Virtual Academy - 6, 7, 8 Team

  • Shawn Shawn Rooney Willis - Science

    I am thoroughly excited about starting this school year with you!  I will be teaching grades 6 -8 Science. 

    I have been a middle school science teacher in Vermont for many years and taught at Essex Middle School for 21 years!  Before becoming a teacher, I worked as an environmental scientist after graduating from the University of Vermont.  The Green Mountain State is my home where I live with my husband and my two Australian Shepherd dogs, Lucy and Tally. Together, we enjoy hiking, alpine skiing, bicycling and kayaking. I have two grown up children, Matthew and Lindsey, who also now live in Vermont and join us for outdoor adventures.

    Just a few years ago, I decided to venture out in to the world of International teaching.  I spent three years teaching science and math for grade 8 at Zurich International School in Switzerland.   I loved living and teaching in Switzerland.  It was exciting to explore a new region of the globe and to teach and learn with a group of people from all over the world!

    And, now I am very much looking forward to the start of a new school year back in my Green Mountain state of Vermont.   See you all soon.



    Alison Levy - Humanities

    I teach middle school Humanities, this year with the Remote Academy. I’ve taught for 16 years, 13 of which have been at EMS.

    I’ve taught 7th/8th grade Social Studies, 6th grade Language Arts and Social Studies, and most recently, 6th grade Humanities. I have loved them all and am excited about teaching 6-8 Humanities to students learning remotely this year!

    I live in Essex with my husband Max and our adorable dog Bernie. We have four grown children and are fortunate that three of them live closeby in Vermont! When I am not teaching, I love to read, bake bread, kayak, garden, and spend time with my family.

    I’m excited about a new hobby that I am just beginning this fall: weaving on my own loom!


    Karen Nee Karen Nee - Math

    Hello, my name is Karen Nee and for the last 15 years I have taught math at Essex Middle School. I still consider myself a student of math and math education even after all these years. I am passionate about my job and am happiest when I’m working with my students!

    Prior to teaching, my work experience was grounded in “the real world” of corporate life in Boston. As a result, I believe it’s important that students understand why they are learning mathematics and how useful it is, no matter where their path leads.

    My mission is to develop confident students that see math as a tool to help them.

    In our family, we love adventure. My husband, Jack, and sons, Zack & Pat, love to travel and seek out new experiences. I like to have fun and laugh and when I’m not working, I play the piano (very loudly) and go for long hikes. I am looking forward to virtually meeting and working with you!


    Heather Lockwood

    Heather Lockwood - French (EMS)

    This is my sixth year teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th grade French at Essex Middle School. I previously taught at Williamstown Middle High School and People’s Academy Middle Level. I lived in Lyon, France from 2010-2011 and taught American English and Culture at Lycée du Parc High School. Outside of school I enjoy traveling whenever possible, cooking, and spending time with my fiancé Nick and our pets: a hedgehog named Benny & a rabbit named Ziggy.



    Jess Psaros Jess Psaros - Spanish (EMS)

    Hola! Hola! I am the Spanish teacher for EMS students! I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to continue having you as students during this virtual phase! That way, when you come back to me, we can hit the road running! This is going to be so fun! I did a conference this summer and learned a bunch of new tips and tricks for learning a language and I am so excited to get started! My background is that I learned Spanish through middle/high school and college (at St. Mike’s where I earned both my bachelor's and master's degrees), then studied abroad in Argentina in 2008 for six months and absolutely fell in love with the culture and language. Separate from Spanish, I love to spend time with my family (husband and two kids who are ages three and five). We go for walks in parks around the area, and we go to the ocean as much as possible. I can’t wait to hear about what YOU have been up to over the past few months and get to know you better through learning a second language! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or comments. 


    Claire Ryan Claire Ryan - French (Westford)

    Bonjour et bienvenue (hello and welcome)! My name is Claire Ryan, and I am thrilled to say that I will be your French teacher this year. I have been a Francophile for almost my whole life, since I first discovered the Madeleine TV shows and books as a little kid. I grew up in Chicago but spent the first four years of my career teaching middle and high school French in Saint Louis, Missouri. This is my second year in the EWSD, where I teach at both EHS and Westford Elementary. I am a graduate of Washington University in Saint Louis, where I studied French, education, and English. Outside of the classroom, I am an avid reader, an occasional baker, and an enthusiastic camper. Learning a language is a rich and rewarding endeavor, and I make it my goal to ensure that every student has a successful experience in my class. I can’t wait to get started on this new adventure, and I look forward to getting to know each of you as we navigate this year together. The best way to reach me is through email.



    Melanie Tupaj Melanie Tupaj - World Language (ADL)

    Madame Tupaj grew up in a home where individuals and families from all over the world came to visit and sometimes stay for a time. 

    In this way, she was exposed to other languages and cultures from her earliest days, including Mexican (Spanish), French, Vietnamese, and German.

    With a keen interest in other people and places, she lived with a host family and studied in Geneva, Switzerland during high school, and has since spent time volunteering in French summer family camps, traveling to Québec, and enjoying any and all opportunities to travel and interact with people from other backgrounds.  

    She loves geography, Mexican food, Swiss chocolate, and all things French.

    When not at school, Madame Tupaj enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, cooking, playing games, watching baseball, and reading.

    Contact: or by phone at 802-857-7892.


What to Expect

  • All students will have a synchronus lesson at a common time in the morning. Synchronus means students will engage in course activities at a specific date/time. This means everyone will be required to be online for this as it is a daily, scheduled event. Attendence is how we ensure participation and learning is taking place.

    Students will work primarily in Google Classroom. Guardians will not have access, but will be invited to receive a weekly summary of the work due in Classroom (which can be changed to daily).  Here is an example of what Guardians will receive. They can choose to receive this weekly, daily or not at all and here is a resource from Google that can help guardians make any changes.

Software We'll Be Using

  • All students in our classes will use Google Classroom to receive assignments, complete homework and turn it in, as well as for most teacher communication around assignments. 

    We will conduct asynchronus lessons on Google Classroom. Asynchronus means learners will engage in activities at any time, contributing at their own pace.

    Other software we may use for learning includes:

    • Amplify Science
    • Kahoot
    • Ck-12
    • Padlet
    • Brainpop
    • GEMS science
    • Open Up Resource: An Online Math Curriculum
    • Khan Academy
    • IXL

    If you click the link you will see login information for all Virtual Academy students or go to the site directly.