PEL Fellows

Sigal Rose Gerson Kadden
PEL Fellow 2015-2017

Sigal, who hails from Olympia, WA, received her Bachelor of Arts from Hampshire College (Amherst, MA) in the spring of 2015. While at Hampshire, Sigal’s interdisciplinary concentration focused in education, theatre, arts integration and photography.

Sigal’s early exposure to alternative learning programs and arts-integrated curriculums inspired her passion for progressive teaching and greatly influenced her desire to join PEL. As part of her senior thesis at Hampshire, she worked at an elementary school in Amherst as a student teacher and drama facilitator, teaching acting skills and directing short scenes. She then organized and taught a drama program called Collaborative Theatre Workshop with a group of homeschool students. Most recently, Sigal has been working as a teaching assistant at the Hampshire College Early Learning Center and at the School of Creative and Performing Arts (SOCAPA) in New York City as a teaching assistant in the photo program.

When considering why she wants to teach in a progressive way, Sigal points to the power of progressive education to empower students to take charge of their own learning, instilling a sense of self-awareness, independence, and self- confidence.

Michael Vercillo
PEL Fellow 2015-2017

Raised in Nanuet, NY, Michael earned his BA in mathematics/statistics from Williams College, in Williamstown, MA, in the spring of 2014. In both high school and college, he fully engaged himself in many teaching and leadership opportunities.

In high school, Michael operated his own private tutoring business, helping middle and high school students develop critical thinking and writing skills. While in college,he served in a residential mentoring position to welcome new students into his college community. He also discovered a passion for the outdoors: Last fall, Michael worked as an intern at The Spannocchia Foundation, an organic farm and education center in Italy that encourages cultural and environmental sustainability. Additionally, he has worked as a trip leader for Apogee Adventures, an outdoor adventure company in Maine, and has provided support and consultation regarding food access and health and wellness for a community coalition group in Massachusetts.

The experiential learning and critical thinking Michael witnessed at Williams profoundly stirred his interest in progressive education, and how progressive learning contributes to not only a complete education, but to a healthy and well-adapted life-long learner.

Abby Verney-Fink
PEL Fellow 2015-2017

A local girl from Connecticut, Abby Verney-Fink received her BA from Bates College in Lewiston, ME, where she majored in environmental studies with a concentration in global environment and social change. She also pursued a general education concentration in science education for prospective teachers of children and early adolescents: she served as a teaching assistant for a high school Earth Science classroom in Lewiston and then spent a year abroad, working as an assistant preschool teacher in Greece, where she coordinated hands-on, experiential lessons with an English and environmental focus. Abby says her most profound teaching experience was her work at an experiential environmental education center for elementary school students, called Auburn Land Lab.

Following her time at Bates, Abby taught at The Ecology School at Ferry Beach in Saco, ME, teaching multi-day residential programs to middle school students based around various topics of coastal ecology while learning more about classroom management and effective lesson planning. She developed a deep admiration for food cultivation and outdoor education, and went to work as a full-time seasonal staff member on a community farm in Connecticut, with a summer spent at The Putney School (another of the PEL schools) as a farm-teaching apprentice.

Abby’s exposure to such a wide variety of classrooms and learning environments seems to have greatly influenced her desire to join PEL and continue pursuing a progressive educational experience. 

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