The role of the Board of Trustees is to determine and oversee policies that support the mission of the school and to ensure the school’s fiscal stability. This includes the hiring and evaluation of the Head of School, appointing standing and ad hoc committees, overseeing the lease and facility use, fundraising, and strategic planning. Equally important, Board members serve as ambassadors for the school community.
As with all non-profit boards, the principle of shared governance is paramount; namely, the Board must stay out of the daily running of the school and allow the Head of School to manage that work. This includes the hiring, firing, and management of staff, and curriculum content and management, neither of which the Board is involved in.
As stated in the Student & Family handbook, “Direct communication with teachers is often the best way to more fully understand the work of the child.” The same is true for communication with the Head of School. Thus, prior to reaching out to a trustee about a concern, you are encouraged to speak directly with the staff member and the Head of School. However, if you have an interest in learning more about Board service, or have an idea to share that could fit with long-term strategic planning for the school, please do not hesitate to reach out to a Board member.
For more information about the Board of Trustees, please see below.
2023-24 Board of Trustees
Top row, from left: Shelley Lockyear, Kate Purwin, Juliette Carr, Julia Scannell, Nancy Dickson, Asher Pucciarello, Avery Schwenk, Doug Flood
Bottom row, from left: Louisa Conrad, Dora Urujeni, Geneva Morse
Geneva Morse’s twin sons, Emery and Bennett, are in Children’s House, where the family has also happily taken on weekend and vacation care of the prized classroom rabbit, Cocoa Cinnamon Bun Bun. Geneva’s career has been built in the Human Resources and Recruitment field; after scoffing at a college career counselor who advised her to pursue HR based on a personality assessment, she has savored building, developing and engaging with teams of people throughout her career. She currently works for a renewable energy consultancy based out of Denmark, where she leads HR for the Americas region.
Geneva is a graduate of Smith College who has lived in Washington DC, Philadelphia and Boston before moving to Vermont in 2017. Geneva and her family are residents of Guilford, where her husband, Skye, grew up. Her family enjoys biking, hiking, visiting much-loved bakeries and coffee purveyors, and reading many books. The Morse’s are proud to be part of the thriving Hilltop community!
Though she was born and raised in NYC, she has spent most of the past 20 years in Vermont and in 2010 Louisa started Big Picture Farm in Townshend, VT with her husband Lucas Farrell. Big Picture Farm is a small hillside dairy and farmstead confectionery selling confections and cheese to thousands of stores across the country. In addition to being 100% solar powered they are very proud to be Animal Welfare Approved and practice sustainable and regenerative forms of agriculture. She graduated from Middlebury College and has an MFA from CalArts.
She is mom to Maisie who will be entering her 5th year at Hilltop as an younger in Lower El this fall and Minna who will start her 3rd year at Hilltop as a younger in Children’s House. She loves how happy and confident her kids have become as Hilltop students and enjoys diving deeper into the Hilltop community by being on the board.
Nancy Dickson is an alumna of Hilltop from its early Congregational Church and High Street days; a mother of three; a spouse to a Montessori-trained middle school teacher; and a daughter of Tonia and Whit Wheeler. Nancy joins the Hilltop board eager to contribute to a school that dominated her family’s dinner table conversation for most of her childhood.
In her professional life, Nancy serves as the Director of Professional Learning at the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools, where she strives to provide responsive and relevant professional development opportunities to CAIS’s 90 member schools and over 6000 CAIS school employees. Prior to joining CAIS, Nancy worked at a number of independent schools in San Francisco, New York City, and Baltimore, serving in roles ranging from English teacher to Director of Admissions to Upper School Principal, and earned her MA in Private School Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia.
Nancy lives in Wallingford, Connecticut with her husband, Elliot, and their three elementary-aged children, but remains a Vermonter at heart. She returns to Brattleboro regularly to spend time with her parents and recharge. In good weather, she’s outside gardening or watching countless kids’ soccer games (in bad weather, too). She also loves DIY home improvement projects — when they run smoothly.
Shelley is the owner of The Nutmeg, a hospitality business in Wilmington, VT. She is the mom of Harry who is in Lower Elementary and the wife of Paul. Before emigrating to the US in 2011 Shelley was general manager of a restaurant in London and prior to that was a journalist in South Africa.
Shelley’s interests are in equity and diversity. She loves Vermont and is grateful everyday that she has the privilege of living in this great little state.
Juliette is the mother of two students in Children’s House. She works as a Family Nurse Practitioner in primary care and integrative medicine at Grace Cottage Family Health. She also writes and teaches nationally on topics related to herbalism and integrative medicine. She is involved in numerous social justice and professional organizations, most recently founding and coordinating West River Valley Mutual Aid and serving as Co-Chair of the Legislative Advocacy Committee of the American Nurses Association-Vermont, among others, and has earned awards for her advocacy work. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, hiking, and skiing with her family.
Doug is a father of two children: Eliza is a younger in the children’s house, and David is a 1 year old eager to join Hilltop when ready. He moved to Brattleboro in 2016 where his wife, Sarah, grew up.
Doug holds degrees in biomedical engineering and biotechnology, and he is an associate director of applied technologies at Moderna. His interest is in strategic planning, finance, and continuing to enable Hilltop to deliver on its promise to develop caring, curious, and thoughtful students.
In his free time, Doug enjoys baking (and eating!) French patisserie as well as hiking with his family and dog Cleo.
Asher lives in Westminster West with his wife, Re, and their three children. Finnegan graduated from the Middle School in 2021, and Oona and Ezra are in Hilltop’s Middle School. Asher has been inspired by Hilltop’s demonstrated commitment to help children sustain their curiosity for lifelong use and to develop a solid sense of who they are in community.
Asher is a mental health counselor at The Children and Parents Project, where he has been part of the team since 1995. At CAPP, Asher provides individual, couples, family, and group mental health counseling for children, teenagers, and adults as well as consultation for educational and mental health providers and organizations.
Asher tends to have fun working with others and all the more so when that work is aimed at creating and supporting healthy, accessible spaces for children’s minds. For this reason and out of gratitude for his children’s education at the school, he continues to participate on Hilltop’s Board.
Returning to her New England roots after a lengthy absence, Kate and her husband, Sergei, with their sons, Sig & Sasha, have settled here in Brattleboro and could not be happier. It is wonderfully serendipitous that Kate finds herself a neighbor of HMS! Montessori education has been ever present in and foundational to Kate’s life from the time she was a very young child. As an HMS board member, Kate brings the benefit of her deep understanding of and commitment to Montessori philosophy. She is thankful for the opportunity to work with the other HMS board members in support of the Hilltop Montessori School community. After graduating from the California Institute of the Arts, Kate worked professionally as an actor for thirty years, ultimately settling in Seattle, Washington where she and Sergei worked and raised their two sons. Currently, Kate focuses her energy (other than attempting to tame the wildly overgrown garden at her new home) on raising awareness about neurodivergent learners, with a focus on students with language based learning differences; a matter close to her heart.
Avery joined the Brattleboro community in 2014 as a cofounder of Hermit Thrush Brewery. He met his wife Angela here, and their daughter Acacia is joining the Toddler Program in the fall. Avery has been an active member of the Brattleboro Town Finance Committee, the Southern Vermont Economic Development Strategies board, and the Vermont Brewers Association. Prior to moving to Vermont, Avery studied Physics at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, MA , studied Music at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, PA, and worked as a Paramedic in Upper Darby, PA. Over two decades, he was also a participant, volunteer, and consultant for Destination Imagination, a global creative problem solving organization for kids pre-K through university. Avery currently spends his free time sharing his hobbies with his family and friends including vegetable fermentation, foraging, music, and kite flying.
Dora earned her Master’s Degree in Peace Building and Conflict Transformation from the School of International Training, and a Bachelor’s Degree and Graduate Diploma in Educational Psychology from the University of Rwanda. She is a former Member of Parliament in Rwanda. She was the Director of Memos, an NGO dedicated to educating youth and community members about non violence and genocide prevention. She was deeply involved in the Truth and Reconciliation processes in Rwanda, and was a lead organizer of international exchange programs and logistics coordinator for field studies courses with those visiting from Smith College, Johns Hopkins University, Zen Peacemakers, and the School for International Training, among others. She was a visiting fellow at the Greater Falls Community Justice Center, supporting and developing programs aimed at providing restorative justice alternatives to incarceration. She is skilled at leading circles for conflict transformation and harm repair. She first joined the Hilltop community as a parent to her young son who started in the Toddler Program and is now entering Lower Elementary.