Slate School's faculty are talented, passionate educators who foster each child's unique curiosity and creativity in a nurturing, academically-rigorous learning community.
Julie Mountcastle, Head Teacher and Director of Creative Arts
Julie Mountcastle is Head Teacher and Director of Creative Arts at Slate School, where she developed and leads the school’s curiosity-driven curriculum that is both developmentally-appropriate and academically rigorous. Each child at Slate School embarks on guided discoveries which are designed intentionally and lovingly to excite and motivate the children, and to cultivate each child's innate love for learning. A passionate advocate for child-centered education, Julie designs the classroom experience to nurture every child to be inquisitive and to delve deep into all that there is to learn about the world. Julie believes that trusting the natural curiosity of the child to drive learning leads to the most joyful and meaningful discoveries for the student, the teacher and, ultimately, our beautiful world.
Julie has been an educator since 2001, first in New Jersey, and thereafter as a senior member of the mixed-age, project-based Integrated Day Program at Ridge Road School in North Haven, Connecticut. She began leading Slate School’s design and development in 2017. Throughout the course of a nearly 20-year career as an educator, Julie has taught at every elementary grade level. Before becoming a teacher, Julie was a professional actress and appeared in plays and musicals on Broadway, on London's West End, and in regional theatre across the country. She has also produced and directed many original theatre works with student performers ranging from elementary school to high school.
Julie received her BFA from Florida Atlantic University and a Teaching Certificate from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She is also an alumna of Columbia Teacher's College Summer Institute.
Katy Kessler-Rinck, Curator
Katy Kessler-Rinck is Slate School’s Curator. She curates Slate School's collection of books and objects that enhance and inspire classroom studies and student-centered learning.
Katy studied Spanish Literature at Barnard College in New York City, allowing her to combine two of her passions: the Spanish language and books. During this time, she volunteered in area elementary schools and made the decision to pursue a career in schools. She attended Bank Street College of Education, where she could fully explore her enthusiasm for child-centered, progressive education. After earning her Masters in Childhood Education, she taught in mixed-age classrooms for nearly a decade and facilitated emergent curricula based on students’ interests and principles of child development. Her experience has shown her that students’ enthusiasm for learning and their curiosity are nurtured in environments that value their interests, their individuality, and the many facets of their learning, both academic and emotional. She believes deeply in the profound power of students’ ideas and is thrilled to collaborate with adults and children to guide children as they pursue their passions.
Catherine Lamont, Writer-in-Residence
Catherine Lamont is Slate School's Writer-in-Residence. Catherine Lamont received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Journalism from Northwestern University. She has been a newspaper reporter, magazine writer and editor, book publicist, and writing teacher. She was a staff writer on the team that launched Sassy, a magazine for teenage girls. As a freelancer, she has written stories for several national magazines, including Health, Premiere, Brides, and Utne Reader. She currently teaches professional writing at Southern Connecticut State University.
Catherine is passionate about helping students discover their voices as writers. She has taught writing at all age levels, but she is particularly excited about working with young children who are just acquiring the basic tools of writing. She believes that writing starts long before students know how to construct a sentence. It begins with children seeing beauty in language, asking questions, looking for details, making connections, and finding meaning in the world around them. She is thrilled to go on that journey with the children of Slate School, and to help them tell their stories. Catherine shares her perspectives about play in "Swingball, Big Bird, and Lava Scooters."
Grace Kenney, Assistant Teacher
Grace Kenney is an Assistant Teacher at Slate School. After growing up in North Haven, Grace attended Bates College in Maine, where she received a degree in Environmental Studies to feed her constant curiosity and love for the natural world. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and a minor in Geology, she returned home to engage in what she calls her “environmental education of Connecticut." Grace served for 1.5 years as a teacher-naturalist with the Connecticut Audubon Society in Glastonbury. There, she taught and developed inquiry-based outdoor science and conservation programs that highlight the ecosystems along the Connecticut River. Additionally, Grace has spent over three years working with Swords Into Plowshares, a commercial beekeeping business in New Haven County that tends to hundreds of honey-bee colonies for pollination and honey production. These experiences introduced Grace to local landscapes, agricultural communities, conservation efforts to protect land and wildlife, and the plentiful educational opportunities that they all provide.
Grace is also passionate about the arts. She served as a Program Counselor for two summers at Neighborhood Music School’s Audubon Arts Summer Program, where she worked with children of all ages to collaborate on original theatrical productions. Grace currently plays her French horn in several local musical ensembles as well. Excited to continue learning with the students of Slate School, Grace hopes to foster the inherent sense of wonder that all children have for the world, and guide them in their explorations. Read Grace Kenney's Perspectives about Nature.
Slate School's Community of Professional Learners
Slate School's professional team of educators form a community that is constantly striving to improve practice, to create meaningful educational experience for learners of all ages, and to change the landscape in education. We are committed to supporting every child's agency over their own learning.
As faculty, we depend on each other for collaborative and iterative feedback, as well as recognition of new, valuable, and shareable ideas. We welcome and celebrate the enormous variety of gifts that our faculty bring to their work, and we gratefully collaborate to share those gifts with our students. We consider it our privilege and responsibility to model for our students the importance of a community of learners. At Slate School, learning is joyful and creative for all.