River Rock School Logo

@ The Center for Arts and Learning

46 Barre Street
Montpelier, VT 05602
Phone: 802-223-4700

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River Rock Teachers

They're dedicated, inspired, well trained, and experienced, and they're the heart of our school. Meet the teachers of River Rock School.

Teacher Bios

Allison Caldwell is a graduate of Wheaton College, Norton, MA. She completed a yearlong teacher internship at The Prospect School and Center for Research and Education, in North Bennington, VT. She received her MA from Goddard College. She taught in public school, at The Prospect School, and The Southshire Community School. While Associate Director of Hubbard Hall Projects, in Cambridge, NY, she developed a Children’s Theater program. In 2000 she and her husband moved from Southern Vermont to Montpelier, where she began work as supervisor of teachers at Turtle Island Children’s Center, where she met Lottie and Shawnee. River Rock School began as part of TI but became independent in 2007, and she and Shawnee began their careers as Co-Directors. She has taught the Middle School program for the past five years.

​Born and raised in New York but a New Englander by temperament, Dan Sobel first came to Vermont in 1987, immediately after graduating from Brandeis University with a degree in English and American literature. Having studied education at Keene State College in New Hampshire, he has taught in a variety of settings.

Dan taught both high school and elementary school classes at Kindle Farm, a specialized program for boys with severe emotional disturbance in Newfane. He was a special educator and case manager at the public middle school in Charlestown, New Hampshire, working with students with learning disabilities and other challenges. Dan spent nine years at the Aurora School, a small, independent elementary school in Middlebury, where he developed much of his collaborative, student-centered and rigorous curriculum, as well as his unique approach to songwriting with children. He also has experience in general music, piano instruction and choir direction.

​Dan brings to River Rock his love of music, poetry and the Vermont woods, his devotion to the expanding mind of each child and his commitment to promoting modern, secular values in an increasingly complex world.​

Lottie Maker has worked in the field of education since 2000. She received her B.A. in Elementary Education from Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina where she taught 2nd and 3rd grade at an arts-based charter school. Lottie worked with both Allison and Shawnee at Turtle Island Children's Center where River Rock was born. She stayed closely involved with the school's development over the years and has been a part of the teaching staff since 2011.

Shawn Perry has been working with elementary school aged children since 1992, at Turtle Island Children's Center and River Rock School. She received her B.A. in Elementary Education from Johnson State College with a specialized focus and certification in reading instruction for grades K-12, with post-graduate course work through Trinity College and St. Michael's College, and intensive seminars at Dartmouth College in the study of Reggio Emilia, focused on emergent curriculum and curriculum design.

Shawnee spent over a decade working during summers with high school students in the Upward Bound Program, and taught integrated high school coursework in biology, English composition and creative writing. Other teaching experience included working with migrant children through the Vermont Rural Education Project and volunteering for the Adult Basic Education organization.

Shawnee's strengths include teaching conflict resolution skills. Her patience, creativity and genuine respect of children provide a uniquely supportive and safe environment through which students can explore the often difficult techniques of compromise and negotiation. She brings a love of the "Old Arts" into the classroom, including storytelling, baking, gardening and weaving. Shawnee believes that learning is a lifelong experience and strives to instill respect and value in all aspects of a child's daily being.