Robert Mandatta, Editor & Publisher: Since 1977 I’ve lived off-grid in a 200-year-old farmhouse on Galusha Hill in Topsham, Vermont, looking east to the White Mountains. In this remote and peaceful setting I’ve done the most important work of my life in living simply with my wife, Jacqueline Labate, and our eight children, who now are grown. As a young family we appeared as the Galusha Hill Storytheatre, performing stories and music for children and adults. My novels — as well as a novella for children that Jacqueline and I co-authored and performed — can be found at Sundogstories. I’ve also collaborated with Jacqueline on her educational consulting company and her youth activism non-profit, The Growing Peace Project.
I began my undergraduate education at Cornell University and ended it at Goddard College where I majored in psychology and law. I hold a Master’s degree in mental health law from Vermont College of Norwich University. I also completed the legal program at Woodbury College, where in 1980 I began teaching legal and counseling courses that emphasized experiential learning through Vermont internships.
Twenty years later I taught my first group dynamics course for Community College of Vermont (CCV), which was held inside the former Dale Correctional Center for Women. The students included both women prisoners and women living in Central Vermont who elected to attend class in this unusual setting to accommodate the incarcerated students. When I started teaching psychology classes at CCV, I discovered its Center for Online Learning at the forefront of progressive college education in Vermont, and I’m proud to be part of this dynamic learning community.
In 2012 CCV contracted with me to create a model Introduction to Psychology online course using open educational resources and multimedia. I’ve continued that exciting initiative through Vermont Psychology, inviting my former online students to share their remarkable work with a wider audience, thereby preserving their research for others to reference and build upon.
I’m delighted to introduce you to the authors of Vermont Psychology.
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Shastina Ann-Wallace is an artist and early educator in the beginning stages of her newfound career. Shastina received an AA in Fine Arts from College of Marin in 2012 and is currently a student at CCV majoring in Early Childhood Education. After several years of working in grocery stores her desire to work closely with children reached a tipping point, and she quit her repetitive mindless nut job to become a substitute teacher at Burlington Children’s Space. Working at BCS inspired Shastina to pursue a degree in education where she is discovering a wellspring of purpose and joy. She is currently refining her vision of the perfect fusion of her love of art, creativity, and children as she continues on her path of higher education and work. www.shastinarose.com
Adam Andrews: I am a native Vermonter who grew up enjoying the beautiful countryside through hobbies such as skiing and biking. In the summer I can usually be found on the lake spending time with friends fishing or in the mountains playing frisbee golf. Maple sugaring is one of my favorite activities in the spring, and I am interested in the history of how it has changed over the years as a hobby and a profession. While I plan to pursue a career in healthcare so that I can help others and work while traveling to exotic places, I will never miss a season of maple sugaring here at home.
Annie Baron is excited to be graduating in May with an Associates RN from Castleton State College. She already holds a BA in Spanish from Tulane University in New Orleans. Annie loves traveling all over the world. Usually she can be found in cities and towns sampling culture and mostly cuisine so that she can bring it back to her own kitchen. She enjoys exploring in cooking and all over the outdoors of VT. On most days she can be found reading her nursing texts with her dog Jack by her side.
Tina Bills: I was born and raised in the pretty state of Vermont. Although I love to travel, Vermont is where I hang my hat! I am married and the mother of five children ranging from 5-26 years of age. I am the owner/ operator of Sunny Lane Daycare Center & Preschool in Brookline, Vt. This is my pride and joy, my passion. I am proud to be doing one of the most important jobs there is while making a difference in so many children’s lives. I enjoy any time I have with my family. I love to hike, bike, fish, visit my older children, and my newly found love, running 5 Ks.
Jamie Bushey: I was born and raised in Franklin County, Vermont, where I was encouraged to express myself through art, whether that meant singing, writing, painting, photography, or anything in between. I like to think this helped me by giving me time to collect my thoughts, reflect, create, and move forward. I currently live in Northern Vermont with my partner and two cats while attending CCV. I work in the Infant/Toddler building at Heartworks in Shelburne, Vermont and hope to get my bachelor’s degree in Art Education.
Sarah Carpenter is a native Vermonter and a very recent graduate from the University of Vermont, where she studied elementary education. She loves to write, create art and travel, and has a passion for psychology. She currently resides in Southern Vermont, but plans to move elsewhere in the near future to pursue her master’s degree in social work.
Kayla Chabot is a transplant from Southern New England, but plans to make Vermont her permanent home. She is currently pursuing her Early Childhood Education degree while being a full time nanny for an amazing set of twins in Shelburne. She hopes to make a career out of social work or as a lead preschool teacher. She loves to travel, volunteer and create.
Tabitha Clews: I was born and raised in Vermont. I am married with two wonderful little boys. In 2008 I was graduated from Vermont Technical College with a Bachelors degree in Business Management and Technology. After graduating I worked in an office doing accounting for a couple of years. When my first son was born I decided that I was meant to be a nurse, so I changed my career path and now I am currently enrolled at Norwich University in the nursing program. I work at the VA Hospital in White River Junction taking care of our veterans.
Lauren Cornelius is a long time Vermonter hoping to be adopted into the four generation Vermont woodchuck clan. While she has left Vermont several times, these Green Hills always call her back. She grew up in Huntington, VT and currently resides in Craftsbury with her husband Aaron and their four children: Sophie, Ben, Jacob, and Noah. Lauren has attended several colleges and has several degrees and certificates, but has finally found her career as a nurse. She is currently working as a Licensed Practical Nurse and will graduate May 2016 with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing. Lauren loves the outdoors, photography, baking bread, and eating ice cream (written at the request of the youngest Cornelius). Wherever you find her she is likely to have a smile on her face and her hands full (mostly because it keeps her out of trouble!).
Paul Curtiss is a theatre educator for the Milton Town School District in Vermont. He has been working with grades six through twelve since 2005. His students have produced award winning shows, including four state Vermont Drama One Act Festival championships over the past five years. He is always amazed at the depth of the work adolescents can find while working in the art of theatre. In his free time he likes to spend time with his son, ride his bike, and cook.
Janette Dumont is a native Vermonter, born and raised on the property in Ferrisburgh where she now raises her own family. Married to the love of her life, she has a nearly 10-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old step son. Janette began college in 1996 and decided after many years to complete her degree in Early Education from CCV. In June 2015 she’ll walk the aisle and graduate with honors. She has owned and operated a registered home child care for a decade. Passionate about her family and her child care, Janette is living her life aiding families in raising their children. She currently is a Three STAR provider and, upon receiving her AA in Early Education will be a Northern Lights Ladder III provider. Janette always aims to provide the best early education to the children she cares for. Receiving her AA from CCV this June is just a stepping stone on the career path for her, and the future possibilities are endless. Outside of her profession and family, Janette is a lover of nearly all animals. What began 10 years ago as a single kitty, has become three cats, a dog, a rabbit, a hamster, and a 36-gallon fish tank for raising guppies for friends and others. You will often find more 4-legged creatures habituating her master bed than people.
Dannielle Dupoise. I am Dannielle: a 36 year-old mental health survivor and advocate. I currently reside in northern Rutland County with my son and fiancé in an adorable little historic home that we share with our sweet Cat Skylar and our quirky Pit Bull Tootsie. I am plugging away at a degree in Behavioral Sciences. I say plugging away because I’ve been working on the educational piece on and off for about 10 years. Life has its way of kicking us in the pants sometimes. I still have a little ways left to go, but there is no time limit on success as long as you continue to keep moving forward.
Joanna Emmons: I grew up in Burlington, Vermont. I received my high school diploma in 2002 and started attending the Community College of Vermont in the summer of 2014. In 2012 I found my passion was in health through nutrition and exercise. I plan on finishing my associates degree at CCV this summer, and transferring to Bastyr University of natural health to pursue my bachelors degree in nutrition and exercise science. My goal is to help people change their lives by living a healthy lifestyle, and understanding how important nutrition and exercise really is.
Kim England: I am still trying to find myself, and I don’t know if I ever fully will. All I know is I am a work in progress. I have a growing passion for animals and their well-being, stemming from my unconditional love for my wild and crazy pup, Eve. I lead a relatively low-key life at the moment as I focus on my education (whenever I’m not working). I am currently enrolled in STEM Studies at CCV with plans to transfer and pursue a degree in laboratory science.
Victoria Fitzgerald: Mother, Student, Wanderer, Pork Afficionado, and lover of all things Science Fiction. Victoria studied at Johnson State College before she and her family moved to Louisville, Colorado, where she’s continuing her degree and field work in sociology.
Malisha Flora: I’m a single mother to two wonderful children. My son is five and my daughter is one. The last year I have been working at a daycare and furthering my education in Child Development. My goal is to work in a family crisis center one-on-one with families and children. I’m so passionate about serving families in crisis because I have been there myself and I understand the importance of this line of work.
Sarah Green is a nurse living in the beautiful green and white hills of Central Vermont.
Megan Irons is an educator, dog mom, and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Senegal 2014-2016) from Vermont. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology/Sociology from Saint Michael’s College and is currently pursuing a degree in Nursing. In her spare times she enjoys cooking, listening to audiobooks and podcasts, and hiking with her pit bull terrier, Weezy.
Sydney Johnston: I am a native Vermonter who loves being outdoors! Every season I take part in a different activity. In the winter I ski and snowboard, and I am also a volunteer instructor for Vermont Adaptive at Bolton Valley and Sugarbush! In the spring I row and love sugaring, my family friends own a sugarhouse and I help out with their business. In the summer I skateboard and rock climb! And in the fall I also row and love to hike during this time of year! In the future I plan on either studying psychology to become a Clinical Psychologist, or criminal justice and become a Game Warden for whatever state I end up in!
Alicia Keesler is from Washington D.C., and currently resides in Burlington. She is hoping to study social work and combine her love of nature and agriculture to explore horticultural therapy.
Anne Koplinka-Loehr was born and raised in Ithaca, New York, and has spent summers in Vermont her whole life, on the shores of Lake Champlain. She has been living in Brattleboro, Vermont, since 2008, when she moved to the area to attend the SIT Graduate Institute (formerly known as the School for International Training).
At SIT she completed her M.A. in social justice education, and subsequently received a M.A.T. and her teaching certification through the Spark Teacher Education Institute. After working as a middle school social studies teacher for roughly 10 years, she had a son of her own (who is now two) and became more interested in Early Childhood Education. She now works at a local Head Start center.
When she’s not in the classroom, Anne is usually spending time with her husband, son, and other family and friends. She loves languages, and is fluent in French, proficient in Wolof, and has a basic level of American Sign Language (ASL). She also loves people, learning about new things, dancing, singing, writing, photography, good conversations, and working together towards social justice. Anne is passionate about using education as a tool to both humanize the world and eliminate oppression.
Kerri Max Labrecque: I’m 42 years old and I am a college student at the Community College of Vermont for liberal studies and plan on continuing in the fascinating field of psychology. I’m interested in and have studied Chemistry, Botany, Photography, Color Theory, and the Psychology of Consciousness, to name a few. As an artist, amateur scientist, armchair philosopher and over-all “Jack of all trades,” I have come to appreciate the inner-connective patterns and systems that span across all disciplines. Although born in Massachusetts I have lived in Vermont from the age of two weeks and consider myself a Vermonter and admirer of its rugged beauty.
Richelle Lafayette: Over eleven years ago I embarked upon an adventure in the opening of a doggy day camp. Since then I have married and welcomed two children, said goodbye to two loves of my life (my dogs Buster and Tasha), and opened my heart to a new love, my Golden Retriever, Max. Three years ago, I returned to my classes at Community College of Vermont after a 13-year hiatus. It has taken time and the education of life to guide me into recognizing an opportunity to combine my greatest interests: children and dogs. After obtaining my Associates Degree this spring, I plan to continue my education with a future in school counseling as my goal. Of course a partner with four legs and a tail will complete my quest. Family and friends, reading, animals, volunteering at my children’s school, the great outdoors, and education all contribute to my somewhat balanced life.
Gail LaVaude is the children’s librarian at Bradford Public Library and Bradford Elementary, as well as a student at Johnson State College.
Cheri Leete: I moved to Vermont in 2008. I have two beautiful and talented daughters. I was a data analyst for years, but this work did not make me happy so I changed careers, took a job at an area hospital, and went back to school. On target to work toward an RN degree. In my spare time I love to read and I enjoy watching movies.
Emily Leva is a nursing student at Vermont Technical College.
Lucas Messing: I live in Wilmington, VT and I graduated from Twin Valley Middle High School and CCV this year. I have grown up my entire life in the rural community of Wilmington, and although this community is small, I have learned so much. I work for a restaurant in my town called the Cask and Kiln Kitchen, where I run food, expedite, and bus tables. I am also a part of Mount Snow Ski Patrol where I assist injured guests and help keep the mountain safe for all guests. This rural community has given me so many great opportunities, like CCV, a job that I love and make good money, the relationships with family and friends, and so much more. I’m excited for the next step in my education and can’t wait to take what I have learned here and apply it to new beginnings and opportunities. With that said, I will be attending Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, where I will major in Applied Exercise Science and play NCAA Division II soccer for the school. Psychology has always been an interest of mine for some time now and I’m excited to take what I have learned and apply it to the next level of my education.
Samantha Morse: I was born and raised in New Hampshire. My husband and I currently live in a small town raising our son. Growing up in a small town has its perks, however, I found myself settling into a rut. After my son was born, I decided to embark on a journey to better his life and my own. I am currently taking classes with the hope of enrolling in nursing school. My end goal is to live a fulfilling life and to become a person my son can admire.
Kim Myers: I live in Marshfield, Vermont, with my husband, daughter, and dog in a beautiful yurt on a farm. I attend CCV in Montpelier. I am 33 years old and glad to be back in school. After many years of building hiking trails, teaching in small schools, and working on farms I am happy to be using my brain in new and different ways. I hope to become a Developmental Psychologist someday.
Alicia Narava is a native Vermonter, born and raised in Barnard, and currently living in Winooski. Her personal experience with a mental disorder was the catalyst in pursuing a Behavioral Science degree at CCV. After graduating from CCV, she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology, followed by a master’s in psychology. Though there is uncertainty in her career, one thing is for sure: she wants to make a positive difference in the mental health care systems and improve the lives of others. She has a passion for making meaningful change in social issues, including poverty, racial justice, body autonomy, healthcare, homelessness, refugee crisis and immigration, and climate crisis. When not in school, you can find her enjoying the outdoors with her dog and cat.
Allison Paquette is a substitute teacher working in and studying Early Childhood Education in Brattleboro, VT.
Kensi Pierce is, formally, a passionate student of psychology and naturalist studies, grown in New England. They aspire to cultivate deep and meaningful relationships both interpersonally and between their many areas of interest, believing that human people thrive in tandem with a thriving environment. Kensi’s learning career was built on the unconventional grounds of homeschooling, which informs their desire to learn from diverse sources. They often think about how our bodies are collectives of millions of organisms.
Alissa Rich: I grew up in Bridgewater, MA and have lived in Swanton, VT since 2012. Now I consider them both home. My boyfriend was born and raised here and I was amazed how quickly I made friends and was welcomed into the community. I am first and foremost a mother, it is my most important and fulfilling job. I have four children ages 18, 9, and almost 2-year-old twins. I have survived unthinkable losses in my life, and yet I have taken these obstacles and learned from them. I have become stronger than I ever thought possible. This is when the power of the mind began to intrigue me. As much as I have endured, I have been equally blessed. I am currently a student at CCV enrolled in the Allied Health Preparation Program and my plan is to continue onto the nursing program at VT Tech next fall. I hope to someday be a nurse in the NICU. I work at Northwestern Medical Center as a care companion. Besides spending time with my family, if I have free time I love to lose myself in books.
Angela Ross is the Public Information Officer & Communication Director at the Vermont Agency of Education.
Dan Smith: I live in Burlington with my partner, her two kids and our two rescue dogs. I’ve worked as a bicycle mechanic and barista for the past ten years and have played my drums with numerous groups in the area. The human mind has always fascinated me. Insight into my own, and other’s experiences makes life rich. I look forward to a future with evermore questions.
Mandy Snyder: I work as a personal chef and a teacher of dance, including Authentic Movement & Contact Improvisation. The meeting of creativity, mindfulness and inner transformation is my passion, and I enjoy the teachings of the Enneagram, Nondual wisdom and Sensory Awareness. I grew up in Vermont, then moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. Last August I returned to my Vermont roots and I am so grateful to be back in this gorgeous and hardy state.
Tathiana Tanzey: If I could marry food, I would. I plan to travel the world and taste as many different cuisines as I can. This goal is at the very top of my bucket list. Another goal of mine is to return to my birth country (Democratic Republic of Congo) and invest my time toward its development. Vermont has been my home for the past 10 years and I love it. Living here has fueled my love for literature, history, folk music, and quaint little towns. My life consists of taking classes at CCV, raising my two younger siblings, looking for volunteering opportunities to join, and filling my journals with Da Vinci-inspired scribblings. I hope to become a psychiatrist, eventually. I can see myself working at a teen crisis center, a prison, or a refugee camp. That is the ultimate dream.
Nga Willey: I grew up in Vietnam, in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). I lived there for twenty one years. I lived with my parents and three brothers. I am the oldest in the family. I learned Chinese, Vietnamese, cooked, made up and sewed in Vietnam. In 1997, I got married and immigrated to the United States. Washington was the first state I lived in. I have lived in Seattle, Washington since 1997. I love Seattle, and I always wish I could move back there. Seattle is like my hometown. I worked a lot when I was in Seattle. I did not have time to take college classes there, but I got my GED there. I was pregnant with my daughter in Seattle. Then we moved to Vermont, where my ex-husband’s parents live.
I have lived in Vermont since 2013, and I had my daughter. I was a stay-at-home mom for a couple years. I divorced my ex in 2014. I have been working hard to take nursing classes since 2019. Psychology is one of the classes that I have to take for my subject, and I really enjoyed the discussion in the module. The reason I wrote about Xusana Davis was because I had experience with discrimination by other people in the past. I really need people like Ms. Davis fighting for me to have equal rights. I think everyone will need their rights because we live in the United States, which is a free country.