School Counselor- Deidre Cuffee-Gray (Dept. Chair)
I have been involved in education all of my adult life. I was born and raised in Hartford, CT and graduated from The Hopkins School in New Haven, CT. I got involved in education because of all the great adults who taught and supported me in essential ways as an adolescent. Were it not for those individuals I wouldn’t be the person I am today. What I decided from those important relationships was that I wanted to be that kind of adult in young people’s lives as well. That is why I taught American Studies to middle and high school students and then went on to become a school counselor. I am happy to find myself at an Expeditionary Learning school where the adults I work with are passionate about their work and the idea that students learn best by doing. I am excited about working with students and helping them to understand and pursue their own passions. I feel like college access for students is a question of social justice and equity. I want to do all I can to work on ensuring students that from urban high schools are prepared to get into and successfully graduate from college. In my free time I am a volunteer at The Garden, a support group for grieving children and teens in Northampton, I’m a runner, I love Ultimate Frisbee, I write poetry, I enjoy hiking and camping, fiddle with technology and I’m learning to play the mandolin. My partner Libby and I spend time traveling, cooking and hanging out with family and friends in the area. I have roots in Springfield, MA as my mother and her eight brothers and sisters were born and raised in this town. My oldest aunt was a member of the first graduating class of the former Classical High School and working with what will be The Springfield Renaissance School’s first graduating class feels like coming full circle! More than anything, I am honored to be working at a school that values “collegeboundness”, and has the goal of 100% college acceptances. I received a B.A. in Economics and Government from St. Lawrence University and a M.A. in English Literature from The Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College and a M.A. & C.A.G.S. in School Counseling from University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
School Counselor- La-Toya Wilson
I am a native of Jamaica and grew up in Springfield attending Springfield Public Schools. As a double major, I graduated from Westfield State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Social Science and I’ve also earned a Master of Education degree from The University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a concentration in School Counseling. Since 2003, I have served Springfield Public Schools as a Special Education Teacher and School Counselor respectively. To further enhance my knowledge, I’ve attained experience in higher education working in both Admissions and Academic Counseling. I earnestly believe that all students can become successful with support, guidance, and encouragement.
Adjustment Counselor- Verba Fanolis
Verba Fanolis is a founding staff member at the school. She grew up in the Hungry Hill section of Springfield and attended Glenwood Elementary School, Van Sickle Junior High School and graduated from Classical High School. Ms. Fanolis received a BA in Sociology from Western New England College and a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Connecticut. As the School Adjustment Counselor, Ms. Fanolis supports students to reach their full potential in academics and as contributing members of the school community. In her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening and walking her dogs.
Guidance Secretary- Pat Grant