All Friends Academy Summer Programs staff are teachers and/or professionals in their field. Assistant counselors include college students with an interest in education and reliable high school students looking for meaningful community service. All staff have passed CORI, SORI, and fingerprint checks.

Join our Summer Programs team! We’re looking for camp leaders, instructors, and counselors-in-training for summer 2022. Learn more and apply »

Lesley Heyl

Summer Programs Director

Lesley has spent many years as an Outdoor Environmental Educator, Wilderness Guide (Kayak and Canoe instructor) and volunteer trail-crew coordinator in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. With an extensive background in program management, she is looking forward to applying her skills as the new Director of External Programs/Summer Programs here at Friends Academy. She is passionate about environmental stewardship, reduce/reuse/recycle/repurpose principles, farming and local food systems, and helping others enjoy the outdoors! Email Lesley

Colton Almeida

Summer Programs Assistant Director

Colton, a local of the area, has worked at Friends Academy for several years. A former camp counselor, he is currently entering his senior year of college at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, as an English & Communications major. Passionate about sports, travel, and working with children, Colton is excited for his new role as assistant summer programs director.

Staff & Volunteers

  • Pamela Almeida (Little Friends): Pamela has extensive experience working with our youngest of friends. From working at Little People’s College many years ago, to now currently monitoring at Cushman Schools, she has always loved working with Pre-K & Kindergarten children. She is excited to join our Friends Academy team for the first time this summer!
  • Abbey Branco (Summer Friends): Abbey is currently a long-term substitute Kindergarten teacher and has worked with school-aged children for five years. She loves reading, writing, and doing arts and crafts!
  • Michael Britt (Gardening Camp): Mike is a sixth grade humanities teacher at Friends Academy and helps run the campus garden during the school year, leading students during service learning.
  • Chris Bruno (Adventure/Survival Friends): Chris has served as a national park ranger, conservation manager, and has led trail crews on public lands all over the U.S. He loves hiking and being on the water at any available chance. He is an avid gardener and permaculture student. With his B.A. in History/international studies, he participated in living history performances throughout the parks. Every day he blends nature, philosophy, and meditative techniques to create balance in his life and inspire others.
  • Maxwell Cabana (Activities Lead)
  • Kate Carpenter (Substitute Instructor)
  • Bruce Cartwright (Camp Counselor)
  • Gail Coble (Summer Friends K-1): Gail has dedicated much of her life to teaching elementary children, and now currently works in the Friends Academy After-School Program and with the youngest friends at the Farmhouse. She continues to bring her wisdom and lively energy to everyone she meets.
  • Kassidy Cestodio (Activities Lead): Kassidy studied conservation biology at UMass Dartmouth. She is excited to use her extensive knowledge gained throughout school and an internship with the Westport River Watershed Association, teaching others to play lightly on this earth. Kassidy is a Westport local and can often be found hiking, kayaking, playing music, or making arts and crafts.
  • Chris Chaput (Chef – Farm to Table): Chris is a local chef and the owner of Renegades Rising.
  • Hallie Davis (Little Friends): Hallie is an Early Childhood teacher at the Friends Academy Farmhouse.
  • Mirna Decker (Volunteer): Mirna is a 2021 Friends Academy graduate and current student at Portsmouth Abbey School.
  • Abigail “Abi” DeRego (Summer Friends K-1, Historical Doll): Abi graduated from Friends Academy in 2014 and has been working at Summer Friends since 2016. She is currently in school to receive her Masters of Arts in Teaching from Clark University. She loves being outside and exploring nature!
  • Emilia DeRego (Summer Friends 2-3, Historical Doll)
  • Jailene Escalera (Camp Counselor)
  • Manu Gottschick-Daskalakis (Camp Counselor)
  • Kayla Garcia (Adventure Friends, Speciality Camps)
  • Richard Katowicz (Theatre Camp)
  • Brianna Ko (Art Camps)
  • Nicole “Nico” Lester (Summer Friends)
  • Maria Lopes (Little Friends): Maria Lopes has enjoyed working with children for over 25 years. She loves creating craft projects using recycled materials, and also going for walks with family!
  • Xave Markey (Summer Friends 2-3): Xave Markey is excited to be back at Summer Friends this year. She has worked with elementary school and middle school students for many years including the after school Friends Program and Summer Friends last year. She is currently studying Psychology and Education at the University of California and plans on graduating next year to pursue a career in education.
  • Kelly Matias (Spanish Language Exploration): Kelly is a Middle School Spanish teacher at Friends Academy.
  • Lilianna Melo (Volunteer)
  • Sophie McCarthy (Camp Counselor): Sophie is a 2020 Friends Academy graduate and current student at Lincoln School
  • Coco Medeiros (Volunteer): Coco is a 2021 graduate of Friends Academy and current student at Moses Brown School
  • Putnam Murdock (Drama Camp): Putnam is a musician and a Middle School music and drama teacher at Friends Academy.
  • Zoelle Morrisey (Summer Friends)
  • Isis Obolensky (Camp Counselor): Isis is a sophomore at UMass Amherst studying public health. She loves all sports but plays soccer, basketball and lacrosse. Isis is always up for a TikTok dance or going on an adventure!
  • Hillary Parker (Drama Camp) 
  • Amy Peckham (Little Friends): Hallie is an Early Childhood teacher at the Friends Academy Farmhouse.
  • Kayla Peckham (Camp Counselor): Kayla is a senior at Providence Country Day School. She loves to spend time outside, playing sports and having fun. She is excited to join us this summer and can’t wait to meet everyone.
  • Alicia Porter (Gardening Camp): Alicia is a Friends Academy staff member and helps run the campus garden during the school year, planning and managing the garden crops that are donated to local food pantries.
  • Sarah Rosa (Little Friends): Sarah has been working with children for 9 years now. She has been a nanny, infant/toddler teacher and currently a preschool teacher. She looks forward to joining the friends academy summer camp this year and helping your little ones explore the world around them. During the summer she enjoys spending time with family in the pool and sitting by the campfire roasting marshmallows. She can’t wait to meet everyone and have a fun-filled summer.
  • Jamie Ross-Cory (Writing Workshop): Jamie is the Head of Lower School at Friends Academy.
  • Mia Shih (Camp Counselor): Mia is a Friends Academy alum who graduated from Wheeler School this year and will be attending Barnard College in the fall. She has been working at the summer camp for six years. Mia loves music, especially musical theater, as well as dance.
  • Michelle Swallow (Science Camps): Michelle is a second grade teacher at Friends Academy.
  • Amanda Tarantelli (Volleyball)
  • Anisa Tavares (Wizarding World of Wonder Assistant)
  • Kelsey Turner (Wizarding World of Wonder): Kelsey is a local high school English teacher who has been teaching for five years. She spent two years in the Peace Corps working in a small town in Albania, where she both taught English and ran summer camps for local children. She loves reading and traveling.
  • Marissa Vargas (Little Friends): Marissa is excited to join Friends this summer. She enjoys going on hikes, being outside, and going to the beach.
  • Ashley Wall (Summer Friends 2-3): Ashley is a Lower School teacher at Friends Academy