Experimentory People

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Experimentory teaching faculty members and teaching fellows are smart and curious–just like you! They will guide you through a process of discovery, while allowing you to follow your own unique interests–wherever they may take you. Our proctors are essential to the functioning of the program. They live in the dorms, plan activities, and have fun alongside of our students. The office staff works year-round to provide an exceptional program each summer. They are your go-to resources as you learn about the program, apply, and make your way to campus.

The listings below reflect our growing 2017 Staff Team. Keep visiting in the coming months for updates as we solidify this summer’s team.

Cluster: Comedy, Tragedy, Circuitry

Ben Bakker, Electronics Faculty

Mr. Bakker’s life in science and technology started in Elementary School when he played the role of “Mr. Electricity” at a summer science program. He taught physics and math in Tanzania with the Peace Corp. He worked for a time in MIT’s tandem mass spectrometry lab, programing, creating hardware, and analyzing protein fragments. Visit his office here at DA and you’re likely to find robot scraps left behind by the teams he coaches. Visit his home in town and you’ll see his experiments in “green walls” of vertically growing plants for his AP research design course. He is a STEM teacher and tinkerer, to the core. Besides his studies and students, he loves his family (a wife and two grown sons), baseball, time outdoors, and his Norwegian Elkhound, Banner.

Daniel Thrasher, Theater Faculty

DanielAfter graduating college with a degree in Performing Arts, Mr. Thrasher has been living the actor life in Los Angeles! A proud member of SAG-AFTRA, you may have even seen him in a commercial or two without knowing. Daniel has been obsessed with getting in front of cameras since he was 11 years old. In middle school, when his best friend got a camcorder for Christmas, the dynamic duo began a journey of telling many, many cinematic stories. (They also made videos for class assignments!) Daniel has been telling stories, both on-camera and onstage, ever since. Oh yeah, and he has to touch every piano he sees.

Kiera Terrell, Teaching Fellow

More information on Ms. Terrell will be coming soon!

Cluster: Storytelling for the Ears and Eyes

Jaime Correa, Film Production Faculty

Jaime CorreaMr. Correa fell under the spell of cowboys of the silver screen at a young age: lonely heroes wandering large expanses of land. In time his interest expanded from the particular stories to the way they were told–through a moving camera. He’s been an enthusiastic student of language, literature and visual culture ever since. Mr. Correa studied Film and Television in his native Colombia and then Film Studies and Cultural Studies in Paris.  He has also written a screenplay in the Road Movie genre–the Western genre’s descendant. In the classroom, he equips students with tools and skills needed to master visual, digital, and media literacy–the literacies of our current age.

Steve Peisch, Music Composition Faculty

Steve PeischMr. Peisch feels that he was “born to teach music and film at the Experimentory!”  He is joining the Deerfield faculty this fall after many years as the music director and Arts Department chair at Lawrence Academy in Groton, MA. Mr. Peisch was a founding member of Lawrence’s Ninth Grade Program which featured a student-centered, interdisciplinary, skills-based approach to learning. He ran “Summer Mix” – a summer day camp which combined visual and performance art with athletics. And he has helped countless young people create music on computers and design their studies to follow their passions. His music composition encompasses modern classical, hard rock, blues, and traditional country.


Paul Westin, Teaching Fellow

PaulMr. Westin grew up listening to Motown and watching Pixar movies, so it’s no surprise he grew into a music aficionado and film lover. He studied music at Hamilton College where he played alto sax in every ensemble he could and composed as many pieces as possible. One of his favorite courses there was Music in American Film, which surveyed famous film scores to identify what makes for effective film music. Currently, his musical obsessions include Lake Street Dive, the Punch Brothers, Gregory Porter, and the Hamilton soundtrack. He also is an avid ultimate Frisbee player.

Cluster: Structures for Society

David Payne, Architecture and Design Faculty

David PayneMr. Payne has a passion for architecture and understanding its context within culture. It started young: he grew up in a quintessential New England small town full of beautiful 18th and 19th century buildings. Today, blueprints adorn the walls of his home and he travels abroad with students to study buildings and people together. His classes place strong value on practical spaces and architecture as a tactile craft–for example, designing a new Academy dorm and learning to draw plans and build models by hand. And with a third son born in mid-November he is no stranger to change and adventure.


Rebecca Sherburne, Culture Faculty

Becca SherburneMs. Sherburne is a pro at inventing creative ways to teach history. She has transformed her classroom into a museum where students acted as the curators, presenting ancient artifacts to each other. And for a U.S. History lesson, her students put slavery on trial, serving as lawyers, witnesses, and judges. Outside of the classroom, Ms. Sherburne enjoys cross stitching and spending time with her young sons.


Hannah Insuik, Teaching Fellow

More information on Ms. Insuik will be coming soon!


Dylan Finer, Activities Proctor

More information on Dylan will be coming soon!

Ellie Friends, Activities Proctor

More information on Ellie will be coming soon!

Katie Samiljan, Activities Proctor

More information on Katie will be coming soon!

Robert Muni, Activities Proctor

More information on Robert will be coming soon!

Ryan Collins, Activities Proctor

RyanWhen you come to the Experimentory, you come to Ryan’s home turf: he was born and raised right here in Deerfield, MA. As a local, he has some personal connections to the Experimentory: he’s a longtime babysitter for Ms. Sherburne’s sons and he has known Deerfield Academy campus as a middle schooler himself. His interests include lacrosse and basketball, movies and music, hiking and canoeing, and videogames. Ryan is an International Business and Management major at Dickinson College.

Sam Somera, Activities Proctor

More information on Sam will be coming soon!

Abby Shepherd, Media Proctor

More information on Abby will be coming soon!

Meghan Stoll, Program Proctor

More information on Meghan will be coming soon!

Experimentory Staff

Jill Schaffer, Director

Jill SchafferMs. Schaffer was drawn to the field of computer science by a love of problem-solving, logical thinking, and knowing “how things work.” One of her main research interests is human-computer interaction (HCI). Ms. Schaffer came to The Experimentory after working in the “tech world” on the West Coast and in admissions at Cornell University. Ms. Schaffer loves helping her students realize their potential, as well as encouraging them to pursue engineering and other hi-tech fields. Ms. Schaffer has many creative outlets: playing the violin, programming computer software, solving puzzle games, and watching science fiction dramas–Firefly and Battlestar Galactica are among her favorites.

Kevin Kelly, Head of Community Life

Kevin KellyMr. Kelly is renovating and restoring an old log cabin on Pleasant Pond in Caratunk, Maine. Although a self-proclaimed “true amateur,” Mr. Kelly is passionate about carpentry and restoration–a perfect combination for this handy history buff. His other hobbies include archery, reading, biking, writing, and playing chess. He runs the Chess and Archery clubs at Deerfield Academy. Congratulations are in order as Mr. Kelly’s first book Both Sides of the Line has just been released by Bancroft Press.


Anna Steim, Head of Residential Life

More information on Ms. Steim will be coming soon!

Tim Schaffer, Program Coordinator

Tim SchafferMr. Schaffer is a hat rack: he dons so many different rolls here at Deerfield Academy–Experimentory Program Coordinator, Medical Chaperone,  Store Clerk, Test Proctor, and Greeter–that you never know where you might bump into him on campus. Before Deerfield, he could be found working for an insurance company, destroying things people don’t want any more, or helping college students ponder the mysteries of life. On the creative side he writes: he contributes to his family’s storybook, keeps a personal blog, and works on a speculative fiction novel. He also reads, doodles, daydreams, teases, tells stories, and cuddles with his cat.

Kayla Corcoran, Media Manager

Ms. Corcoran always seems to be finding herself on crazy adventures around the world: racing through herds of zebras and wildebeests in the Tanzanian Serengeti, eating ice cream at Dracula’s castle in Romania, and swimming (or rather, floating!) in the Dead Sea in Jordan. A natural explorer who is passionate about history and culture, Ms. Corcoran has visited 18 countries and can’t wait to discover the rest of the world. In her Latin American and African history class, she and her students discover different parts of the world every day, bringing history to life by reenacting scenes from the books they read, writing children’s books, and curating classroom museum exhibits. If she doesn’t have a book in hand, Ms. Corcoran can often be found baking, crocheting, or chasing after her dog Peanut, who is usually trying to run away.


Caryn Gardner, Assistant Director of Nursing

Caryn GardnerMrs. Gardner is the Assistant Director of Nursing at Deerfield Academy where she has worked for 14 years. She lives in Deerfield with her husband, two children and two dogs. She can be found frequently walking her dogs around the fields and by the river. When not working at the school, she can be found attending sporting and other activities of her kids.

Christine O’Neil, Staff Nurse

Christine O'NeilMrs. O’Neil has been a staff nurse at Deerfield Academy since 2007 where, among other things, she manages the Travel Medicine Clinic.  She lives in Deerfield with her husband and 3 children.  In her spare time she enjoys running.