School News

New Faculty, Staff and Board Chair for 2016

Ellen Akst Jones, New Chair of our Board of Directors

This is an historic year with USA’s first female major political party presidential candidate, and for the first time in the 42-year history of Maharishi School, we have a female Chair of our Board of Directors, Dr. Ellen Akst Jones. Ellen is a lawyer, meditator, trained teacher of Transcendental Meditation, and—in many ways—a peacemaker. She served as Associate Counsel to two committees of the U.S. Senate, as an Assistant Attorney General of Texas, and as legal counsel to various nonprofit organizations and to private clients. Ellen has been active in many civic organizations, as co-chair of the Fairfield Strategic Planning Commission, and member of the Fairfield City Council. She has held numerous leadership positions at MUM including Dean of Student Life, Dean of MUM College of Natural Law, Chief Lean Officer, and Institutional Advancement Officer. Ellen’s two sons, Jeremy and Benji, are Maharishi School alumni. We’re fortunate to have such a highly qualified and committed leader for our Board.

Jill McConnell, New Academic Director

We also welcome Ms. Jill McConnell in the new position of Academic Director. Jill has a thirty year career as teacher and administrator that spans elementary, middle school, high school, and college. With a Bachelors and Masters degree in English and doctoral coursework in Medieval Literature and Critical Theory, Jill’s focus has been primarily teaching English Literature and Writing. From 2003-2012 she was the head of the English Department and Associate Director of College Counseling at Winchester Thurston School in Pittsburgh, PA. While there, Jill led the Diversity Initiative, the City as Our Campus program (a Project-Based Learning model), and the Curriculum Mapping Initiative. She has presented at the National Association of Teachers of English Conference and the National Advanced Placement Conference, served on independent school accreditation teams, and for several years scored Advanced Placement English exams. Her students have a long list of successes from scholastic achievement to local and national awards in writing and literary arts.

In 2012 Jill joined BASIS.ed, which operates the top-ranked charter and public schools in the nation. BASIS invited her to take leadership roles in the establishment of new schools in Washington D.C.; Mesa, AZ; Brooklyn, NY; Prescott, AZ; and, most recently BASIS’s first international school in Shenzhen, China. Jill returned home near Pittsburgh, PA to attend to urgent family matters which occupied her through last spring. She is now excited to be part of the leadership team at Maharishi School.

Jill is committed to the ethos of the Maharishi School and understands the transcendent role that meditation can play in the social and intellectual development of our students. Jill believes that excellence in education is not about academic fads and trends, but it is about what happens when knowledgeable and dedicated teachers who are enthusiastic, who love teaching, who admire and respect children, dedicate the necessary time to help their students learn and succeed.

Karen Price, Upper School Biology, Sustainable Living, and Anatomy & Physiology

"I earned my BA in biology and education from Swarthmore College and am currently working on a master's degree in Educational Leadership from Drake University. I will be splitting my time this year between Maharishi School and Fairfield School District, where I work as a Home School Assistance Program teacher. I've been teaching for over 30 years in a variety of settings, to a variety of ages, and in a variety of subjects, although I always gravitate back to math and science. I get especially excited about problem solving and deep thinking and I consider myself a life-long learner. My educational heroes are Ms. Frizzle and Bill Nye the Science Guy, so that tells you something about my personality and teaching style!

I'm happy to be back at Maharishi School teaching my favorite subjects. It's an ideal situation-- small class sizes, students who are growing inside and out, and an administration that is supportive of student oriented teaching. I can't wait to dive into all the exciting things in life sciences with these students!"

Dr. Paul Schwartz, Upper School Theater/Drama

Dr. Schwartz earned his BA from Harvard and his PhD from Yale (Magna Cum Laude) in French, and had a distinguished career as a professor and academic leader of universities in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, New York, and France. Throughout this time he was involved in theatre, performing in more than 50 productions and directing at three universities. He has also performed professional on stage and in voice work.

"I am really excited to be here and to have the opportunity to work with Maharishi School students and staff in the speech program this fall. I have heard wonderful things about the talent and dedication of the students and the tradition of outstanding performances. I can't wait to meet the students and start working with them."

Mike Cantafio, K-12 Music

Michael Cantafio has a BA and Masters degree in Music Performance with an emphasis on Jazz guitar. He has taught guitar/music classes at several studios/conservatories in the Chicagoland area. While working on his Masters degree at the University of Toledo Michael taught private classical, jazz, pop and group guitar lessons, he also ran several music ensembles, was assistant director of the Universities Big Band, ran improvisation classes, and lectured to a Jazz History course to a class of 150 students.

"Maharishi School, with its forward thinking ways, offers me a chance to push the envelope as far as music courses are concerned. My goals this year are to help the children develop real world musical skills, get familiar with what professional performance practice, and most importantly strengthen communal bonds."

Sophia Blitz, Middle School Math

"I grew up in Fairfield and attended MSAE from k-12. By second grade, most of my friends could have told you I would become a math teacher. Helping fellow students in math was second nature. While studying industrial engineering and computer science at the University of Iowa, I tutored engineering core courses through the engineering department and held a teaching assistant position for two and a half years in an intro to computer programming course. My summers in my late teens were spent as a summer camp counselor, life guarding and leading kids of ages 8-13, a role I miss often. After college, I went on to work as a software developer at Epic Systems Corporation, while also continuing to pursue my interest in competitive ballroom dancing. I have returned to Fairfield this summer ready to dive into my passions: teaching, dancing, and computer programming.

For a few years now, I've been mulling over the idea that I want to make a difference in this country's education system. MSAE and consciousness based education represent a movement for change and in a direction I strongly support. I am excited to be a part of it!"

Minca Borg, Middle School Science and Projects & Upper School Math Applications

Ms. Borg has a passion for project-based science and learning by doing. Her questions have led her to liberal science studies, lab and teaching assistantships at MUM, and entreprenial and service projects including EcoFairfield, Naturewise Academy, Fairfield Cares, and Fairfield Mental Health Alliance. She serves on the board of the Fairfield CoLab.
"My goal for my students is to wake up every day feeling excited about what they are doing with their lives, for them to be intensely curious about the world around them, engage their senses, and develop skill in turning their own ideas into reality. Project-based, consciousness-based education is a unique opportunity to make every subject personally relevant."

Tom Corbett, Middle School English-Language Arts, Social Studies, and Projects

Tom Corbett was conferred with his Bachelor of Arts Degree and Post Graduate Diploma in Education from the National University of Ireland. He was awarded his Masters in TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Grafton Tuition College in Ireland and his Certificate in TESOL was conferred by Trinity College London. He has spent 20 years teaching in Ireland and overseas in a variety of different fields. His experience in education includes teaching international students from many nationalities in Ireland, Libya and the United States. Since 2011, he taught ESL to international students from diverse cultural backgrounds at MUM. He has spent many years teaching primary and secondary school students in English, Gaelic (Ireland’s native language) and Geography. His educational background is primarily in the field of linguistics and language acquisition and Geography, while designing and developing curricula is also one of his strengths. He has travelled widely overseas and continues to use his expertise in geographical knowledge to further study the processes and patterns that make up the world’s physical environment.

"The opportunity to teach at the Maharishi School is an exciting and challenging one. To teach there feels like I am returning home to what is my passion after several years teaching adults at MUM – working as an educator with young students and helping them to learn skills for life. To be surrounded by consciousness-based education will be an experience of personal evolution. For myself and for the students under my care this coming year, my goal is a simple one, around which all other learning objectives will stem – that is, to connect students’ subject experiences with their growing awareness of the self-interacting dynamics of consciousness, appreciating English language and literature, social studies and project work as a process of self-referral."      

Allen Black, Upper School Social Studies

"I am a long-term Governor of the Age of Enlightenment who has recently moved to Fairfield to teach US History, Global Studies, and Economics in the Upper School at MSAE. For the last six years, I have attended Georgia State University where I received an MA in Religious Studies and am six hours away from a Masters in Teaching degree. I have another MA degree from California Institute of Integral Studies in Religion and Philosophy. My undergraduate studies were in Business Finance, and I have had careers in investment banking and real estate. As an MA student, I have taught a number of undergraduate level classes in Religious Studies; and as part of the MA in Education program, I did my student teaching last year at a large public high school in Atlanta. I am recently certified by the state of Georgia to teach Social Studies in grades 6-12. I am very excited about teaching at the Maharishi School where the inner development of character and consciousness is coupled with a rigorous academic curriculum.

I hope to inspire student learning by making my class an engaging environment that is enriched by the diversity of our students. I look forward to making social studies an interesting field of study, utilizing digital technologies, and guiding students to meaningful new knowledge and experiences through hands on learning."

Owen Blake, Upper School SCI and Projects

Owen loves teaching of all kinds and has been coaching sports, tutoring for SAT's and teaching piano lessons for many years. Owen also completed his Transcendental Meditation Teacher Training Course in 2013 and then spent a year in San Diego instructing over 100 students to meditate. In 2014 Owen moved across the country to Brooklyn, New York where he became the Quiet Time Site Leader for the Brooklyn Urban Garden School. Owen is honored to return to MSAE where he spent many years growing up, and is excited to connect with students from all around the world and learn together how to realize our fullest potential. (second from right in photo)


Malinda Gosvig Rees, Upper School English-Language Arts

Malinda received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota, where she also taught undergrad classes in American literature, creative writing, and academic writing. She also holds an MA in education from Maharishi University of Management. She is excited to be teaching at a Consciousness-Based institution where the focus is not just on academic study of the written word, but on forging deeper connections between the text and the student, as well as the development of the student's writing process.


Dillon Hanson, Upper School Pre-Calculus and Physics

Dillon has been interested in education since high school, when he listened to his algebra teacher explain how to factor polynomials and thought about how he would explain the concept differently. His peers appreciated his eagerness to teach, asking him for help throughout high school and college, sometimes even for classes he wasn't taking himself. Most recently, Dillon has co-taught a beginner ballroom class for the students of the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Dillon is excited to teach such a passionate group of students at MSAE, and looks forward to sharing his love of math with them. He hopes to encourage them to see the simplicity that lies within all mathematical concepts and demonstrate that any task that seems daunting can be made approachable by breaking it into manageable parts. 

Emmy Picard, Central Office

We are thrilled to have Emmy Picard join Priya Chhalliyil in the Central Office. Emmy is a photographer, knitter and mother of four girls. Please make sure you stop by the Central Office in the mornings to say hello!

We are excited to have two graduates of Maharishi School joining our Preschool faculty:
Brianna Eason, Class of 2006








Sarah Krone, Class of 1999

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