Faculty and Staff

Scroll down to learn about each member of our all-star team at Connections:

Michele Kukler, Head of School, CSA Founding Faculty Member
Carolyn Roberts, Senior Teacher, Music, CSA Founding Faculty Member
Rebecca Richter, Senior Teacher, History, CSA Founding Faculty Member
Steve McInaney, Outdoor Education Coordinator, Science
Hanley Bradfield, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, Yoga
Ivan Riobio, Mathematics (COMING SOON)
Jahada Jones, Literature (COMING SOON)
Alex Berardi, Administrative Assistant, Theater (COMING SOON)
Ginny Kilgore, Community Engagement, Theater (COMING SOON)
Jess Sibley, Occupational Therapist
Kelsey Aughey, Communication Specialist (COMING SOON)
Heidi Sanders, Art, CSA Founding Faculty Member

Michele Kukler, Head of School
CSA Founding Faculty Member

Michele holds a bachelor’s degree in child and family development from the University of Georgia and a master’s in youth development leadership from Clemson University. Michele has ten years of experience teaching students, at every age from preschool to high school, in both public and private schools as well as healthcare settings. Michele was instrumental in taking Connections from concept to reality and developing its innovative curriculum and instructional strategies. Michele is always thinking about the future of our little school with big dreams.

Carolyn Roberts, Senior Teacher, Music
CSA Founding Faculty Member

Carolyn graduated from Roanoke College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in human development and a minor in sociology. Carolyn formerly taught in Montessori and DIR/Floortime schools before joining the inaugural faculty at Connections. She has an extensive musical background in voice and piano and brings these gifts to her music classes and after school performing arts programs. The students say she has a “heart of gold” and a “gentle spirit,” and Carolyn says she is inspired each day by their perseverance and strength.

Rebecca Richter, Senior Teacher, History
CSA Founding Faculty Member

Rebecca graduated from Goucher College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in gender psychology and a minor in women’s studies. Rebecca helped open Connections with more than 15 years of experience in the DIR/Floortime community. As a former college athlete with extensive knowledge of adolescent and young adult development, Rebecca plays a key role in helping students build confidence, determination, and grit. The students say Rebecca is “carefully in tune with their needs,” and the teachers depend on her grounding presence.

Steve McInaney, Outdoor Education Coordinator, Science

Not all classrooms have four walls! As a former wilderness instructor and supervisor for the National Outdoor Leadership School, Steve challenges us to step outside our comfort zones and take risks. He has a lifetime of teaching experience, including science and math at the high school and middle school level, and he is also trained as a wilderness EMT and First Responder. Steve has a bachelor’s degree in physical science with a minor in environmental studies from the University of California. He received his Master of Education in educational leadership from Montana State University.

Hanley Bradfield, COTA, Yoga

Hanley is a lifelong learner who craves new challenges and experiences. As a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant and a Certified Yoga Instructor, Hanley creates opportunities for our students to develop self-awareness and strength. Her many areas of expertise include reflexology, meditation, and mindfulness. She has years of experience as a personal care assistant for young adults with a variety of disabilities, including Aicardi Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, and Cerebral Palsy. Hanley brings positive energy and enthusiasm to every room she enters!

Jess Sibley, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist

Jess graduated from New York University with a master’s degree in occupational therapy. In addition to being the occupational therapist at The Hirsch Academy, she started her own practice, Minds in Motion, in 2015. Jess works closely with her clients to help them gain more strength, coordination, and independence in daily living skills. Jess also specializes in supporting students with developing the purposeful motor skills they need to access alternative modes of communication. One student says, “Jess can take credit for getting me so loved at school.”

Heidi Schaffner Sanders, Art
CSA Founding Faculty Member

Heidi holds a master’s degree in psychology with a concentration in life coaching and creative expression from Sophia University. She majored in studio art and psychology at the University of Vermont and has extensive experience in education, art, and yoga. Heidi has been an educator since 1999, beginning as an Americorps member with local literacy programs. She taught for nine years in Atlanta-area DIR schools, most recently at The Hirsch Academy, before helping open Connections. She is also a certified yoga instructor with additional training in special needs and yoga therapy. Heidi is currently on maternity leave, but she continues to send her abundant love and encouragement to our school family while away.

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