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Faculty and Staff

School Leadership

Faculty & Staff

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Karen O'Neill Thomson

Head of School

A breadth of skills and experiences, both in education and business, combined with being a life-long learner, provides Karen with a strong foundation from which she draws on a daily basis to lead, evaluate, collaborate, and demonstrate empathy. Karen has spent over 15 years in education. Most recently she has been Head of School at a progressive holistic school in Williston, Vermont. In addition, she taught third and fourth grade in independent schools in the Boston area and here in Manchester. She developed outdoor classroom initiatives, worked collaboratively to design new programs that address diversity and inclusion, enhanced social emotional curriculum, and led community service trips abroad. 


Karen believes in the importance of building a community of care and encouraging the growth and development of the “whole child.” She enjoys the puzzle of determining how to help each individual trust and connect to their potential, and to help be part of building a pathway that helps them become their best self. She is committed to experiential student-centered and play-based learning. She recognizes the importance of cultivating an intentional culture that embraces social-emotional learning as well as the importance of academic inquiry and discovery. Her twenty plus years in the business world prior to becoming a teacher inspired her to help young people develop their inner resources for living in an increasingly complex and challenging world - preparing them to be world citizens.


Growing up in Idaho, Karen learned the importance of community involvement from her parents, and developed a deep appreciation for the outdoors while hiking, backpacking, fishing and skiing. She was a competitive alpine ski racer and headed east to Dartmouth College where she was a member of the ski team and discovered that for her, geography was the perfect liberal arts major. After graduating Karen worked as an entrepreneur and marketing executive. Her career took her west where she met her husband, Peter. They moved to Vermont and she worked with him developing a variety of food products including Trader Joe’s original Bold and Smoky BBQ sauce.


She has served on the Board of the Weston (Vermont) Historical Society, been a council member of the Vermont Women’s Fund (part of the Vermont Community Foundation), and completed the Snelling Center’s Vermont Leadership Program. 


Outside of work and community involvement, Karen takes great pleasure in Peter’s three daughters and her four grandchildren. She also enjoys traveling, reading and gardening, (especially the vegetable garden.) She loves food and cooking, and cherishes spending time with her grandchildren creating memories as they make and enjoy meals together.

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Abra Kessler

Eagles 4-5 Head Teacher

Abra has 25+ years experience as an elementary teacher in 2nd through 5th grade. She was a founding teacher at Elysian, one of New Jersey’s first progressive charter schools in Hoboken. She is both a master and mentor teacher. Abra and her family have had a home in Vermont for many years and she has followed the growth of RFCS with the dream that her children would attend our special school. Although her children will attend Long Trail and not Red Fox, she will be able to make a difference in the lives of our students. Her colleagues shared that the students love Abra, often coming back to visit her, even when they are in middle school. She is known for fostering a positive classroom environment, and building a sense of community that is anchored in respect and kindness, along with a sense of humor. Abra loves using project- and place-based learning to bring ideas and concepts to life for her students. She is an avid biker and hiker and thrilled to be in Vermont where, as she puts it, "feels her best in the beautiful state."

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Zena Pesta

Eagles 4-5 Long Term Substitute

Zena describes her life’s work as advocating for children while cultivating a community of  relationship, celebration, abundance and understanding. Zena is drawn to Red Fox because of its immersive teaching style and community-oriented mission. She approaches supporting students' learning through using methods of observation and  facilitation to meet children where they are. Her experience using a workshop environment, hands-on experiential methods and thoughtful dialogue fosters developing trust in oneself, reflection of one's own inherent value and a greater awareness of one’s space in community. Her career in craft, design, and teaching has taken her all over the world. Zena has taught and her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. She has been a resident in Jingdezhen, China and had her work highlighted in The New York Times, W Magazine, and a Japanese publication.

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Kristin Finch

Hawks 2-3 Head Teacher

Kristin has 15+ years in the education field, many of them with a focus on project-based, hands-on learning. She saw a need in her community and founded a preschool in NYC with play-based, social emotional development and outdoor exploration as central tenents. Kristin loves to encourage problem solving and scientific experimentation in the classroom.  She was instrumental in helping to run a program at her daughters’ school that combines scientific principles and arts education. Her colleagues emphasized how she naturally connects with children and her positive approach to helping them learn is inspiring. She was drawn to the RFCS holistic approach to education, belief in knowing each child as an individual and teaching them where they are. After loving Vermont for over 20 years, she and her family are excited to be moving here this summer. Her oldest daughter will be attending middle school at Long Trail and her youngest, Nuala, will be joining the Eagles class. Kristin and Nuala joined us for Country Fair Day and it was as if they had been part of the community for years. Kristin’s love of cooking and eating food grown nearby, taking gentle hikes, and practicing mindfulness through yoga and walking meditation, as well as enjoying the simple pleasure of reading a good book are other passions she will share with our community.

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Sarah Post

Owls K-1 Head Teacher

After teaching the Owls class for the past two years, Sarah will be moving up to teach second and third graders in the newly created Hawks class. She is excited to work with returning students and families this year as well as get to know families. Sarah brings to Red Fox twelve years of teaching experience in both independent and public schools where she taught preschool and grades one and two. Sarah believes that the early childhood years are a special time which requires listening to and supporting children on their journey. Sarah’s goal is to help children find their voices and grow into independent learners. Sarah is proud of her efforts, along with her colleagues, to create a play-based learning environment balanced with focused academics where children can stretch out, slow down, and enjoy childhood. 

Sarah lives in West Pawlet with her husband, Lamont, their two daughters, and their three cats. They’ve lived in Vermont for 17 years and love the area and community they’ve found. She has a passion for cooking and thinks it's important for kids to learn the process of growing, making, and enjoying food. Sarah also loves time spent outside, reading, doing yoga, and being with friends and family. She grew up in Kent, Ohio where she also attended Kent State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education.

Heather Münch

Music Teacher

Heather believes that music and the arts are a vital aspect to overall learning and can help a child discover more about themselves as individuals, members of a community and the world’s diverse cultures.


Heather was born and raised in Vermont and after many adventures returned in 2020. She received her Bachelors of Music from the University of Vermont and Castleton University and a Masters of Music from SUNY Purchase. Being back home in Vermont, Heather has noticed there is something truly special about these mountains; they are a place that brings people together time and time again and provide our children an opportunity to learn how to appreciate nature and become independent thinkers and creators.

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Mary Tyche

Art Teacher

Mary has taught art and is an artist herself. She was the beloved art teacher at Pine Cobble for years. She is a painter and loves teaching others to paint in all mediums; she also takes great pleasure working with children to create 3-D objects. She is known for working with teachers to integrate what they are learning in the classroom with what concepts she is teaching or what mediums she is using during art classes. Mary is excited to take advantage of the access we have to so many outdoor spaces to inspire the children’s creativity.

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Danielle Zimmerman

Communications & Social Media

Danielle joined the Red Fox community in 2020 to help with social media and website maintenance.  She has a degree in communications and film from Ohio University.  She spent years working in the field including a job in Los Angeles with a TV production company and working in corporate media in Columbus, Ohio.  She recently graduated with a certificate in Digital Media Marketing from UVM.

The Red Fox Community School mission and teaching philosophy speak to Danielle and it's what originally drew her to the school.  When she isn't on the computer making graphics or websites she enjoys being on her hobby farm in Rupert, Vermont where lives with her daughter and husband.


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Maxine Linehan

Board Chair

Maxine Linehan, an Irish native, is an international concert and recording artist. She travels the world performing her critically acclaimed concerts at renowned venues. Together with her husband, celebrated sound engineer and songwriter, Andrew Koss, she opened The Studio At Strawberry Field’s Lane in Manchester, a state of the art recording studio that has become a beloved destination for both national and local music makers. Maxine is also a qualified attorney and holds a Bachelor of Laws from The University of London and is a graduate Barrister of the The Inns of Court School of Law in London. She also studied performance at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, SAG-AFTRA and is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Maxine is the proud founding Board Chair of Red Fox Community School and both of her children are Red Fox students.

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Courtney Callo

Board Member

Courtney Callo is currently the owner of Willoughby’s Depot Eatery in Manchester, Vermont, which she purchased in November 2021.  Prior to purchasing Willoughby’s, Courtney spent 33 years at Long Trail School in Dorset, Vermont.  She had both academic and administrative experience.  She taught German, spent the majority of her career in admissions and marketing, started the student life, international and LTSummer programs, coached and spent her final years at the school as the Director of Development.  Courtney is a native of Manchester and has a deep love of community and Vermont.  She lives with her husband Rodger and has three grown daughters.  When not making donuts and running Willoughby’s, you can find Courtney skiing, hiking, mountain biking and playing with her dogs in her beloved Green Mountains. 

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MaryBeth O'Donnell

Board Member

MaryBeth has been an active member of the educational world for the past 30 years. Directly after graduating from Fordham University with a B.A. in American History and minors in Education and Peace and Justice, she was a high school history teacher in the New York City public school system. She then went on to work as an Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions and academic advisor at Columbia University.

While she took time off of her career to raise four children with her husband, Mark. She served on several boards first in Scarsdale, New York and then in Manchester, Vermont. She returned to work as Dean of Student Life and Experiences at Long Trail School. In 2019 she joined the Red Fox team as a part time administrator. In July of 2020 she became the School Director. She believes that the progressive model and community base that Red Fox offers to its students is the key for students becoming engaged, creative, empowered learners. She is excited to continue supporting Red Fox as a Board member.

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Jim Johnston

Board Member

Jim graduated from the University of Virginia in 1991 with a BS in Commerce with Distinction and was commissioned in the US Navy. After seven years as a Submarine Officer and achieving a designation as Certified Naval Nuclear Engineer, he attended Harvard Business School from which he graduated in 2000.

He worked at Goldman Sachs until 2008 in Investment Banking when he joined Moelis Capital Partners (MCP) as an investor. MCP transitioned to NexPhase Capital Partners and in 2018 he left NexPhase to pursue independent consulting and investing opportunities and spend more time coaching and teaching his three sons and enjoying Vermont with his wife Alison.

Jim and his family recently relocated to Dorset from NYC after many years of coming to the area during the summer months and over breaks from school. He enjoys coaching soccer, basketball and baseball and is devoted to the education of his sons, currently age 13, 11 and 8. He also serves as a counselor to recovering addicts and has taken a hands on interest in furthering the Red Fox community and the promotion of the growth and importance of progressive education.

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Ryan W. Miosek

Board Member

Ryan Miosek, is a native of Cooperstown, New York and a practicing attorney in New York and Vermont. After graduating from Fairfield University in 2001 with a Bachelor's Degree in Arts he continued on to receive his Juris Doctorate from New England School of Law in Boston in 2008. Upon graduation, he was an attorney with Morrison Mahoney, LLP handling Products Liability Defense and Product Development for major sporting goods and heavy equipment manufacturers.

In 2009, Ryan returned to Cooperstown with his wife and two children where he opened and still runs a busy general practice office focusing heavily on Real Estate, Civil Litigation, Family and Matrimonial Law and Corporate Formation and Development, while also continuing his Products Liability and Product Development practice as General Counsel for The Hockey Equipment Certification Council Inc. Ryan's clients include corporations, banks, individuals and families.

In the Fall of 2021 Ryan established an additional law practice in Manchester, Vermont that concentrates primarily on Real Estate and general business consulting matters as well as estate practice.  

Ryan lives in Manchester with his wife Caitlin and two children, Madi and Luke. He is an avid mountain biker, skier, runner and enjoys playing golf and coaching his children in their various athletics.

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Bill Muench

Board Member

Bill Muench had been a fixture at Burr and Burton Academy for more than 30 years. He has taught English, AP Psychology, Space and Time, Cinematography and Broadcast Journalism.

He received his BA in Psychology from SUNY Potsdam, a minor in Japanese at Kansai Gaidai  and his MA in Education from MCLA. 

Bill ran the cinematography and astronomy clubs, produced the  Gawlik Awards, coached basketball, teaches Foundations of Education and English at Castleton University, is camp director of both the BBA Cinema Camp and the Bill Muench Basketball Camp and in his free time plays in the popular local band DON’T LEAVE. 

Bill is a Jet Propulsion Laboratory Vermont Solar System Ambassador, the 2015-16 Rowland Faculty Chair Recipient, the 2016 BE BRAVE FOR LIFE recipient, Pioneer Valley Teacher of the year in 2011, Bigelow Grant Recipient in 2011, Ormsby Grant Recipient in 2009, Burr and Burton Academy Faculty Commencement Speaker in 2009 and 2022, and Coca-Cola Vermont Educator of Distinction in 2006. The BBA Yearbook was dedicated to him in 2005 and 2022 and he was Commencement speaker at Mass. College of Liberal Arts in 2002. Bill is married to Barbara Muench, a Special Educator at BBA, and is a proud father of two BBA Alums Weston and Taylor.


Bill is currently working on a documentary called The Artist & the Astronaut.

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