You are hereStaff


Little River School Staff
LRCS Staff

Steve Molnar is the director and a teacher at Little River Community School. He has a Masters of Science in Special Education from SUNY/New Paltz and New York State Certification in Elementary Education and Special Education K-12. He has over 30 years of experience in alternative, multi-age classroom settings.  Steve is the Olders teacher and teaches Spanish, swimming, and special topics to the other students.

Steve lives at Birdsfoot Farm, an intentional community and organic vegetable farm adjoining the school.  He and his wife Dulli live with their two children in a passive solar house they built together using hand tools.  Steve has worked for the past twenty years with Peace Brigades International, a Gandhian-inspired group that works in areas of violent conflict providing protective accompaniment to human rights defenders.  He serves on the governing board and travels internationally for meetings.

Kelly Newman Burnham teaches the Middles and works as the Administrative Assistant at Little River.  She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a focus on Child Development, and a Master’s degree in Teaching, both from SUNY Potsdam.  After teaching in various public schools, Kelly and her husband Todd made the commitment to homeschool their three children.  Kelly homeschooled for 14 years, teaching two of their children right through high school.  Her youngest is in the Olders room at Little River.  Kelly brings 20 years of teaching experience to our school.

Kelly also works as a photographer.  She photographs weddings, senior and family portraits, pet portraits, and macro and nature images.  Kelly’s most recent professional endeavor was acting as Editor in Chief for the book Hands on Health: Taking Your Vibrant, Whole Health Back Into Your Healing Hands by local author Paula Youmell.  Kelly’s love and faith in natural holistic healing made this project a joy for her, and she looks forward to more editorial work in the future!  In her "free" time, Kelly enjoys gardening, practicing yoga, power walking, riding her Harley, and caring for their menagerie of animals.

Leon Sawyko teaches science to the Olders and Middles. He has a Bachelors degree in Geology from Hamilton College and Masters degrees in Geology and Education from the University of Washington. He taught at Gouverneur Middle School for 7 years before resigning to become an at-home parent for his daughters. After 5 years at home, he got the teaching itch again and started at Little River. He lives with his wife and 2 daughters on 20 acres of brush and trouble in Pierrepont.

Jennifer Whittaker is a Middles teacher at LRCS.  She has a Masters in Library and Information Science from Syracuse University and a Bachelors from SUNY Empire State in Literature and Writing.  Previously she has been working as the Circulation, Reserves, and Educational Outreach librarian at SUNY Canton. 

Jennifer lives with her two children,  husband, 15 chickens, 2 bunnies, and Max the dog just outside of Canton.   She loves hiking, running, and reading.   In addition, she loves to get others excited about reading!

Layla Mayville is the Youngers teacher and teaches art to the whole school.  She has taught art in various public schools and local cultural art centers. She holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts and a Minor in Psychology from University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Master of Arts in Teaching in Art Education from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University. She has a background with children of all ages, strong multicultural art curriculum and special education. Layla enjoys flower gardening, as well as, flower design, baking, photography and drawing. Layla grew up in Acton, MA and moved to the North Country in January of 2013 with her husband and pets.