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Special Education Staff List

Jana M. Ruiz
Director of Special Services

Jana has been in the field of education for over 20 years.  She graduated with her Master's Degree in School Administrative Social Work from the University of Kansas in 1990.  She has been the Director of Special Services since 2004.  She loves working with children and their families and feels very fortunate to be part of such a wonderful community. 

Patty Serrano
Preschool and Kindergarten Teacher
Special Education Manager

Patty has been teaching children between the ages of 3 and 8 for 31 years. She has been teaching at Chester Academy for the past twelve years. Patty has a Master’s Degree in early childhood special education from UNH and is passionate about helping all students reach their full potential. Patty has a strong background in assessment and evaluation and uses this knowledge to guide instruction. She uses both developmentally appropriate practices and specialized instruction to promote development of social skills, language acquisition, fine and gross motor skills, cognitive skills, and problem solving skills.

Cheryl Taylor
Elementary Special Educator
2nd and 4th Grade Case manager

Cheryl received her Bachelor Degree from Gordon College in Biology and her Master’s degree in Education from Wheelock College. She is certified as a General Special Educator and has both her initial and advanced certification in Orton-Gillingham. Cheryl is also trained in the Linda-Mood Bell Sequencing for Phoneme Instruction in Reading and Spelling, Precision Teaching, and The Essential Word Knowledge Program. In addition to working full time at Chester Academy, Cheryl teaches reading intervention strategies to graduate students as an adjunct professor at a nearby college.

Missy Kearney
6th Grade Case Manager
Special Education Teacher

Missy has been in the education field since 2008. She has been a member of the Chester Academy staff since 2013. Missy received her Bachelor’s Degree from Boston University's College of Communication in Film and Television and went on to receive her Master's Degree from the University of New Hampshire in Special Education. Missy is NH certified in General Special Education K-12 and Specific Learning Disabilities. She has training in reading, writing, and math interventions, behavior strategies, executive functioning skills, and academic assessments.

Deb Wamsley
8th Grade Case Manager
Special Education Teacher

Deb has her undergraduate degree in math and a Master’s in Education with a concentration in Special Education. She is highly qualified to teach math in grades 5-8 and in grade 7-12.

Karen Ralston, M.S., CCC-SLP
Speech/Language Pathologist

Karen is a NH licensed Speech/Language Pathologist and holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech and Hearing Association. She received her degree at the University of Massachusetts and Emerson College where she earned a Master’s of Science in Speech and Language Pathology in 1990. Karen provides speech and language therapy to students in all grades. Her responsibilities include evaluation and/or screening of students with suspected speech and language difficulties, consultation to teachers and staff, supervising speech and language assistant, and providing remediation to students identified with speech and language impairments.

Jane Grimm
Special Education/ School Counselor Secretary

Jane, a Chester native, joined the Special Services and School Counseling department in August of 2014. She has been an active member of the school community since 2000, including 4 1/2 years as a member of the school board.  She started working in special education in 2004.  She and her husband Bob have three children: Jackson, Lily and Travis.

Mary Verreault
Elementary Special Educator
1st and 3rd Grade Case Manager

Mary has a Master’s Degree in Education from Lesley College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Northeastern University. She has been employed at Chester Academy since 1986 and has taught Preschool through 4th grade during her employment at Chester Academy. Mary’s training includes early intervention, academic assessments, specialized reading, math and writing instruction and behavioral intervention strategies.

Michele Scott
5th Grade Case Manager
Special Education Teacher

Michele received her Bachelors of Science in Speech and Hearing from Elmira College.Michele went on to get her Masters of Education in Elementary Education and General Special Education from Notre Dame College and is also certified to work with students who have Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities receiving degrees in these areas from Granite State College. Michele has also received her C.A.G.S. in Special Education Administration from Plymouth State University.

Leann Nelson
7th Grade Case Manager
Special Education Teacher

Leann has been working at Chester Academy for the past 8 years. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education and Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology at Keene State College. Currently, Leann is pursuing her Master’s Degree at Granite State College specializing in Specific Learning Disabilities. In addition, Leann is certified Orton Gillingham and provides specialized instruction.

Denise Ellis MED CSLA
Certified Speech and Language Assistant

Denise has worked at Chester academy since being hired in 2011. Denise came with over 28 years of work experience in Early Intervention working with children and families. Denise has a Master’s Degree in Education with a concentration in Counseling. Prior to working as a speech assistant at Chester Academy, Denise worked as both a Counselor and Educator. Denise works with all grade levels implementing speech and language programs. Denise and her husband have three grown children. They enjoy traveling and relaxing at their camp in the summer

Glen Connell
Behavior Specialist

Glen has worked with students diagnosed with behavioral disorders and autism spectrum disorders  since 2000. He received his undergraduate degree from Granite State College in English Literature and Creative Writing, and his graduate degree from Arizona State University in Special Education. He returned to New Hampshire and started at Chester Academy in the fall of 2016 after 5 years in Florida. His experience with developmental and emotional disorders includes Applied Behavior Analysis, Collaborative and Proactive Solutions, Life Space Crisis Intervention, and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. He currently holds an Intern License in NH for Special Education, and a teaching license in Florida for Special Education with an endorsement for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Christina Rousseau, OTR
Occupational Therapist

Tina has worked at Chester Academy since being hired as the district’s Occupational Therapist in 2016 and brings over 20 years of clinical experience.  Tina began her education at The University of New Hampshire where she received her Occupational Therapy degree, graduating with honors.  She developed an interest in working with children early on while completing her fieldwork experience at Children’s Hospital of New Orleans, LA.  Tina received NICU training while working at her first job at Lowell General Hospital.  She helped develop an inpatient pediatric unit while working at Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital in Salem, NH and provided OT services to children and adolescents recovering on the traumatic head injury unit.   Tina developed an interest in the treatment of low vision/ vision therapy and worked with a team of doctors and therapists to develop NRH’s Vision Clinic.  She successfully transitioned from the clinical practice setting to the school environment in 2014 where she worked with grades K-5 with a collaborative school district. While working at the elementary school with the EBS/PDD programs, Tina was responsible for evaluations, providing integrated treatment groups and individual sessions for children benefiting from OT services in the areas of fine motor, gross motor, visual motor and sensorimotor/regulation strategies to improve their access to the general curriculum.  She has received trainings with Handwriting Without Tears, Pediatric Vision Therapy, and Yoga for children.  Tina loves to read and try new recipes and crafts in her “free time”.  Tina and her husband have two daughters and enjoy spending the summers at the lake boating, kayaking, swimming, hiking, viewing wildlife, and attempting to stay on their stand up paddle boards!