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Creating a thoughtful


Meet Our


Academics play a central role at John Dewey, and most of our faculty have doctorates and college teaching experience. They are passionate about their mission and they transmit this passion, along with their maturity and stability, to their students. They also bring into their classes varied life experiences that ground their academic focus in real-world challenges.

Courtney Carlisle
Dean of Faculty | English Literature 

Bob Andenmatten
Math and Science

Ben Mielenz

Lisa A. Buttrey-Thomas
Math and Science

Christophe Pichard

Mira Revesz

Sayzie Carr

Inspiring Excellence

Our Academics

At the John Dewey Academy, teachers and clinicians collaborate closely to create a thoughtful and caring learning environment for our college‐bound students. With a highly credentialed staff of dedicated and passionate teachers, a small class size (five or six students on average), and high standards, we provide a challenging intellectual experience. We aim for students to master the subjects and skills required to excel in college. More fundamentally, we hope to inspire students with a love of learning and a desire for excellence.

Providing Support

Our Approach

Since many entering students have fallen behind in school, we work with them closely to place them in appropriate classes and coach them in their difficult subjects. The school has two different coaching methods. On the one hand, seniors serve as academic advisors and tutors to the younger students. On the other hand, each incoming student is assigned to a member of the faculty for guidance in academic planning; and teachers are available for one-­on-­one work with students who may either be struggling, or need to catch up on lost time, or wish to work at an accelerated pace.

Current Courses

Every semester, JDA offers a well-rounded class schedule, meticulously designed to accommodate each individual student with respect to their subject level mastery, outstanding credits, direct requests, and academic curiosity.

The following are all courses currently being taught this semester:


  • Algebra I
  • Algebra II
  • Precalculus
  • Calculus
  • Physics
  • Astronomy
  • Differential Equations
  • Advanced Topics in Chemistry


  • US History
  • Radical America
  • Literary Theory
  • Children’s Literature
  • Debate & Argumentation
  • Modern European Thought
  • Literature in Musical Theater
  • Modernism & Postmodernism


  • Musical Performance
  • Studio Art & History
  • Cultural Art & Appreciation


  • Linguistics
  • Intermediate French
  • Beginning Spanish
  • Intermediate Spanish
  • Advanced Spanish


  • Moral Reasoning
  • Health & Wellness
  • Yoga


The following is a sampling of courses that have been offered at other times:

  • Greek Myth in Contemporary Poetry
  • Feminist Fiction
  • Fractals
  • Tensegrity
  • Spanish Conversation
  • French Culture
  • Song Writing
  • Marine Biology
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • American Presidency
  • The American West in Film
Mentorship & Growth

Advisor/Advisee System

Most entering students at Dewey need to develop better study habits, reignite their enthusiasm for learning, and bolster their academic confidence. To mentor them towards academic success, we assign each of them a student advisor and a faculty advisor. These advisors help students to set goals, choose appropriate classes each semester, decide when to get tutoring, and plan strategies for handling their problem areas. All students meet several times a semester with both advisors; the student advisors also meet separately with each member of the faculty every few weeks to make sure that every student is on track for completing the graduation requirements.

Independent Study

Students who have completed the standard sequences of courses in a field may request permission to pursue an independent study. These classes are sometimes directed by our faculty here at the school, sometimes offered by universities online in fields such as Computer Science, and sometimes conducted by tutors in foreign languages such as Chinese or Russian. In order to receive credit, these courses must be supervised and assessed by a faculty member at Dewey.

Standardized Testing

Sophomores and juniors at Dewey take the PSAT at the school. Juniors and seniors take the SAT or ACT (or both); some seniors also take SAT II examinations in fields in which they are particularly proficient. Students must sign up and prepare for the exam independently.


As part of their transition out of Dewey, seniors who are doing well academically and therapeutically may be encouraged to intern at local businesses in their areas of special interest. Recent internships have included research and writing for The Berkshire Edge, riding along with the EMT team in Great Barrington, and working on a project for the town planning board.

Study Hall

Although students may be found doing academic work anywhere in the Castle at almost any time of the day, we designate weekday evenings from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon as mandated quiet study halls. During these times, more advanced students ensure that everyone is engaging in focused work on academics.

The Arts

Dewey encourages students to express themselves creatively through explorations of various art forms. Although technical skills are usually developed, the teacher supports a free-flowing expression of creative energy. Students may focus their individual work in theater, studio arts, creative writing, music performance, or music production. They may also attend local museums or art shows, poetry readings, concerts, and films.

Click on images to the right to view full size.


In order to fulfill their three required hours of physical exercise a week, students may choose to run, play pick-up basketball games, take a yoga or ballet class, or simply use the gym downstairs. Students train each other on weights and equipment, and an advanced student keeps tracks of students’ gym hours.

Get In Touch

Contact Us


    389 Main Street
    Great Barrington MA 01230


    Admissions: (413) 528-0084
    General: (413) 528-9800
    Fax: (413) 528-5662

    Email: Info@jda.org

    Courtney Carlisle

    English Literature Teacher

    Courtney joined the faculty at Dewey full-time in the fall of 2019, after substituting during the summers since 2014. She earned her BA and MA in English literature from the University of Wyoming, and then moved to Tempe, Arizona, to pursue a PhD at Arizona State University. Currently writing her dissertation, Courtney focuses on early modern English literature and critical theory, but especially appreciates the opportunity to teach literature courses that include diverse texts and encourage students to think and write critically about themselves as readers and writers. Before coming to Dewey, Courtney taught for the University of Wyoming’s English Department, Honors Program, and Outreach Program, and worked for Arizona State University’s English Department and Institute for Humanities Research.

    Aside from teaching, Courtney enjoys reading (of course!), traveling (often with an eye to literary history), and settling into the Berkshires with her two dogs.

    Robert Andenmatten, MEd

    Faculty in Math and Science

    Bob began at JDA in 1999 and teaches courses in calculus, physics, differential equations, and advanced topics in physics (quantum mechanics and relativity theory). Bob also enjoys offering the JDA students diverse but related electives, including astronomy, probability, game theory, forensic science, engineering, and tensegrity. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Queens College, CUNY, and his Master of Education from Lesley College.

    Bob grew up in the ranks of the family manufacturing business, learning to weld and operate basic machinery by the time he was 9. His family was also very musical—Bob’s mother, Roma Marx, is an opera singer—so he balanced his early practical skills with study of the piano and cello. At 14, Bob earned his general class amateur radio license, allowing him to speak with people across the globe (even Barry Goldwater).

    As CEO of the family business, Bob worked closely with the New York State petroleum industry and the New York State Fire Department to design systems for use in the petroleum transport industry. He then left Long Island for the Berkshires, where he finally was able to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. Bob taught briefly in the local public schools before coming to JDA.

    Bob enjoys chess, bridge, cribbage, gardening, and of course, his grandchildren. His early musical studies grew into a lifelong love of music, and he still plays the cello and sings in the church choir.

    Ben Mielenz

    Faculty in Spanish

    Ben joined the Dewey faculty full time in August of 2019. He has a passion for second language acquisition that is rooted in professional and academic immersions on four continents outside of North America. In 2007 and 2008 he spent a year in Malawi as a public health volunteer. Upon completion of his bachelor’s degree he worked for an academic year on the Caribbean coast of Colombia as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. In 2015, he spent a summer in Turkey with a Critical Language Scholarship. He has also spent a year plus another two summers in northern Spain, where he hiked 550 miles of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in 2017 and conducted his Ph.D. fieldwork in 2018.

    His graduate work in Spanish sociolinguistics runs in tandem with his teaching philosophy. He is convinced that the way we communicate plays a crucial role in the way we see the world and our place in it. His teaching style is creative and playful, and while he expects effort from his students, he emphasizes progress rather than perfection. His primary goal is that students find and trust their own voices and use their abilities to engage with the world around them.

    When he’s not teaching at Dewey or working on his Ph.D. dissertation with the University at Albany, you can find Ben hiking the Berkshires, shooting pool, playing music with friends, and relaxing at home with Pearl the cat.

    Lisa Buttery-Thomas

    Faculty in Math and Science

    Lisa joined the John Dewey community during the summer of 2001.  She teaches courses in Math, Chemistry and Biology.  Prior to joining the JDA faculty, Lisa was an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She received her Bachelor of Science and her PhD in Chemistry from SUNY Buffalo. 

    Lisa is the co-author of several papers in scientific journals.  In her free time, she enjoys reading, taking day trips, and dabbling in music and art. 

    Christophe Pichard


    Christophe joined the Dewey faculty in the Fall of 2019. Christophe is a perfect example of the kind of Subject Matter Expert we covet here at Dewey. He is a French-born citizen who spent his life in France until coming to the U.S. 10 years ago. Studying in Paris, Christophe earned an AA in Economics and an MS in Computer Science. In addition to bringing a front-row seat to French culture and an unparalleled French accent, Christophe brings his vast knowledge and experience in the business arena. Christophe teaches Intermediate and Advanced French Language classes as well as French Culture.

    Throughout his career, Christophe interfaced with people and corporations across international borders and cultivated a deep appreciation for the ways in which the mastery of languages could facilitate communications. The thrust of Christophe’s career was devoted to the financial sector, working with stockbrokers and banks. In the beginning, Christophe held Project Management roles in IT. Later on, he transitioned into Change-Management Consulting at venerated firms like KPMG and CSG, until he established his own thriving company.  Consistently immersed in fast-paced environments and required to complete projects within tight timetables, he attributes a large part of his success to his ability to effectively articulate the solutions he was proposing. In fact, he really enjoyed delivering training seminars to imbue client personnel with the necessary knowledge and terminology needed for optimum use of newly installed front-office technology applications.

    Christophe married an American and ultimately relocated to the Berkshires. Selling his business enabled him to pursue his penchant for teaching those who have a need and/or desire to learn. Jumping at the chance to spread goodwill, Christophe volunteered for VIM (Volunteers in Medicine) to help French-speaking patients be understood by American doctors. He also started a French conversation program at Berkshire South and helps prepare high school students for the AP French exam.

    Blending his love of teaching with his proclivity for strategic precision and gusto for exercise, Christophe is both a ski and Taekwondo instructor (he is a second-degree blackbelt). Beyond his collection of nautical items, Christophe is an avid sailor who has had the pleasure of viewing most of the world’s Northern Hemisphere from aquatic vantage points.

    Mira Revesz


    Mira joined Dewey in June 2020.  She has a Bachelor of Arts from Swarthmore – she majored in  Education, Religion, and English and received teaching certifications in ESL and Secondary English. Mira graduated with high honors while also having held leadership positions within the school’s prestigious Writing Center. She is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Gender and Cultural Theory from Simmons University, expected completion 2022, as well as another Master’s Degree -in English- at the Bread Loaf School of English, expected completion 2024. In addition, she is the proud recipient of both a Fulbright Fellowship in Colombia.

    Summer internships consistently broadened Mira’s range and depth of experience. Bringing her Spanish fluency to social work internships in NYC enabled her to engage in outreach, advocacy and empowerment for youth in foster care, as well as clients of an Anti-Trafficking Initiative struggling to navigate their way through healthcare applications, housing options, and court proceedings. Later, an intensive Farm Fellowship enabled Mira to integrate her passions for organic farming and social justice.

    Mira also spent a summer working at Dewey. We were aware of her strong work ethic and upstanding character as she had been a student at Dewey from 2011-2013. Proud and impressed to witness the way in which college training and professional experience enhanced her innate sensibilities, we assigned many roles to Mira, including: Teacher, Clinical Intern and House Parent. She rose to the challenge and exceeded our expectations.

    Post college, Mira spent 2 years at public schools in Philadelphia, spearheading and teaching innovative new programs for 7th – 11th graders. Among other things, she designed and implemented curriculum for World Literature, AP Language and Composition, launched study skills classes and founded weekly afterschool clubs that offered literacy and advocacy to students.

    In 2019, Mira’s fellowship at St. Andrew’s Scots School in Buenos Aires was an exciting opportunity to pursue her affinity for social-emotional learning. As Covid cut her bilingual teaching experience short, Dewey benefited by acquiring Mira on staff to teach our College Preparation course last semester. Currently, she is teaching Debate and Argumentation as well as providing College Counseling. Students are inspired by Mira’s inimitable way of relating every course topic to real-world issues and promoting thought-provoking conversation and meaningful reflection.

    Sayzie Carr


    Sayzie started teaching studio art at JDA in March of 2020 bringing her delightful creative flair, broad repertoire of experience and artistic expertise that transcends almost every medium. She attended Rhode Island School of Design as an undergraduate and later she returned to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching. As well as a dedicated and successful painting career, Sayzie, has also had a long career in textile arts.
    With a degree in painting she, moved to NYC to pursue a career as an artist. She was granted a studio at PS 122 which was a vibrant community run art and performance center in the East Village, she was there for more 2 decades. A part of an artist’s run organization she ran a non-profit art gallery where many now famous artists had their first New York exhibitions. Steadfast in her commitment to pursue painting, she worked as an artist apprentice to many well known artists. Later, to find a means to support her art career, she started designing textiles, first designing fabrics for fashion and later for interiors. She found a niche in designing and creating fabric sculpture, puppets and costumes for theatre and movies and painting backdrops for display and theatre and promotional events. Hiring students to assist her work is what piqued her interest to be a teacher. She enjoyed showing young people how to do things and exploring new materials and mediums with them. After moving out of the city Sayzie had a chance to pursue teaching fulltime and she returned to RISD for a MAT.

    Sayzie believes that through art making students develop important life skills of creative problem solving. It is her goal to help all students to discover their passions by giving them tools and guidance to develop and explore personal and universal ideas through art. Sayzie believes that through art and design, students can discover a means to communicate—in ways that cross over the boundaries of language and culture.
    Sayzie has exhibited her work in numerous shows in the NYC, UK, South America and New England. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and The Edna St. Vincent Millay Colony. As well as ongoing studio work, Sayzie enjoys travel, gardening, movies, and hiking with her dog.