Previous Middle School Spotlight Staff

February 2021

Jennifer Rickert & Mrs. Ooms, 4th Grade Collaborative Teachers

This is Mrs. Rickert’s and Mrs. Ooms’ third year working together as a collaborative fourth grade team, but they’ve been friends for a long time! Mrs. Rickert is in her 28th year of teaching, and Mrs. Ooms is in her 24th year. They have both dedicated their entire careers to the children of the Ichabod Crane Community.

Mrs. Rickert lives in Chatham Center and enjoys living nearby! Mrs. Rickert and her husband, Joe, have three beautiful daughters, and one awesome son-in-law! They have two dogs and one grand-dog. In her spare time, Mrs. Rickert likes to hike, go to the beach, garden, and read. She was inspired to go into teaching by her Mom, who was also a teacher. Other mentors in Mrs. Rickert’s career have been Melissa Murray, Maureen VanDeusen, and Barb Ireland, her long-time teaching partner.

Mrs. Ooms lives in Valatie and also enjoys living in the community where she raised her beautiful family of four children with her husband, Michael. The Ooms are also dog lovers, and they currently have one dog and many grand dogs! Mrs. Ooms can be found doing her daily walk with Mrs. Wheeler, cooking great meals, and doing crafts. Mrs. Ooms went into teaching because of her love for children, and some of her inspiration has come from Mrs. Grace, her first grade teacher, and Maureen VanDeusen.

Mrs. Rickert and Mrs. Ooms are both content if they are spending time with family, especially if they are feeding them! At school, they love seeing their students grow and are both eager to continue to improve their craft and learn something new every day!

Ms. Mallery, 4th Grade Teacher (Remote for 20-21)

This is my 14th year at Ichabod, all of those years in 4th and 5th grade. At my previous job, I was a reading specialist. I live in Delmar with Joe, my son Kyle, and my dog Remy. I have another son, Ryan, who lives in Albany. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, going to the beach, and bike riding.

I have always wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl. I can still remember forcing my younger sisters to sit with encyclopedias stacked up in front of them while I “taught” them how to read!!! I love watching kids grow and learn, especially that moment when they get something! The look on their face and their sense of accomplishment are priceless. Although I am remote this year, I am still enjoying seeing the students sweet little faces, even if it is only on a computer screen. I can’t wait until I can see them all in person!

Mrs. Marcella, 4th Grade Special Ed. Teacher

I am Emily Marcella and this is my 14th year teaching students ranging from grades K-5. I previously taught as a reading specialist and a classroom teacher in the Schenectady City School District and have called Ichabod my home for the last 7 years. In our district, I have taught as a second and fourth-grade Special Education Teacher in a collaborative setting. During my time here, I have collaborated with the AMAZING Ichabod Crane school community and have furthered my love for teaching and learning alongside my students, their parents and my colleagues. I have met some of my favorite people and best friends at Ichabod and continue to be grateful for the happiness and joy this community brings to me!

I live in Guilderland, NY, with my husband John and our two children Shawn and Regan. As a family, we spend our free time with our friends and extended family, going to the beach, spending time on our boat in Lake George, snowboarding and going to Shawn and Regan’s baseball, football and soccer games! My favorite food is mashed potatoes with ketchup and my favorite color is pink! My favorite sports team is the Buffalo Bills!

I look forward to many more years of love, friendship and learning at Ichabod Crane! GO BILLS!

Maria Walsh, 4th Grade Teacher

This is my 23rd year teaching. I spent the first two years of my career teaching 3rd grade at Sacred Heart in Troy. In my first year at Ichabod, I taught third grade; the remaining years have been spent teaching fourth grade. I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. Being a teacher is a rewarding profession. Seeing the look on my student’s faces when they finally make a breakthrough and understand something they have been struggling with is one of the best parts of my job! I love that every day is different and every year is a fresh start.

I live in Wynantskill with my husband, two children, and our dog Chip. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking, shopping, and getting my nails done.

Susan Jermain, 5th Grade Teacher

I was born to be a teacher. I’ve taught many children, their children, and even some grandchildren. In another lifetime, I might have been a photographer, graphic designer, or art teacher, yet I’ve still been able to share all these interests with my students. I was blessed when the Ichabod Crane community welcomed me, and I have been here ever since. There is no place I’d rather be, learning and growing together.

Teresa Kirker, 4th Grade Teacher

This is the 27th year of my teaching career. The majority of my teaching experience has been in fourth grade. However, I did teach one year in sixth grade, but my heart belongs in fourth grade! I live in Latham with my husband and three children. I cannot leave out my adorable yellow lab, Max. Teaching and spending time with my family are my favorite things to do; although, I do enjoy shopping too. I feel fortunate to have a career that is so rewarding and gratifying. I am grateful for every student I have had the privilege to teach.

Mary Middleton, 5th Grade Teacher

I have been teaching at Ichabod Crane for 13 years. Most of that time has been as a 6th grade special education teacher. This year I am enjoying my 5th grader class, but I really do love teaching 6th. For as long as I can remember, I dreamed of becoming a teacher. Growing up in a large family meant I was surrounded by children, which I believe started it all. I can remember playing school with my nieces and nephews and hoping someday I would have a real class. The best part of the job is seeing the excitement in the children and watching them grow and learn everyday. There is no other job more rewarding.

I live in East Nassau with my husband Mike, two boys, Ian and Chase and our dog Shasta. As a family we love to travel on our boat in the summer. We have taken several trips on our boat including down to Long Island, up the Erie Canal to the St. Lawrence River and most recently to Lake Champlain. During the winter months we also enjoy the outdoors while snowmobiling. When I’m not traveling I spend my time with family and friends.

I look forward to many more years of teaching here at Ichabod Crane.

Kelly Bifano, Special Ed. Teacher

This is my 14th year teaching at Ichabod Crane and I also graduated from here! Currently, I am a Special Education Teacher in 4th and 5th grade. I have always wanted to become a teacher ever since I was little. I remember answering phone calls in my mom’s classroom and wanting to be just like her. I love working with children and my favorite part is teaching them to read.

I live in East Greenbush with my husband and two boys. I love the outdoors, spending time with family, and running. I am so lucky to call Ichabod my home and look forward to many more years!

Kimberly Palmer, 4th Grade Teacher

This is my 28th year working at Ichabod Crane and my 30th year teaching. I have taught 1st, 3rd and 4th grade. I have always wanted to be a teacher. I used to play “school” and teach my stuffed animals when I was little. I continue to love coming to school and working with my students every day.

I grew up and continue to live in Albany with my husband and son. I spend my time outside of school with my family or at the barn riding horses. I also like going on adventures and ziplining.

January 2021

Bob Hanna, Social Studies Teachers

This is my 15th year teaching social studies at Ichabod Crane Middle School. I have taught 6th, 7th and 8th grade here and I also coach the modified boy’s soccer team and the modified baseball team. Before coming to Ichabod, I taught in Schenectady for 2 years and New York City for 5 years. I grew up on Long Island and went to Siena College for my Bachelor’s Degree and Queens College for my Master’s Degree. I am married to a wonderful and understanding wife, Elizabeth, and we live in East Greenbush with our 3 great kids; Jonathan, who is 16, Katie, who is 13, and Zachary, who is 11. I enjoy spending time with my family playing games, going to shows, attending sporting events and going on road trips. I love to play sports, watch movies and travel. Unfortunately, I am a fan of the Rangers, Knicks, Mets and Jets. I haven’t had much to cheer about lately but each year I remain painfully optimistic. I like teaching because I think interacting with kids all day is fun and rewarding. I enjoy discussing politics, history, geography and culture with my students. Fun Facts: Previous Jobs include; Cart Boy, Landscaper, Telemarketer and Camp Director.

Debra Rivero, ELA/Social Studies Teacher

I am in my 20th year at ICC. I am currently teaching 6th grade but have spent a few years teaching lower elementary grades as well. I have enjoyed every grade I have taught and am especially liking the curriculum in 6th grade. When I am not planning for my school day I spend a lot of time with my family. During the summer months, you can find me on my jet ski with my husband and two children. We love summer and we look for every opportunity to use our jet skis and to find warm places to visit during the cold winter months. I love the beach! I’m also a huge football fan and enjoy watching the NY Giants play. I chose teaching as my life career because I feel it’s the best way I can give back to the world. I try every day to leave my students feeling positive and hopeful. A fun fact about me is that I have an identical twin sister. We have tricked many people in our lives- including our teachers.

Anne Flemming, Grade 7/8 ELA Teacher

I always wanted to be a teacher from when I was small, and my younger sister and I would play school in our attic. I would be the teacher, and she would be the student because I wanted to be the one who graded the papers. Oh, what was I thinking! Those early mock simulations of a classroom foreshadowed my future as a teacher. It may have been, too, that my grandmother was a teacher. In the early 1930s, she taught in a small one-room schoolhouse in Chatham Center.

I grew up in Columbia County and have lived here most of my life. I was number 7 out of the 8 children born to my parents. Upon graduating from Ichabod Crane High School in the early 1980s, I attended Siena College and earned a BS in marketing. Soon after graduating from college, I married and moved to Saratoga Springs where my husband and I lived for several years before returning to Columbia County. In my quest to satisfy my desire to inspire children, I went back to Siena to earn a BA in English Education and then went on to SUNY Albany for my master’s degree. While attending graduate school, I began substituting in area schools and looking for a full-time teaching position. As they say, the rest is history! I am presently enjoying my 19th year teaching ELA at the middle school.

My own children are now adults. Three live locally and one lives in Boston. One son is married, and I have a precious 4-year old grandson (born on Christmas Day!). My family is my life outside of school; however, I do enjoy other hobbies, such as antiquing, interior design, gardening, and exercising. A fun fact about me… way back in high school, I was the Ichabod Crane alternate for the Chatham Fair School Girl Queen.

Catrina Scully, Grade 8 ELA Teacher

This is my nineteenth year teaching English Language Arts; I have taught at Ichabod Crane for sixteen of those years. I have had the opportunity to teach both middle school and high school level English during that time. There were so many dedicated educators who inspired me to become a teacher, especially my mother, who taught at the elementary level for more than thirty years. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, watching movies, and traveling with my husband. A fun fact about me is that I worked as a public relations specialist and special event planner before pursuing a career in education.

Hannah Sive, 6th Grade Social Studies/ELA Teacher

I am a first-year teacher here at Ichabod Crane. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with my colleagues here and learning more and more each day about being an educator and how to overcome the many challenges of this past year. I have been inspired by the dedication and perseverance of each of the teachers I work with. I am excited about continuing my work with them for many years to come!

Before beginning my career in teaching I studied environmental science and spent a great deal of time doing research in the Chesapeake Bay. My first experience of teaching was actually teaching outdoor education at a summer camp here in New York.

My passion for teaching stems from many of the amazing teachers I had myself over my many years of education. Above all, I attribute my inspiration for this career to my father who taught social studies at the high school level for many years. To this day he continues to express his passion for education by passing his wisdom down to me.

Lara Marotta, Grade 7 & 8 Social Studies Teacher

This is my 26th year teaching at Ichabod Crane! I love creating fun and interesting lessons to turn the kids on to learning! Every day the kids inspire me to do more and learn more. I feel grateful and hopeful that the kids who leave here will have a positive impact on our world.

In addition to teaching, I love running, reading and gardening. My husband and two children indulge me with historical adventures on our family vacations and listen patiently while I run lesson ideas by them.

A fun fact, after my first year of teaching Global History I decided to backpack through Europe to see all of the history I was teaching in person.

Karen Brink, 7th/8th Grade Social Studies Teacher

This is my 20 something year of teaching here at Ichabod. I can’t remember exactly! I have always taught in middle school and I absolutely love my job. I am a complete history nerd and I especially love African-American history, women’s history and well, pretty much everything.

Outside of school, I have 2 kids, 2 dogs and 2 cats. I love reading, animals (especially horses and dogs) and traveling. FUN FACT: When Mrs. Marotta told me about her solo backpack trip through Europe, she inspired me to do the same thing. It was the most amazing experience of my life! I highly recommend it.

Don Dingee, 6th Grade ELA/Social Studies Teacher

Though I currently live in Averill Park, I am originally from a little hamlet called Lake Carmel located within the town of Kent. I know what you’re thinking, boys and girls: What the heck is a hamlet? Well, it’s like a village but just much smaller. There are some details in the comparison, but that’s a lesson for another time.

So, I’m from Lake Carmel, and you might be wondering if I ever enjoyed a dip in said lake. You bet your bottom dollar! Every summer the neighborhood rapscallions and I would head down and spend countless hours swimming, racing, playing Dibble Dabble, and playing Tag around the raft situated about twenty yards from the end of the dock. Now, I know what else you’re wondering: Have I ever lifeguarded at Lake Carmel? You know it! I was a lifeguard from ‘94 through ‘98. I worked every beach, was Beach Captain of two different beaches, and I was also W.S.I. certified. That meant that I was able to teach swimming safety and offer swimming lessons. I taught kids that range in age from 3 to 13.

Yes, I suppose I was a teacher long before Ichabod. As a matter of fact, I used to give my neighborhood pals lessons in martial arts long before the age of 10. You see, I am the youngest of three boys with a father that was a “rough and tumble” kind of guy, so I grew up admiring world-renowned tough guy martial artists like Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee. I used to offer free lessons to the kids across the street. By the time I was done with them, they knew how to block (wax on, wax off–Karate Kid reference), perform roundhouse kicks over their heads, and even walk on their hands.
Did I tell you that I loved gymnastics, too?

Speaking of gymnastics, my family and I moved to Hyde Park in ‘96 and within a year, an unexpected turn of events presented itself: a job teaching/coaching gymnastics. Long story short, I taught gymnastics at the Dutchess County Gymnastics Academy for two years. It was a wonderful experience and a heck of a lot of fun. I learned so much about the sport, made good friends, traveled to meets around the Northeast, and learned a great deal about teaching. What an experience!

So, I started my college career way downstate in the fall of ‘93 in Westchester County (one county north of the Bronx); however, I earned my bachelor’s degree from SUNY New Paltz in ‘99. Yeah, it took me a little longer to earn my degree since I ran into a bit of a hiccup, but I didn’t let it discourage me. I kept my nose to the grindstone and persevered. At any rate, while I studied at New Paltz, I was fortunate to have an opportunity to study in another country. I traveled to Seville, Spain and attended the Universidad de Sevilla for one semester. ¡Que bueno!

In the dog days of 2000, I interviewed for a teaching position at a little town way upstate called Valatie. Before I knew it, I had become a 5th grade teacher, and from there, life took off at warp speed. I have worked at Ichabod now for 21 years and during these past two decades, I have made a ton of friends, married, built a house, and am now the father of four children–Hayden (14), Piper (13), Briarose (6), and Bodhi (5).

I am now teaching social studies, ELA, and reading in 6th grade. I absolutely love learning about history, especially ancient history, and anyone that knows me can tell you about my penchant for reading, as well as writing, so I am right where I want to be. It has been my privilege working with the students at Ichabod over the years. I don’t know if I have another two decades in me, but no matter how many more years I do have, I expect that they’ll be as rewarding as the first twenty.
Go Riders!

December 2020

Jeffrey Montague, Math Teacher

This is my third year teaching seventh and eighth-grade math at Ichabod Crane. (I also did part of my student-teaching at ICMS the year before I started working here.) I became a teacher because I love working with students and helping them to unlock the potential inside of themselves. One of my favorite parts of my job is when students have a “lightbulb” moment and suddenly everything they have been learning makes sense.

Outside of school, I enjoy reading, watching baseball and football, going to church, and spending time with my family and my cat.

Fun Fact: I was a member of my school’s drama club when I was in high school. I acted in several plays (I was the Ghost when we performed Hamlet), but I usually preferred to help backstage or in the tech booth. My love of theater continued after I graduated and over the past few years I have directed several middle school and high school productions at my former high school.

Kim Funk, Math Teacher

I’ve been teaching Mathematics for 31 years now. Much of which has been here at Ichabod Crane! My grandmother was a math teacher for the district many, many years ago. I was fortunate as a little girl to spend much time with her. I would sit at the table watching her tutor students. She was my inspiration, and through her, I developed my love for teaching!

In my free time, I have three grown children, a special daughter in law, two grandsons ages 2 and 3, and twin granddaughters coming soon! I’m truly blessed! In my spare time, I enjoy watching football(a big Buffalo Bills fan!), horse races, backyard barbeques, being in the sun, and time with friends.

Fun facts: My first job was serving ice cream at the Dairy Queen in Ghent, NY when I was just 14 years old (yes 14!). I was a cheerleader for a semi-professional football team who played in Hudson(the Vikings) the summer of 1983.

Victoria Boor, Math Teacher

This is my 3rd year teaching at ICMS. I previously subbed here and was so happy to return! My hobbies include reading, watching movies, and spending time with my family. I have 1 “fur baby” at home (a pit bull named Jan) and my first child on the way! My husband & I are excited to be adding our child into the ever-expanding “cousin crew” made up of our combined 7 nieces and 3 nephews.

I teach because I have several people who inspired me when I was younger, I love working with the students and seeing their “aha!” moments, and I enjoy getting to know them as people, not just students in my classroom.

Fun facts: I am a huge Harry Potter fan (so much that I even incorporated it as a theme for my wedding reception!), I think donkeys are adorable, and I minored in French in college. I can also play the trumpet!

Kim Zorzi, Math Teacher

This is my 14th year Teaching at Ichabod Crane! For fun, I like to walk our two Newfoundland dogs (Marcus and Clara), snowshoe, read, and watch tv (many, many 90’s sitcom reruns!) I love teaching as many teachers helped me along the way and I would like to pay it forward.

Fun fact: I have traveled to 31 of the 50 states. America!

Elisabeth Milot, Math & Science Teacher

I have taught at the Ichabod Crane Middle school for 25 years as a sixth-grade teacher. I have always taught science, but now also teach math since 2012.

I was born and raised in Germany and trained in Early Childhood education. When I immigrated to the United States the degree did not offer the opportunities I was looking for and I decided to go back to school and become a teacher. I attended the College of St. Rose and received both my bachelor’s and master’s in their education department. I also have National Board Certification in Adolescent Science. I am involved as a member of STANYS (Science Teacher Association of New York State), keeping current with the latest science teaching.

In my free time, I like reading, biking, baking, knitting, gardening, traveling to see family (Germany) and friends. I am very excited about the new Albany-Hudson Electric trail and have used it several times already.

I love learning about nature and all science related topics, including technology. I am amazed how far we have come in the district, where we started with one computer on wheels to be shared by a grade level to having Chromebooks per student. I love finding opportunities to bring nature into the classroom and share my interests and excitement with the students.

I live in Columbia County with my husband and we have raised 2 children, and now enjoy one grandchild.

Elisa McNeil, Math & Science Teacher

I have been teaching at Ichabod Crane Middle School for 17 years. I have taught mostly Mathematics and Science at the Middle School. I love teaching because it is different every day. The children are energetic and share their experiences and original ideas.

When I am not teaching I particularly like to be outdoors. I enjoy fishing, swimming, biking, skiing and hiking. I also am very passionate about horses and trail riding with friends. When I retire, I hope to be able to travel with my husband and find new adventures. I have worked with different fundraising groups such as Make-A-Wish of NYS and JDRF.

I come from a family of educators. My father and grandfather were college presidents. My mother was a religious education leader and a career counselor and my grandmother taught high school science. I used to enjoy playing “school” with my elementary school friends (and will still play with my granddaughter). I am very much a people person. I enjoy interacting with lots of different personalities and enjoy listening to stories.

I have 3 children and 3 grandchildren. My husband and I live in Averill Park and have been actively involved in their scholastic and extra-curricular activities. Our son wrestled and coached for his HS team, played soccer and our daughter rode in the rodeo traveling to different states for competitions.

A fun fact about me is that I worked with the designer of a theatrical production and sewed costumes for The Christmas Carol, in Albany, NY.

Melanie Moon, Math & Science Teacher

I have been a teacher at Ichabod Crane for 22 years. I spent the first 19 years teaching first and second grades in the Primary School and now teach math and science in the Middle School. I love this community which is why I have chosen to work, live, and raise my four children here. My oldest daughter has graduated and attends college in South Carolina. My two boys are both high school students and my youngest daughter is in fourth grade.

In my spare time, I enjoy reading and being outdoors. I love the warm weather and the water. I consider myself a beach bum! Someday I will live closer to the ocean!

A fun fact about me is that as a child I spent my summers on a farm in Canada. I learned how to drive a tractor and bale hay! My French skills are rusty but still not too bad.

Jen Gecewicz, Science Teacher

I have been a middle school science teacher for 16 years, teaching at Ichabod Crane Middle School since 2015. Prior to teaching, I worked as a senior lab technician in Cell Biology and Cancer Research at Albany Medical College, as a supplier for NAPA Auto Parts, and as a barista at The Coffee Beanery. My hobbies include photography, trivia, quoting movies, geeking out on podcasts, and home renovation – especially when I get to use the sledgehammer! I live and laugh daily with my husband and our two sons who are in 8th grade and 5th grade. We will also welcome Lanie, our new yellow labrador retriever, this year.

Some fun facts about me are that in high school I won bronze and gold medals in USRowing Youth National Championships, I am allergic to raw apples, and I am friends with a Muppeteer!

I am a teacher because I love kids. I love the smiles they share when I tell them, “we’re doing a lab today.” During my own education, I had several influential science teachers that helped foster my interest in science and learning. I am fascinated by science and I am addicted to learning. My commitment to being a lifelong learner is evident in the fact that I clocked 625 hours of professional learning in the last five years alone! I hope that sharing my passion for learning about the world inspires my students to continue to learn throughout their lives.

Shari Dowling, Science Teacher

I have been teaching at Ichabod for 25 years. Before becoming a teacher I spent 13 years as a Medical Technologist. It was the love of biology and working with children that led me to combine the two. I have one daughter who also majored in biology and now has a career as an embryologist. My yellow lab Bentley keeps me busy at home.

Fun Facts: I once auditioned for the New York City Ballet. I like to watch Syracuse Basketball, Go Orange! I love animals and visiting zoos.

Forrest Madison, Science Teacher

I am new to Ichabod this year and spent the past 3 years teaching in Oregon. While I was in Oregon I taught a LOT of different classes since the school was so small. I taught astronomy, biology, chemistry, physical science, art, health, gym, debate, typing, technology skills, along with 6th, 7th and 8th-grade science. I was pretty busy all the time and I’m happy to focus on just one grade level this year!

I have two fluffy family members at home (both cats). Their names are Flora and Tikka, Flora is one of the only cats I know that demands “hugs”, she sits in my hand and puts a paw on each shoulder. In my spare time, I like to play video games with my friends and brother. We mostly play Apex legends at the moment but I enjoy a variety of games. I also love to read and spend time in the great outdoors. My motto for the winter is “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing!”. I have also recently taken up disc golf and it’s pretty fun so far.

Speaking of things that are fun one of the main reasons I became a teacher was because of how much fun it is to be in a classroom. Getting to talk about all the weirdness of science with my students makes every day a joy. I also come from a long line of teachers. My father and both my grandfathers were teachers and they inspired me to love teaching from an early age.

Hmmm, fun facts… hard to tell what makes a fact “fun” but here we go: My first job was at a toy store where I sold yo-yos. I have ridden a dolphin (the flipper kept hitting my shins, not too much fun). I have been skydiving indoors and out of a plane.