Julie Mountcastle

Head of School and Grade 2 Teacher
Julie Mountcastle developed and leads Slate School’s curiosity-driven curriculum. Throughout the course of a nearly 20-year career as an educator, she 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. A passionate advocate for student-centered education and for arts in the classroom, Julie is proud to lead the development of Slate School’s curriculum and to teach in the classroom. 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 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.

Grace Kenney

Environmentalist and Grade K/1 Assistant Teacher
After graduating from Bates College with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and a minor in Geology, Grace Kenney served 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.

Katy Kessler-Rinck

Curator 
Katy Kessler-Rinck studied Spanish Literature at Barnard College in New York City, allowing her to combine two of her passions: the Spanish language and books. She attended Bank Street College of Education, where she could fully explore her enthusiasm for child-centered, progressive education. After earning her Master’s 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.

 
 

Haley Grover

Grade K/1 Teacher
Haley’s role as an educator began in her home state of Maine, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Maine. Her passion for early childhood education blossomed over the next six years as she immersed herself in teaching preschool and kindergarten. An avid lover of the outdoors, Haley is also enthusiastic about nature-based learning, and has seen first-hand the multitude of possibilities that being outside with children has to offer.

 
 

Brett Pellegrino

Assistant Grade 2 Teacher
Brett Pellegrino is an educator who received a BA in theater and music from the University of Vermont. His work in early childhood education began at the Neighborhood Music School, where he led theater games, wrote and directed songs, and facilitated students ages 4-16 at a summer musical theater program. The passion he developed over six years at Neighborhood Music School led him to his most recent work leading after school enrichment in theater and music at Slate School.

 
 

Catherine Lamont

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. As a freelancer, she has written stories for several national magazines, including Health, Premiere, Brides, and Utne Reader. She also currently teaches professional writing at Southern Connecticut State University.

 
 

Gina Block

Coordinator of Communications & Outreach
Perpetually curious and an eternal student of life, Gina Block has a passion for art and design of all stripes and is a lover of nature, travel, and etymology. She attended Alfred University and graduated with a BFA. Her work has garnered awards from Graphic Design USA, the Connecticut Art Directors Club, and Design*Sponge. With a diverse background in the creative field – from art direction and design of print and digital, packaging, paper engineering, to marketing campaign management – Gina has touched on many facets of communication and design, many of which have involved education. Previously, she served on the board of directors for the Connecticut Art Directors Club and she remains engaged within the design community across Connecticut.