Faculty & Staff Bios

Summer Arts Faculty & Staff

Leadership

Tom Howe, Director of Summer Arts

Tom taught in the early years of Putney's Summer Arts and brings experience in the performing arts, teaching, and school administration to his position as director. His undergraduate studies at Hampshire College included a year at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan. He subsequently worked in New York, largely in experimental theater, including a stint in Paris at Peter Brook’s center for theater research, under the direction of Yoshi Oida. Tom has taught theater at The Putney School and at Francis W. Parker School, Chicago. He’s currently most intrigued with how developing creative expression in individuals can strengthen our communities.

Phone: 802-387-6234 | thowe@putneyschool.org

 

Freya Sachs, Residential Life Coordinator

 

Phone: 802-387-6276 |

 

Igor Gorn, Activities & Transportation Coordinator

 

Phone: 802-387-6205 | summer-activities@putneyschool.org

 

Summer Employment Opportunities

Dan Folgar, Admissions Manager

Dan is a Venezuelan born cartoonist, painter, and video artist. He received his MFA from the Miami International School of Art & Design, and a BA in Cinema Studies from the University of Central Florida.

Phone: 802-387-7335 | dfolgar@putneyschool.org

 

Sarah Nelson, Evening Office & Activities Coordinator

Sarah just graduated from the Progressive Education lab, a two-year teacher training program in progressive education. This past year, she has been teaching and dorm parenting at the Cambridge School of Weston. She is very excited to be moving back to Vermont for her second Putney summer (and the year following!). Though she will miss teaching poetry, she is looking forward to working in the Evening Office and helping out with the Outback excursions. When Sarah's not reading or spending time in the outdoors, you can probably find her attempting to play string instruments, practicing head stands, or baking granola.

Phone: 802-387-7337 |

 

Summer Faculty and Apprentice Teachers

 
Faculty Group Photo
 
 

Jena Merrill, Faculty - Jena is a ceramic artist currently based in Portland, ME. She received a BA in Studio Arts & Educational Studies from Swarthmore College in 2016 and completed a post-baccalaureate program at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2017. Jena is currently a Resident at Bayside Clay Center at Running With Scissors Artist Studios & Community in Portland, ME, as well as a host at a restaurant downtown and an arts and literacy educator and advocate. Through her functional pottery, Jena combines a delicate, formal sensibility with a playful and personal visual and tactile language — she is motivated by a haptic approach to materials and objects and is fascinated by the poetry of everyday things. This is Jena’s third summer spent at Putney, and will be her first as lead teacher of the ceramics workshop. You can find her work at jenamerrillceramics.com.

 
 

Natalie Varrallo, Faculty - Natalie grew up in Woodstock, New York, where she was exposed early on to alternative forms of food, medicine, community, and lifestyle. From 2008 through 2014, she spent her summers in Taiwan, immersing herself in the traditions of Humanistic Buddhism through the Fo Guang Shan movement. After completing her degree in Botany and Sustainable Agriculture from the Evergreen State College in Washington, she went on to receive her certificate in permaculture design and permaculture education, and has since been working to combine the ritualistic and communal values of gardening and cooking that she learned in Asian monasteries with her formal background in botany and agriculture to arrive at the conception of a plant-based lifestyle that is wholly nourishing and ecologically sustainable. She strongly believes that the creation of food from a place of love can result in a distinct blend of science and nutrition that is thoroughly fulfilling, as well as delicious. She has been teaching seed to table culinary education for the past five years to illuminate a new way of approaching the culinary world.

 

Emily Wexler, Faculty - Emily is a choreographer, dance, and teacher. Her work has been seen in a variety of settings from dance venues to the cafeterias of Senior Citizen Centers. As a performer she has worked primarily with Kim Brandt, Rebecca Brooks, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Yvonne Meir, Ryan McNamara, and Jen McGinn. She is on faculty teaching Dance History/Theory/Criticism at the University of The Arts in Philadelphia and Long Island University in Brooklyn. She spends her summers teaching teenagers how to make work and dance at the Putney School Summer Programs in Vermont. In 2012 she was honored with a Bessie Nomination in performance for her work with Yvonne Meier. She has a B.A. and M.F.A in dance from Hollins University. Her work is dedicated to making people feel wild and free.

 

Charles Taylor, Faculty - Charles is an animator, illustrator, and educator originally from Greenville, Mississippi. While an undergrad at Delta State University, he produced digital designs and illustrations for the school’s marketing department that won several regional advertising awards. Charles was awarded Best in Show in the 2014 Mississippi Collegiate Art Competition and received his BFA in Painting from DSU that same year. After returning to his hometown to teach high school art classes for two years, he now attends Memphis College of Art. He is an MFA candidate in their Studio Art: Animation program. He feeds his character-focused shorts from his roots in figure illustration and painting. In addition to teaching at a local elementary school, Charles produces web-comics based on his classroom experiences and advertising materials for local businesses. Charles is excited to serve as the Dormitory Co-Head and Apprentice Drawing teacher at Putney this summer. You can view some of his work at theartofchuck.com.

 

Natalie Varrallo, Faculty - Natalie grew up in Woodstock, New York, where she was exposed early on to alternative forms of food, medicine, community, and lifestyle. From 2008 through 2014, she spent her summers in Taiwan, immersing herself in the traditions of Humanistic Buddhism through the Fo Guang Shan movement. After completing her degree in Botany and Sustainable Agriculture from the Evergreen State College in Washington, she went on to receive her certificate in permaculture design and permaculture education, and has since been working to combine the ritualistic and communal values of gardening and cooking that she learned in Asian monasteries with her formal background in botany and agriculture to arrive at the conception of a plant-based lifestyle that is wholly nourishing and ecologically sustainable. She strongly believes that the creation of food from a place of love can result in a distinct blend of science and nutrition that is thoroughly fulfilling, as well as delicious. She has been teaching seed to table culinary education for the past five years to illuminate a new way of approaching the culinary world.

 

Theo Anastasato, Faculty - Theo Anastasato is a freelance fashion designer and consultant currently based in Greece and Austria. He interned with Alexander McQueen and Duckie Brown in New York. After graduating from Central St. Martins college in London with a BA in menswear fashion design he spent a year on the Master’s Programme and started working for Vivienne Westwood in London and Tokyo, Japan. He then moved to Spain to work for the Zara Group. Theo is planning to move back to Spain to create his own company working with suppliers in the far east as a designer and sales agent.

 

Matt Loreti, Apprentice Teacher -

 

Joseph Tracy, Faculty -

 

Caleb Colpitts, Faculty - Caleb is a New England based artist and teacher. His work spans a wide range of media including drawing, printmaking, jewelry and tattoo. Caleb’s childhood on a farm in northern New Hampshire has played a large role in shaping his art making practice. Caleb’s work focuses on close observation of the world around him and the value of maintaining a healthy curiosity towards the mundane. A large part of his work is comprised of sketchbooks which serve to document observations and as visual memory logs of travels both within the country and abroad. Since leaving the family farm Caleb has lived in New York City where he studied painting at the Art Student’s League, Providence Rhode Island where he received his BFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing with a minor in Printmaking, and Massachusetts where he currently works out of a studio in the Waltham Mills. He now balances his time between work in his studio, tattooing out of a shop in Brooklyn and teaching at the Commonwealth School in Boston.

 

Genevieve Cohn, Faculty - Genevieve is a native Vermonter, painter and educator. She received her MFA in Painting from Indiana University and her BA in Art and Culture & Communications from Ithaca College. Her work has been exhibited nationally, with works in exhibitions at Pace University and The Painting Center in NYC, ARC Gallery and Studio Oh! in Chicago and the Grunwald Gallery in Bloomington, IN. She has been featured in New American Paintings, Art Maze Magazine, A Women’s Thing Magazine and Friend of the Artist Magazine. A lover of travel and new experiences, Genevieve has taught drawing in Italy and has been awarded artist residencies at AiRGentum in Seville, Spain, The Vermont Studio Center, The Ragdale Foundation outside of Chicago and the Fiore Art Center in Maine. She was awarded the Future Faculty Teaching Fellowship at Indiana University Northwest where she taught undergraduate painting and drawing courses. This will be her third summer with the Putney School Summer Arts program and she couldn’t be more excited!

 

Francesco Mazzotta, Faculty - Francesco attended Western Connecticut State University where he earned his Bachelors of Art in Photography. After which he attended Maryland Institute College of Art where he received a Masters of Fine Art in Photographic and Electronic Media and a Teaching Certificate in May of 2017. Mazzotta’s work is not only in the fine art realm where he explores gender identity through the public lens working in installation, still image, video and sculpture. He also works commercially in portraiture and teaches digital media full time to high schoolers.

 

Annie Duncan, Faculty - Annie recently graduated from Vassar College, where she majored in Urban Studies and Studio Art. In her time at Vassar, she worked in a variety of mediums and completed two senior theses, one in architecture and another in printmaking. Last summer she worked as a graphic design intern at an architecture firm in San Francisco, her hometown. She studied graphic and textile design in Copenhagen for a semester, and the intersection of fine arts and design is central to her work. Annie spent two summers at Putney as a student and felt a strong affinity for the landscape and spirit of the place. She is excited to return as an apprentice teacher.

 

Donald Saaf, Faculty - Donald is an artist, children's book illustrator and arts educator living in Marlboro, VT. He has published over a dozen picture books and is currently developing projects with Henry Holt and Enchanted Lion Press in Brooklyn. His most recent illustration project is a songbook; Dan Zanes House Party!, published by Quarto Books.

 
 
 
 

Melissa Johnson, Faculty - Melissa moved to southern Vermont from Istanbul in 1973 and graduated from The Putney School in 1977. She attended the University of Vermont, Goddard College and apprenticed to Trudy Walker, a production weaver, before beginning her career as a weaver and knitwear designer. She teaches workshops on weaving, knitting, and natural and synthetic dyeing. Melissa is a designer, dyer, and color consultant for The Green Mountain Spinnery, and creates custom textiles on commission. During the summer of 2013, she and a group from Putney School brought looms and yarn to Kigali, Rwanda. They set up a weaving studio and taught 12 disadvantaged Rwandans to weave. The Rwandan weavers have now formed a co-operative and are producing scarves for sale to support themselves and their families.

The Putney School Summer Programs
Elm Lea Farm, 418 Houghton Brook Road,
Putney, Vermont 05346 USA
802-387-6297 (main), (802) 387-6216 (fax)
summer@putneyschool.org

Summer Employment Opportunities