English Language Arts Department
6th Grade- Elizabeth Footit
8th Grade- Joy Leaning
Joy Leaning is ecstatic to come to Renaissance as the 8th Grade ELA teacher! A Massachusetts native, she graduated from UMASS Amherst with a BA in Middle Eastern Studies. She has also proudly served as a Soldier in the Massachusetts Army National Guard since 2013. Ms. Leaning spends much (all) of her time being overly caffeinated and loves to garden, play with her son, and adopt way too many stray pets. She swears and lives by this quote, “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.” -Maya Angelou.
10th Grade- Marjorie Osherow
7th Grade- Emily Lepine
I am a product of a schooling experience that left me feeling like college was never an option for me. I can remember being back in my high school guidance counselor's office my junior year having a discussion about finding myself some career training, or job searching. My guidance counselor felt that I was not well suited for the typical four year college experience. Said they would never accept me with my average grades. Leaving her office feeling ashamed and discouraged I began to wonder what I really was going to do with my future. I was not a straight A student, but I wasn't neglectful of my studies either. I was just average. The label of average hurt me in a way I never thought possible before. I thought long and hard about it. It was then in that moment I realized that my teachers had always impacted me more than any other influence. I had so many teachers that made that little difference. They kept this average student feeling like part of the classroom community. They made me feel cared for, invested in, and worthy of being there. If I hadn't had the teachers I did I wonder if things might have turned out differently for me. Years later here I am making that same effort on a daily basis to show all of my students that they do belong here and that they are cared for and that they can do this! Following high school I went to Holyoke Community College for two years to test myself. I wanted to see if college really was for me. I found much success in my time there and continued on to earn my undergrad degree from Westfield State University! The first in my family to hold a Bachelor's degree. I couldn't believe it! I even graduated with the high honor of Sankofa Scholar and Magna Cum Lade! I had really turned myself into quite the scholar. Even though I did not have what my guidance counselor referred to as a "typical" college experience I still got a quality education! I learned that there is more than one path to success. Hard work, consistency, and a support system is key. I feel that Renaissance is a perfect match for me because this school does so much to ensure the success of every student that walks through the door. I am honored to get to be a part of a school community that has so much to offer to its staff members and students'. For me, teaching is not simply a "job" it is a lifestyle. It is something that doesn't end when you clock out. I knew that when I picked my major and I recognized it in the teachers I had throughout my early years of education. I am so excited to be a part of the middle school! Teacher for life!
9th Grade- Katie Barsevich
Ms. Katie Barsevich is thrilled to be the 9th grade English teacher at The Springfield Renaissance School and a Crew leader for the class of 2017! Ms. Barsevich first came to Renaissance as a student teacher in the spring of 2013 to work with 8th grade English teacher Ms. Cote while completing her Bachelor’s degree at Springfield College in English and Secondary Education with studies in Social Justice. In addition to teaching Early Start at Renaissance this past summer, she had the wonderful opportunity to be trained by Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers at their institute in Long Beach, California. Ms. Barsevich is originally from the southwestern part of Connecticut, but she is proud to call Springfield her home now. She lived and studied abroad in Ireland in the fall of 2011 and loves to travel. Ms. Barsevich is also a fanatic reader and looks forward to founding and advising a book club at Renaissance.
11th Grade- Jamilla Jones
12th Grade- Lise Krieger
I grew up in Weston, CT, playing in the woods, swimming in rivers, and riding my bike. Many years and many colleges later my love of learning and going to school inspired me to become a teacher.
I moved to MA in the summer of 2006, after 19 years of teaching high school English in Norwalk, CT. I started working at Renaissance in 2007 and it’s been a wonderful journey. I love this school and everything it stands for, the students I’ve met along the way, and the staff I share my days with.
My (other) passions are the martial arts, biking, swimming in rivers and hiking in woods, exploring new places, writing and reading, , and horseback riding. I share my home with my partner, Jo, two dogs, Addie and Scout, and three cats. Horses Dudley, MaeMae, Monkey, Belle, and Nickers live in the barn out back.