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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 of Science 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 is a certified Little Lotus for Kids Yoga teacher.  She offers classes to the Little River students at all grade levels, sharing her passion for yoga with the school.  Kelly has worked as a professional photographer, photographing weddings, family and pet portraits, and has sold images to a veterinary clinic for use in their advertising.  She was the acting 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 hiking, practicing yoga, power walking, riding her Harley, and caring for their menagerie of animals.

Carrie Chandler is the Youngers teacher.  She graduated with a bachelor's degree in race and ethnic relations as well as Spanish from Clark University in Worecester, MA and one year later received her Master of Arts in Teaching degree. Carrie has nine years of teaching experience ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade. The majority of her teaching experience has been with students from economically, culturally, and linguistically diverse populations and she is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

Outside the classroom, Carrie's passion for teaching shines through in the Capoeira classes she offers to kids. Through this Afro-Brazilian martial art, she teaches music, movement, and Portuguese. She enjoys traveling, spending time with her close friends, gardening, reading children's books, cuddling her two tuxedo cats, swimming, cooking, and making art.

Leon Sawyko teaches science, math and special classes across all ages. 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.