to the next level. In addition to being a co-teacher in the core classroom, Bob teaches a wide range of electives from Cultural Anthropology to the History of Math, including the annual US Government elective. Bob is from Boston, and is the parent of a former Acera STEAM Camp summer intern.
B.A., Lesley University
David Fodaski (or "Fo" as he is known to his students) is a graduate of Lesley University, receiving both his Bachelors and Master’s degrees at that institution. He is a 29 year veteran teacher in his third year at Acera as a Core Literacy instructor. Possessing a professional background in the performing arts, as actor, director and production. specialist, he brings a wealth of knowledge and core literacy techniques including strategies that embed theatre arts work as a critical part of STEAM curriculums.
B.A., Williams College
Anastasia spent 10 years as a medical writer before making the career shift to elementary education. At Acera, she loves the ever present and varied opportunities for connection and learning with children, and enjoys bringing creativity to the curriculum. One year, Anastasia used a “pirate” theme to bring to life the concepts of trade and the essential question of how societies assign value, engaging students in the kind of deep systems thinking that is a hallmark of our school. Originally from Arizona, Anastasia has lived in Pennsylvania and Connecticut before settling in Massachusetts after college. She loves to travel – especially trips to Maine in the summer!
B.A. Communications, Simmons College
Montessori Institute of San Diego, Primary Teacher Certificate
Jen grew up in Washington, DC. Prior to becoming a teacher, she worked as a cake decorator, camp counselor, and graphic designer. At Acera, Jen loves that each day is full of surprises and miracles. During the 2018-19 school year, Jen and her students worked as classroom to build a giant reading loft. The kindergarten and first grade students brainstormed design ideas, made drawings, wrote a persuasive presentation to school founder Courtney Dickinson. They then made models to scale, and presented them to an architect/parent in the class. That summer, the loft became a reality, and the students celebrated with a ribbon cutting the following September!
B.A., Behavioral Science, Lesley University
Lisa has been an early childhood educator for the past fifteen years. After teaching the youngest students for eleven years, she moved up to the early elementary age in a lab preschool at a local high school, where she also mentored the high school students who were exploring and pursuing early education. While taking a break from teaching, and faced with the pandemic, Lisa decided to pursue her master’s degree in education, specializing in curriculum and instruction, with a concentration in special education including differentiated instruction, executive function, social and emotional learning, as well as educational leadership. Lisa is looking forward to working with students in the Lower Elementary class and being a valued member of the Acera School community. Lisa is originally from New Zealand, is married with two adult children and enjoys biking, hiking, traveling, reading, and spending time with friends.
Our Counseling, EF, and Literacy Teachers
B.A., Fairhaven College
Malcolm is a counselor, a coach, a cook, a carpenter, and a Dad. (In any order!) Licensed in New York as a Marriage and Family Therapist, he came to our school after many years of service working in and developing residential treatment programs for youth from birth to and through age 21. Malcolm has great experience with — and enjoys working to build and support — organizations and people who are creating experiences and environments for children to learn, grow and be happy. He has always wanted to be the director of happy children, and now he’s got his wish!
BS, Vassar, History, Minor in Educational Studies
Intermediate Floortime Provider, Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning
Sigourney comes to Acera with a Floortime background. Floortime is a relationship based therapeutic approach utilized to promote the development and strengthening of social and emotional skills. Sigourney has worked with young children as a specialist at early intervention and older children through her work at a private practice and private school. She is excited to work at Acera and bring her skills to the classroom setting–from promoting self-regulation and self-advocacy to working as a flexible team member. When she is not at school, Sigourney loves to be on the beach or practicing pilates.
B.A., Psychology, Keene State College
Laura has taught upper elementary and middle school math, and was a math specialist for kids in grades 1-5. Later, she shifted her focus to a deeper examination of literacy education, particularly reading. She has been engaged in Orton Gillingham training and post-graduate coursework for Reading Specialists. Laura grew up in New England, and enjoys being outside in all seasons.
Trained at MGH Reading Disabilities Unit, Boston
Susan comes to Acera with 25 years of experience as an individual and small group literacy tutor in both public and independent schools, including Chelmsford, Woburn, Arlington and the Carroll School. She specializes in working with students diagnosed with dyslexia and helping them to meet their reading and language goals. When not at school, Susan loves spending time with her Bichon Frise, Violet.
B.A., Barnard College, Dance
Kei Phillip is a creative facilitator, dancer-performance artist, and intraprenuer with over 10 years of experience in community arts and education initiatives. In her work with various NY-based organizations and schools, her contributions have included program development, student affairs administration, camp counseling, and special events coordination. She is passionate about supporting ways that embodied expression can foster self-discovery, wellbeing, communication, and community-building. At Acera, Kei collaborates with core teachers to provide students with strategies for social emotional learning, writing/literacy, and project management; she also serves as an upper school mentor and manages school transfer application procedures. Outside of work, Kei enjoys exploring Boston's social dance and cultural arts scenes.
B.A., Graphic Design, UMass Lowell
Eileen is Acera’s self-described behavioral science geek! She loves learning about why humans do the things they do, especially complex verbal behavior, and she has been a Board Certified Behavior Analyst since September 2010. She previously spent more than a decade working at Nashoba Learning Group, a private school serving individuals with autism, as a clinical director specializing in working with students with anxiety and inflexibility. She really loves talking with kids of all ages about their interests and sharing her interests with others, which include video games, art, and gemology. Eileen grew up in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, where she currently lives with her husband John, her sons Lincoln (Link) and Leo, and her cats (Mato and Oro).
Our Specialist & Enrichment Teachers
BA, History, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
SB, Electrical Engineering, MIT
SB, Life Science, MIT
Jonathan has taught science, engineering, and arts at all levels since 1998, at Weston Middle School, The Driscoll School in Brookline, the MIT Edgerton Center, the Rashi School, and various summer programs. Prior to working in education, he was a hospital clinical engineer for many years. He is also adjunct faculty in education for American International College.
Teacher Education Program, with emphasis in Math and Science teaching
Several Workshops in Design and Development of Digital and Video Games, Team-Based Design, and Multimedia Visualization
B.A., Dartmouth College
Thom loves math – and loves sharing that with his students at Acera! Prior to joining our school Thom worked as a financial software engineer, and also spent many years as the – as Thom puts it – “front-line parent” for his three kids. When not at school, Thom enjoys biking, skiing, and spending time with his two dogs.
B.A. Visual Arts Instituto Superior de Arte, Havana Cuba
Camila joined Acera after completing her Ed.M. from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. She was looking for a school with a strong profile of hands-on, interdisciplinary and experimental education, and has since found a community of creative and flexible people with whom she loves to work, and a student body whose passion for learning continues to impress her. Her previous teaching experience included four years teaching art at the International School of Havana, and three years offering private art lessons in the same city. Before finding her calling as a teacher, Camila lived and worked in Havana, Cuba as a full-time visual artist. In her free time, Camila enjoys to read, draw, watch films and cook.
B.A., Art History
Adrienne has seven years of experience teaching textiles and design both in the Boston area and abroad. She trained to teach Design and Technology at a secondary school in the UK, and has a passion for combining scientific inquiry with creative projects. She teaches Design Thinking, Electronic Arts and Textile classes to Acera students. She is always working on her own creative projects, and especially enjoys making her own clothing.
B.Sc, Management, Bentley University
Namita has taught middle school math in several Boston-area schools, including Boston Green Academy, Timilty MIddle School, Middlestone Day School and Jackson Mann K-8. In addition to teaching, she worked as a grants and contracts administrator for more than a decade at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Children's Hospital. Acera, Namita says, is the antithesis of the schools where she has previously taught, and she is excited to explore Acera’s approach to learning. When not at school, Namita enjoys reading, writing, live theater, cooking and hiking. She is also fluent in three languages: Nepali, Hindi and English.
Founder and Owner of LARP Adventure Program
Eric and his staff bring more than 30 years of original 21st-century curriculum design and emotional intelligence teaching strategies to Acera students through the LARP Adventure Program, which fosters a safe and secure space for personal development skills. In addition, Eric has over ten years as a professional martial arts instructor, science and communication technology teacher, and professional artist. Eric has been with Acera since the beginning and counties to bring innovation in education literacies through multiple intelligence methods. When not working, Eric enjoys nature hikes with his Northern Inuit Dog Lobo, reading books on education and self-empowerment, developing a campsite in Maine, and supporting the arts and culture.
B.A., Environmental Analysis and Policy, Boston University
B.A., Mathematics and Engineering, Cambridge University, UK
Prior to joining Acera, Penny taught grades 3 through high school at Buckingham Browne and Nichols and Lexington Christian Academy, as well as grades 6-13 in the UK. She also worked at the National Bureau of Standards, where she and her husband developed a topological approach to fingerprint matching. Penny firmly believes that learning math is fun, and she’s looking forward to sharing this enthusiasm with Acera students! When not at school, you’ll likely find Penny playing tennis on one of Winchester’s many courts.
Claudia joined Acera after several years working in digital illustration at Harvard University. She loves helping her students express their creativity using new materials and techniques, and is constantly impressed by their unique ideas and passion! When not teaching, Claudia enjoys working with her hands to make quilts, jewelry, and other crafts.
BA in Sociology, Huaqiao University
Prior to joining Acera in 2020, Ms. Tian taught at a National Blue Ribbon School in Louisiana for three years, where she was a third grade teacher teaching Math, Science and Social Studies. At Acera, Ms. Tian teaches Science Electives and Math to students across the school. She also works as a co-core teacher. When not at work, she can usually be found spending time with her family, reading, cooking, and working out at the gym.