School Board » Board Members

Board Members

MAUSD SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS-towns, terms, positions

To contact the school board members as a group: [email protected]


Erin Jipner, MAUSD Board Chair, Bristol School Board Representative & Community Engagement Committee Chair ([email protected]):

I was born and raised in New Haven and am a graduate of Mount Abraham. I graduated from Clarkson University, BS in Psychology, Sociology, and Literature, then Southern New Hampshire University with an MS in Psychology. I am Erin Jipnercurrently a PhD Candidate at Fielding Graduate University. I am studying Infant and Early Childhood Development with a focus on reflective practice and co-regulation.

In my professional life, I am a Behaviorist ( a person who specializes in the study and functional change of behavior). 

My husband and I have two daughters who will attend through the MAUSD system. I hope that by serving on the board, I can employ my knowledge base to draw attention to the voice of the community

and help make informed decisions about its future.

Mike Dash, MAUSD Board Vice-Chair, Bristol School Board Representative & Finance & Facilities Committee Chair ([email protected]): I live in Bristol with my wife and our two children (our son attends Bristol Elementary School while our daughter is still in preschool). I’m a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Middlebury College where I teach classes on brain plasticity (i.e. learning/memory mechanisms), sensation and perception (i.e. how the brain turns physical stimuli into conscious perceptions), and statistics. Here, I also run a research lab that studies the biological function of sleep and how sleep Mike Dashintersects with memory. Education has always been a central part of my life and the educational opportunities that I was fortunate to receive have undoubtedly shaped my own trajectory. Whether I’m serving as an educator in the classroom or as a school board member, I am committed to working to ensure that all students have access to these life-altering opportunities.

Elizabeth Sayre MAUSD Board Clerk and Bristol School Board Representative ([email protected]): Mark Deering and I are proud of our young man, Michael. 2020 marked his freshman year at Mt. Abraham, he’s the fourth generation to benefit from all our five-towns have to offer. My gratitude for his personalized access to education and the genuine care with which it is provided, inspire me to offer my best as a community voice in return. The common goal is clear, an educational system with enough flexibility to meet our students where they are so they can reach their full potential! Reinforcing the relationship between our learning community and our greater community continues to be crucial to that success.


Daniella Sutherland, Bristol School Board Representative ([email protected]): I live in Bristol with my young daughter and our three cats. I am an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Vermont. Professionally, I study leadership, policy, and educational equity in rural schools and communities. Although I am a newcomer to the state, I have been working with Vermont school boards, principals, and superintendents for over a decade.

Previously, I was an elementary classroom teacher in Maine, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. I also taught preservice and student teachers at Smith College’s Campus School in Northampton, MA. During the summers, I facilitated K-12

outdDaniella Sutherlandoor experiential education programs, tutored neurodiverse children, served as a Title 1 literacy interventionist, among other positions. These diverse experiences have given me first-hand knowledge of the potential, challenges, and power of public schools.

My daughter and I love Bristol. We are likely to be found at the library or walking to town for chocolate chip pancakes.




Melissa Laurie, Bristol School Board Representative ([email protected]): I live in Bristol with my husband  Zach and our two sons, Paxton and Easton.  My boys attend Bristol Elementary and play lots of local sports.  During the day, I am the Network Controller for the University of Vermont Health Network. 
Melissa Laurie
I have been with the health system since 2008 in the finance capacity the entire time.  I am responsible for the overall production of the Network's monthly financial statements, in conjunction with the Budget and Analysis department, the monthly internal reporting of financial results, and the coordination of the independent audit.  When I’m not at work I enjoy spending time with family and friends, camping, and watching my boys play sports.  I joined the board to serve my community in an area that is very important to me and bring my financial knowledge to aid in budgeting and other financial matters.
Barbara Crandall, Monkton School Board Representative ([email protected]): I live with my husband in Monkton and have resided here for the past 34 years. Our three sons attended school at Monkton Central School, Mt Abe Middle School and our eldest son graduated from Mt Abe. We have been the grateful beneficiaries of the MAUSD district as our sons received a strong foundation for the remainder of their successful educational experiences.

I grew up in Connecticut. Shortly after graduating from Southern Connecticut State University with a degree in Art,

Barbara Crandall

I moved to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. It was there that I began working for the Vermont Arts Council as a Community Artist .

I worked for a year creating art programs and teaching art within the community. Some of these programs included Assisted Living facilities, The St. Johnsbury Recreation Dept and the St. Johnsbury Correctional Center.

The next nine years would find me teaching high school art at Lake Region H.S. in Orleans. After our move to Monkton I was hired by the Winooski School District to teach K-5 at JFK Elementary School. During those first few years I began graduate work at Rhode Island School of Design and earned my MAT degree. I would remain in Winooski for the next 31 years teaching art to a district that was small in population but rich in diversity.

I retired from teaching in 2020 after 41 years as an art educator and advocate for student learners. I believe that all students can learn if given the opportunity, appropriate resources and support. As an educator, I have had the opportunity to serve on multiple committees in leadership roles and  am excited to continue advocating for students through this new opportunity on the MAUSD Board.


Kielee Pelland, Monkton School Board Representative ([email protected]): I live in Monkton with my husband and three children. I have children at Monkton Central School and Mount Abraham. I grew up in Bristol and graduated from MAUHS. I enjoy learning new things, gardening, cooking, horseback riding, and camping with my family. I am a doctorateKielee Pelland

prepared family nurse practitioner and split my time between working at UVMHN and my private micropractice in South Burlington. I previously practiced primary care in Bristol and enjoyed serving the community I grew up in. I joined the MAUSD school board to continue to serve my community and of course learn more! 

Justin Pearson, Monkton School Board Representative ([email protected]): After graduating Norwich University in 2010, I found myself back in Vermont in the Spring of 2015. Since then, I’ve worked for Church Hill Landscapes in Charlotte. One thing I have loved about my work is being outside, watching the seasons change, flowers grow, and the amazing properties we maintain. 

In 2017 my wife Jerilyn, and I were expecting our first born and stumbled upon a beautiful home here in Monkton. Over the past 5 years it’s been wonderful meeting people in the community, from our neighbors, to the local farm stands, and

Justin Pearson

volunteering at the church plant sale.

When I saw there were two available seats opened for the school board I felt a pull to act. I grew up in a similar area in New York, where I had plenty of opportunities to excel from academics to sports. That’s one of my goals with being part of the school board. I want to see my children transcend and thrive during their time at MAUSD. 

In my free time, you’ll see me with my family tending to my gardens and chickens, out for a hike at Ravens Ridge, camping in the ADK’s or rucking up and down our dirt road. 


Ashley Bessette, New Haven School Board Representative ([email protected]): My great grandparents bought the farm we now live on in the green grasses of New Haven. I attended Beeman Elementary and graduated from Mount Abraham UHS before pursuing a degree in Education and traveling much of West Africa.  I graduated from Champlain College and hold a dual endorsement teaching license in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education.  I have worked in all sectors of education from toddlers to high schoolers.  For the last 11 years, I've been the  Director of Evergreen Preschool in
AShley Bessette
Vergennes.  I am also a graduate of the Snelling Centers' Early Childhood Leadership Institute.  I have two daughters, one attends Beeman Elementary and the other MAUHS.  I've been engaged in education my whole life; it's always been a passion.  I began my engagement with MAUSD when I sat on the Community Input Committee 2021.  I believe that our children deserve the best education and opportunities our community can provide.  I'm hopeful that MAUSD can use it's intimate size to its advantage to get really creative about how we deliver education and the positive experiences our students and staff receive.  In my spare time, I love gardening, long walks, cooking and tending to our horses and sheep and adventuring with my kids. 
Kathi Apgar, New Haven School Board Representative ([email protected]): For the past 40 years I have lived in New Haven with my husband and sons. We were very fortunate to have the boys attend Beeman Elementary and I also served as a School Board Member for that institution. My commitment has always been to ensure that each and every student be given
the best start in life with the best support possible, housed in an educational community of caring for the entire family. To that end, I continue my own career as an Early Care and Education Specialist and work not only with young children, but teach educators in the Undergraduate and Graduate programs at Champlain College.

Brad Johnson, Starksboro School Board Representative ([email protected]): I attended Beeman as an elementary school student , where my dad was the principal, science teacher and math teacher, but then moved to Massachusetts for middle and high school. I returned to Vermont to get my BA in Russian at Middlebury and thereafter worked in the Soviet Union before
Brad Johnson
returning to the United States for graduate school at UMass and law school in Washington, DC. Since law school, I have maintained a private law practice in DC, with a focus on general civil matters and international development. I returned to Vermont in 2002 on a part-time basis and opened a satellite office here in 2007. After a stint in Burlington’s old north end, we acquired an old farmhouse in Starksboro, where I live with my wife, Ellen Yount, two kids (Abby and Stefan, who currently attend Mt. Abe), and a variety of household and barnyard beings. Another son, Nathaniel, is grown and is a lawyer in my DC office. Recreationally, I enjoy VW campers, fixing things, international travel, working our small “farm”, bikepacking and Nordic skiing. I got a good start in school at Beeman and I view my job as a member of the MAUSD board to help improve and make available that opportunity to all the kids in Vermont’s greatest four towns.
Stephen Rooney, Starksboro School Board Representative Policy and Governance Chair ([email protected]): While growing up in Vergennes, getting an Architectural degree in Texas, marrying a Bristol girl (Alice Weston), and settling in Starksboro, I've been made aware time and time again that I am a product of strong families and communities supporting educational
Steve & Alice Rooney
opportunity for children.  Alice's father Ken (an original Mt. Abe High School Board member) first poked me with the idea of lending a hand with board work, and it occured to me that this was a great way to pay back all those who've helped me in the past, and help those who follow afterwards.  I'm not sure there's a better way for a civilized world to support its future than to invest in the education of its children.
Kristen Toy, Starksboro School Board Representative ([email protected]): In 2003, my husband Andy and I moved to Starksboro where we quickly learned it would be a great place to raise a family.  Since that time, we have two daughters who began their educational journeys at the Starksboro Cooperative Preschool, graduated from Robinson and are now attending Mount Abe.  During this time, I served on the Starksboro Cooperative Preschool Board, volunteered with the Four Winds nature program, attended countless sporting events, choral performances, and theatrical productions.  All of which
Kristen Toy
I have truly enjoyed, and still enjoy immensely.  When the pandemic hit and the four of us hunkered down for that lengthy period, my already huge appreciation and admiration for our educators grew tenfold. 
In October of 2022, there was an opportunity for me to join the MAUSD Board.  This opportunity was the perfect way for me to give back to our community.  As a member of the MAUSD board, I am committed to focusing on student achievement, building positive relationships in our towns, and ensuring all students have opportunities for success.  I enjoy time with family and friends, fresh air, a good book/podcast, and lots of laughter.  During free time in the warm weather, you are most likely to find me in and or, at Clifford’s Pond!