Our excellent faculty forms the foundation of our rich joyful Pacem community.  Our teachers are all experts in their subject areas.  They are dedicated professionals who show strong commitment to our mission and communicate warmly and effectively with students, parents, and colleagues.

jaimepicJaime Cipperly Cotton

Middle School Science and Math

Jaime developed a passion for both the environment and working with youth as a middle school student. Many, many years later this is the age group and subject matter that she is still most passionate about.

Jaime began working as a facilitator at Lotus Lake Discovery Center (LLDC) after graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in environmental conservation. It was at LLDC that she developed a love of group processing, peaceful conflict resolution, and team building. In 2004 Jaime became the Program Director of LLDC and continues this role today.

In 2006 Jaime earned her master’s degree from Antioch New England Graduate School in environmental studies, with a grade 5-9 general science teaching certification. At Antioch she learned how small class sizes and thoughtful, individualized curriculum can bring out the best in students.

She began working at Pacem in its first year the fall after she graduated. The learning environment, faculty and student cohesiveness, and the value placed on outdoor experiences at Pacem was the perfect fit for Jaime for 7 years until she had her first son. She now has two boys and is thrilled to be rejoining the Pacem community!

BonniesmBonnie Hooper

Studio Art

Bonnie is a certified art teacher and has taught art in both private and public schools, as well as for individual students out of her own studio. She was a board member of the now defunct Vermont Alliance for Arts Educators. She is also a painter and a bookmaker and regularly exhibits with the Vermont Book Arts Guild. She loves teaching art and bringing out the creative potential of her students. She believes strongly in creating a community of learners that support each other in taking risks.

She grew up in a family heavily involved with the performing arts, and has also taught drama and dance.

An avid outdoors person, Bonnie pursued a M.S. in Environmental Studies at Antioch New England Graduate School. She enjoys spending time gardening, hiking, and camping, and really appreciates Pacem’s focus on the Environment.

Bonnie has a B.A. from Smith College in Comparative Literature with a focus on French literature. She has always had an interest in learning about other cultures. She has taught English through bookmaking to newly settled Americans, as well as led conversation groups, and cooking and gardening classes. As a leader of the most culturally diverse community garden in Burlington, she has learned to create community amongst a group of diverse people. She has been a speaker at several conferences on issues of food access and diversity.

Bonnie lives in Burlington with her husband, two children and four chickens.

Nikki Matheson


Nikki Matheson grew up in a French-speaking household near New York City, and spent many summers in northern Quebec with her mother’s family. Eventually, she majored in French at St. Lawrence University, spending a year at the Université de Rouen in Normandy, France. Coming back to NYC, Nikki, also a seamstress, apprenticed to a costume designer while taking music classes until she got a great offer to tour France with a group there. She went for six months and stayed for 14 years, working as a musician, back-up singer, and song adaptor (songs from French to English), while at times settling down to work as a translation editor for an agency in Paris.

When she relocated to Vermont, she got a Masters in Teaching a Second Language from Bennington College and has been teaching ever since, while still consulting for translators. Nikki has taught at Warren and Moretown Elementary schools, the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy’s immersion program for high-school-aged students, Norwich University, and the Alliance Française. She still translates and even interpreted for the President of Senegal during his visit with Gov. Shumlin a few years ago. Nikki draws upon a wide range of interests such as music, art, theater, and storytelling, as well as task-based approach to teaching French, and she’s always learning.

LauraMsmLaura Williams McCaffrey

Writing, Literature

Laura is a full-time writer and writing teacher. Her short stories have been published in YA Review Network, Solstice Literary Magazine, and Soundings Review. Her third novel, which will be released by Clarion Books, is a dystopic fantasy for teens. She’s the author of two children’s fantasy novels, Water Shaper (Clarion Books, 2006) and Alia Waking (Clarion Books, 2003). Water Shaper was selected for the New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age 2007 list. Alia Waking was named an International Reading Association Notable Book. It was also a nominee for the annual Teens’ Top Ten Books list and for Vermont’s Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award.

Laura has mentored many public school students and homeschoolers in writing and literature study. She was asked in a recent interview for her definition of the perfect professor, and she thinks her response pertains to mentoring students of all ages: “I think the kind of professor I’d like to be expects more from her students than they think they’re capable of, and pushes them to strive for that more. She’s honest, but in a gentle way. She knows when to make demands, and when to celebrate what’s been accomplished. She doesn’t try to force her students to mimic her voice and thoughts; she helps them better cultivate their own.”

In addition to Pacem, Laura is on faculty at Solstice, Pine Manor College’s low-residency MFA in Creative Writing program, and she regularly teaches at writing conferences. She is a former school librarian and for five years managed the Washington Village School Library in Washington, Vermont. She graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University in 1994 with a BA in history. A native Vermonter, she also is a Stowe High School alumna. She currently lives in East Montpelier with her two daughters and her husband, the regionally acclaimed musician Colin McCaffrey. Her website is: https://www.laurawilliamsmccaffrey.com

lexi_2Lexi Shear

Director, Upper Level Science

Lexi has many years of experience teaching science in public and exceptional private high schools and believes that that the most powerful learning experiences happen when students are allowed to explore their own observations, ideas, and beliefs in a community of committed learners. She is excited to be part of such a community at Pacem.  Lexi has leadership experience as a member of the Board of Directors of the Green Mountain Club, as the founder and organizer of the Green Mountain Club’s Young Adventurer’s Club, and as a project associate for the Trust for Public Land. She wrote Nature Guide to Vermont’s Long Trail and has journeyed extensively in the wilderness.  Her adventures have indluded thru-hikes of the Pacific Crest Trail, the Long Trail, the John Muir Trail, and the South Downs Way.

Lexi believes passionately that, through education and personal exploration, humanity can create a more sustainable relationship with the environment. To this end, she has taught hundreds of students in traditional classrooms and wilderness environments, has studied biological conservation, and has worked as a conservation ecologist.   Lexi’s scientific curiosity, love of teenagers, passion for the wilderness, and commitment to sustainability all help her students to flourish, whether they be under a roof, a forest canopy, or the night sky.

Lexi has an undergraduate degree with honors in biology from Harvard College, and a Master’s degree in botany from the University of Vermont where she was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa society. She lives in Montpelier with her daughter.

paulsmPaul Wallich

Computer Science

Paul has been writing about science and technology for general and technical audiences for more than 30 years. He spent 8 years as an editor at Scientific American, and his work has also appeared in Discover, the New York Times Magazine and the Huffington Post. His undergraduate degree is in physics.

For the past 7 years he has volunteered in the Four Winds nature education program at UES. He has also taught programming, robotics and 3D-printing workshops in Montpelier. He believes that understanding scientific methods for thinking about the world around us is crucial for young (and older) people who want to make a positive difference in our culture.

During the past decade, his writing has focused mostly on technological advances that have made it – for better or worse – relatively easy for non-engineers to build their own mobile robots, drones, laser engravers, 3D printers and various internet-enabled devices from readily available parts. Some of those widgets may even be useful, but all of them have helped him organize his thoughts and priorities.

wetmore picDan Wetmore

Math Tutorial

A central Vermont resident for over thirty years Dan was first known for his beautiful and educational puzzle designs which might strike some people as odd as his background is in mathematics and theology, having received a BA in Mathematics and in Religion at Duke University and studied at Union Theological Seminary In New York City. Certified to teach Secondary School math in Vermont he tutored all levels of math, from pre-algebra to AP calculus, including the new integrated math curricula, at U-32 Middle and High School, and also taught eighth grade at Northfield Junior/Senior High School. He also taught adult students at Woodbury College — a math course, an introductory statistics course, and a writing-intensive critical thinking course. He enjoys writing and penned a popular column in the Montpelier Bridge for two years; rambling essays on words, meaning, and culture.

He and his wife Josephine have had a decades-long close association with the Washington County Youth Services Bureau providing support to teenagers and their families. An avid amateur musician he plays fiddle and banjo and plans to start making banjos and is interested in designing an instrument building workshop at Pacem.

He is at heart a creative person, earning his living primarily through custom design shelving and cabinetry as well as traditional carpentry. He has multiple other interests and understands the mathematical principles and language that underlie much of life around us, from nature to human society and technology, and looks forward to working with the students at Pacem as they equip themselves with the mathematical tools and insights that will serve them (and even delight them!) in whatever endeavors they pursue.

Rebecca Yahm

Culture, History, and Peace Studies; Interdisciplinary Student-Directed Projects; Homeschool Support

Rebecca’s long-standing commitment to alternative education began at Swarthmore College, where she developed a passion for environmental education and progressive educational philosophy. During her college years, she was involved in consensus-building and group facilitation programs, was trained to do community mediation, and received a grant to do a semester-long service project in Adirondack environmental education. She also worked at the Farm and Wilderness Summer Camps in Plymouth, VT. Rebecca graduated with distinction in 1994 and has been living in Vermont since 1995.

Rebecca continued to pursue her professional interests at Antioch New England Graduate School, receiving a M.Ed. with a focus on integrated curriculum and environmental education. She taught for five years in public and private schools, where she focused on group-building and conflict resolution in the classroom and was known for her creative curriculum ideas.

In the summer of 2003, Rebecca began Open Path Homeschooling Resources  to bring her commitment to educational alternatives to the homeschool community. Since then, she has designed and taught varied programs for children and teens, including innovative thematic and project-based classes. Rebecca has worked with hundreds of homeschool families, providing year-end assessments and individualized tutoring and curriculum consulting as well as her classes and some parent workshops. She is well respected in Central Vermont for the support and resources she provides. She has been involved with Pacem since the very beginning.

Rebecca’s other interests include organic gardening, hiking, backcountry skiing, weaving, and reading. She lives in Plainfield with her family and homeschools her own young daughter. She sees education, particularly place-based and project-based learning, as the best way for her to use her strengths to help create a more peaceful, just, and sustainable culture.

gabriellaGabriella Zeichner

Bookeeper, Registrar

Gabriella has been working with Pacem for two years. She is a homeschool parent of three children. Born and raised in communist Hungary, she has seen the world from a very different perspective. Before coming to the United States, Gabriella volunteered for orphanages in Eastern Europe. An avid reader and self-educator, Gabriella can be found in various libraries, large or small, picking out interesting books on almost any subject to bring home and absorb. She works in the fiber arts, spinning and knitting with anything from wool to labradoodle hair. Gabriella also works at the Hunger Mountain Coop in Montpelier. She lives with her husband, children, and three dogs in Northfield, Vermont.