Excursions Faculty and Staff

Carleigh Cappetta

Carleigh Cappetta Schultz
Coordinator of Youth Programs

Carleigh Schultz is a CT certified teacher for elementary education (grades K-6) and theatre arts (grades K-12). In the past, she worked at Hartford Stage as their Education Associate for Community Based Programs and has experience teaching a wide variety of disciplines to students in pre-K through eighth grades. Mrs. Schultz is an active member of the Little Theatre of Manchester Governing Board. She is currently earning her MBA with a concentration in project management.

Linda Armstrong
Summer Program Assistant

Linda Armstrong is a mother of two enthusiastic Excursions teaching assistants, and this will be her 11th year working for Excursions in Learning! Mrs. Armstrong is the Educational Assistant for the program. She also works as a University Assistant at Eastern Connecticut State University’s J. Eugene Smith Library and as a Library Assistant for Bolton High School.

Meet Our Exceptional Faculty
Below are instructors who have taught for us in the past 3 years

Ed Argenta is currently a teacher consultant with the Connecticut Geographic Alliance and a Nautilus educator with the Sea Research Foundation.  He is a retired public school teacher, having taught Science at Vernon Center Middle School for many years before becoming the Science Department Head at Rockville High School where he taught marine science, environmental science and biology. 

Jennifer Argenta is currently teaching anthropology at Westchester Community College in New York. She is a certified elementary school teacher with a variety of archaeological field experiences gained through undergraduate study and her previous work in object conservation. She is working on a research project that involves integrating STEM-related activities into curriculum materials in order to inspire students at the elementary level.

Lisa Argenta is currently an art educator at Bolton High School where she teaches many courses in the visual arts. She is CT certified for grades K-12 and has over 10 years of teaching experience.

Laura Becker is currently a teacher for Manchester Public Schools. She has a bachelor of science in human development and family studies from the University of Connecticut and a master of science in elementary education from the University of New Haven. She has experience teaching grades K-8.

Chris Buonacquisto is currently a technology education teacher at the Odyssey Community School where he specialized in media and television production.  He is CT certified in technology education (K-12) and has over 11 years of teaching experience.

Jodi Clare earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in early childhood education at Central Connecticut State University. She returns each summer to co-teach “Build Your Designs…Test Your Creations” with her colleague, Claudine Polochanin. Jodi is a kindergarten teacher in Manchester.

Samantha Cyr is currently a teacher of the hearing impaired for Bloomfield Public Schools.  She has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a master’s degree in deaf education and aural habilitation from the University of Hartford.  She is also a K-6 CT certified teacher and has also worked as a substitute teacher in kindergarten through fifth grades for many schools in the area.

Jennifer DeRagon is an enthusiastic Reading Consultant at Coventry High School. Previously, she was a 5th grade teacher for 8 years at Nathan Hale Elementary School in Manchester. She holds a master’s degree in special education from Saint Joseph’s College and a sixth-year diploma in curriculum and instruction from the University of Connecticut. In addition to teaching, Jen tutors students from grades K-12 in reading, math and SAT preparation and teaches hip-hop at Manchester School of Dance Arts.

Thomas Ebersold earned a sixth-year degree in gifted and talented education from UConn.  He has eight years' experience as a TAG (Talented and Gifted Instructor).  He incorporates problem-solving strategies into his teaching.  A former editor and reporter in Trumbull, he still does occasional freelance journalism.

Sharon FitzHenry is a professional actor, artistic director and certified teacher with more than 20 years of experience. A member of the Actor’s Equity Association and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, she has directed dozens of productions with artists of all ages.

Winthrop Ford earned a master’s degree in science and has been a consultant, team leader and guest speaker and teacher in many public school enrichment programs.  Mr. Ford’s passion for making science fun is contagious. 

Jillian Frederick is a graduate of Westfield State College and the University of Bridgeport earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in elementary education. Ms. Frederick brings an enthusiastic and creative attitude to her teaching. She loves to teach children to learn through hands-on-activities and experiments. Ms. Frederick is currently an elementary school teacher in Hartford.

Scott Goldsmith is a school psychologist in the Manchester Public Schools. He is also the co-coordinator of the Manchester Ropes Challenge Course. Scott has facilitated adventure and team building programs at local, state and national conferences and workshops. His first book about promoting emotional intelligence through experiential groups is now available.

Jim Griffin worked in the insurance industry for many years before earning his master’s in education and beginning a second career as a teacher. He taught in the gifted and talented program at Lebanon Elementary School where he won an award as the District Teacher of the Year. He teaches grades 2-5 in the gifted program at Somers Elementary School.

Susan Harrington is a popular enrichment teacher in the area, who specializes in science and natural history enrichment classes.  She has a bachelor’s of arts and a master’s degree in biology and has completed graduate course work in education.  Mrs. Harrington enjoys inspiring students to explore science in unique ways.

Richard Hoyer is a fine art, portrait and location photographer, with more than 20 years of fun in the business.  He is an adjunct faculty member at Manchester Community College and also teaches photography at the Worcester Art Museum for youth and adults.  His work is exhibited regularly at galleries around the state.

Michael Kakalow teaches physical education and health in the Manchester school system. He also coaches middle and high school sports for both boys and girls. As a ropes course facilitator for four years, he firmly believes that adventure based programs promote positive behavior in all youth.

Rachael LaPorte or "Chef Rachael" is a graduate of Johnson and Wales University with a degree in culinary arts and a graduate of Central CT State University with a master's degree in education.  She has traveled across the country working as a chef in dozens of restaurants, mastering various styles of cooking.  Having decided that teaching was her passion, Rachael returned to her alma mater, Windham Technical High School, to teach culinary arts and inspire the next generation of chefs.

Linda Marchisio is a professional storyteller, published author and educator for the talented and gifted. She has taught in West Hartford’s gifted program, “QuEST”, and the advanced math placement program, “Math QuEST”.  She now works as a Library Media Specialist.

Joshua Ogrodowski or "Chef Josh" is currently a Connecticut certified culinary arts teacher/Serv Safe instructor and teaches 9th-12th graders at Enfield High School. He earned an associate of science degree in culinary arts, a bachelor of science degree in culinary nutrition and a master of arts in teaching degree in foodservice education from Johnson and Wales University. During his time at Johnson and Wales, he worked as a teaching assistant and fellow for the college working procurement and events. Prior to becoming a teacher, he worked for 12 years in various foodservice establishments, from restaurants to country clubs, working up to a supervisory position.

Claudine Polochanin earned a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in education. She returns each summer to co-teach “Build Your Designs … Test Your Creations” with her colleague Jodi Clare. Claudine was nominated for the Disney Teacher of the Year Award, and is currently a teacher in the Manchester Public School System.

Tony Susi earned bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in music education. He is presently the band director at Captain Nathan Hale Middle School in Coventry. He has served as a guest clinician for several state jazz bands, festivals and conferences.

Janine Turgeon holds a master’s degree in ceramics. She has taught ceramics to children of all ages at the Farmington Valley Arts Center and in the after-school program in Marlborough, CT. She is currently a public school art teacher. A professional ceramics artist, she has exhibited in several arts centers around the State.

Cate Christen Waung is an accomplished artist specializing in pastel drawing and oil, watercolor and acrylic painting. She has a bachelor’s in history from University of Massachusetts and has taken extensive art courses at Montesser College of Art, Memphis College of Art, and Shanghai Oil Painting Institute. She has over 10 years of experience teaching visual art to a variety of grade levels. Her artwork can be found in private and public collections around the country.

Jesse Wilkinson earned a bachelor’s degree in technology education and is currently completing his master’s degree. He is currently a middle school technology teacher in South Windsor. An avid model builder since first grade, he continues his interest in technology as an advisor to both the FIRST Robotics Team and the FIRST Lego® League.

Last Update: August 29 2014
For additional information, email Carleigh Cappetta Schultz or call 860-512-2804.