Finn grew up in the Brattleboro area. He went to the Putney School and is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College where he focused on 19th-century Literature, Philosophy, and World Peace. After working in publishing and graphic design in New York City he moved back to Vermont where he worked at Sandglass Theater in Putney as technical director and associate artist while forming his own theater, Company of Strangers. Finn has performed and taught all over the world with his theater company. Mentored by Kevin Campbell, he began teaching in the Middle School in 2000. Finn says, “It is the raw passionate creativity of middle school students that makes me love my job. Every one of my students is about to discover the meaning of the universe, every one is walking the tightrope of self awareness, grappling with the potential of abstraction and metaphor. There is no place, I can imagine, where the potential for humanity is more evident.”
Fynn Crooks originally hails from Mid-Missouri, but she spent 14 years teaching, living, and loving in Asheville, North Carolina before making the move north to Brattleboro to be nearer family and friends. She has been involved with the traditional dance and music community in New England since before a single gray hair graced her head, and she plans to keep singing and dancing for twice again as long. Fynn also loves backpacking, mountain and gravel biking, crossfit, swimming in summer streams, and ice skating on frozen winter ponds. She’s better than average at ping pong and holds an MA in Education and Storytelling from East Tennessee State University – two accomplishments she’s probably invested an equal amount of time and money in. Fynn believes that one can find the secrets of the universe through math, travel, and laughter, but not necessarily in that order. Right now, Fynn is on a sheep farm in a rural part of the United Kingdom getting married to the most lovely and energetic human she has ever met. Her partner will join her in Brattleboro later this year. Fynn is so looking forward to joining the community at Hilltop and can think of no better place to spend her days!
After years working in the professional theatre as a production manager, music director, and designer, in the world of music as a guitarist and composer and running a historical restoration company, Paul finally found a home for all his passions at the Hilltop Montessori Middle School. He began his association with the Middle School as a parent, whose daughter Sydney was in the second graduating class. At first he collaborated with students in writing music for Performance month productions, then taught freedom songs during the first ever Civil Rights Movement study, helped construct a classroom community shelter in the woods, and eventually began team teaching humanities with Kevin Campbell, the founder of the middle school. Finally, he was around so much that the school offered him the position as director of the Middle School in 2000.
Becky joined the Hilltop Montessori staff in the summer of 2014 as an Elementary Assistant and AfterCare leader for Elementary aged children. In 2015, she joined the Middle school team, bringing an enthusiasm for math and health science. Becky has a BS in Mathematics-Physics from Keene State College and an MS in Leadership for Sustainability Education from Portland State University in Oregon. In her free time, she gardens, swims, hikes, plays bocce, and reads.
Born on a commune in Guilford, Vermont, and raised in Marlboro and Bennington, Ani Schaeffer attended a Dewey based alternative school as a child, eventually going to Sarah Lawrence College. She then moved to New York City, where she lived for thirteen years, to pursue a full career as a conceptual choreographer and dancer. After traveling extensively in Asia, Ani went on to receive a masters degree in architecture from Pratt institute. She then worked in sustainable design. In 2012, she got her MSEd. from Bank Street College. There, she focused on student centered, emergent curriculum and creative curriculum design. She is a licensed Vermont educator with almost fifteen years of experience working in public and private progressive Pre-K, elementary, and middle school classrooms, as well as running after school, outdoor, and summer programs. She has worked in both urban and rural schools, and with homeschooling families and in educational consultation with adults. Ani continues to work with Vermont Wilderness School as an outdoor educator, consultant, and schools liaison. She is mother to two middle and high school aged children.