Our 2016-2017 Full-Time Faculty

1st and 2nd Grade
3rd Grade
Head of School

Heather Gardner is the lead teacher in our 4/5’s (Pre-Kindergarten) room. Heather has her Master of Arts in Child Development from Tufts University in Boston, and her BA in Child Development (Magna Cum Laude) also from Tufts University. Heather’s teaching experience includes work as Associate Director and Teacher at The Little School in Weston, Vermont; and Mentor Teacher and Teacher for the four-year-old and three-year-old groups at Tufts Educational Day Care Center (a laboratory school at Tufts University). Prior to joining The Downtown School, Heather had been raising her own two young children as well as working as a substitute teacher and long-term maternity fill-in at the Bennington Early Childhood Center (BECC) in Bennington, Vermont.
“As both a teacher and a parent, I am excited to be working at The Downtown School,” says Heather. “It’s exciting to find a school that takes seriously children’s passions and curiosities, and expertly weaves these interests into skills-based learning. I am inspired to work with the youngest group of learners and bring the fascination with life they have discovered during their earliest years into the school setting.”
Heather lives in Sandgate, Vermont with her husband Jeromy and children Matthew and Tilia, who attend The Downtown School.

Brittany-Denny Brittany Denny is the lead teacher in our 5/6’s (Kindergarten) room.   Brittany has twelve years of teaching experience. She has a Master of Education in Childhood Education and Literacy from Bank Street College in New York City and a B.A. from Skidmore. She’s originally from Saratoga Springs, NY and attended the Emma Willard School for high school. Brittany has taught 1st Grade at The Bank Street School for Children in New York City, and Kindergarten at the Children’s Development Center in Bozeman, Montana. She has worked as a Teaching Artist at the Children’s Museum of Bozeman, and prior to joining The Downtown School was the Youth Programs Director and Teaching Artist at Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center in Makawao, Hawaii. Brittany is passionate, eloquent, joyful, positive, and fun, and is wonderfully inspired to be part of The Downtown School’s growth.  In her own words, “I am thrilled to be part of the energetic and inspired founding members of The Downtown School! In this progressive school I have found the reflection of my own educational values and a philosophy that honors project and inquiry based approaches to curriculum while supporting the growth of the whole-child. I greatly look forward to being part of The Downtown School for years to come as it grows to become a thriving and cherished addition to the Manchester landscape.” Brittany lives in Peru, Vermont.

Alley Mazzullo Alley Mazzullo is the lead teacher in our 6s/7/8’s Room (1st and 2nd Grade). Alley grew up calling the Green Mountains her home and is glad to be back in their graces again. She earned her Masters Degree in both Elementary and Early Childhood Education from Antioch University where she concentrated in place-based learning. She holds a B.A in Anthropology and Poetry from Bard College. After college Alley spent several years working on educational farms where her passion for food and teaching grew. Farming is near and dear to her heart and she brings that love into the classroom. In the past, Alley has taught first and second grade, and most recently she has been teaching preschool at The Well School in Peterborough, NH, a small community based school. In her own words, “I am very excited to be joining the Downtown School and eager to get back to Vermont. I am passionate about progressive education and believe strongly in helping children become masters of their own learning. I am looking forward to meeting all the families and getting to know the children as I become part of the Downtown School community.” Alley lives with her two cats, dog, two goats, and many chickens and ducks.

Samantha KrasnySamantha Krasny is the lead teacher in our 8/9’s room (3rd grade). Samantha has her Masters of Science in Early Childhood and Childhood education from Sarah Lawrence College, and a BA in Natural Sciences and Visual Arts, also from Sarah Lawrence. Prior to joining The Downtown School, Samantha spent five years teaching third grade at Bay Ridge Preparatory School in Brooklyn, NY, and has previously taught kindergarten, first, fourth, and fifth grade.
“I am both honored and excited to be part of  The Downtown School community,” says Samantha. “It is unique to find a school that holds so dear the wonder and joy of childhood while teaching its students the skills necessary to become lifelong learners. From the moment I stepped onto The Downtown School campus I could tell that it was the kind of place where I wanted to teach. I’m excited to be part of The Downtown School community for years to come.” Samantha and her husband, Isaac, who is originally from Rupert, Vermont, live in Manchester.

Alexa Manning is our School Founder and Head of School Alexa’s immersion in and passion for progressive education began in early childhood when she attended elementary school at The City & Country School in New York City, one of the country’s leading progressive education schools. Alexa Manning is a 1989 graduate of Brown University and attended high school at Trinity School in New York City. She firmly believes that the most important aspects of her academic and intellectual foundation happened during her years at City & Country. Alexa has always had a passion for children and for education. Throughout her years as a student and as a professional she has been involved in elementary and early-childhood classrooms on many occasions. In addition, for the past 15 years she has taught snowboarding, primarily to children, at Stratton Mountain Resort, and holds both an AASI/PSIA Level 2 Certification and a special certification in Children’s Snowsports Instruction. Her professional career prior to The Downtown School includes senior-management-level work at several start-up and emergent businesses and an extensive career in upper-management in broadcasting and the music industry. Alexa and her husband Mike own and operate Armor Lightning Protection, a small business located in Manchester, Vermont. Her professional background enables her to understand and tackle the multitude of challenges that are part of leading a successful organization such as The Downtown School. In her own words, “I am in awe every day at the wonderful work of our teachers, children, and families at The Downtown School. For many years I felt that our community would embrace a progressive education school like The Downtown School. Here we are today, the result of an amazing level of passion and hard work by our faculty combined with the support and spirit of an incredible group of Founding Families who chose to take a leap with us and trust us with the education of their children. I could not be more thankful or more grateful to be part of this educational choice in our community, and I look forward every day to stewarding the growth of The Downtown School.” Alexa lives in Manchester with her husband Mike and her daughter Adeline who attends The Downtown School.

©2017 The Downtown School, Manchester, VT