Kara Furcht was born in Trenton, New Jersey, but when she married a Marine her coast-to-coast adventure began: Cherry Point, NC; Jacksonville, NC; Santa Ana, CA; Quantico, VA; Twentynine Palms, CA; Cherry Point, NC; Oceanside, CA; Novi, MI; and, finally, West Chester, PA.
A graduate of Bordentown High School in New Jersey, Kara attended East Carolina University, received a Montessori Training Certificate from Santa Ana College, and graduated with a B.S. in Early Education from Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan. While living in California, Kara worked at a Montessori school and at the Early Education Center at Santa Ana College. She founded two preschools; one at the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point and another in Novi, Michigan. Both of those programs still exist today. Upon arriving in West Chester, Kara helped develop YMCA programs for mothers and their children.
Kara has been a Kindergarten teacher at Goshen Friends School since 1985. She has also taught Kindergarten Enrichment, worked in the Extended Day program, and worked in the school's summer programs. Always seeking to improve her craft, Kara has attended the National Workshop for Kindergarten Teachers. She has also attended workshops on Education Kinesiology and children with learning differences, as well as professional development programs sponsored by the Friends Council on Education.
Tr. Kara has served as a member of the GFS General Committee and is a member of the Curriculum Committee. She enjoys meditation, yoga, Pilates, walking, exercising, golf, and tennis. Kara is involved with the Pink Ribbon Program, an alliance of 400 Pilates instructors in the United States, Australia, and Europe who help women recover their mobility, strength, and range of motion following breast cancer surgery.
Dierdra Mazurek joined the GFS staff in 2003 as a substitute teacher and later that year became Extended Care Director. After seven years in that role, Dierdra transitioned to a classroom setting, teaching the program for 5-year-olds in the Grange.
A Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of Delaware (B.S.), Tr. Dierdra has attended Quaker-based workshops including Educators New to Quakerism and Mindfulness in Education. She notes, "Mindfulness in Education is a workshop that I know will have a positive effect on my classroom. Its principles are designed to help children to be in the 'moment' both in their work and play. I will work toward their understanding of peace and quiet reflection." Dierdra has also completed workshops focusing on sensory integration, including Practical Strategies for Working with Sensory Integration (SI) and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).
Before arriving at Goshen Friends, Dierdra worked as a health educator and ran an in-home child care business when her children were small. While at Goshen, Dierdra has been active as both a staff member and as a parent (her daughter Alex attended the Lower School, and her son Harry graduated in 2011 after being at the school from the time he was three years old!). She served on the search committee for our present head of school and was a member of the 2011–12 Curriculum Committee. During her first two years at Goshen, Dierdra coordinated Goshen Giving and has served as classroom representative in her "parent" role.
To say that Dierdra loves to exercise is an understatement. She teaches water aerobics, cycling, and core exercise classes at the YMCA. Another passion of Dierdra's is the beach, where she enjoys spending quality time with her family (husband Steve and daughter Maddie round out the bunch).
Sharon Kenson was born in Michigan and received a B.S. from Purdue University in Child Development & Family Life and a M.S. from St. Francis College in Elementary Education. Sharon has been an elementary school teacher in Indiana, Connecticut, and New Jersey. She has been a part of the daily life of Goshen Friends School for over 25 years, serving primarily as the Kindergarten Assistant.
Tr. Sharon is always busy. She is the first to appear in the Lower School building each morning. She also works in Extended Care, and during the summer she supports our camp programs. Sharon served on the 50th Anniversary Committee and was integral in the Babysitting and Cooking after-school clubs.
For relaxation, Sharon likes to garden, read, and sew. She and her husband, Bob, are devoted grandparents. Sharon's own words best capture her fun-loving personality. When asked to "add anything else that you feel is appropriate, intriguing, exciting, or captivating" to describe herself, Sharon answered: "Believe it or not, shopping can be an adventure; mowing the lawn on my small John Deere tractor can be exciting; my cat, Jessie, is captivating and fun, and there is never a dull moment with her outdoor findings. I forgot to mention that I love children, dogs, and cats—I respect snakes at a very far distance."
Richelle Nunn was born in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, and lived in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Germany as a child. As an adult, she has lived in South Philadelphia and in several western suburbs. She currently lives in the borough of West Chester and loves walking into town for the Growers Market, French bakery, or dinner at one of its many fantastic restaurants.
Tr. Richelle attended Juniata College and earned a B.S. degree in Social Work and Expression Studies, which included coursework in literature, writing, art, and drama. She completed a Drexel University Post-Baccalaureate PreK-4 Certification Program concurrently with her M.S. degree in Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum, graduating with honors.
After working as a counselor for adjudicated girls in a group home, she accepted a temporary position in healthcare and ultimately spent most of her career in healthcare administration. When her son, Dean, started school, she volunteered at his school as an Art in the Classroom parent and in his Cub Scout den and pack. As he grew older and these opportunities diminished, her healthcare position afforded her other ways to satisfy her desire to work in a teaching capacity. But she missed working with children, so she left her healthcare administration job and threw herself into education, working as a substitute teacher both during her studies and after completing student teaching in first grade at Unionville Elementary School.
Tr. Richelle began teaching at Goshen Friends School as the substitute fourth grade teacher at the end of the 2014–2015 school year. In fall 2015, she moved to the first grade classroom. Recently, she completed Fundations Level 1 and Level 2 training and found it to be the perfect supplement to her graduate coursework in literacy. She also attended a Yoga 4 Classrooms workshop and is excited to bring the benefits of this program into the classroom. In addition, she will be working with Tr. Lela to maintain the Goshen Garden and work with the Food Bank.
Richelle is passionate about learning, the great outdoors (especially near her cabin in the Adirondack Mountains), and writing—she even hopes to write a book someday. She also enjoys mountain biking, flatwater kayaking, snowboarding, hiking, indoor rock climbing, and yoga. Sustainability is very important to her, and she strives to be an advocate for the environment.
Two of her favorite places in the world are Costa Rica and France. Her husband is British, so she's also been to England several times, and she's traveled in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland as well. On her vacation bucket list are Nepal, Botswana, and New Zealand!
Nate Beaver was born at Montgomery County Hospital in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He grew up in Schwenksville, Pa., until attending college at West Chester University. Since graduating, he has lived in Phoenixville and West Chester.
Tr. Nate was a student in the Perkiomen Valley School District from kindergarten through twelfth grade. He received his B.S. degree in elementary education at West Chester University and is currently working on his master's degree in education technology.
An experienced educator, Nate has taught in both public and independent school settings. Before coming to Goshen Friends, Nate taught for several years at Downingtown, Owen J. Roberts, Spring Ford, and Perkiomen Valley School Districts in a variety of subjects and ages. He also has taught children with many different leaning styles, including gifted students and autistic learners. Most recently, he taught at West Chester Friends School.
Nate holds several certifications, in Elementary K-6, Mid-Level Science K-9, Mid-Level English K-9, Mid-Level Mathematics K-9, and Mid-Level Citizen Ed K-9.
Missy Javage graduated from Abington Friends School and began her college career at the University of Hartford. She transferred briefly to the Art Institute of Philadelphia to study interior design but quickly found out that she wanted to pursue a career in education. Missy went on to obtain a B.S. in Early Childhood/Elementary Education from Temple University. Shortly thereafter, Missy completed a Master's in Education and reading specialist certification at Arcadia University.
Before joining the faculty at Goshen Friends School, Missy was an assistant teacher at Abington Friends School in both second and third grades and taught second grade for several years at the Episcopal Academy until the arrival of her first son, Ethan. Shortly after having her second child, Tobias, Missy returned to the classroom and taught first grade at William Penn Charter School for four years. Most recently, she has served as a substitute teacher in the kindergarten and preschool classrooms at Congregation Beth Or.
Recently, Missy has completed continuing education courses entitled Enriching the Curriculum with Children's Literature and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: What Educators Need to Know. She is currently taking a course on techniques for differentiated instruction in the classroom.
Reading is Missy's all-time favorite hobby. She also enjoys cooking and baking and is obsessed with green smoothies! She loves camping, hiking, and traveling with her husband and sons. Missy and her family are volunteers with the Abramson Center for Family Living, a Jewish Relief Agency, and are actively involved in their synagogue, Congregation Beth Or.
When asked if there is anything she would want people to know about her, Missy responded, "I am passionate about literacy and enjoy engaging with others to develop nurturing, joyful, inspiring, and safe classroom environments. I am deeply committed to facilitating the love of reading, writing, and communicating across the curriculum. I feel that the experience that I have accrued while teaching—not just as a facilitator but as an active explorer—has taught me many skills and values that have proven useful throughout my career as an educator."
Devon Reichenbach is an alumna of Susquehanna University and received a B.S. in Elementary Education and a B.S. in Early Childhood Education; she is certified to teach in both Pennsylvania and Virginia. Prior her arrival at GFS, Devon taught 2nd grade at Grove Park Magnet Elementary School in Danville, Virginia. In August 2005, Devon became the fifth grade teacher at GFS. Prior to the 2015-2016 school year she moved into a new position, the Lower School Coordinator, in addition to teaching a combined fourth/fifth class.
While at GFS, Devon has been an active member of the community. She has served on several committees, including Diversity, Student & Adult Spiritual Life, Fine Arts, Admissions, Community Service, and the General Committee. Devon has been a leader when reviewing Lower School curriculum and planning our annual International Week.
Devon is passionate about volunteering and has traveled to Honduras with Heifer International during a Study Tour for Educators, bringing back not only memories but also the ability to motivate her students to help build a better world. To date, Devon has raised over $10,000 for breast cancer awareness and research in conjunction with the 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation. She also enjoys her volunteer experiences she has participated in while at Goshen, specifically Team Ubuntu's trip to South Africa and working with the Chester County Food Bank.
In her spare time, Devon enjoys spending time with family and friends at the shore.
Chris Knowles attended West Chester Friends School until fifth grade and graduated from Westtown School. He attended Franklin Pierce College and Roger Williams College and graduated from West Chester University with a B.S. in Elementary Education. He also received a certificate from the Art Institute of Philadelphia as a Commercial Art Technician.
Chris taught at Abington Friends School and worked as a graphic designer before choosing to be a stay-at-home dad after the birth of his oldest daughter. In 2005, Chris returned to teaching and began his career at Goshen Friends School. He started as the Preschool music teacher and in 2007 added Lower School art to his repertoire; he is now also the Kindergarten assistant.
Chris has been a freelance musician for most of his adult life. He toured nationally with children's musician Kevin Roth and performed at the White House twice, once joining Peter, Paul & Mary onstage during an Earth Day Celebration! Chris is also a studio musician: two of the albums on which he played received American Library Association awards for "Notable Children's Recordings." As an aside, Chris continues to play with local bands. If you are out and about, take a close look at the guy playing bass. You just might know him!
Chris has clerked the Spiritual Life committee at GFS and has been an integral part of the annual Coffeehouse, Goshen's version of a talent show. He coordinates the student acts, makes sure all can be heard, and provides moral support to participants! The Clothesline Arts Festival also benefits from Chris' creative input and dedication to fine arts at Goshen.
Chris is a long-standing member of West Chester Monthly Meeting and the West Chester Friends School board. He has also served as the clerk of the Oakland Friends Cemetery Committee.
For relaxation, Chris enjoys following the weather and has volunteered for 10 years as a Cooperative Observer for the National Weather Service. Chris still gets to spend quality time with his three daughters—Olivia (GFS '06), Julia (GFS '09), and Lily (GFS '12)—and his wife, Patti, despite his busy schedule!
Charmagne DeVinney joined the Goshen Friends School faculty as the Lower School music teacher in 2008. She has infused the program with her energy, enthusiasm, and professionalism. A lifelong musician, Charmagne graduated from Glassboro State College magna cum laude with a B.A. in Music Education and received the senior music medallion. She also has a Master's in Music with a specialty in performance from Ithaca College and spent five months in London at the Royal College of Music. She holds an Elementary School Certificate from Rutgers University.
After a long career in New Jersey public schools teaching elementary school music and chorus, Charmagne now devotes her time to volunteering at Frederick Douglass Christian School (FDCS) in Chester and at the Community Arts Center in Wallingford. Charmagne is a founding and current member of the Fine Arts Committee at GFS. Charmagne's other interests include traveling with her husband.
Francesca Axe, who began teaching Spanish to Goshen Friends students in prekindergarten through fifth grade in 2015, was born in Philadelphia and moved to Cheltenham Township, Montgomery County, before entering high school. As an adult, she has lived in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Bucks County and has traveled to Canada, Mexico, Israel, and extensively throughout Europe.
In her freshman year of college, Francesca attended the University of Hartford, after which she transferred to Philadelphia University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree. She studied Elementary Education at Brooklyn College and earned graduate credits in Education in the Penn Literacy Network program at the University of Pennsylvania. Through attendance in the Mayor's Commission on Literacy, she also received a Diploma in English as a Second Language.
Her career began in the textile industry as a textile designer in Massachusetts before working in New York for 12 years. For the past 13½ years, she has taught Spanish. She has also been teaching Hebrew School for 24 years as well as leading programs for senior citizens at nursing facilities for 19 years. She is a trained Teacher Naturalist at the Bucks County Audubon Society and is certified in CPR and First Aid.
Throughout the years, Tr. Francesca has attended numerous workshops and seminars on teaching pedagogy. Most notably, she participated in a 10-day study program in Israel for educators in 2009 and recently attended a workshop for educators offered by the Bucks County Audubon Society, called "Project Wild Aquatic."
Francesca sings as a volunteer in her congregation's choir as well as at a local community center. She is also an active member of the Appalachian Mountain Club and a member of two book discussion groups. In addition to Spanish, she speaks Hebrew. She enjoys hiking, biking, yoga, pilates, reading, knitting, and crocheting.
Scott Friedman is a native Philadelphian. He is a graduate of Lower Merion High School and Widener University. Tr. Scott has a Master's in Education from Cabrini College and Pennsylvania teaching certificates in Elementary Education Instruction II and Computer Technology for Private Schools.
Before teaching at Goshen Friends, Scott was a member of the faculty at The Shipley School and The Armenian Sisters Academy. He has participated in several professional development courses, including extensive Promethean Board training and classes at the International Society of Technology in Education Convention.
Scott has many hobbies, including kayaking, fishing, hiking, and collecting baseball cards. An interesting fact: Tr. Scott's name is on a CD that is currently on Mars!
Lela Betts, an experienced Reading Specialist, teacher, and tutor, joined the faculty at Goshen Friends in 2013. Lela graduated from Haverford College and from Eastern University with an M.S. in Education. Previously, she worked at Greene Street Friends School and The Quaker School at Horsham.
Lela has extensive training in reading and language instruction, including certification in Multisensory Reading Instruction, training in the Lucy Calkins Teacher College Reading and Writing Project, and extensive experience teaching using the Wilson Reading System. She is a certified teacher in Spanish, ESL, and Elementary Education. She also runs her own tutoring business.
Always wanting to learn how to better help her students, last year Lela attended two three-day trainings: Wilson Just Words and the Wilson Three Day Overview, both part of The Wilson Reading Program. This year she applied for and received a grant to volunteer to teach 60 lessons to a struggling reader while completing an online study course and being observed and mentored by a certified Wilson trainer. By next year she will earn her Wilson certification.
Lela works together with students and teachers to organize and maintain the school garden, which last year donated more than 50 pounds of vegetables to the Chester County Food Bank. She is also a member of the International Week Committee.
Lela is a Quaker and is a member of Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting with her husband and 11-year-old son. In their free time they love to go to the beach, travel, and play games together. A few of Lela's passions are reading, singing, and enjoying nature, and she brings these to the classroom with enthusiasm.
Wes Davis joined the Goshen Friends School faculty in 2006. He has a B.S. as a Fitness Specialist from West Chester University and is certified by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.
Teaching physical education at a Quaker school is an art, and Tr. Wes has mastered it. He inspires Lower School students to enjoy fitness and games while fostering appropriate competition and encouraging sportsmanship and cooperation. Every May, Wes plans Game Day, an afternoon filled with creative games like team "skiing" and the refreshing, and ever-popular, sponge toss!
Soccer is Wes's game, and when he is not at GFS, he coaches at the club and high school levels. In 2009, his Downingtown West girls' team won the state championship. Wes has also been named Chesmont Coach of the year and the 2009 Daily Local News Girls' Soccer All-Area Coach of the Year. Few people are aware that while at West Chester University, Wes was a four-year starter and captained the team his senior year. After a few years' hiatus from the sport, he played for a year with the Reading Rage in the USL pro league. Wes currently volunteers for the Philadelphia Union. He and his wife, Danielle, enjoy spending time with their son Logan and daughter Victoria.
Maria Rufe was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. She holds a B.S. in Geology from the University of Cincinnati and an M.S. in Geology from Virginia Tech. Maria has previously worked for nonproﬁts that focused on stream ecology health and taught Geology at the college level.
As a parent of Eliot (former GFS student), Maria served as a class representative and as treasurer of the Goshen Parent Community. Maria enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking, and being outdoors, and she has traveled to Tanzania and New Zealand. Currently she volunteers at Neighborhood Health Hospice, a little closer to home, once a week.
Fifth grade graduates are effective communicators and creative problem solvers and approach transitions with self-assurance. They are not only prepared for a middle school setting; they are "ready" in every sense.