Mrs. Delahunt teaches the fifth grade. She has taught a variety of ages and grades, from infants to eighth grade, including sixteen years teaching fifth graders! In her free time she loves to read, bake, listen to music, travel, take gentle hikes, and try her hand at various crafts. Mrs. Delahunt earned a B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Virginia and a Masters in Elementary Education from Southern Connecticut State University, and holds a Connecticut State Teachers Certificate. She is married and has three grown children.
Mrs. Joanne Fresco – Religion
Mrs. Fresco has been a parishioner of St. Mary’s for over 40 years. She is the former Director of St. Mary’s Parish Faith Formation Program and member of the Greater New Haven & Shoreline Directors of Religious Education. Currently, Joanne is a Pastoral Associate at St. Mary Church. She is an Archdiocesan trained facilitator for both the Child Lures Prevention Program; “Think First & Stay Safe”, and the Rainbows for all God’s Children Program. She is a graduate of the Archdiocese of Hartford’s four-year Biblical School Program and holds a certification in Advanced Bible Studies. She also completed the Archdiocese of Hartford’s two-year Lay Ministry Program. She attended the Spiritual Direction Program at Mercy Center in Madison and is certified as a Spiritual Director. Joanne also serves as an Extra Ordinary Minister of the Eucharist. She is a daily communicant and each year coordinates the annual Parish weekend Retreat for Women.
My name is Hilary Martin and I will be your child’s 6th grade homeroom and religion teacher. I will also be the science and math teacher for the 6-8th grade students. I am a graduate of Fairfield University where I earned my undergraduate degree and then a Master’s degree in Education. I have been privately tutoring students of various grade levels in Mathematics for the past three years. I am passionate about teaching and strive to instill a love of learning in my students by making the subject interesting, enjoyable, and relatable. I have been lucky enough to have spent my entire career as a student in Catholic schools, and am honored to now be teaching in one. A Catholic education fosters faith, learning, and service; it educates the whole child – mind, body, and soul to prepare him to face the challenges of the 21st century. Middle school particularly, is an important time to engage students so that they become capable, involved, caring members of society devoted to lifelong learning.
My name is Lisa Malanson, and this will be my first year at St Mary School. I will be the 7th grade homeroom teacher. I will also be teaching Reading and Language Arts to the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. I feel so very blessed to become a part of this community and extended family environment. I have my BA in Psychology and my Masters in Elementary Education. I use to teach 4th grade years ago and left education to raise my daughter. I have also done tutoring, paraprofessional positions, and most recently I was a Reading Interventionist. I am beyond excited to be back in my own classroom again. I love working with the middle school students, and look forward to a wonderful year. TEAMWORK is my motto, and I believe if we work together, we truly can succeed!
My name is Mrs. Mazon. I was born in Ecuador, and came to the United States thirty years ago. Since I came to Connecticut, I started to study English as a second language. My dream was to become a Spanish teacher. I attended Southern Connecticut State University, where I received my bachelor’s degree in education. Later I started on my master’s degree. I have attended conferences on Religious Education, Early Childhood Education and Foreign Language in the states of California, Louisiana, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Prior to working at St. Mary School, I worked as a pre-school teacher for six years and a middle school Religion and Spanish teacher for three years. I have had the pleasure to teach at St. Mary School for the past five years. This year in addition to teaching Spanish for grades K-8, I have 8th Grade Home Room, 7th & 8th Grade Religion and 6th Grade Social Studies. I have I really enjoy watching the children grow and flourish. I also find that working with the talented staff at St. Mary School has proven to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Gracias!
Additional Middle School Teachers
Mrs. Gloria Nilsson – Art Grades 5 – 8
Mrs. Gloria Nilsson is very excited to begin her first year as your art teacher at St. Mary School. She has been teaching art for the past eleven years to students from 4 to 100 years of age. She enjoys teaching all ages but especially appreciates teaching art to children and teens. “Helping young people create art helps them to express themselves, gives them a purpose and becomes very meaningful in their lives. In all of my teaching experiences, the true gift is what I get back from my students which is so much greater than what I could ever imagine.”
Mrs. Nilsson is a professional teaching artist. She is a graduate of Pratt Institute with an Associate’s degree in Graphic Design and has worked full time, as well as a freelance designer, for over fifteen years. Her career has since transitioned into the fine arts, where she has been honored with several awards, including the Tassy Walden Awards New Voices in Children’s Literature, Illustrators Portfolio. She has exhibited her work in numerous juried shows, galleries, public venues and outdoor exhibitions. Mrs. Nilsson has been invited to give classes and workshops at art centers, public and private schools, retirement communities, galleries and art studios as well as demonstrations in Connecticut, including Spectrum Art Gallery in Centerbrook, Chester Village West Retirement Community, the Cheshire Art League and the Madison Art Society. “My professional art background has allowed me the freedom to explore a variety of mediums and I bring all of that experience to the lesson plans that I am inspired to create.”
She has taught many art disciplines and has created quality art lesson plans, which include The Elements of Art and The Principles of Design. Her lessons encompass many skill levels to cultivate self-expression and a desire to learn. “I am committed to challenge myself and I continue to enrich my diverse art background as I am constantly learning new genres and mediums of art. My intention is to continue on with what the very talented Mrs. Corina has begun, and I look forward to pass down my artistic knowledge. Reinforcing the connection of art with other disciplines and the interaction with our world around us, to encourage self-expression and to inspire enthusiasm for the arts.
Mrs. Nilsson is married and has two grown children. She has been a Connecticut resident for over thirty years and is a parishioner of St. Lawrence Church. She finds the shoreline extremely inspiring and a constant reminder of the beauty and grandeur of God’s creation.
Mrs. Karen Staples – Social Studies Grades 6, 7 & 8
My name is Karen Staples and this is my fifth year at St. Mary School. This will be my second year teaching Social Studies for Grade 6, as well as history and geography for grades 7 & 8. I graduated from Quinnipiac University in 2007 with my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a concentration in Child Development, followed by my Master’s in Education in 2011 from Sacred Heart University. I have many years of experience working with children in a variety of ways including: tutoring, being a building substitute and interning. I look forward to a great school year working with all of your children.
Dr. Cliff Schexnayder – Grade 8 Algebra
Cliff Schexnayder is a retired University Professor who previously worked with major construction contractors as field engineer, estimator, and corporate Chief Engineer. Additionally, he served with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on active duty and in the reserves, retiring as a Colonel. During the last 10 years he has held Fulbright Scholar appointments to the Universidad de Piura, Piura, Peru and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile. Dr. Schexnayder will be teaching Algebra in the Middle School this year.
Mrs. Lori Hamilton – Physical Education
My name is Lori Hamilton and I have been the Physical Education teacher at St. Mary School for the past ten years. As a lifelong resident of Branford, I myself graduated from St. Mary School. Knowing first-hand the benefits of a Catholic education, I was thrilled that my three sons were also able to graduate from St. Mary’s. I received my Bachelor’s degree from Fairfield University. I am SPARK certified and a member of Shape America. St. Mary School has always been a part of my life, and I look forward to continuing to make fitness fun for all!
Mrs. Dorota Xeller – Music
Dorota Xeller, has an MA in English literature and a BA in voice (soprano). She has music training in opera and piano. She spent 12 years in Schola Cantorum Opoliensis performing in Europe, two years in St. Cecilia’s Chorus performing at Carnegie Hall. Mrs. Xeller has been an ESL teacher in Manhattan, a preschool teacher at NMS and an early childhood teacher at NMS. She is a Certified Parent Educator that worked at Indian Neck School in Branford for four years. She has also studied guitar for two years and ballet and modern dance for five years. She is currently a Co-Chair at the Women And Family Life Center in Guilford helping many shoreline families in need. Mrs. Xeller is a founder of Twinkletoes Music company that provides music and movement to six schools on the shoreline.
She resides in Madison with her husband Rob, children Mya and Ryan, and a dog named Floyd.
Mr. Brendan Mason – Fife & Drum Corps
Brendan Mason is an active teacher, performer, and clinician in the New England area. He currently teaches general music at Saint Mary School in Branford, CT and instructs the ever-growing Saint Mary School Fife and Drum Corps, which was established in 2012. Brendan provides private lessons across Southern and Central Connecticut. Brendan also instructs several area drumlines, including the DCI Open Class 7th Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps, the Cheshire High School Marching Band, the Connecticut Patriots, the Stony Creek Fife and Drum Corps and the Col. John Chester Fife and Drum Corps. Brendan is a student of Paul Cormier, Mike Gagnon, Matt Mayotte, Timothy Cecil and later studied under Ken Green while attending Northwestern State University of Louisiana to pursue a degree in music education and percussion performance. Brendan started playing rudimental snare drum at the age of 6 as a member of the Col. John Chester Drum Corps. He soon began competing individually through the Corps, winning honors at the Connecticut, Massachusetts, Hudson Valley, and Northeastern States Championships. At age 9, Brendan became the youngest drummer to hold The Dan English Trophy as the Connecticut State Junior Snare Drum Champion, a distinction he has won more times than any other individual. Brendan is a member of the Connecticut Patriots and the Grand Republic Drum Corps. He has also performed with the Middlesex County Volunteers and The Top Secret Drum Corps of Basel, Switzerland. Through these groups, Brendan has toured both nationally and internationally, performing in Switzerland, France, Germany, and Australia. He has individually performed with notable musicians, such as Shania Twain, and was featured on an ESPN recording. Brendan is a proud member of USARD and NARD. He is also an endorsee of Reamer’s Drummer Service and Loyal Drums. Brendan is very excited to start his 3rd year as a faculty member and director of the fife and drum corps at The Saint Mary School!