About Our Team

Rebecca Zimmerman (Civics) is excited to begin her second year at the 8th Grade Academy.  She has been teaching ELA and Social Studies since 1991.  Ms. Zimmerman began her career as an historical interpreter at Old Sturbridge Village - reenacting life in the early 1800s.  She earned her undergraduate degree in American Studies and English at Heidelberg University and a Masters in Education at the University of Connecticut.  When not at school, she enjoys reading, knitting, camping, and traveling.  Ms. Zimmerman is looking forward to working with students as they move into the realm of high school. (rebzim1@gpsk12.org)

Judy Bennett (Science) earned her B.S. in Marine Biology at Fairleigh Dickinson University and her M.Ed. at the University of Massachusetts. After a decade of managing zebrafish and cichlid facilities for the UMass Biology department, she decided to change careers and pursue a degree in education. This is Ms. Bennett's third year in the 8th Grade Academy and is happy to be returning. She is looking forward to sharing her enthusiasm for science and expects it to be an exciting year. (judben1@gpsk12.org)

Kara O’Brien (Engineering) earned her BA in biology at Cornell University and her Masters in Education at Boston College. She began her teaching career in the Boston area before moving to Greenfield. She joined the 8th Grade Academy faculty in 2012. During the 2017-2018 school year, Mrs. O’Brien will be teaching a course in Engineering as well as General Science classes. (karobr1@gpsk12.org)

Tracy Farnham (English) is looking forward to beginning her first year at the 8th Grade Academy.  Ms. Farnham has been teaching ELA since 1993.  Much of her career was spent in the Alternative High Schools in Springfield working with students who need additional support to be successful in and out of the classroom.  After growing up in Amherst, she earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees at UMass.  Belchertown is now her home, on a small farm full of family, friends, horses, cats, dogs, and chickens.  Besides spending time with her animals, she is an avid reader, movie watcher, and loves to travel whenever possible.  Ms. Farnham is looking forward to spending her day surrounded by the energy of eighth grade students who are willing to learn and think about the world in new ways every day. (trafar1@gpsk12.org)

Erich Leaper (Civics/ELA) earned his BA in History from UMass Amherst in 2018. He then earned his Masters in Education from the 180 Days in Springfield Program at UMass Amherst in 2019. Mr. Leaper is joining Greenfield High School after teaching in Springfield, MA. While at UMass, Mr. Leaper studied German history and wrote a thesis on the very exciting topic of: Polish-German Relations Following World War I. When he is not teaching, Mr. Leaper coaches soccer and baseball. He is an avid comic book fan- particularly the DC Comics' heroes Aquaman and the Flash. He is excited to be part of the life-long journey of learning with everyone in Greenfield. (erilea1@gpsk12.org)

Raymond Paquette (Math) teaches 8th grade math as well as Algebra 1. I have been a teacher for quite awhile, but have also drove bus for camping tours around north and central America. My partner, two sons, and I live in Northampton, in a cohousing community with good neighbors. For fun, I like to get outside on my bike, in my kayak, or just hiking. I love to travel and learn languages, to cook, and to play the guitar.

Courtney Hagar (Special Education) received her bachelor’s and Master's degrees from North Adams State College, which is now Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. She has taught all over Western Massachusetts, including Holyoke, Springfield, Easthampton, and Ware.This is her third year teaching at Greenfield High School. (couhag1@gpsk12.org)


We're a Team!

Our team realizes that teaching your child is a privilege as well as a tremendous responsibility. We will do our best to make sure that each student has a motivating and positive learning experience. However, we can not do this alone; we need your help, too. We all need to be partners in the learning process. We need each of you to encourage your child at home by helping ensure that he/she has completed the assignments and studied for exams. If a problem should arise or if you have any questions or concerns please call or email us.