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Passionate & Caring


Meet Our

Faculty & Staff

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. Members of the clinical and administrative staff frequently teach classes in their particular areas of interest and expertise. When necessary, we hire part-time adjunct faculty, and on occasion, qualified parents act as guest lecturers.

Clinical Staff

David Baum
Head of School

Megan Czaja
Clinical Director

Andrea Nathans
Director of Admissions

Lisa Sinsheimer
Clinical Consultant

Jovanina Pagano
Primary Clinician

Nick Pohl
Primary Clinician


Robert Andenmatten
Faculty in Math and Science

Ben Mielenz
Spanish Teacher

Courtney Carlisle
English Literature Teacher

Lisa A. Buttrey-Thomas
Faculty in Math and Science

Leah Shapiro
Project Coordinator & House Parent

Administrative Staff

Thea Ross
Business Manager

Robert Gaughran
Facility Manager
Get In Touch

Contact Us


389 Main Street
Great Barrington MA 01230

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

Email: Info@jda.org

David Baum, PhD

Head of School

Before coming to Dewey in 2015, David spent most of his career in college teaching with a focus on courses in history, politics, and film. He traces his love of history to his grandfather, who would ease the passage of time while they worked together on weekends at the family business by telling stories of the “old days” – World War I, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and the home front during World War II. Through these reminiscences, he learned that the past truly was “another country,” exotic, exciting, and, as his grandfather had hoped, illuminating. His love of teaching developed later. While a graduate student at Yale, he found a calling as a TA and altered his career path from the foreign service to the classroom. After 30 years and over 6000 students he claims no regrets. There has been some adventure along the way: in his early years he survived his research stints in Italy during the infamous “Days of Lead”, and in 2010-11 he had the opportunity to spend a year in Iraq helping to set up the social sciences program at the newly inaugurated American University. For excitement these days, David skis the local slopes and fully throws caution to the wind by walking alone after dark in his newly adopted home town of Pittsfield.

Megan (Meg) Czaja LICSW 

Clinical Director

Megan (Meg) Czaja LICSW, joined the John Dewey Academy in the fall of 2019, bringing experience working in therapeutic communities with a focus on treatment resistance and substance abuse. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in social work with a minor in psychology from Saint Joseph College. She went on to receive her Master of Social Work degree from Smith College School for Social Work. 

Prior to joining The John Dewey Academy Megan was a clinician at Institute of Living, Schizophrenia Services Program and Child and Adolescent Day Treatment Program, where she established a clinical day program for adolescents with emerging and treatment resistant psychosis. She then worked as a family therapist, group consultant and clinical case manager at The Austen Riggs Center. Most recently, Megan was an individual therapist at The Center for Motivation and Change.

Megan’s theoretical and practice orientations are strongly rooted in psychodynamic and systems theory. However, Megan has had had additional training and experience with evidence-based treatments for substance abuse, trauma, anxiety, depression and personality disorders. 

Megan values the importance of an authentic human connection and working with young people to move beyond diagnostic categories and symptoms to develop capacities to encounter the inherent struggles associated with having a fulfilling, successful life.  

Megan enjoys the small-town life of the Berkshires and is avid hiker/backpacker. 

Andrea Nathans, PsyD

Director of Admissions

Andrea came to the John Dewey Academy in 2013 after the passing of the founder, Tom Bratter, when the school was in a significant transition. After a year familiarizing herself with the rich history and the nature of the school, she stepped into the role of Executive Director. Andrea is a clinical psychologist licensed in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Andrea serves as the link between the school staff and the Dewey Board of Directors, oversees many administrative functions, and directs the admissions process.

Before coming to JDA, Andrea had a private, outpatient psychotherapy practice serving children, teens, and adults.  Some areas of specialty include early childhood, anxiety disorders, divorce and blended family issues, and Autistic spectrum disorders. In addition, she also conducted psychological and neuropsychological assessments. She continues to volunteer as a mediator in high-conflict divorce cases in Connecticut.

Andrea is a huge lover of all living things non-human, both animals and plants, and is able to find a peacefulness in these relationships that helps to balance the meaningful but sometimes intense work with humans. The whole school benefits from this love, as she often brings her three dogs to the castle, where students will slip them a treat or two and give them lots of attention!

Angel Mayes, LCSW

Primary Clinician

Angel joined the John Dewey Academy in January of 2017. Angel’s clinical foundations are rooted in the Teaching Family Model and she is certified in Family-Centered Therapy, for which she has conducted trainings. Angel earned her bachelors in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (with a concentration in adolescent development and families at risk). She received her Masters of Social Work degree from a unique joint program through the University of North Carolina, North Carolina A&T, and the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.

Before arriving at Dewey, Angel was a therapist at an all-girls therapeutic boarding school in North Carolina, Auldern Academy. She has also worked in hospitals, public schools, intensive in-home placements, group homes, and community mental health clinics.

Angel loves all of her animals, which includes two dogs, a cat named Pumpkin, her leafy-tailed geckos, and her fish. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly in the eyes of some Dewey community members, Angel uses almost any excuse to bring a tray of delicious and creative baked goods for students and staff.

Lisa Sinsheimer, PhD

Clinical Consultant

A.B., Princeton University. M.D. University of Texas Medical Branch. Internship and Residency, New York Presbyterian Hospital. Fellowship and Chief Fellowship in Psychiatric Oncology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Certificate in Psychoanalysis, Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Previous experience: private practice in psychiatry and psychoanalysis in NYC, adjunct faculty at Cornell University Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Numerous publications and presentations. Parent of JDA alumnus, Class of 2005. Since 2005.

Jovanina Pagano, LCSW

Primary Clinician

Jovanina joined the John Dewey Academy in 2014, bringing over 25 years of diverse work with adolescents to the clinical team. Her clinical approach draws from multiple modalities, including Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), somatic therapy, and Motivational Interviewing (MI). In addition to working individually with students and their families, Jovanina facilitates weekly sitting meditation, teaches yoga, and runs an ongoing skills group based on DBT principles. She is also working to make the JDA alumni program more robust.

Jovanina received her BMA from the New School, Mannes College of Music (classical music performance), and her MSW from University at Albany. In New York City, she worked as the Education Coordinator for programs providing educational support and advocacy to teens and their families at the Children’s Aid Society, Harlem Children’s Zone, and Cardinal McCloskey Services. Her most recent position before moving to the Berkshires was as Director of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program at Grand Street Settlement, a multi-faceted, 5-year program funded by US Department of Health and Human Services.

Though she transitioned many years ago from music performance to adolescent development and mental health, the arts are still a central part of Jovanina’s life; she is an avid dancer—studying (and occasionally teaching) dance and curating the dance workshop series at the Peaceable Barn Studio in Redding, CT.

Jovanina is very grateful to be in the Berkshires, where she has been able to significantly expand her birding life list and is finally learning how to garden.

Nick Pohl, MSW

Primary Clinician

Nick Pohl MSW, joined the John Dewey Academy in the Spring of 2020.  Nick brings a blend of direct service and administrative experience to the academy.  With a Bachelor of Arts degree in social work from Concordia College, NY., Nick went on to receive his Master of Social Work degree from Fordham University School for Social Work. 

Prior to joining The John Dewey Academy, Nick was a senior developer in the creation of a vocational training program that served students on the autistic spectrum for Concordia College, NY.  Prior to his experience at Concordia, Nick acted as the Executive Director for a regional youth service bureau, which provided a variety of outpatient behavioral health services for a six-town region of Northwest Connecticut.

Nick is also passionate about cross-cultural learning.  He has designed and led a variety of international experiences for young people.  His past youth trips have included the counties of China, Iceland, and Oman.

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.

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.

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. 

Leah Shapiro

Project Coordinator & House Parent 

Leah joined the John Dewey Academy in 2020. She is currently pursuing an M.S.Ed. in international educational development at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to starting her master’s program, Leah worked with higher education and youth development programs in the U.S. and abroad. Her most recent position was assistant director of international student services at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. Leah’s professional background also includes leading high school students on an outdoor adventure program in Mongolia, teaching English on a Fulbright grant in Georgia (country), and organizing educational trips across the U.S. for international military officers with the U.S. Department of Defense. 

When she’s not daydreaming about her next international trip, Leah loves hiking, paddling, and experimenting in the kitchen.

Thea Ross, BBA

Business Manager

Thea joined the John Dewey Academy in 2011. As Business Manager, she helps the overall functioning of the school in many diverse areas, from handling payroll and employee insurance plans to putting together student report cards and transcripts.

One of the things Thea values most is her direct involvement in the student program; she greatly values the opportunity to invest in the students and to develop supportive relationships with them. This part of her job involves overseeing student finances, distributing allowances, supervising the work of the student Head of Business, and offering financial literacy classes to outgoing seniors. She also works with and supports the Head of School on various projects such as finalizing the yearly school calendar and semester schedules.

In addition to her work at Dewey, Thea has been a financial and organizational consultant for a Connecticut home health care business since 1999. Previous experience includes six years at Berkshire Bank, and prior to that, tackling the demanding job of raising three boys – now with children of their own – whom she homeschooled. Thea received her bachelors in business administration from Temple University in marketing and human resource management.

Thea loves cooking, sewing, and doing logic problems of all sorts. An avid seamstress, she even created a ball gown for her daughter-in-law for the Marine Corps Ball. Thea’s mother is an accomplished gardener and keeps up her ongoing effort to help Thea learn how to keep plants alive.

Robert Gaughran

Facility Manager

Bobby began as Facility Manager in 2014, bringing his skills in stone masonry, carpentry, and automotive technologies to meet the many diverse needs of the historic building where the JDA community lives and works. Though he appreciates the opportunity to care for the majestic castle and carriage house, his favorite part of the job is supervising the maintenance work program where he gets to teach and work alongside young people much like himself at that age.   

From a young age, Bobby has loved to work with his hands and enjoys the tougher jobs in life. He has worked all his life in the trades, beginning in adolescence when he worked alongside his father and two brothers in stone masonry.  He is a certified firefighter and licensed Emergency Medical Technician in his community, also working with a regional technical rescue team helping people all over western Massachusetts.