Meet Our Faculty
The St. Francis Xavier faculty is a community of dedicated individuals who believe in a quality Catholic education. Our teachers expect the best from their students and help them to achieve success. Many of our teachers hold advanced degrees and come to us with a wealth of academic and real world experiences.
Mr. Eric Becker - Principal
I am originally from the state of New Jersey. I arrived in Vermont to attend Castleton State College. While at Castleton, I received a Bachelor of Science in Practice in Physical Education (Elementary and Secondary Teachers Certification) and Bachelor of Arts in Social Science Major-by Contract, (Sociology and Health).
Mrs. Eileen Barendse - Assistant Principal and Director of Early Education
I am thrilled to be a member of the St. Francis Xavier community. In my time here I have served as a first grade teacher, student support staff, and administrator. This vibrant and student-centered community keeps me coming back year after year!
Mrs. Michelle Guilmette - PreSchool Teacher
St. Francis isn’t just any Catholic school to me. St. Francis School and Church have had a significant role in my life and faith. Both my husband and I attend St. Francis. We had a beautiful wedding ceremony at St. Francis Church twenty-four years ago. After having children, there was never a question as to which school they would attend. We both have very fond memories of our grammar school days and we wanted our children to have the same opportunity to form life-long bonds with their peers, while simultaneously growing in their faith.
Mrs. Lauren Wolfe - PreSchool Aide
Saint Francis has always been home to me. My career at Saint Francis began in 1998 as a Kindergartener! Many memories follow me through these old halls. Some of my teachers are still roaming around, too! I graduated in 2007 and I've kept the core values instilled in me as I moved forward out of the walls that kept me safe for so many years. There is nothing more valuable than a strong foundation.
Mrs. Micky LaBonte - Pre-Kindergarten Teacher
I started teaching at Saint Francis Xavier School in the fall of 2013, but my history with the school goes back much further than that.
I grew up in Winooski, surrounded by my grandparents and aunts and uncles. While attending Saint Francis Xavier as a child, I walked to my grandparents’ house for lunch everyday and spent most weekends there. I still frequent that very same house on weekends and whenever I can!
Ms. Kacey LaBonte - Pre-Kindergarten Aide
Ms. Kacey is filling a new role this year at St. Francis Xavier School as our Pre-K aide, but she is a familiar face, having worked here for a number of years in our Extension Program and also acting as a substitute teacher. Kacey graduated from Colby College this past May and is excited that her first permanent job post-college will involve working side by side with her mother, Pre-K lead teacher Micky Labonte. Just to make the Early Ed Program even MORE of a family affair, lead teachers Miss Micky and Miss Michelle are twin sisters, making their two aides first cousins!
Mrs. Alex Lovejoy - Kindergarten Teacher
I am a native Vermonter and am very excited to be back in the state I love! I went to St. Joseph School in Burlington as I grew up, so Catholic education is very close to my heart. I graduated from Colchester High School in 2009. I was thrilled to move to Florida to attend the University of Tampa (UT) and graduated with my Elementary Education degree in 2013. While at UT, I was president of the Education Honors Society and was a research assistant to the department head. We researched cyberbullying, developed a middle school anti-bullying program and had our research article published. After completing work on the research and article, our team of seven traveled to Finland to learn more about why it is the top-ranked country for education in the world.
Though born in New Jersey, my family moved to Vermont when I was very young. I grew up in beautiful Underhill and I can’t think of a better place to be a kid! I spent my childhood, biking down country roads, swimming in rivers, climbing trees, and wandering through the woods.
Ms. Sue Catozzi - 2nd Grade Teacher
I have been teaching second grade at St. Francis Xavier School since 2008. I came to SFX after teaching 2nd grade at St. Joseph School in Burlington for 11 years and teaching in the special education program at Malletts Bay School in Colchester for 2 years.
I graduated from Castleton State College with an Elementary Degree and a Minor in reading instruction. I am looking forward to finishing my masters degree at St. Michael's College in literacy very soon.
Mrs. Jeanne Rousseau - 3rd Grade Teacher
My name is Jeanne Rousseau and I have had the privilege of teaching 3rd grade at St. Francis Xavier School since 1993. I am a wife and mother of three children, all of whom are SFX alums! Our two older children are out in the working world and our youngest, John, is entering his freshman year at Nazareth College this year where he has been accepted into the Nursing Program.
Mr. Christopher Melnyk - 4th Grade Teacher
I have been teaching at Saint Francis since the fall of 2014 and I couldn't be happier to be here. I have lived all over the United States for the past five years. I received a BA in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and a BS in Education from Peru State College (Peru, NE). I have worked in Omaha, Nebraska in a K - 6 school. I also taught 4th grade outside of Washington DC.
Mrs. Stacey Brandes - 5th Grade Teacher
I have taught in Catholic schools since graduating from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1981. I started my career at Our Lady of Sorrows School in New Jersey, where I taught for 6 years. I moved to Vermont 3 months after marrying my husband, John, in April of 1987. I taught at St. Joseph School for 22 years until its closing. I came to St. Francis in 2010.
Mrs. Diane Dufresne - Middle School Teacher
Hello! My name is Diane Dufresne and I started teaching at St. Francis Xavier School in 2014. I am however, very familiar with this Parish family. I had the good fortune of attending St. Francis Xavier School from 1st through 8th grade. I have received all of my Sacraments here at St. Francis Xavier Church, including marriage. My husband, Andy, and I have 3 children, an incredible granddaughter, 2 dogs and we live in Underhill. We love to garden, kayak, fish, snowshoe, spend time with our granddaughter and go camping.
Mr. Lee Freeman - Middle School Teacher
After obtaining his bachelor’s (UVM) and master’s (Illinois State) degrees in English, Mr. Freeman entered the business world. A few years later, he decided he wanted to find another way to make a difference, so he returned to school, earning a teacher’s certificate. Having taught at the high school level, he is now eager to serve the SFX School community “by bringing my love of English to a school dedicated to improving the intellectual and spiritual lives of young people.” Mr. Freeman says students who step into his classroom will find a teacher who “believes in them, in their inherent ability to succeed, and has the teaching skills to help them become better readers, writers, and critical thinkers.”
Ms. Helene Guariglia - French, Digital Learning Specialist, & Middle School Teacher
Bonjour! I was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. My teaching career started when my mother asked me to help one of my friends learn his multiplication tables back when I was in 4th grade! I knew from that moment on I was called to teach! I had the privilege of going to a private Catholic “collège” in my hometown. For us, we used that term to encompass elementary, middle and high school. The six years I spent at Collège Marie de L’Incarnation (founded in the late 1600s by Ursuline nuns) were some of the best years of my life! We had wonderful teachers who made learning interesting and challenging. We also had the honor of being taught and guided by great nuns, constantly strengthening and reaffirming our Catholic faith. It created a sense of belonging and community that we all cherished so much.
Mr. Craig Hill - Middle School Teacher
I lived just outside of Philadelphia before moving to Middlebury, Vt. in 2012. I grew up an avid Philadelphia sports fan and enjoyed Phillies partial season tickets with my twin brother for several years. Also, I enjoy hiking with my wife and three children.
Mrs. Rachael Wicks - Middle School Teacher
Mrs. Wicks, an SFX School parent and parishioner, now joins us as a teacher. Mrs. Wicks has a degree in Secondary Education Science from UVM and previously taught in the Essex and Milton school systems. She has known retiring SFX science teacher Mary Ellen Varhue for years and upon applying at SFX School, Mrs. Wicks wrote,” It would be an honor to continue the legacy set by Mrs. Varhue and uphold her incredible academic standards and dedication to the community of St. Francis Xavier School.” Faith is also a core aspect of Mrs. Wicks’ life: “In a science classroom, moral issues and questions about faith naturally come into play. I want to engage students with thought-provoking conversations about these matters.”
Mrs. Jackie Becker - Spanish Teacher
I am so happy to be here at Saint Francis Xavier School teaching Spanish :-)
I grew up in Nashua, New Hampshire and attended Catholic schools for eight years and graduated high school from Presentation of Mary Academy in Hudson, NH. I received a B.A. in Communication and French from the University of NH and later earned my Spanish Teacher Certification. I earned my B.S. in Education and French Teacher Certification from the University of North Dakota.
Mrs. Kathleen Finn - Librarian and Digital Learning Specialist
Arriving at SFX in 2007, I currently teach library classes for grades PreK-5 and Digital Learning classes for Grades 3-5. These classes enable students to find, evaluate and use high-quality literature and information in all its forms for personal or academic use, and to develop the technical skills to create new knowledge and share that knowledge with others. A big part of the job is fostering good digital citizenship in students.
Ms. Maggie DiMasi - Physical Education
I am extremely excited to be the Physical Education and Health Teacher for the 2019-2020 school year.
I’m originally from Burlington Vermont and have been a part of the St. Michael’s Community all my life. Physical education and athletics have always been my passion. I love my students to be actively engaged in a team atmosphere.
Mrs. Laura Kalagher - Music Teacher
I’m new this year to the Saint Francis Xavier family and I’m very excited to teach music at this extraordinary school. I am married with three daughters and two step-sons, but only one of those still lives at home full-time!
I grew up in Massachusetts and found a true love of music while singing in my church choir. I ended up studying music performance at Skidmore College, graduating with a degree in Music with a vocal concentration.
Mrs. Kathy Rouleau - Art Teacher
I am so happy to be joining Saint Francis Xavier as your new Art Teacher. I grew up on a dairy farm in Franklin, a half mile from Canada, surrounded by green fields, a brook and wildlife. I received my degree in Fine Arts from Rochester Institute of Technology with a concentration in Photography. After college I worked in Burlington doing digital pre-press and page layout at Lane Press. I spent the next few years working in digital printing and advertising in northern California. The weather was wonderful but my heart was meant to be in Vermont!
Meet Our Staff
Monsignor Richard Lavalley - St. Francis Xavier Parish
Twenty-seven year old Richard Lavalley was ordained to the priesthood on May 16, 1964. In his more than fifty years as a priest, Monsignor Lavalley has worked tirelessly for thousands of parishioners and, at a time when many of his peers are retired, he shows no signs of slowing down. Besides presiding over Saint Francis Xavier Parish and School for the past 22 years, he is also the Vicar for Clergy for the Diocese, a member of the Rice Memorial High School Board, and Chaplain at Norwich University.
Reverend Father Joseph Sanderson - Parochial Vicar at St. Francis Xavier Parish
We welcome our new Parochial Vicar, Fr. Joseph Sanderson, to Saint Francis Xavier Parish and School. Fr. Sanderson comes to us from Christ the King/St. Anthony Parish in Burlington where he served for two years following his ordination in 2017.
Born in Middlebury in 1990, Father Sanderson is the eldest of the three children of Jennifer and John Sanderson. He grew up in Orwell and attended Fair Haven Union High School, Our Lady of Providence Seminary, Providence College and St. John’s Seminary in Boston. At the time of his ordination, Father Sanderson said. “It will be a great honor, privilege and joy for me to serve the people of this great State of Vermont, to labor for souls in this little corner of our Lord’s vineyard.”
Mrs. Robin McCormick - Director of Development
I have had the privilege of serving in the Saint Francis Xavier Development Office since the fall of 2010, but my connection to the school goes back to 1986 when the oldest of my seven children entered kindergarten here. For the past 28 years I have been a parent, a member of the School Board, and a volunteer at a gazillion school events (that’s a rough estimate) before ending up in the Development Office.
Mrs. Stacey Zierak - Development Coordinator
St. Francis Xavier School has been a big part of my life since my oldest son, Andrew, started Pre-K here in 2006. As our family grew, our children Larissa, Kaitlyn, and Cece all followed in Andrew’s footsteps at St. Francis. My husband Mike and I fell in love with the school community from the start and we have both enjoyed volunteering and being part of the many parent organizations here. In fact, Mike showed up to help construct the school playground before our son even began attending school!
Mrs. Laurie Rossi - Director of Finance
I was born and raised in Hinesburg Vermont. I attended Hinesburg Elementary School and was then blessed by the opportunity to attend Rice Memorial High School. It was there that I first experienced how nice it was to have your faith incorporated into your school day and education. I went on to attend Champlain College and graduated summa cum laude in 1988. In that same year I passed my CPA exam and married my husband Ron. It was a really great year!
Mrs. Becky Wetzel - Director of Marketing
I grew up in Westford, Vermont, and haven’t moved too far from home. I currently live in Milton with my husband and three children.
I attended Essex Junction High School and continued my education by receiving a BS in Business Administration from Trinity College. During my senior year, I took a graphic design course and I was hooked. I’ve always loved being creative. Over the years I’ve dabbled in painting, drawing, quilting, and crafting, but I’ve always been drawn back to graphic design. I am currently attending Sessions College and will be receiving a Certificate in Graphic Design with a concentration in Print Design.
Mrs. Amy Godard, RN - Nurse
I absolutely love the atmosphere at St. Francis Xavier. It's a blessing to be able to work in such a friendly, and fun environment. Every Tuesday during mass I'm reminded that I'm right where God wants me to be. It’s such a difference from my more clinical nursing jobs at the local hospitals, and it gives me time to enjoy summer camp nursing too!
Mrs. Priscilla (Bonnie) Picard - School Aide
I was born and raised in Winooski and attended Saint Francis Xavier School, Winooski High School, and Trinity College. I have served the SFX School and Parish community in many different capacities: 2nd grade teacher, Home and School officer along with my husband Norm, School Board for 29 years, Parish Council, Parish Finance Committee, lector, Eucharistic minister, and church “decorator” for major holidays.
Ms. Nancy Trono - Library Volunteer
As a volunteer at St. Francis Xavier School for over 20 years, Nancy Trono has seen a lot of changes, especially, in our school library. Nancy does many things as a library volunteer, such as handling check-ins and check-outs at the circulation desk, getting magazines and books ready for the shelves, helping with overdue materials, setting up displays and just keeping our library looking clean, tidy and welcoming. In short, she really keeps the wheels on the machine. Additionally, Nancy helps in providing pre-K with books for their literacy curriculum.
Mr. Andy Dufresne - Facilities Manager
After receiving his associates degree from Champlain College in 1982, Mr. Dufresne worked for decades in various capacities for local businesses including IBM and Sears Roebuck. Over the past few winters he has helped out as a lift operator at Cochran’s Ski Area where so many Vermont youngsters have learned to ski. Having heard from his wife Diane -- who is a longtime SFX teacher! -- that SFX School was looking for a new Director of Maintenance, he decided to bring his skills to our school community. We will be sharing Mr. Dufresne’s time and talent with SFX Parish.