Richland Academy

Mon - Fri 08.00 am - 04.00 pm

11570 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill ON, Canada L4E 3N7

Our People

Faculty & Staff
Richland Academy / Our People

Administration Team

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Jill Colyer

Head of School

Jill brings a strong background in educational leadership to her role as Head of School. She lead an award-winning national education initiative called The Historical Thinking Project for five years, worked on provincial curriculum and assessment policies at the Ontario Ministry of Education, and was the former Director of Teaching and Learning at Bayview Glen Independent School. She has developed expertise in inquiry-based learning and has worked as a consultant for boards of education across the country, for educational publishers, and public broadcasters CBC and TVO. She is passionate about innovative education models that are focussed on helping children become successful learners and thinkers. Jill has degrees in History, Psychology, and Education, holds her Ontario Principal’s Certification, and qualifications in Special Education, English Language Learning, and Cooperative Education. She has coauthored 12 student textbooks and professional learning resources for educators.

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Laura Murgatroyd

Director of Communications and Admissions

Since joining Richland in 2008, Laura has evolved in her role from Junior/Intermediate teacher to becoming part of the Administrative team to build Richland into the thriving Centre for Learning Innovation that it is today. Laura has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bishop’s University, and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland. She embraces the Reggio philosophy, particularly because it honours the emotional well-being and intellect of children.

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Adrian Cheung

Design and Communications Coordinator

Adrian holds a Bachelor of Technology degree from Ryerson University. He delivers innovative information and unique aspect to Richland as he is an experienced creative designer with a demonstrated history of working in the field of graphic design, advertising and marketing. Adrian is always collaborating with faculty and students, and he handles Richland’s online presence and brand communication materials. Additionally, Adrian coaches Richland’s badminton team as he brings a lot of experiences. He was in high school and university teams, and also involved in a number of tournaments in the GTA.

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Joanne Pace

IB-PYP Coordinator and Learning Strategist

Joanne joined Richland Academy in 2015 and is thrilled to be part of Richland’s vibrant and creative community and lives the Reggio philosophy. She constantly challenges her students to think critically in a world that requires creativity and innovative thinking. Joanne began her career in Marketing after graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Guelph. She took on progressively more challenging roles internationally. When she ultimately returned to Canada, Joanne chose to pursue her passion and a career in education, and earned her Bachelor of Education.

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Patsy Scott

Early Years Lead (Acting)

Patsy is joining Richland's Early Years division as the Acting Early Years Lead. Ms. Reid has ten years experience working with Preschool and Junior, and Senior Kindergarten. Her first love is preschool where her positive energy, creative ideas, and sense of humour contribute to great classroom experiences. Ms. Scott will be working as our Early Years Lead to support all of our Preschool teachers deliver a rich and wonderful learning experience.

Early Years Faculty Team

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Omua Unuigbe

Early Years Teacher

Omua has had the opportunity to experience beautiful cultures as she was born in Nigeria and lived in Brazil before moving to Canada. She acquired a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Carleton University and received a Diploma in Early Childhood Education from Algonquin College. Omua is outgoing and truly passionate about the well being of children. Her goal as a Reggio inspired educator is to provide a fun and friendly environment for children to make significant learning discoveries through play. She shares her love for cultural diversity with her students through music, dance and art. She discovered her passion for child care while volunteering at a children’s hospital in Brazil. Omua is grateful to enrich her knowledge of the field while currently volunteering at Sick Kids Hospital and being a part of the Richland team.

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Fatima Ahmed

Early Years Teacher

Fatima Ahmed is an early years educator and is thrilled to be part of the Richland Team! Having graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, she has 16 years of experience working with children, in addition to having three kids of her own! Fatima most recently was the head of a preschool program where she taught children the phonetic alphabet and sounds to begin early reading. She especially loves working with preschool age children, where she interacts with her students in a warm, caring and effervescent manner. Teaching has always been her passion and she is looking forward to leading the children in new discoveries in Reggio-Inspired learning!

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Stephanie Buggemi

Early Years Teacher

Stephanie has 8 years experience working with children ranging from infants to 12 years of age. She has worked with children with diverse strengths and abilities, including children with autism.Stephanie is a Registered Early Childhood Educator who graduated from Seneca College with an ECE diploma in 2008, and a Bachelor of Child Development in 2016.

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Ke Xu

Early Years Teacher

Ke started teaching 11 years ago right after graduating from Seneca College with an honours diploma in Early Childhood Education. She is an Ontario Registered Early Childhood Educator and Parent-Child Mother Goose certified instructor. Before joining Richland Academy, she worked as an on-site supervisor for YMCA and has a background in international teaching with kindergarten children. Ke believes passionately that children learn best through play in a supportive environment -- guided by qualified, educated Early Childhood professionals.

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Lindsay Brennan

Early Years Teacher

Lindsay Brennan was born and raised on St. Thomas in the beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands. Being raised in the Caribbean has allowed Lindsay a number of unique opportunities to work with children of many different backgrounds. She began working with children from a very early age, as a junior camp counselor. Her dream was to one day become a teacher. She moved to Canada in 2006 and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Ryerson University in 2010. She continued her education and received her Bachelor’s of Education from Nipissing University in 2011. Lindsay is an Ontario Certified Teacher and has been upgrading her qualifications ever since. She has recently received her qualification to teach at the Intermediate level. Since graduating from Teacher’s College, Lindsay has taken on a number of different roles, from supervisor of a before and after school program run by Upper Canada Child Care to working as an Early Childhood Educator with the York Region District School Board for 5 years. Lindsay is thrilled to be a part of the Richland Early Years Team and is thoroughly enjoying working with the amazing staff and children.

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Nisa Gulamani

Early Years Teacher

Nisa is a Registered Early Childhood Educator who works in our Early Years division. Ms. Gulamani has worked at St. Joseph Children’s Acadmy and the Bayview Hill Child Care Centre, and is very happy to be bringing her experience to Richland Academy. A mother herself, Ms. Gulamani loves to watch the joy on your children’s faces as they learn and discover new things.

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Chelsea Abbott

Early Years Teacher

Chelsea is a Registered Early Childhood Educator who works in our Early Years division. She has worked with both toddlers and preschoolers for many years, the last four years of which she worked at the Bradford Progress Child Care Centre in Keswick. A mother herself, Ms. Abbott understands the needs of young children and believes in their incredible capacity to learn.

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Mike Sidnam

Early Years Teacher & Junior School After Care Coordinator

Mike has two jobs at Richland. He is part of the teaching team in Bambini Grande 2, working with our amazing preschoolers and he also is the Coordinator of the Junior School After Care Program, working with children from Kindergarten to Grade 8. Mr. Sidnam is an experienced primary school teacher and outdoor educator, and brings a wealth of experience to his roles here at Richland. Mr. Sidnam has just moved to Ontario from his native New Zealand, with his wife and two young children.

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Sharon Lee

Early Years Assistant

Sharon is very excited to be supporting the Early Years teachers at Richland. She is passionate about children, as a mother of four herself, and lights up when she is around them. Sharon enjoys being part of the children's day, as they learn and make discoveries.

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Nicole Narciso

Early Years Assistant

Nicole works in our Bambini Toddler room as an Early Years Assistant. She graduated from a Medical Administration program successfully; but soon discovered that her passion lies in early childhood education. She loves Richland and is thrilled to be returning for another year to work with our youngest learners and their families.

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Myrna Pavlin

Early Years Assistant & After Care Coordinator

Myrna PavlinMyrna is an Early Years Assistant and After Coordinator. She has been engaged in fund raising and event planning at a number of schools in Richmond Hill and has managed successful programs for the Ministry of Social Services and at a private consulting firm. Ms. Pavlin has an Honours BA in History and Political Science.

K-8 Faculty Team

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Natalie Revesz

Kindergarten Teacher

Natalie teaches Junior Kindergarten at Richland. Originally from Thornhill, Ontario, Ms. Revesz spent the last ten years as a Kindergarten teacher in New Zealand. Ms. Revesz enjoys incorporating outdoor learning into Kindergarten programming and ensuring a balance between play-based learning, Literacy development, and Mathematics understanding.

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Felicia Indelicati

Kindergarten Teacher

Felicia teaches Junior Kindergarten at Richland. Ms. Indelicati is an experienced Kindergarten teacher who, among other things, developed and ran a successful Summer Camp Literacy Program at Holy Trinity School. She is excited to support her students as they grow and learn, and she has a keen interest in using technology as a learning vehicle.

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Kate Daniel

Kindergarten Teacher

Kate Daniel has been teaching at Richland Academy for 11 years as the Senior Kindergarten Teacher. She enjoys teaching the PYP program (International Baccalaureate), and a believer in creating challenging, Reggio inspired inquiry environments that stimulate deep learning. She is a curious, creative, and passionate educator, who is committed to lifelong learning, and deepening her understanding of how children learn. She is known for her innovative curriculum design with a focus on the early years. Kate participated in the International Study tour to Reggio Emilia in 2010, and also enjoys mentoring student teachers from local colleges and Universities. Kate has organized workshops for the parent community, as well as presented Additional Qualification sessions for the Ontario Board of Education. She has also attended Reggio conferences in Toronto, Calgary, Boston and St. Louis. Kate has a business degree from Brighton University, as well as a post graduate, Montessori Teaching Certificate. (Ontario Scholar)

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Laura McCutcheon

Primary School Teacher

Laura’s professional interests derive from her ability to create positive and effective cognitive approaches to teaching and learning. She believes a teacher’s job is to create an environment that allows all students to become engaged and motivated to learn. Laura received an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Humanities with a concentration in Early Childhood Education from Cayuga Community College. She then went on to earn a B.A. in Childhood Education with concentrations in English and Athletic Coaching from the State University of New York. In order to become an effective and successful teacher, Laura continued her education in 2009, obtaining her M.S. Degree in Elementary Reading and Literacy (Birth-6) from Walden University.

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Hind Najjar Zahr

Primary School Teacher

Hind has been an elementary school teacher for over 15 years. She embraces the progressive thinking of the Reggio philosophy, which honours children and their rights as active constructors of knowledge; and views the teacher as a collaborator and co-learner. Hind holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and a Master’s degree in Education, specializing in International Teaching from Framingham State University in Massachusetts, U.S.A.

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Shawna Modeste

Primary School Teacher

Shawna had always dreamed of becoming a teacher. She loves investigating, collaborating and exploring with the children in their learning journey, while building strong relationships with students and their families.Shawna is a graduate of the University of Manitoba, where she obtained her Bachelor of Education. She has been with Richland since it began in 2002, working in the preschool and primary grades. Shawna is committed to lifelong learning, which she regards as the heart and soul of growth, passion and drive in education.

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Paola Ciocio

Junior School Teacher

Paola is a lifelong learner, which is the essence of why she became a teacher. Every day she learns from her students, and every day she pushes them to do more, be more, and take on new learning risks and challenges. Paola’s educational journey includes a degree in Psychology, in Early Childhood Education, and a Bachelor of Education Degree. Current educational pursuits include IB certification courses and mathematical studies. Before coming to Richland Academy, Paola worked as a Resource Educator, supporting young children with exceptionalities, and their families as they entered into the school system. As she furthered her education to include working with school-aged children, a shared vision of a Reggio and Inquiry-based learning atmosphere lead Paola to Richland Academy in 2011.

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Emily Pepperdine

Junior School Teacher

Emily teaches Grade 5/6 at Richland. Originally from Guelph, Ontario, Ms. Pepperdine is an experienced Primary/Junior teacher who has spent a year in Hong Kong, and the last two years teaching Grade 6 at the prestigious Children's International School in Norway. Children's International School is an International Baccalaureate school, and Ms. Pepperdine has, among other things, helped her students successfully deliver the Grade 6 IB Exhibition. Ms. Pepperdine's current Grade 5/6 program integrates technology and hands-on learning to build high student engagement.

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Steve Wakefield

Middle School Teacher

Steve teaches Grade 7/8 at Richland. Originally from Tamworth, England, Mr. Wakefield is an experienced Intermediate teacher who worked for 9 years at the Hampton School, in London, England. In addition to being a Faculty member, Mr. Wakefield also worked as the Head of Psychology at Hampton, and was responsible for the development of the school's integrated technology program. Mr. Wakefield and his Canadian fiancé are excited about their move to Ontario this summer. We look forward to his Middle School expertise, and learning from him about cricket and chess.

Specialties Faculty Team

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Josephine Sherman

Studio Teacher

An accomplished local watercolour artist, Josephine is in her 12th year as the Visual Arts Specialist/ Atelerista at Richland Academy. She embraces the Reggio philosophy and strongly believes the arts are an integral aspect of children’s learning in the 21st century. Josephine is passionate about fostering creativity, and empowering others to make a difference through the visual arts. Her education includes an Honours Degree in Fine Arts from York University, a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto, three years at the Ontario College of Art; as well as a Special Education Certificate part 1, an E.S.L. certificate from O.I.S.E and IB certification category 1.

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Jacob Demers

Athletic Director

Jacob is the Athletic Director and Health and Physical Education teacher at Richland. He believes strongly in the benefits of physical activity for health and self image, and looks forward to seeing all of his students grow and develop. Mr. Demers also runs Richland’s House System and ensures that all students have fun competing for their teams. Before coming to Richland, Mr. Demers was the Athletic Director at a Canadian international school in Hong Kong.

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Suzanne Kovac

Performing Arts

Suzanne is Richland’s amazingly talented Performing Arts teacher. Ms. Kovac has a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Specialized Honours in Music, and additional certification from the Royal Conservatory of Toronto, as an Orff Music Specialist, and an Early Childhood Music Educator. She believes in building a love of music and a sense of music appreciation, while at the same time teaching children the technical aspects of music.

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Jen Segal

French

Jen is the French specialist at Richland Academy. Originally from Montreal, Quebec, Madame Segal has a great deal of experience teaching languages at international schools around the world and at IB schools here in Canada. She brings her high energy personality and a love of French music, food, and culture to Richland's French program.

Office and Facilities Staff

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Angela Poleto

Office Administrator

Angela has had the privilege, as a member of the Richland community, to provide assistance to students, families and visitors in the Main Office since she joined the Richland family in 2008. Providing a safe and inviting environment to students and staff is the goal which Angela wishes to accomplish each day. Angela has been part of the education field for over 10 years. Prior to working at Richland Academy, Angela worked with the York Catholic District School Board. Angela is a graduate of Ryerson, and furthered her education in Business Computer Skills.

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Nancy Neumann-Causi

Administrative Assistant & Human Resources

Nancy holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours Degree from the University of Toronto, with a specialty in Economics and a major in German Literature. Nancy’s administrative responsibilities at Richland are complemented by opportunities to interact with our young learners. Nancy is happy to share in the children’s academic journey, and to view the world through the young eyes and minds of our students, who hold such promise and potential!

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Bessy Bianco

Administrative Assistant

Bessy Bianco has a Honors Bachelor of Arts degree from York University. During her university years Bessy volunteered in Daycares, Elementary Schools and was hired by a School board to tutor children who were temporarily ill and could not physically attend school. Her compassion lies in helping others. Most of all seeing children happy, healthy and growing to their fullest potential. Bessy has worked many years in administration and loves being organized. She is thrilled to be a part of the Richland Academy administrators where she has the advantage of working with all the members of the organization as well as the students and their families. Her focus and concerns are on the well-being of our Richland students.

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Rafael Nieves

Campus Manager

Rafael came to Richland in 2011 with an impressive background. Originally from Mexico, Rafael graduated from the University of Technologies and Sciences with a civil engineering degree. In addition, Rafael is an accomplished soccer player, having played for the National team of Mexico in their second division. Rafael ensures Richland operates smoothly on many levels, both internally and around the campus. He brings a creative eye and attention to detail in all that he does.

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Raymund Narciso

Custodian

Born in the beautiful Philippines, Raymund grew up under the care of loving parents and grandparents. He thought he heard a calling to Priesthood and entered the Seminary. He completed high school and went on to study philosophy in college. Raymund decided to leave the Seminary and sought a new beginning in Canada, where he was sponsored by relatives. He trained as a Personal Support Worker, and then opened his own janitorial business. Raymund is excited by the opportunity to work at Richland.