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

Ben BakkerMr. 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. Mr. Thrasher 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!) He 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

Kiera TerrellMs. Terrell loves theater – from playwriting to acting to directing. She’s had opportunities to play a wide range of characters – ranging from Wendla, age 15, in Spring Awakening to Ethel, age 60, in The Mime Crime. Her studies have tied into these passions: she graduates this spring from the University of New Haven with a double major in English Pre-Education and Theatre Arts. When not on the stage, she enjoys reading (naturally stage plays, but also mystery and romance novels) and singing along with the radio. Ms. Terrell is from Port Jeff Station, New York.

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.


Meghan Stoll, Teaching Fellow

Meghan StollMeghan likes music. Like many music lovers, this means she has an eclectic taste in music – indie/folk music, hip hop, musical theatre, oldies – but unlike most of us, she has the singing chops to sing much of it herself! She’s an alto studying operatic vocal performance at Oberlin College and Conservatory in Ohio. Her favorite operatic composer is Massenet and her current favorite operas are Werther and Le Nozze di Figaro for their beauty and exciting alto parts. She hopes to be a high school music teacher and one day a professor. She also enjoys knitting, cooking, and playing with her dog, Colby.  Our 2017 Second Year Students will also be interested to hear: you know Meghan’s sister, Katie, who was a proctor with us last summer.

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

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. Ms. Insuik is graduating this May from Colby College with a degree in biology with minors in chemistry and philosophy. Her interests are hockey, volleyball, softball, bioinformatics, neuroscience and rollerblading. And she has 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.”


Brandon Scott, Activities Proctor

Brandon ScottThis summer you’ll find that Brandon has the heart of a big brother. It hasn’t always been this way – he is among the youngest of his many siblings – but when his little sister came around he filled the role so well that now (at age 8) she’s a little obsessed with him. He also likes kids and helping others in general, leading him to study (possibly pediatric) nursing at Central Connecticut State University starting this fall.  Other interests include cooking (for his mom and sister), spending time outdoors (a favorite hike: the Knife’s Edge on Katahdin), listening to music (especially Chris Brown and Bruno Mars), telling jokes, and just having fun. Brandon is from Boston, MA and is in the DA Class of ’17.

Dylan Finer, Activities Proctor

Dylan FinerThe Experimentory is a great fit for Dylan. His personal daily goals include staying productive and challenged. As a natural encourager who is passionate about advocating for others, he will be an ideal coach as you maximize your own creativity and character. He’s also a basketball player and coach who cannot wait to coach his own team someday. In the meantime, he’s HUGE into fantasy football, geeky sports stats, listening to music, and watching movies. He is from Somerset, NJ and studies Inclusive Elementary and Special Education at Syracuse University (’19).

Ellie Friends, Activities Proctor

Ellie FriendsDeerfield is Ellie’s hometown – so she has the passion of one showing off their hometown. As a hiker, she looks forward to leading our trips to the Rock and Mount Sugarloaf; as a Deerfield Academy Alumna (’17), she looks forward to showing you her favorite books and nooks at the Caswell Library. Her interests are varied. She is interested in gender studies and environmental history as possible majors at Bates College next fall. And she loves dogs (all breeds with a soft spot for golden retrievers), dance, baking, and playing ukulele. Finally, when asked for a quirky fact about herself, this was the first thing that came to mind: “If I could have a superpower, I’d want to be able to time travel so I could go back in time to prove William Shakespeare was really the Earl of Oxford.” You’ll have to ask her about that some afternoon in the Greer Café!

Katie Samiljan, Activities Proctor

It’s a safe bet that you’ll have a lot of fun with Katie this summer. She treasures creativity, goofiness, and being comfortable in your own skin. You’ll likely find her at the Experimentory sporting colorful oversized shorts and a white t-shirt featuring a character like R2D2 or the Ninja Turtles. However, on special occasions when fun shorts and tee shirt aren’t enough, she breaks out an animal onsie. She’s ready to tell improvised stories about inanimate objects at a moment’s notice… By now you can probably see why at a past summer program she was voted “Quirkiest Counselor” four years in a row. When she’s not goofing around, she enjoys reading (especially sci-fi and fantasy) and occasionally dabbling in some writing of her own. She graduates this May from UMass Amherst with degrees in English and Philosophy and a minor in Education.

Robert Muni, Activities Proctor

Robert MuniThere was no Experimentory when Robert (aka Bob or Muni) was in middle school, but he would have thrived here. For example, as a neurobiology student at Stanford he is pursuing his fascination with the human brain and its connection to our emotions and ability to learn. But he also loves writing –especially fiction that relates to neuroscience. He’s also good at stepping out to pursue his interests: he coming to the United States from Kenya for school, for example, and joining the Deerfield Academy girls’ field hockey team in high school. His big pastime interests are sports (soccer, basketball, field hockey), watching cartoons (Superman, The Justice League, Kids Next Door), learning new jokes, and drawing cartoons. Robert was a Deerfield Academy grad in 2016.

Ryan Collins, Activities Proctor

Ryan CollinsWhen 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

Sam SomeraSam is from… well, where isn’t Sam from? Born in California, he’s lived in Oregon, South Carolina, Nevada, Rhode Island, and most recently New York. But Rhode Island is the place that feels the most home. His personal passion for American History fuels both his academic studies and a personal project to bring Revolutionary Rhode Island to life. When he’s not soaking up Historic Deerfield this summer, you’ll probably find him running. He runs middle-distance events at Syracuse University, but more than that, he loves running – at least once, if not twice a day. Don’t be surprised to see him on the trails in short shorts! Other random Sam-bits: he loves golf, guitar, fly fishing, and barbering.

Abby Shepherd, Media Proctor

Abby ShepherdHailing from Keene, NH, Abby is an English major with a concentration in writing at Keene State College (‘19). Her writing skills should serve her well this summer: as Media Proctor, she’ll be working closely with Ms. Corcoran and Mr. Schaffer (see their bios in the Staff section below) at producing all of the photos, videos, blog posts, social media updates, and emails that share what happens over the summer with families and friends back home. She loves Broadway show tunes and jazz, trivia, and trying different Italian soda flavor combinations. And are you a Harry Potter fan? She is – and still proud of being third in line at Borders the night that Deathly Hallows was released. (You see, books used to be sold in stores and… never mind. Just trust us: that was cool.)

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

Anna SteimAt the Experimentory, all of our learning and living occur within community, and our dorms are the central hub of community life. As our 2017 Head of Residential Life, Ms. Steim will be leading our proctors to make that common space happy, healthy, and homey. During the school year she teachers freshman and senior English here at Deerfield Academy. Before DA, Ms. Steim taught at Hotchkiss in Connecticut, King’s Academy in Jordan, and the Maine Central Institute. While a student at Harvard, Ms. Steim was a staff writer and associate editor for Let’s Go Publications, a travel guide series annually researched, written, edited, and produced by Harvard students. Ms. Steim also has a master’s degree in English from Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English.

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.