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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. 

Katelyn Foley
6th Grade Case Manager
Special Education Teacher

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.

Aimee Belanger
Speech and Language Pathologist

Aimee received her Bachelor's of Science and Master's of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders from University of New Hampshire in Durham.  She has worked nine years in an elementary school.  She started working at Chester Academy in July 2018. 

Kara Basilesco
Elementary Case Manager
Special Education Teacher

Kara, new to the Chester school district in 2019, received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of New Hampshire. She worked as a mental health counselor at a psychiatric hospital in Hampstead, NH for several years. She then began pursuing her master’s in special education at Rivier University and graduated in December 2018.  She worked at Hampstead Central School for two years with a wide range of students, starting at the pre-school level.  She  absolutely loves her students. Kara is ecstatic to be a part of the Chester school district!

Danielle Finigan
Elementary Case Manager
Special Education Teacher

Danielle has been in education for 20 years, as a teacher and a case manager. 
She graduated with her degree in behavioral psychology and with her Special Education Certification from Granite State College, NH.   She has worked extensively in the areas of executive functioning research and strategy development. She enjoys her 4 grown children, her 10 grandchildren, traveling, and reading.  She is excited about being a part of the Chester Academy family.  

Beth Vorron
Elementary Case Manager
Special Education Teacher
Beth has worked in Special Education for 10 years.  She  received her Bachelors of Art in Psychology from Keene State College then Masters of Education in School Counseling from Plymouth University.  After attending Granite State College Beth received her Special Education Certification.  She enjoys spending time with family and traveling. 

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.

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.

Michele Belanger
Behavior Specialist

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.

Katie Burke
Preschool/Kindergarten Case manager
Special Education Teacher

Katie is a Vermont native who received her Master's in Early Childhood Special Education at UNH. 2019-2020 will be her 3rd year teaching and her first year at Chester Academy. She is passionate about early intervention! In her free time, she enjoys playing violin, organizing, welding, painting, reading, hiking and spending time with friends and family. She currently lives in Northwood with her husband, DJ and their dog, Emma.

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 training's 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!