Experimentory People

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experimentory_emc2_800x800Experimentory 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 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 2018 program staff. Keep visiting in the coming months for updates about our 2019 teaching faculty and staff.

Course: “Designing Where We Live: Architecture and Urban Planning”

David Payne, Faculty

David Payne

Mr. Payne’s love of architecture started young: he grew up in a quintessential New England small town full of beautiful 18th and 19th century buildings. In time he not only grew an appreciation of how the function and form of individual features become a building and home, but also how individual buildings together constitute a place and a community. In addition to traditional architectural design classes, he sometimes co-teaches an urban design elective at Deerfield with Ms. Melvoin. They study how important world cities reflect the duel influence of environment and history. 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 three active boys at home, he is no stranger to change and adventure.


Parker Lawler, Teaching Fellow

Mr. Lawler is a student of the Why of Where: Why do people live where they do?  Why is a city located here and not there?  Why does Starbucks choose one location for a shop over another? After he receives his Geography degree in May (Middlebury ’18), he’ll be posing these questions his students this summer. He expects our students’ answers will be as diverse as their experiences, forming a unique mark on the cities they design together. Mr. Lawler also enjoys reading, surfing, mountain biking, and hiking. Fun Fact: Mr. Lawler has eaten reindeer and coached lacrosse in Norway.

Course: “Ethics: What Would You Do?”

Rebecca Melvoin, Faculty

Becca Melvoin

Ms. Melvoin finds inventive ways of teaching the Humanities. She has been known to transform her classroom into a museum with her students as curators, presenting ancient artifacts to each other. She has also made her history classroom into a courtroom for her students to put slavery on trial. In her philosophical studies, she loves the old school Greek philosophers. “While people have come up with new ideas,” she explains, “the classics never die.” Outside of the classroom, she enjoys hiking and biking, Ansel Adams photographs, and visiting National Parks. She is a huge fan of the Harry Potter books and looks forward to reading them with her young boys someday.


Hannah Insuik, Teaching Fellow

Hannah Insuik“Cue scene: I boil henchmen honorably, Chip.” That is a good introduction to Hannah Insuik – not because she has ever created a film about boiling henchmen. With a Bachelors Degree in biology from Colby College with minors in chemistry and philosophy, teaching ethics this summer is a return to one of Ms. Insuik’s loves. Benedict de Spinoze’s Ethics is among her favorite philosophical works, and she finds herself naturally drawn to modern day questions of bioethics. Her other interests are hockey, volleyball, softball, bioinformatics, neuroscience and rollerblading. She is currently a Deerfield Academy Teaching Fellow while she works on her Masters Degree from U Penn. Finally, she’s been avid word-game enthusiast for most of her life. When she was in middle school, she attended the National Scrabble Tournament and she still does word searches almost daily. Wondering about the poor henchmen? That’s an anagram of “Hannah bio chem phil Colby neuroscience.”

Course: “Ooh La La! French Culture Through Cinema and Comics”

Jaime Correa, Faculty

Jaime CorreaIt started with cowboys. Mr. Correa fell under the spell of these lonely, wandering heroes of the silver screen at an early age. In time, his interest expanded from the content of these stories to how they are told using language, literature and visual arts.  These mingled fascinations inspired Mr. Correa to study Film and Television in his native Colombia, and then Film Studies and Cultural Studies in Paris.  Here at Deerfield he often fuses culture and the arts to teach Spanish and French language and literature. Poetry, he explains, invites us to study subtle word meaning, and theatre performance makes us learn annunciation and rhythm. At the Experimentory he revels in equipping students with tools and skills needed to master visual, digital, and media literacy–the literacies of our current age.

Duncan Sewall, Teaching Fellow

Mr. Sewall is an enthusiastic fan of nearly all movie genres, and so he is looking forward to teaching film this summer. He is also a student and teacher of language and culture. His travels have included trips to Spain and Argentina, and he teaches Spanish at Westminster School in Simsbury, CT during the regular school year. And he has worked the last five years as a middle school camp counselor and staff member at Camp Dudley. He also loves music of all types, from hip hop to rock to country. His all-time favorite bands include Mumford and Sons and Zac Brown Band.

Course: “Sustainability: A Fixer-Upper of a Planet”

Ben Bakker, Faculty

In Elementary School, Mr. Bakker played the role of “Mr. Electricity” at a summer science program, and his life has been set down a STEM-filled path ever since. In his 21 years at Deerfield Academy Mr. Bakker has taught physics, computer science, and robotics. His interest in hydroponics is newer. He and his wife have several “green walls” around their home and a hydroponic system complete with plants, timed grow lights, water pumps, and a fish tank. All this prepares him for his AP research and design course – and his Experimentory course. But, let’s be honest: someone who lives with a dozen plants, six fish, and 1,500 ladybugs in a cabinet in his dining room has found a passion deeper than simply wanting to be prepared for class. In addition to working at DA, he has taught physics and math in Tanzania with the Peace Corps and worked in MIT’s tandem mass spectrometry lab. Besides his studies and students, he loves his family (a wife and two grown sons), baseball, time outdoors, and his Norwegian Elkhound, Banner.

Elliot Sakach, Teaching Fellow

Mr. Sakach teaches math at Deerfield, but previously, he taught American government to college students, economics to high school students, math to middle school students, and Spanish to Kindergarteners. Prior to teaching, he was a community organizer on various campaigns across the country, which also led him to teach community organizing, leadership skills, and fundraising to college students and adults. Always finding joy in the classroom and in strong communities, Mr. Sakach is excited to teach Sustainability to a fantastic community at the Experimentory! He tries to live his life sustainably by eating a vegetarian, mostly plant-based diet. Mostly plant-based because he makes a few exceptions, most notably for cheese (how could you live without cheese?!). Hopefully, one day he will live without a car and will live in a home that produces more energy than it consumes. In his free time, Mr. Sakach enjoys playing ultimate Frisbee and basketball, hiking, running, dancing contact improvisation, and playing cooperative board games. He’s excited to share his many hobbies and passions with the Experimentory community!


Annabelle Mauri, Proctor

My name is Annabelle Mauri, and I’m from South Deerfield, Massachusetts. Next year I will attend Princeton University in New Jersey, where I hope to become fluent in Spanish and German. This summer, I can’t wait to get to know kids from all around the world and to have tons of fun! I love to play Ultimate Frisbee, hang out with friends, bake (and eat) really yummy desserts, and do arts and crafts. Fun fact: we raise chickens in our backyard, and my little sister and I each have a chicken named after us!

Athalie Bastien, Proctor

Hi future Experimentory superstars! My name is Athalie Bastien and I will soon be a Deerfield Academy graduate (Class of 2018). I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and live with my mom, my two older brothers, and my dog, Kobe. I will be attending Boston University in January 2019 and will be majoring in Health Sciences. I love dancing specifically hip-hop and jazz, taking mid-day naps, reading, and binging shows on Netflix with a pint of ice cream by my side. Cookies and Cream for the win!!! I also enjoy playing volleyball and lacrosse, even though I am not that great. One thing I am looking forward to this summer is meeting all you young, bright, creative thinkers, and volunteering at a hospital in the month of August. Can’t wait to meet you all!

Geraud Richards, Proctor

Hello my name is Geraud Richards and I am from Brooklyn, New York, while my parents are both from a Caribbean island called Trinidad and Tobago. I have two brothers, one twin and one older brother. My older brother, Jehryl, looks very much like me as we have the same hairstyle and are the same height, but my fraternal twin, Renaud, looks nothing like me as he is much shorter. My passions are basketball, ultimate Frisbee, and music. I have been playing basketball since I was 8, and I started playing ultimate at 14. And I am really looking forward to playing Ultimate this summer with everyone at the Experimentory. I love the clarinet, I have been playing it for 4 years, and I have also been playing the steel drum or steel pan since I was 11. My favorite music is hip- hop and jazz. My favorite artist is Kendrick Lamar. Cookies and cream ice cream is my favorite dessert while pasta is my favorite food. One thing quirky about me is that I thought I was a superhero when I was much younger and I used to wear a cape I made.

Nailah Barnes, Proctor

Hey, Experimentors! My name is Nailah Barnes. I was born in Atlanta, GA and moved to Deerfield Academy with my family when I was eight. After moving to Deerfield for my dad’s job as a math teacher, I was admitted to Deerfield; I just graduated this spring! I have twin brothers who will be sophomores at Deerfield next year. I love playing basketball with them. I also enjoy running, especially through the trails around campus as well as competing in the 400m​ race. Growing up, I wanted to be a fashion designer. I sketched 24/7 and made my own clothes. Although I no longer plan on pursuing fashion design as a career, sketching and styling are two of my favorite hobbies. My all-time favorite thing to do is travel. Whether venturing ten minutes north of Deerfield to a new café in Greenfield, embarking on a nine-month adventure in Rennes, France, or marveling at the beauty of Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, I love experiencing new ideas and peoples. Next year, I will attend Spelman College in Atlanta where I will major in International Studies and Political Science. Watching Netflix and listening to music help me relax, as do reading and writing. My favorite book is Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. I am currently listening to Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage as a book on tape, reading The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, watching episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown and listening to Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s new album Everything is Love.​ I have a cat named, Kitty (creative, yes I know) and am looking forward to spending my last weeks living in the valley learning as much from you all, the brilliant Experimentors, as you all will from me!

Nick Fluty, Proctor

Hi, Experimentors! Being from Draper, Utah, I’m the Experimentory proctor that will be the farthest from home, but that’s nothing compared to many of you! I love playing video games (especially League of Legends, Skyrim, DOTA 2), rowing, reading (favorite book: The Count of Monte Cristo), watching movies (a favorite movie: The Big Lebowski), and humor writing. I look forward to meeting everyone and the warm weather. Since my birthday is July 24th, I also look forward to celebrating it at The Experimentory! Something random and fun about me: I was legally blind in my right eye when I was younger, but, thanks to vision therapy, I am no longer!

Ossie Heard, Proctor

My name is Osceola Heard, but all my friends call me Ossie. I’m from Vailsburg, NJ and I am going to major in Biochemistry at Bates College as a member of the class of 2022. This summer, I am looking forward to spending time with family and friends and being a part of the Experimentory! I love to dance, dive, and eat ice cream. I enjoy naps, cloud watching, and good game of Spike ball. Math and Science are my favorite subjects, but I’m always ready to snuggle down with a good book. I love Roald Dahl and my favorite book is The Life of Pi, but my favorite genre is Sci-Fi. I’m a huge fan of capture the flag, dodge-ball, and Monopoly because I love making strategies. Jam sessions are one of the best ways to have fun with friends along with taking a swim in the river, see you all soon!

Stephanie Oyolu, Proctor

I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Since Houston is known for being the most diverse city in the US, I hope to be prepared for a summer with middle school students from all over the country and world! I like pretty much all styles of music (pop, R&B, bluegrass, heavy metal, etc.) and hope to discover some new music with your help. I really enjoy dancing, yoga, and babysitting. This June, just before the Experimentory begins, I’ll be in Fort Lauderdale coaching students at the National Forensics League speech and debate national tournament. Finally, this fall I’ll be a freshman at Occidental College.

Young Hur, Proctor

I’m a Long Islander from Stony Brook, NY. Over a typical summer I enjoy lifeguarding and being home with friends and family. This summer I’m happy to add the Experimentory to that list! I love sports and the outdoors, and I am a huge fan of backyard games, such as Spikeball and Kan-Jam. I hope you’re ready for some fun in the quad! I also enjoy playing PS4, listening to music, and generally hanging out with friends. Next fall I start school at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, with a potential major in Accounting or Data Analytics.

Ian Gordon, Program Proctor

Except for three interesting years living in Mexico (and my school years here at Deerfield Academy), I have lived on a farm in Pembroke, Maine all my life. We’re not big, but we’ve raised lots of different types of animals: pigs, geese, chickens, turkeys, and even a horse. Normally my summers are opportunities to see friends back home and to go biking and sailing, but this year I look forward to experiencing Deerfield in summer for the first time. My favorite past times at school are Ultimate Frisbee and the Classics Club, but I also read and bike. I am also a bit of a “handy-man” who enjoys fixing and building things for people.

Experimentory Staff

Gen Pitt, Head of Community Life

As the Experimentory Director of Community Life, Ms. Pitt will be leading our team of Proctors as they plan co-curriculars, free time, and other activities. With experience working at the Taft Summer Program (where she taught French, ESL, study skills, and current events) and with the Green Key Deerfield Orientation program, she has lots of ideas of how to make a group of individual kids into a community. Ms. Pitt has a wonderful two-year old daughter. Charlotte inspires her to see the world through new eyes and explore places like the Boston Children’s Museum and the Eric Carle Museum. However, there is one way in which Ms. Pitt is woefully unprepared for the Experimentory this summer: having grown up in Quebec – where Elementary school spans K-6 and High School covers grades 7-11 – she has technically never been a middle school student!

Christian Austin, Head of Residential Life

Why is Mr. Austin our Head of Residential Life? “I was a camper, counselor, and director at an overnight summer camp over the course of fifteen years,” he explained recently. “I think summer camp is one of the greatest opportunities to make friends and become a truer version of yourself.” When he isn’t mentoring students and proctors at the Experimentory, Mr. Austin is an English teacher here at Deerfield Academy. He enjoys authors like Mark Twain and Alice Walker, listening to Radiohead and Pink Floyd, snowboarding, ice fishing, and watching Korean and Norwegian films. Finally, he has a bit of a daring side: he celebrated his Masters degree in Education by jumping out of an airplane.

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. The light of her life is her life is her daughter Julia, with her husband and cat a close second and third.

Tim Schaffer, Program Coordinator

Tim SchafferMr. Schaffer does a little bit of everything here at the Experimentory: answers the phone, helps people fill out applications, files paperwork, draws the pictures for the Experimentory creative application questions, chaperones field trips, writes for the blog and social media, runs errands, tells corny jokes, and sneaks candy from the bin by Ms. Schaffer’s desk. 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 and pecks away at a speculative fiction novel. He is also a part time stay-at-home dad with his sweet, beautiful, happy daughter, Julia. He also reads, doodles, daydreams, teases, tells stories, and cuddles with his cat.  And, yes, he is married to Ms. Schaffer.

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.