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Faculty and Staff

Al Gaspar

Shop and Science Support Teacher

BA Eastern College

I am a creative and humorous teacher, with a degree in elementary education, who designs shop, science, gardening and history curricula that use multi-sensory activities to teach preschoolers through 6th graders. With all ages, I believe that using hands-on activities, fascinating artifacts, and my life experiences will stir interest in the topic, facilitate inquiry-based learning, and build respect for the use of oral history, literature, and the arts in acquiring knowledge. Over the past 28 years, I have enjoyed planning and teaching, alone or with other educators, in either Quaker elementary schools (since 1992), or Smithsonian Associates' summer camps (since 1999).

Alec Sena

Assistant 1-2 Teacher

I am an alum of LFS and began my professional career as a member of the Extended Day Staff. Since then, I have substituted in every classroom, worked in a previous assistant teacher role, and been a part of the Vacation Care and Summer Camp staff. I am passionate about Quaker education, helping students learn to peacefully resolve conflicts, and encouraging them to grow into advocates for an equitable and sustainable world. In my spare time, I am an amateur chef, cacti and succulents enthusiast, and lover of all things sci-fi and fantasy.

Amanda Robbins

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

BA, Elizabethtown College

I have a dual Bachelors’ degree in Sociology and Religion and a certificate in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

My love of children and commitment to social justice and advocacy has led me to my role at LFS. I firmly believe that children are the pathway to change and that it is our job as educators to support, love and foster the skills students need to take on the world.

 

Andrea Danks

Supplemental Programs Coordinator, Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

I have been teaching in schools since I was 18 years old, and have been at LFS for the last 33 years. Fostering a lifelong love of learning in students is a passion of mine. When I am not in school, you can find me listening to Hawaiian music, dancing the hula, or doing Sudoku.

 

Ashley Wyatt

Extended Day Program Staff

I graduated from high school with plans to do interior design. But after being with the wonderful children at LFS, my plans have changed. I have a passion for children would love to be in my own classroom one day! In my free time, I continue to decorate and be with friends and family.

 

Chris Paynter

Third-Fourth Grade Teacher

I came to education by way of childcare. I rose from the aftercare teacher to the director of the program that served over a  thousand families. I have been teaching, coaching, mentoring, and advocating for children for over thirty years. I graduated from Immaculata University with honors. My interests include health and wellness, yoga and meditation, cooking, music and family. When not in school I'm spending time with family and friends.

Dee Amey

Third-Fourth Grade Teacher

West Chester University BS Elementary Ed
Walden University MS Ed Integration of Technology in Curriculum and Instruction

As an educator my goal has always been to inspire children to be curious, question, and seek knowledge. I have worked as a teacher since 2003 in  various grades and schools. I have been fortunate to work with Friends Schools since 2015. I love working with the children in our community.

 

DJ Giordano

Physical Education

There are plenty of moments that make being an educator fulfilling. I have been lucky to teach and coach sports in many places over the last 15 years. I have taught previously at Greene Street Friends School with pre kindergarten and first grade. I have been lucky to run the umpires for the Mt. Airy Baseball Association located in Northwest Philadelphia for almost 20 years. We serve the community with baseball programming from ages 4 to 15. Coaching and refereeing sports has a direct impact on the community. Sports has the power to lift spirts, change lives, and most importantly, build a stronger community. 

Dottie Duffy

Assistant Business Manager

Born and raised in Delaware County, Dottie spends most of her time with family
including 9 grandchildren. She likes music and helping with her daughter’s Matthew
Miracles Foundation.

 

Eric Mayer

Head of School

Originally trained as an architect, I went on for a Master’s degree that prepared me for teaching.  I spent the next 20 years living and working at Westtown School (Quaker), where I taught religious studies and also woodworking.  After four years as Upper School Principal there, I became Head of School at an international high school in Rome.  I came to LFS as Head of School  in 2022.  A father of four grown children, you can find me playing guitar or cycling through Philadelphia.

Grace Cullen

Extended Day Program

I currently attend Delaware County Community College with a major in Psychology. I’m not entirely sure what I would like to pursue as a career but have a passion for helping people. During my free time I enjoy walking dogs and spending time with my friends and family! 

 

Haley Noykoff

Executive Assistant to the Head of School

I am a graduate of West Chester University. I have two kids here at Lansdowne Friends School, and not only have we loved the school for the last two years, but we have gained an incredible community and family. When I heard the beloved Linda would be retiring, I knew this would be my chance to join this community as not just a parent but an employee! In my spare time I enjoy baking, art, gardening, and adventuring to new places with my family. I am currently working on my master’s degree in Clinical Counseling at Eastern University.

Hanne Weedon

Director of Development

Hanne first joined the LFS community as a parent in 2012 when her daughter was in Pre-K. In mid 2023 she joined the staff as LFS's Director of Development. 

Hanne was drawn to Quaker education because of the focus on creating thoughtful and engaged learning environments, with a core commitment to taking action to create a just and fair world. While not a Quaker, she strives to live by the underlying tenet of seeking that of God in everyone.

She is excited to help build the school's financial foundation so the school can continue to provide an exceptional educational experience to a diverse community of young people and their families.
Hanne has worked in a variety of development roles, and most recently served as managing director of a national arts and social change organization. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College, and she and her daughter, Anika '20, her partner Daniel Singer, their three guinea pigs, and their cockapoo Luna, live in Lansdowne. She loves to spend time with friends and family, cook and bake, and be outside - especially near the ocean. 

Harsha Cooke

Pre-K Assistant Teacher

I have been in the education field for four years, and have over 20 years of experience guiding and working with children in other settings. My oldest son is an LFS graduate and my youngest son is a current student. It was here within this school community where I truly discovered my passion for teaching children. Year after year, I have watched the teachers here at LFS educate my children with passion, letting them shine in their own ways while also guiding them toward fuller potentials. As an educator, I now get to give back and make the kind of difference that other LFS teachers have made for my children. 

When I am not teaching, you can find me in the kitchen baking/cooking with my children. I also enjoy gardening, writing, web designing, spending time with family and friends, and figuring out ways to connect more with my community. 

Jennifer Woodring-Shea

Librarian

BA, Rutgers University

After receiving my Bachelors’ degree from Rutgers University and teaching at several public and charter schools, I found my home at Friends’ schools. I began my Quaker journey at Greene Street Friends as a Kindergarten assistant and was a Pre-Kindergarten Lead teacher at Frankford Friends School for several years. After taking a break to stay home with my son, I have found a new home at LFS.


The joy of my profession is when a child’s eyes light up after realizing they have learned a new skill, but the giggles and smiles are the reason I come in every day. Quaker education and beliefs align with this and gives me the freedom to explore each child’s interests and investigate our bigger world.
When at home, I enjoy going for hikes, exploring museums, and visiting friends with my husband and my son.

Jill M. Bean

First/Second Grade Teacher

BA, Swarthmore College

My journey as a Friends School Educator began when I was six years old, as a student at Plymouth Meeting Friends School.  I was in a first and second grade classroom and I had an wonderful experience.  From there I went to the William Penn Charter School.  I graduated from Swarthmore College with a special major in Education and Pyschology.  I taught at Wilmington Friends School before moving here to Lansdowne Friends.  I have spent many years here at LFS, and I feel strongly invested in the LFS community of teachers, students, and families.  

My approach to teaching is founded upon knowing my students, building relationships together, and a fervent belief in the Quaker tenet of that of God in each of us.  I am passionate about Children's Literature and I own an extensive collection of picture books and middle grade novels.  I always look forward to sharing new books with my students! 

Kathi Hajjar

Pre-Kindergarten Teacher, Summer Camp Director

BS Wheelock College

I have been teaching young children since I graduated from college in 1986.  From the moment I walked into Lansdowne Friends School 19 years ago, I knew it was different.  The social curriculum taught here is just as important as the academics.  I could not imagine myself at any other school.  Lansdowne Friends School is not only my place of employment it is my family.

Pre-K is my calling.  I cherish the enthusiasm and energy young children bring to school.  Watching the children flourish through the years is like watching a garden grow.  Being there when a child discovers blue and yellow make green are magical moments.  The best feeling is when two children are having a disagreement and they stop on their own and talk it out, and end by giving a spontaneous hug. They are learning to be caring members of our class, our school, and the world.

When I am not at school, I am at home with my children, my two cats, and my two dogs.  I enjoy walking, swimming, and relaxing.

Lauren Frantz

Reading Support

BA In Special Education & MA In Reading Instruction, Goucher College.

I have an undergraduate degree in special education and my Masters degree in teaching reading. My teaching goals are making learning fun and developing meaningful relationships with the students I teach. When I am not at LFS, I am enjoying spending time with my husband, Rob, my two daughters, Arianna and Claire, my two dogs, Harvey and Lulu, and my cat, Newman.

Linn Vaughters

Director of Admissions

A native Philadelphian, I have spent a lifetime in independent schools as a student, teacher, administrator and Board member. After more than 20 years in the hallways, offices and classrooms of Malvern, Shipley & Episcopal, I am thrilled to share her experience with LFS. Committed to equity, I spent more than 10 years as the Director of Enrollment at Community Partnership School, a philanthropic independent school in Brewerytown. In my free time, I love to read, play tennis, eat interesting foods, travel and keep up with my very active family and friends. I am a proud alumna of Connecticut College. Go Camels! 

Lucinda Jones-Pegram

Extended Day

Matthew Plastino

5th/6th Grade Teacher

I have been teaching for 13 years from infants to 6th grade in progressive and public schools. My partner Maketa, and our daughter, Isabella, live in Drexel Hill, and I am an avid lover of nature, photography, and the performing arts. Environmental education and STEAM are two passions of mine, and I try to incorporate aspects of these beliefs into my everyday teaching and pedagogy. 

 

Maura Leeper

First/Second Grade Teacher

My commitment to our community is continually charged by my sense of belonging to it… 

I taught kindergarten in a Philadelphia area private school for four years, am a member of Lansdowne Friends Meeting (where I’ve been First Day School teacher since 2013), and I’ve been an LFS parent since 2010.  So many personal joys have come from belonging to spaces designed for inquiry and challenging norms; where even the youngest students are guided to see themselves as creative, compassionate thinkers, responsible for both their learning process and the wellbeing of their communities.  For me, this connection between education and agency has created opportunities to ask difficult questions; to see that each of us is capable of making a difference every day.

What else brings me joy?  An exact list would be way too long but the following activities come to mind and are often enhanced by the company of family or friends: camping, reading, writing, running, hiking, exploration, yoga, studying history, creating art with repurposed supplies, baking and eating desserts

Michaela McDonald

School Counselor

I am thrilled to join the creative and supportive learning community at Lansdowne Friends School. I studied clinical social work at Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research and have spent the last dozen years working in schools, healthcare settings and private practice.

I approach my work with individuals and communities with a strengths-based, trauma integrated perspective. I use a cadre of interventions in order to support a student’s school experience at LFS including: small groups, one on one sessions, classroom observation, teacher collaboration, family meetings and crisis assessments. 

I am a member of Old Haverford Friends Meeting and enjoy walking, reading, playing board games- and all things outdoors-with my husband and three children. 

 

Mingh Whitfield

Kindergarten Teacher

BA St. Joseph's University, MSEd Neumann University

When I walked into Lansdowne Friends School twenty years ago, as a recent college graduate, I was completely mesmerized.  The whole school was studying rainforests, and classrooms had been transformed.  I distinctly remember student-made swinging branches and exotic looking paper mache animals.  Projects, paintings and student writings were all around.  There was also a wonderful playground filled with both obvious and hidden treasures from the natural world.  I was so excited to find a real live school that was very much like the ones I had read about in my college textbooks.   

From then on, I knew that I not only wanted to work here.  I also wanted my then unborn children to become students here as well.  Of course, both of those things happened, and I have not been disappointed.  For the past fifteen years, my children and I have been able to experiment and grow along with each other in a nurturing, engaging, and creative environment that has deepened our interpersonal relationships, increased our fervency for learning, and fostered our love for an arcadian landscape.

Now my own family members have moved on, and I continue to work at Lansdowne Friends School. My only  hope is that I can help other children discover their own passions and purposes in the midst of their working and playing together.  

When I am not at school, I like to read, walk, swim, and spend time with my family.  

Rachel Grobstein

Art Teacher

I am a practicing painter and sculptor who loves microcosms, Cherry Garcia ice cream, the color rainbow and the smell of fall. In my studio, I create miniature sculptures and paintings which invite close scrutiny of often overlooked parts of daily life. I love teaching because of the natural curiosity and boundless enthusiasm of kids. In my classes we learn how to think with our hands, bodies and eyes as well as our heads. Outside of school I can usually be found with my 2 year old daughter and my 14 year old puppy, Roxy. 

I also wanted to share some recent professional news - I'm a 2023 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Craft/Sculpture

 

Stephen Chappelle

Physical Plant

I started working for LFS in 2019 when they needed an extra set of hands. I began working weekends to help maintain the campus. When I learned this job was available, I applied for the position, and began part-time work in March, 2023. When I'm not at school I'm spending time with family and enjoying time outdoors. I feel so thankful to be a part of the LFS community. 

 

Tara Tomasco

Substitute Teacher

 

Tatyana Smolen

Music Teacher

Temple University, Master Of Music. College Of Moscow Conservatory, BM. Academy Of Vocal Arts- Apprentice.
Level 1 Orff Certification, University Of The Arts
 

I came into education from a career in opera. I have been teaching music for couple of decades and I am passionate about making music accessible to everyone. I love introducing children to different styles of music and learning instruments together. When not in school, you can find me walking with my daughter and my dog on the trail.