New Faculty Join the Team!
August 17, 2022
We are excited to introduce the newest members of our outstanding TA teaching team! Each comes to their position with strong knowledge in their field, a passion for teaching and learning, and rich personal and professional experiences that will infuse our school community with new perspectives and expertise.
Congratulations and welcome to new faculty members, listed below in the order of their group photo (left to right), taken on the TA ropes course during new teacher orientation.
- Brandon Balamut. Brandon is joining the Science department and will teach chemistry and physics. Brandon is coming to TA after completing a master’s program at Dartmouth in chemistry. Brandon did his undergraduate studies in biochemistry at Saint Mary’s College of California. Originally from Nevada, he taught high school science in Nevada and Arizona before moving to the Upper Valley to pursue his graduate degree.
- Kristen Downey. Kristen is joining the English department as TA’s new 8th grade English teacher. She will also teach 9th grade English and world literature. Kristen brings many years of middle school English teaching to her new position, along with her recent experience working with teachers at Upper Valley Educators Institute. Kristen graduated from Colby College with a major in English and earned a masters in education from Plymouth State University.
- Jeff Seabaugh. Jeff is joining the Arts department as TA’s performing arts teacher, and will lead the drama and chorus program. Jeff and his family moved from the New York City area to Vermont last year. Jeff is coming to us most recently from the Urban Institute of Mathematics Middle School, where he taught and directed afterschool arts programming. In addition to teaching, Jeff has an extensive background in professional theater, as an actor, director, guest artist, and theater manager (his first career!). Originally from the South, Jeff attended the University of Memphis, where he earned a BFA in Theater. He completed a masters in educational theatre at The City College of New York.
- Sam Hecklau. Sam is joining the Science department and will teach the 7th and 9th grade science classes. Sam is coming to us most recently from the Mountain River School in Morrisville, VT, where he taught 5th-8th graders all of the core subjects – science, math, social studies, and English – in an interdisciplinary and place-based program. In addition to his teaching background, Sam brings to TA his experience in outdoor and camp leadership. Sam graduated from St. Lawrence University with a double major in geology and art.
- Rachel Orenstein. Rachel is joining the Special Education department and will serve as the 9th grade case manager this year. Rachel and her family recently relocated to the Upper Valley. She comes to TA from Weston High School in Weston, MA, where she taught for the past eight years and also served as the student government advisor and coached tennis. Rachel graduated from Loyola University (Maryland) and earned a masters in special education from Simmons College.
- Jon Beard. Jon is joining TA’s World Languages department to teach Spanish and lead our English Language Learner (ELL) program. Jon is coming to us from Proctor Academy, where he developed the Mandarin Chinese program and taught Spanish for over a decade. Jon earned his BA in Chinese Language and Literature from Connecticut College and did the MA in teaching at the Upper Valley Educators Institute. Jon student taught at TA in 2011 and is excited to be returning to Thetford Academy. He grew up across the river in Lyme, NH.
- Becky Sarazin. Becky is joining the Special Education department and will be the 7th grade case manager. Becky has worked at TA for the past seven years, serving in the key role of paraprofessional educator. Having recently completed her bachelor’s and teacher certification through Grand Canyon University, Becky is now shifting into a special educator position at TA. Becky is also an alum and excited to continue her journey as a panther in a new role this year.