Meet Our Team
Your Incredible Teachers
Mrs. Melissa Nelson, Preschool Teacher
Mrs. Nelson lives in Derry, NH with her husband and their two children. Her youngest son is currently a student at St. Francis. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in Durham where she received her B.A. in Business and a minor in Communications. She has more than 20 years experience working with children in various roles including a Director for the Greater Derry Extended Day Program, a paraprofessional in the Derry School District, Lead Camp Counsellor for Child and Family Services, and is still currently working with DCYF as a licensed foster parent. Mrs. Nelson has also been a youth group leader for over 10 years and is passionate about helping children to know Jesus and to grow in their faith! In her spare time she enjoys going on day trips with her family and spending time with her nieces and nephews!
Sister Holly Gauthier, Prekindergarten Teacher
Sister Holly Gauthier has been a Sister of the Presentation of Mary for 16 years. The mission of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, to make Jesus Christ known and loved, especially to the young, is deeply rooted in her heart. Sr. Holly graduated from Rivier University in Nashua, NH with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Early Childhood Studies. She has had over 15 years of experience working with young children in a preschool environment, both as a lead classroom teacher and administrator. Sr. Holly is an active member of St. Luke the Evangelist parish. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, volunteering at the parish food pantry, and spending time outside. Read her vocation story.
Mrs. Lisa McLaughlin, Early Childhood Aide, Lunch Director
Mrs. McLaughlin is a graduate of Manchester Community College with a medical assisting degree. She has been working at St Francis School 2014. She and her husband Richard have been married for 36 years and have four children, three of them are graduates of St. Francis School. She also has four grandchildren and two of them attend St Francis School. In her free time, Mrs. McLaughlin loves spending time on Newfound Lake.
Mrs. Nancy Chalifour, Kindergarten
Mrs. Chalifour is a lifelong resident of Manchester, NH. She received her B.A. Degree from Notre Dame College in Manchester, NH, with a minor in Early Childhood Education. She began teaching 4th grade at St. Francis of Assisi School in 1985. When the school decided to add a kindergarten program in 1987, she developed the program and has been a kindergarten teacher ever since. She and her husband Don have been married 35 years and they have 3 grown children. She is an active parishioner of St. Pius X. During her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading and spending time at the beach.
Mrs. Kim Poltak, Kindergarten Aide
Mrs. Poltak attended the University of New Hampshire where she graduated with a B.A in Psychology. While in school she focused her time studying developmental psychology. She has more than 15 years experience working with children in many different settings. She has worked as a paraprofessional, soccer coach and EFL tutor, to name a few. Mrs. Poltak has two daughters who currently attend St. Francis. She and her family are parishioners at St. Joseph cathedral but often attend mass at St. Francis. When not at school, Mrs. Poltak likes baking sweets and to go skiing in the winter with her family.
Mrs. Carey Follansbee, First Grade
Carey Follansbee lives in Londonderry NH with her husband Steve and her three children Haley, Abby, and Brady. She is a parishioner of St Mark’s Church in Londonderry. Carey is a core member to the Edge youth group program and has taught summer CCD for many years.
Carey received her Bachelor’s Degree in American History from Franklin Pierce College and is currently pursuing her NH teacher certification at NHTI through their TECP elementary education and general special education program.
She has enjoyed working as an aide at St Francis of Assisi School. She has also worked as a substitute teacher, a special education assistant, and a tutor for the Londonderry School district for over 10 years.
Mrs. Karen Guepy, St. Clare Atrium Director and First Grade Aide
Karen Guepy lives in Manchester NH with her husband Greg of 23 years and their 4 children. She is a long time parishioner of St Matthews Church in Windham NH where she has also been the Faith Formation Coordinator for grades K-5 for the past 4 years. At St Matthews, she also enjoys running the Faith and Play program where she teaches young children about the Gospels with puppets and other hands on learning activities. In between fun summer days at Long Sands Beach in York ME, Karen and her family enjoy participating in the Vacation Bible School Program.
Mrs. Cynthia Lynch, Second Grade
Mrs. Lynch has been teaching at St. Francis of Assisi School since 1986. She attended St. Francis School for first through eighth grade, and received a BA in Elementary Education from Notre Dame College. Her three children have attended St. Francis. Mrs. Lynch is a Eucharistic Minister for St. Francis of Assisi Parish and she and her husband were also advisors for the parish youth group for 6 years.
Mrs. Karen Walsh, Third Grade
Mrs. Walsh received her Master’s Degree in Education from Lesley University in 2001. Her undergraduate studies were completed at North Adams State College where she earned a B.S. in Education and a B.A. in Sociology. She has over 18 years of teaching experience working with children grades Pre-K through 5th grade in both general education and special education classrooms. Mrs. Walsh lives in Candia, NH with her husband, three children, and a yellow lab named Martha. The Walshes are parishioners at St Joseph’s Parish in Epping.
Mrs. Christina Negron, Fourth Grade, Director of Student Support
Mrs. Negron received her Masters Degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from Rivier College in Nashua, NH where she also obtained her post-graduate degree in Specific Learning Disabilities. She has taught both in the public school system and in a parochial school setting. A mother of three, she resides in Derry with her husband Alfredo, her children, and her two dogs. She enjoys shopping, the beach and participating as a foster parent to a special group of children. She is a parishioner of St. Thomas Aquinas in Derry.
Mrs. Courtney Ryan, Fifth Grade
Mrs. Ryan received her Masters Degree in Education from Rivier College and her Bachelors Degree from UMASS, Amherst. She has taught both in the public school system and in private schools as well. She is considered a Highly Qualified Teacher per the Department of Education in NH. She is a mother of four children two of which are adult children and the other two living at home. She resides in Groton, MA with her husband Kevin, her children, and her two dogs. She enjoys reading historical fiction novels, crocheting and knitting, and spending time at her cottage in Maine. But most of all, she enjoys spending time with her family and her two grandchildren. She is a former parishioner of St. Mark’s in Londonderry and a new member of St. James Church in Groton, MA.
Miss Natalie Bender, Sixth Grade
Miss Natalie Bender is a graduate of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH. While at Saint Anselm she worked as a peer tutor, participated in the college choir, played violin and viola in the chamber music program, and served on the leadership team of the student pro-life club. Miss Bender completed her educational internship at St. Francis School and has been getting to know our rising 6th graders over the past month. She lives in Candia, NH and is a member of St. Stanislaus Parish in Nashua, NH. In her free time she enjoys baking, hiking, and making music with her family and friends.
Mrs. Lesley Cheetham, Classroom Aide
Mrs. Lesley Cheetham comes to St. Francis with an extensive background in education, including several years of pre-school teaching and eleven years delivering special education to eighth graders in Bedford public schools. She has also served as Director of Admissions at Trinity and Bishop Brady High Schools. Lesley is a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Seton in Bedford and resides in Bedford with her husband of forty-four years, her granddaughter, and her son. The Cheethams have five children and seven grandchildren.
Miss Gabrielle Berthiaume, St. Clare Atrium & RTI Aide
Miss Gabrielle graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in 2021 as a High Honor student achieving awards in music, ministry, and environmental science. In high school, she taught Confirmation and family formation classes through her church, where she also volunteered with the youth ministry and music ministry programs. Within her high school, she was an active participant in campus ministry, music ministry, rosary club, environmental club, and her school’s various choirs. After graduating, Miss Gabrielle decided to take a gap year to grow in her faith and do service work in her community, then found her way to St. Francis at the end of February 2022. With five years of teaching experience, Miss Gabrielle has a passion for working with children and introducing them to the person of Jesus Christ. She is an active member of St. Stanislaus Parish in Nashua, NH, where she has been attending since 2020. In her spare time, Miss Gabrielle loves to go on hikes, take kickboxing classes, explore New England towns, and read books (often theological ones) in coffee shops.
Reading and Math Intervention
Manchester >>> Ms. Angela Morin: morina@StFrancisSchoolNH.org
- Ms. Morin is a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Masters of Education in Early Childhood Education. She is also a graduate of Emerson College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in TV Production. Ms. Morin is an alumni of Saint Francis School, having attended for grades 1-6 in the late 80’s/early 90’s. She is currently an active parishioner of St. Anthony of Padua Parish. She began her teaching career as a Catholic school teacher, teaching grade 3 and kindergarten. Ms. Morin has been working for the Manchester School District as a Title 1 Reading and Math Interventionist since 2021. She lives with her two teenage children as well as their three cats and pet bunny.
Litchfield >>> Mrs. Jenifer Pelletier: firstname.lastname@example.org, Mrs. Jillian Smart: email@example.com, Michaele Zayas: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mrs. Jenifer Pelletier, Mrs. Jillian Smart, and Mrs. Michelle Zayas are Title 1 Tutors for the Litchfield School District. They service Litchfield residents in reading and math from grades K-4 who are enrolled at St. Francis.
Mrs. Leslie Keldsen, Speech and Language Pathologist
Mrs. Leslie Keldsen works for the Town of Litchfield and privately through Premier Speech Therapy. She is an ASHA certified speech and language pathologist, licensed for more than 20 years. She has worked in a variety of clinical settings including preschool, private practice, long-term care facility, home care and hospital settings. She received her bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from The College of Wooster, OH and her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Boston University.
Mrs. Sheryl Gallagan, Music & Director of After School
Mrs. Gallagan has been a member of St Francis of Assisi School staff for 22 years. She is a member of the Church choir, a cantor, and a communicant of our parish. Mrs. Gallagan has lived with her husband Brian in Manchester since 1997. She has two adult children Michael and Megan, both are teachers.
Mrs. Colleen Vandi, Gym
Colleen Vandi graduated from Wheelock College with a BS in Human Development and Early Childhood Education. She taught preschool, pre-k and kindergarten before staying home to raise her children. She lives in Chichester with her husband, Dennis, their 3 children, Ashton, Silas and Aria and their dog. When not at school, she enjoys spending time with her family at Little Sebago Lake in Maine, boating, surfing and traveling. Colleen and her family are former parishioners of St Thomas Aquinas in Derry. They now attend Our Lady of Lourdes in Pittsfield, NH and St Gregory’s in Gray, ME.
Mrs. Rose Van Uden, Librarian
Mrs. Van Uden graduated from Notre Dame College with a BA in Paralegal Studies and from New Hampshire College with a Masters in Business Administration. She worked for over a decade as a paralegal and as a paralegal educator before joining the St. Francis School staff. She is currently beginning her 23rd year as School Librarian. Mrs. Van Uden lives in Manchester with her husband of 33 years, Michael, and has two adult children. She is a long time parishioner at St. Francis of Assisi. Mrs. Van Uden enjoys reading, particularly biographies of the saints and American History, cross country skiing, hiking in the mountains, traveling to historic homes of U.S. Presidents, live traditional Irish music and spending time with her family.
Ms. Sharyn Tighe, Assistant to the Principal, Art Director
Ms. Sharyn graduated from Montserrat College of Art with a BFA in Illustration. She has worked at St. Francis School since 2017, starting as the aide in Kindergarten classroom and teaching art for Preschool through 1st grade. This will be her 3rd year teaching art for all of the grades at St. Francis. She is a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish and runs both the Baptismal Prep and the Evangelization ministries. She lives in Litchfield with her husband of 17 years, Ken, and their two children, Zachary and Noah. She enjoys painting, reading, and spending time on the Maine coast and at Spofford Lake in NH.
Mrs. Laura Bement, Early Childhood Latin
Laura Bement has her master’s in Ancient Greek and Roman Studies from Brandeis University, her bachelor’s in History from Gordon College, and spent a year abroad studying Classics at Oxford University. She most recently taught Latin and History at Bishop Guertin High School and has experience working with younger children teaching ecology and arts and crafts as a camp counselor at Winona Camps for Boys in Maine. Mrs. Bement hopes to bring her genuine love and enthusiasm for the Faith and for Latin into the classroom through learning prayers, songs, and games. Mrs. Bement is a parishioner at St. Patrick’s in Nashua, and has three children, the oldest of whom attends SFA. While free time is often limited, she does enjoy being in the woods, gardening, and singing.
Mrs. Sue Huettner, Upper Elementary Latin
Mrs. Huettner comes to Saint Francis with 25 years of teaching experience at Hampstead Academy. She has taught Theater to grades 1-8 and Language Arts and Latin to grades 6-8. Mrs. Huettner has a Master of Education from Lesley University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education from Salem State University. She is excited to teach at SFS where two of her grandchildren are students. Recently retired, Mrs. Huettner enjoys reading, sketching, and swimming.
Mrs. Kelly Merryfield, Natural Sciences Outdoor Classroom
Mrs. Merryfield is a graduate of Colby College in Maine. She is an Advanced Master Gardener with lifetime status and a UMass Green School graduate. She lives in Mont Vernon with her husband, Leif of 25 years and their two children and an ark of pets. When not running her garden design business, Mrs. Merryfield can be found somewhere outdoors in the woods, on the water, on a mountain or camping year-round. She will be teaching Natural Science which is now in its SIXTH YEAR!! Every year we grow our students even more!