Greetings Middle School Families, We hope you have a safe and restful winter break!
Joy Souza Head of School Blackstone Valley Prep MS
Meet Our Middle School Team
Joy Souza, Head of School
Joy Souza is a founding member of the Blackstone Valley Prep team, and currently serves as the Head of School for Blackstone Valley Prep Middle School. Prior to her current role, Mrs. Souza served as a k-2 teacher at Blackstone Valley Prep Elementary School 1, and at schools in Providence, Scituate and Exeter-West Greenwich. Mrs. Souza received her Bachelors degree from the University of Rhode Island and her Masters degree from Rhode Island College. She completed her training as an administrator through the Center for Leadership and Equity’s Principal Residency Network program. During her career as a teacher, Mrs. Souza was twice nominated for Teacher of the Year in Exeter-West Greenwich, selected the Teacher of the Year for Blackstone Valley Prep, and twice nominated for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, once being named a state finalist. Joy is the mom of four daughters and resides in Cranston, Rhode Island.
Lammis Vargas, Dean of Operations
Lammis Vargas is thrilled to be joining the BVP team! She grew up in Central Falls and is of Colombian descent. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Justice Studies from Rhode Island and is currently working on her Master’s degree. Most recently, she worked for Mayor Donald R. Grebien and the City of Pawtucket, where she oversaw the day-to-day operations. She also worked for Governor Lincoln D. Chafee during his United States Senate administration, providing support to the legislative staff with various duties, including policy research and constituent affairs. She has also worked as Executive Director for a RI political party and up to that time worked for the State of Rhode Island Family Court in the Juvenile Clerk’s Office. Lammis is very passionate and truthfully believes in giving back to the community, which is why she volunteers countless hours of her time as the member of various boards and commissions throughout the state.
Marielle Emet, Dean of Academics
Marielle Emet earned a history degree from Towson University in 2006 and received her M.A.T from John Hopkins University in 2008. In 2013, Ms. Emet received the distinguished national Milken Educator Award. Emet was a Teach for America 2006 Baltimore corps member, and taught at her placement school, Digital Harbor High School, for four years. She also worked as a mentor teacher for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County for two years. After writing curriculum both for Teach for America and her school, she worked as a Curriculum Specialist for Teach for America during the summer of 2010. Emet joined the founding team at Blackstone Valley Prep middle school in 2010 and will serve this year at the Dean of Academics.
Lindy Fregeolle, ELL Coordinator and Principal in Residency
Ms. Fregeolle is excited to start her second year at BVP! A Rhode Island native, Ms. Fregeolle attended the University of Rhode Island and worked in Marketing and Communications before embarking on her journey in the field of education. Having worked with English language learners in several districts across the state, Ms. Fregeolle now finds her role as the Network ELL Coordinator an engaging and exciting opportunity to work with scholars and families in the BVP community. In addition to her role as the Network ELL Coordinator, Ms. Fregeolle is currently working as an Aspiring Principal in the Principal Residency Network through Johnson & Wales University. In her free time, you can find Ms. Fregeolle hitting up the local farmer's markets or hiking with her husband and two dogs.
Jonathon Acosta, Dean of Culture
Mr. Acosta is the Dean of Culture at the Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy Middle School. Prior to his role as a Dean, he served as a 2011 Teach for America Corps Member in his hometown of Miami before relocating to Rhode Island to teach 8th grade math at BVP. He is a graduate of Brown University with a degree in Political Theory and Ethnic Studies. His passions and intellectual interests revolve around a fight against racial and class inequality.
Nitzia Santiago, Office Manager
Ms. Santiago is the mother of three children. Watching her kids grow, she realized the importance of a strong relationship between home and school. She is currently enrolled in CCRI in Lincoln. She speaks English and Spanish and loves to work with people. She is very excited to join the BVP team!
Sarah Hayhurst, Social Worker
Mrs. Hayhurst is excited to be in her third year as the MS Social Worker and her 8th year as a school social worker. She was born and raised in Kansas before moving to Rhode Island three years ago. She has a Master's Degree in Social Work and has experience working with many diverse populations in schools, as well as providing home and community-based services to children and adolescents. In her spare time, Mrs. Hayhurst enjoys reading, traveling, spending time with her husband and dog, and cheering for Kansas State!
Katelyn Adalio, School Nurse
Ms. Adalio was born and raised in Scituate, Rhode Island. She now lives in Glocester with her boyfriend Patrick and puppy Nala.She graduated from Salve Regina University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Her nursing career has been diverse; however, it has mostly revolved around working with children. When Ms. Adalio is not at work, she enjoys cooking, playing with her puppy, and spending time with family and friends.
Saralynn Bixby, Interventionist
Mrs. Bixby is really excited about joining the middle school team this year! Prior to teaching at BVP, Mrs. Bixby was a member of a founding team of teachers and administrators who developed Mentorship Academy High School in downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Mrs. Bixby has also taught for two years as an Intervention teacher at Sylvan Learning Center. Here, she guided students from the ages of three to eighteen in any subject they needed a little extra help with to succeed. Mrs. Bixby is a passionate educator who loves to watch scholars learn and grow. She cannot wait to bring ·this passion to the classroom at BVP!
Mrs. Bour was born in California, but lived for most of her life in Rhode Island. After graduating RIC, she became a substitute teacher in Lincoln, RI. Then she worked for a couple years at another charter school in Central Falls. She has worked at BVP for 4 years as an ELA teacher, 6th grade social studies teacher, and 5th grade social studies teacher. She now lives in Warwick with her husband, 6-month-year-old son, and 2 friendly cats.
Mr. Howard was born in the small city of Dublin, Georgia where sweet tea is synonymous with water and everyone eats grits. He graduated from the University of Georgia with undergraduate degrees in Criminal Justice and Political Science. As a student, Mr. Howard worked in undergraduate college admissions as well as participated in the Student Government Association and the Arch Society. He also was recognized as an Outstanding Senior Leader and a Richard B. Russell Leadership Fellow. After college, Mr. Howard moved to Providence, RI as an Americorps member with City Year Rhode Island-an education focused, nonprofit organization that unites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service to keep students in school and on track to graduate. After his year of service, he was accepted as a Teach for America corps member and joined a league of extraordinary teachers at Blackstone Valley Prep.
Ms. Leonhardt is a native Rhode-Islander, born and raised in West Warwick. She graduated the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Elementary Education and Psychology. During her time in college, she lived abroad in Ireland and has since continued to travel to places such as Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, and many more to learn from the world. When she isn't teaching or traveling, you can find Miss Leonhardt spending time with family and friends, or reading, writing, and painting. She is excited to share with the scholars of 2026 her passion of reading and writing and cannot wait to help them find the same joy in learning that she has.
Ms. McCoy is an enthusiastic and creative teacher committed to ensuring that each of her students has the tools they need to succeed in college and life. Raised in Rhode Island, Ms. McCoy received her undergraduate degree in Communications at Keene State in New Hampshire. She completed her graduate work at Rhode Island College, earning a Master's degree in Elementary Education. Ms. McCoy is an experienced teacher and performer in the art of Irish Dance. Ms. McCoy describes herself as a “life long learner” who enjoys music, travel and art.
Ms. O'Brien is very excited to start her first year at Blackstone Valley Prep and looks forward to getting to know all of the scholars! When she is teaching, her focus is on making sure students of all abilities succeed academically and gain the skills they need to grow. She believes that hard work pays off and allows scholars to achieve great things in life. When she's not teaching, she enjoy traveling to new places and experiencing different cultures. She has spent some time in the United Kingdom over the past three years and has learned to embrace their culture and way of life.
Mrs. Smith graduated with a degree in Psychology. After a short time working in the social services arena, she began teaching and immediately knew education was the place for her. She loves to incorporate interactive activities and technology into her lessons as a way to encourage scholar engagement. She believes all students are capable of high levels of achievement, and nothing makes her happier than seeing her scholars find pride in their success.
Ms. Stimpson is so excited to begin her second year at BVP. She is a native Rhode Islander who graduated from Rhode Island College with a degree in Elementary Education and a concentration in math. She is eager to share all things math with the class of 2026!
Ms. Alessandrini is thrilled to be back at BVP for her second year to teach sixth grade mathematics. She was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved to Lincoln, Rhode Island in 2002 with her family. Miss Alessandrini went on to receive her BA in Elementary Education from Rhode Island College, concentrating in mathematics. Throughout the course of the school year, she hopes to share her passion of mathematics with her scholars.
Ms. Chatham graduated from Clark University with a degree in Psychology and concentrations in Peace and International Studies. She completed her Master of Arts in Teaching with a specialization in Urban Education at Clark. Ms. Chatham has studied and worked from Washington, D.C. to Cyprus, but considers Rhode Island to be her true home. Last year, Ms. Chatham was named BVP's Teacher of the Year and is looking forward to continuing to inspire a love of literacy in all BVP scholars!
A native to Rhode Island, Ms. Church received her Bachelor's in Elementary and Special Education from Providence College. Currently, she is taking classes at RIC to further her education. Ms. Church will be starting her third full year at BVP in the fall, and is looking forward to working with the new 6th grade class. She is excited to be teaching math, and cannot wait to share the love of her subject with her scholars.
Ms. Joyce graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in both Secondary Education and English. While at URI, Ms. Joyce was a URI cheerleader and extremely involved in athletics and the promotion of school pride. She carries the enthusiasm she learned from cheerleading into her teaching practice, and wishes to teach every scholar the power of a smile! Ms. Joyce is looking forward to a fantastic first year at BVP, and is eager to work with the amazing teachers, staff, parents, and scholars of the community!
Mrs. Petti is so excited to be returning to the BVP 6th grade team! She was born in Connecticut and majored in Geology at the University of Connecticut (Go Huskies!). Mrs. Petti moved to Rhode Island in 2006 and was employed as an Archaeologist until she finally decided to pursue her dream and become a certified science teacher at Rhode Island College. Mrs. Petti can't wait to show scholars how science will help them learn about themselves and their world!
Ms. Safirstein is excited to join the BVP team this year as a 6th grade Social Studies teacher. She spent the last two years teaching history at Roger Williams Middle School in South Providence. She has her M.Ed from RIC and a BS from University of Pittsburgh. Ms. Safirstein loves traveling, reading, and hiking in her spare time, and she is excited to make history "come alive" for her scholars!
Ms. Volpe holds a BA in Elementary Education, a BA in Studio Art from URI and an MEd in Special Education at PC. Ms. Volpe has been teaching Special Education for several years and has a variety of teaching experiences. She has most recently worked with the Middle Grades team at The Learning Community Charter School in Central Falls. She also taught for several years at Mount Pleasant Academy. In her free time, she enjoys yoga and running and playing with her chihuahua!
Mr. Belanger is a native Rhode Islander. He graduated from Rhode Island College in December of 2013 with his B.A. in Secondary Education and B.S. in Secondary Special Education and he is currently enrolled in the Master's of Special Education program at Providence College. Mr. Belanger is excited to share his excitement about learning with his scholars and hopes to see each one succeed in school. In his spare time, Mr. Belanger enjoys spending time with his family and friends, reading, hiking, and playing soccer.
Mrs. Bishop is a native Rhode Islander who graduated from Rhode Island College with her Bachelor's Degree in Secondary Education and History. She also earned a Middle School Endorsement in Social Studies and is currently working toward her Middle School Math Endorsement. In her spare time Mrs. Bishop loves to cook, take her dogs for walks and spend time with family and friends rooting for her favorite sports teams. Mrs. Bishop is very excited for her first full year at BVP and can't wait to help scholars reach their full potential and put them on a path to the college of their choice!
Ms. Esteves is "over the moon" to be joining BVP, having attended a magnet High School with both very high standards and a creative, joyful approach herself. Her experience at the Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology in Hackensack, NJ showed her first hand how the extra time and enthusiasm exceptional teachers put in can make a real difference for scholars. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Brown University and is pursuing her Masters in Teaching (MAT) for Secondary Social Studies/History there as well. Previously, she worked as a Specialized Homecare Provider, living with and teaching young adults with developmental disabilities in Western Massachusetts.
Amanda-Joy is a Providence native who graduated from Classical High School and went on to attend Wheaton College, a small school known for big opportunities. There she studied English and Journalism and found her love of traveling her junior year, which she spent in Egypt and Vietnam. After college Amanda-Joy spent a year in Indonesia teaching English on a Fulbright Scholarship. She is excited for her newest adventure teaching 7th graders at BVP as a Teach for America teacher. She enjoys trying new foods, traveling, playing tambourine, watching movies, and supporting local events.
Ms. Manzella grew up in New York, and then attended Wagner College where she received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. After college, she went back to Long Island to receive a Master of Arts in Teaching. Ms. Manzella spent the last year teaching high school math in Massachusetts. She now lives in Rhode Island and is very excited to be a part of the BVP team!
Mrs. Pease is thrilled to be joining the BVP team for the 2014-2015 school year! She grew up in northern Rhode Island and attended Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. After graduation, Mrs. Pease joined Teach for America as a 2012 Corps Member, and has spent the past two years teaching 3rd grade math in Tulsa, OK. She is very excited to return to the Ocean State and continue to help our scholars grow and learn!
Mrs. Pinheiro is excited to return for her second year teaching 7th ELA at BVP. She grew up in New York, then attended URI where she received a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. After college she moved to Anchorage, Alaska and attended Alaska Pacific University for a Master of Arts in Teaching degree.
Ms. Swanson cannot be more excited to begin the 2014-2015 school year with the 7th grade scholars! Ms. Swanson was born and raised in Sacramento, California. During high school and throughout college Ms. Swanson was a competitive gymnast and cheerleader, and was part of a national championship team 2007. She also was an active coach for both sports, leading a beginning gymnastics team and a special needs cheerleading team. After graduating from high school, she went off to college on the west coast at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Go banana slugs!! There she earned a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science with a minor in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Looking for a new adventure, she moved to Rhode Island and is now starting her second year as part of the BVP family! If you ever would like to get a cup of coffee, look for Ms. Swanson at any Starbucks or give her a call! She always enjoys company!
Alyssa Beaudoin Hernandez
Ms. Hernandez is an enthusiastic teacher from Cranston, Rhode Island. She was captain of the cheerleading squad in high school, and brings that same spirit with her into the classroom. She is a dedicated teacher who truly believes in all of her scholars. Besides teaching, she loves to travel and go to the beach. She also believes in being a "Force for Good." Alyssa looks forward to her first year teaching at BVP.
Rhochelle Krawetz is excited to be joining the staff of Blackstone Valley Prep after teaching at Achievement First and UnCommon Schools in Brooklyn, New York. While in NYC, she also earned her Masters in the Art of Teaching from Relay Graduate School of Education. Prior to moving to Brooklyn, Rhochelle earned her Bachelor's from the University of Chicago where she studied the history and ethics of science. She also cultivated her passion for science through lab work, studying topics such as cancer and MRSA. In her free time, Rhochelle enjoys singing, playing basketball, and running.
Ms. Laguerre is excited to return for her second year at BVP. She is a Rhode Island native and attended all public schools in Providence before attending Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA where she studied English and Africana Studies. She has a strong passion for educational equity and became a 2013 Teach For America Corps Member after graduating. Last year, she began her teaching career, working as the 7th and 8th grade ELA Special Educator, so she is excited to continue to build her skills as an educator while helping scholars at all levels to feel successful academically and socially.
Mr. Marsh is very excited to be welcomed into such an awesome and hardworking community of scholars! With an enthusiastic approach, he looks forward to teaching and learning from all that the wonderful students at BVP have to offer. Some of his hobbies are skiing, lacrosse, olympic weightlifting, crossfit, cooking, and helping out in the local community. He is very much looking forward to teaching in the fall!
Ms. Narkiewicz is very excited to return to BVP for another year of teaching! She is a graduate of three Rhode Island schools: CCRI, RIC, and PC! In her free time, Ms. Narkiewicz enjoys reading books, hiking and camping, and hanging out with her family and friends. She is overjoyed to be working with the eighth grade this year, helping them learn ELA!
Mr. Samuelson is a native of Michigan and graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a double major in History and Social Studies Education. Mr. Samuelson came to Rhode Island seven years ago to teach Social Studies to middle school scholars and is now proud to call Rhode Island his home. Mr. Samuelson received his Master's of Education in School Administartion from Providence College this past April. In addition to teaching, Mr. Samuelson has been a swim coach for 15 years and is a passionate follower of Detroit professional sports teams. At BVP, he most enjoys working with scholars to achieve the goal of success in college. At home, he is dedicated to spending quality time with his wife and daughter.
Art, Music and P.E.
Edmund Laskowski,Athletic Director, P.E.
Mr. Laskowski is a founding member of the middle school and will be beginning his fifth year teaching at BVP. He is also beginning his third year as BVP Athletic Director for the middle school and high school. Mr. Laskowski is originally from New York. He attended the University of Rhode Island and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and teacher certifications in the areas of Physical Education, Health Education, and Adapted Physical Education. He is extremely excited to continue to improve his work as an educator, coach and mentor to our scholars.
Steve DaRosa, P.E./Health
Mr. DaRosa graduated from Rhode Island College with a BS in Physical Education. He is also certified in Health Education and endorsed in Adapted Physical Education. He is excited to share his passion of living a physically active and healthy lifestyle. He is also looking forward to coach and prepare the soccer team for another great season.
Michelle Turner, Art Director
Ms. Turner, a born and raised Northern Rhode Islander, holds a BA in Art Education and a Master's in Elementary Education from Rhode Island College. Ms. Turner will be returning for her fifth year at BVP and is super excited to continue and develop the art program at the Middle School. While upholding her belief that everyone is capable of making meaningful art, Ms. Turner strives to provide relevant and purposeful art experiences for children of all ages.
Brittany Rank, Grades 6-8 Music
Ms. Rank was born and raised in Kansas and graduated from the University of Kansas with her Bachelor's of Music Education. After teaching a few years, she headed to the UK to earn her Master's of Arts in Applied Music Education (Psychology) from Roehampton University. Ms. Rank believes that everyone can make and enjoy music, and she is looking forward to making music with the scholars at BVP!
Piera Leone, Music Director, Grade 5 Music
Mrs. Leone holds a Bachelor’s of Music in Music Education from the University of Rhode Island and will finish her Master’s this spring. She is mostly seen around BVP with a guitar (TACO), but also professionally sings and plays cello, violin, and piano. In NY, Mrs. Leone gave private music lessons and recorded, edited, and professionally sold children’s music concerts for local television. In RI, Mrs. Leone has worked in various districts, has given private music lessons to children and adults, founded the OCYL Children’s Chorus, played cello in short and feature long films (check our her IMDB!), had scholars perform at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, and is one of the founding teachers here at BVP.