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First Grade Team


First grade is going to be an exciting academic year for your child. We believe that First Grade lays the foundation for a lifetime of enthusiastic learning.  We are committed to helping each student become a successful and independent learner and become more confident in their abilities as thinkers and learners.


This year, you will be so amazed and proud of the progress your child will make!


Laureen is entering her 18th year of teaching in the Brattleboro area; 11 at a local private school and now seven in first grade at Academy. She is driven by the opportunity to provide authentic experiences for students, both socially and academically, and fostering in them an ownership of their learning and sense of self. She integrates character strengths, movement, and time in our acres of outdoor space with academic rigor to create a well-balanced academic community in her classroom. Outside of school Laureen is an outdoor enthusiast and can be found running trails with her dogs, mountain biking, or alpine all over southern Vermont.

Laura Casey

Laura is one of three amazing first grade teachers at Academy School. Laura has taught kindergarten through third grade, and she also spent several years running the after school tutoring program. Laura has lived in New England her whole life--growing up in the Connecticut suburbs, going to college on the Maine coast, and now living deep in the Vermont countryside. She lives in Putney with her husband, two cats, and two elementary aged children. Laura's life motto is "Be kind, be curious, be thankful."

Patty Wallior

I have been teaching third grade at Academy School for 7 years. I came into this profession as a second career a little later in my life. I attended Castleton State College right after high school and received my degree in Small Business Management. After being in the work force for 20 years in various capacities, I received my teaching certification from Norwich University in the Spring of 2003. I worked for three years in Dummerston, VT in a 1:1 situation with an autistic student. I then went on to work two long term sub jobs at Academy School where I was then hired as a permanent third grade educator.

Jen Oliver

Jen Oliver graduated from Westfield State University in 2007 with her Bachelors in Elementary Education.  In 2014, she earned her Masters in Mathematics from UVM.  She has had the pleasure of teaching First Grade at Academy School since 2010 with her wonderful Para Educator, Mary Leary. Together they have created a classroom community where their students feel safe to learn, play, and grow together. Their students work hard, while having fun! First Grade is a magical year and they look forward to watching their students blossom.


Kathy Smith

Kathy has been working with children for the past 25 years. The last 15 years have been at Academy School. working in two First grade classrooms. She enjoys getting to know her new students every year and loves to see them learning new things.

Mary Leary

Mary Leary has been a Paraeducator at Academy School since January 2004. Initially working as the Library para she then moved into the classroom where she has been working with first and second graders. In 2014 she took over as the After School Program Coordinator and just recently became the Healthy Snack Coordinator for Academy. 

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