Faculty and Staff

Administration Team


Sandi Fischer

Head of School

Sandi brings a strong background in educational leadership to her role as Head of School. Prior to joining Richland in 2018, she had 10 years of experience as a Principal for two other private schools and had owned and operated her own learning centre in York Region. Sandi understands the uniqueness of a private school environment and the value it offers children and their families. She began her education career teaching in an IB World School and later returned to the IB education system as a Principal. She has developed expertise in inquiry-based learning and knows the tremendous opportunities an IB education provides children. Sandi has a Bachelor of Arts degree from York University, with a major in Psychology and a Post Graduate degree in Education from the University of Wollongong, Australia. Sandi has taught both internationally and locally as a kindergarten teacher, primary teacher and Head of Special Education. She is passionate about inclusive and innovative education models that help every child become confident learners and thinkers. Sandi is a published author of four sight words and phonetic workbooks for parents and teachers, and has consulted in the publication of school-wide curriculum documents for two schools. Sandi is an attentive listener, communicator and is always ready to support others. She has a compassionate heart and knows that every child has the potential for great success.


Adrian Cheung

Technology, Design and Communications Coordinator

Adrian delivers innovative technology information and unique creative aspect to Richland as he is an experienced designer with a demonstrated history of working in the field of graphic design, advertising and marketing. He holds a Bachelor of Technology degree from Ryerson University, and currently pursuing his master's degree at Ontario Tech University. Adrian facilitates technology uses at school, and also supports teachers and staff with any technology problems. He handles Richland’s online presence and brand communications materials. Additionally, Adrian coaches Richland’s badminton team as he brings a lot of experiences. He was in high school and university teams, and also involved in a number of tournaments in the GTA.


Joanne Pace

IB-PYP Coordinator and Learning Strategist

Joanne joined Richland Academy in 2015 and is thrilled to be part of Richland’s vibrant and creative community and lives the Reggio philosophy. She constantly challenges her students to think critically in a world that requires creativity and innovative thinking. Joanne began her career in Marketing after graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Guelph. She took on progressively more challenging roles internationally. When she ultimately returned to Canada, Joanne chose to pursue her passion and a career in education, and earned her Bachelor of Education.


Nalini Subramanyam

Early Years and Kindergarten Lead & Wellness Coordinator

Nalini is joining Richland Academy as the Early Years Lead to support all of our Early Years teachers in creating an environment where children learn through inquiry and play. She believes that the cognitive, emotional, social and physical development of children in the early years has a direct impact on their overall development and on the adult they will become. Through her experiences working in Reggio inspired schools she has developed a strong understanding and belief in nurturing the 100 Languages that a child may choose to communicate with, and developing a curriculum that is based on the child's ideas, thoughts and observations. Nalini brings over 7 years of experience working in IB schools in India and Canada. Her educational journey includes Bachelor’s degree in Commerce, Cambridge Diploma for Teachers and Trainers, and Diploma in Early Childhood Education.

Early Years Faculty Team


Omua Unuigbe

Early Years Teacher

Omua has had the opportunity to experience beautiful cultures as she was born in Nigeria and lived in Brazil before moving to Canada. She acquired a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Carleton University and received a Diploma in Early Childhood Education from Algonquin College. Omua is outgoing and truly passionate about the well being of children. Her goal as a Reggio inspired educator is to provide a fun and friendly environment for children to make significant learning discoveries through play. She shares her love for cultural diversity with her students through music, dance and art. She discovered her passion for child care while volunteering at a children’s hospital in Brazil. Omua is grateful to enrich her knowledge of the field while currently volunteering at Sick Kids Hospital and being a part of the Richland team.


Heidi Rybak

Meal Coordinator Manager, Aftercare Supervisor

Heidi comes to Richland with a passion for food and an extensive background working in both hospitality and with children. She has spent many years as both a restaurant and private chef and worked with children in a number of different capacities including summer camps and classroom volunteer. Her passion for food drives her to provide the highest levels of service, quality and guest satisfaction at all times. In addition to serving the children at Richland, Heidi looks forward to creating new food programs for staff and eventually providing her creativity and skill for school wide events for families.

K-8 Faculty Team


Lindsay Brennan

Kindergarten Teacher

Lindsay Brennan was born and raised on St. Thomas in the beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands. Being raised in the Caribbean has allowed Lindsay a number of unique opportunities to work with children of many different backgrounds. She began working with children from a very early age, as a junior camp counselor. Her dream was to one day become a teacher. She moved to Canada in 2006 and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Ryerson University in 2010. She continued her education and received her Bachelor’s of Education from Nipissing University in 2011. Lindsay is an Ontario Certified Teacher and has been upgrading her qualifications ever since. She has recently received her qualification to teach at the Intermediate level. Since graduating from Teacher’s College, Lindsay has taken on a number of different roles, from supervisor of a before and after school program run by Upper Canada Child Care to working as an Early Childhood Educator with the York Region District School Board for 5 years. Lindsay is thrilled to be a part of the Richland Team and is thoroughly looking forward to returning to work with the amazing staff and children.


Chantal Paguaga

Kindergarten Teacher Assistant

Chantal Paguaga is a Registered Early Child Educator and is joining Richland Academy as a Teacher’s Assistant in Kindergarten. She is known for her creativity in the classroom and love for life long learning. She comes with many years of experience with children of a variety of ages. She graduated from George Brown College and since then has had years of experience in an IB private school setting. Chantal has started working with children at a very young age and from then she knew her passion was with children and becoming the architect of their future. Ms. Paguaga enjoys every aspect of teaching and has realized over time that children can teach us as much as we can teach them. When not teaching you can find her out in the city trying new foods and traveling the world. She hopes to make your child’s learning experience an adventure that your child will never forget.


Kate Daniel

Kindergarten Teacher and Reggio Lead

Kate Daniel has been teaching at Richland Academy for 16 years as the Senior Kindergarten Teacher. She enjoys teaching the PYP program (International Baccalaureate), and a believer in creating challenging, Reggio inspired inquiry environments that stimulate deep learning. She is a curious, creative, and passionate educator, who is committed to lifelong learning, and deepening her understanding of how children learn. She is known for her innovative curriculum design with a focus on the early years. Kate participated in the International Study tour to Reggio Emilia in 2010, and also enjoys mentoring student teachers from local colleges and Universities. Kate has organized workshops for the parent community, as well as presented Additional Qualification sessions for the Ontario Board of Education. She has also attended Reggio conferences in Toronto, Calgary, Boston and St. Louis. Kate has a business degree from Brighton University, as well as a post graduate, Montessori Teaching Certificate. (Ontario Scholar)


Alexandra Vanegas

Kindergarten Teacher Assistant

Alexandra joined Richland Academy as teacher assistant in Kindergarten to support the children and teachers. Mrs. Vanegas has a teacher’s degree from University Luis Amigo, Colombia and comes with a variety of experiences working with children of varying ages and in different capacities. She became a Registered Early Childhood Educator with honours from Seneca College, in order to formalize her abilities and bring her enthusiasm and passion in the Kindergarten setting. Alexandra strongly believes that children are unique, capable, and full of potential, with different interests, needs and ways to learn, and it is her motivation to work in an environment where she can contribute and guide each child’s potential.


Melissa Bracciale

Grade 1 Teacher

Melissa teaches grade one at Richland Academy. Melissa has been teaching in private schools for 12 years, in grades ranging from Senior Kindergarten to Grade Two. With over 8 years of teaching experience at an IB PYP school she has a solid understanding of concept-based inquiry teaching and learning, and creative and effective ways to facilitate her students in becoming DEEPER THINKING, CONFIDENT AND WORLD READY. Melissa attended York University where she obtained a Specialized Honours BA in Geography and Urban Studies and she later went on to receive her Bachelor of Education from D'Youville College. While teaching and meeting many children along the way, Melissa went on to take many courses and got her Specialist in Special Education. Melissa strongly believes in creating special bonds will all of her students which helps foster a culture of trust where students will take academic and creative risk and have a strong desire to work to their full potential and blossom.


Daniela Quiquero

Grade 1 Teacher

Daniela’s passion for teaching is driven by her dedication to creating inclusive and engaging learning environments. She believes in the value of fostering meaningful relationships with her students and their families to ensure every student reaches their full potential. Daniela is a lifelong learner, committed to continually developing a student-centered teaching practice that empowers active creators of knowledge. She received a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Children’s Studies at York University, then went on to earn a Bachelor of Education at York University. Daniela joined the Richland family as an English Language Learner (ELL) teacher for the 2019-2020 academic year. She is excited to fill in for Mrs. McCutcheon and teach one of the grade 1 classes this coming school year. Daniela is excited and honoured to be a part of each students’ unique learning journey at Richland Academy.


Laura McCutcheon

Grade 1 Teacher (on mat leave)

Laura’s professional interests derive from her ability to create positive and effective cognitive approaches to teaching and learning. She believes a teacher’s job is to create an environment that allows all students to become engaged and motivated to learn. Laura received an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Humanities with a concentration in Early Childhood Education from Cayuga Community College. She then went on to earn a B.A. in Childhood Education with concentrations in English and Athletic Coaching from the State University of New York. In order to become an effective and successful teacher, Laura continued her education in 2009, obtaining her M.S. Degree in Elementary Reading and Literacy (Birth-6) from Walden University.


Natalie Revesz

Grade 2 Teacher

Natalie teaches Grade 2 at Richland. Originally from Thornhill, Ontario, Ms. Revesz spent the last ten years as a primary school teacher in New Zealand, with a focus on teaching Kindergarten-Grade 2. As a graduate from Ryerson University and York University (B.Ed), Natalie travelled the world while working in the field of Education. What stuck to her the most, no matter where she was, was the pure joy children experience when they are in charge of their learning. Natalie is committed to providing a learning environment where students feel valued and safe enough to take risks, while delivering an academic program suited to the needs of all students.


Hind Najjar Zahr

Grade 2 Teacher and Literacy Lead

Hind has been an elementary school teacher for over 20 years. Hind believes that progressing children’s literacy skills is fundamental and critical to their individual and collective future development. She embraces the progressive thinking of the Reggio philosophy, which honours children and their rights as active constructors of knowledge; and views the teacher as a collaborator and co-learner. Hind holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and a Master’s degree in Education, specializing in International Teaching from Framingham State University in Massachusetts, U.S.A.


Shawna Modeste

Grade 3 Teacher

Shawna had always dreamed of becoming a teacher. She loves investigating, collaborating and exploring with the children in their learning journey, while building strong relationships with students and their families.Shawna is a graduate of the University of Manitoba, where she obtained her Bachelor of Education. She has been with Richland since it began in 2002, working in the preschool and primary grades. Shawna is committed to lifelong learning, which she regards as the heart and soul of growth, passion and drive in education.


Paola Ciocio

Grade 4 Teacher and Mathematics Lead

Paola is a lifelong learner, which is the essence of why she became a teacher. Every day she learns from her students, and every day she pushes them to do more, be more, and take on new learning risks and challenges. Before coming to Richland Academy, Paola worked as a Resource Educator, supporting young children with exceptionalities, and their families as they entered into the school system. As she furthered her education to include working with school-aged children, a shared vision of a Reggio and Inquiry-based learning atmosphere led Paola to Richland Academy in 2011. Paola’s educational journey includes a Degree in Psychology, in Early Childhood Education, a Bachelor of Education Degree and Mathematics Specialist Certification. When not in school, Paola can be found hiking or running, enjoying the expansive trails throughout Canada.


Michael-James Palazzo

Grade 5 Teacher

Michael-James has been working with and learning from students within Reggio inspired schools offering the IB Primary Years Programme framework for over six years. Prior to working at Richland, he taught in the PYP in Milan, Italy and San Francisco, California. Michael-James’ Reggio inspired, inquiry-based, constructionist and constructivist approach to teaching seeks to motivate young people to discover and celebrate their own unique gifts and capacities as agents of action and change. Michael-James graduated with a Master of Teaching degree from the University of Toronto. In addition to his lifelong commitment to working with young people, he has worked extensively with students with special needs. He considers children to be his greatest teachers. In his spare time, Michael-James enjoys DJ’ing, cycling, and playing ice hockey. He also loves traveling the world with his wife Clare who is an educator and psychotherapist. Michael-James is grateful to have the opportunity to learn and grow with the Richland community.


Mike Sidnam

Grade 6 Teacher

Mike is from New Zealand and teaching in the Junior School with the Grade 5/6 children. He has been an active educator, involved in outdoor education for 10 years, prior to gaining his Bachelor's degree in Primary Education and diploma in Education Studies in 2010. He taught in New Zealand for 5 years, with an inquiry background, before moving to Canada with his wife and two children. He believes education is a lifelong journey and by fostering strong relationships with children and providing rich learning experiences, children are able to flourish socially, emotionally and academically.


Millie Soriano

Grade 7/8 Teacher

Millie teaches Grade 7/8 at Richland Academy. Mrs. Soriano’s has over ten years of teaching experience in a private school setting as a Homeroom teacher, ESL teacher and Art Specialist, as well as three years of experience teaching internationally as an English teacher in Japan. She attended the Ontario College of Arts and Design, better known as OCAD, where she obtained her Bachelors of Communication & Design. Later on, she graduated from York University with a Bachelors of Education. Some of her Professional Development include training in Special Education, ESL/EFL, and Technology in the Classroom. Mrs. Soriano brings her knowledge, passion, and many years of teaching experience using the IB programme to guide her students in becoming caring and successful global citizens.

Specialties Faculty Team


Josephine Sherman

Visual Arts

An accomplished local watercolour artist, Josephine is in her 12th year as the Visual Arts Specialist/ Atelerista at Richland Academy. She embraces the Reggio philosophy and strongly believes the arts are an integral aspect of children’s learning in the 21st century. Josephine is passionate about fostering creativity, and empowering others to make a difference through the visual arts. Her education includes an Honours Degree in Fine Arts from York University, a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto, three years at the Ontario College of Art; as well as a Special Education Certificate part 1, an E.S.L. certificate from O.I.S.E and IB certification category 1.


Jacob Demers

Athletic Director

Jacob is the Athletic Director and Health and Physical Education teacher at Richland. He believes strongly in the benefits of physical activity for health and self image, and looks forward to seeing all of his students grow and develop. Mr. Demers also runs Richland’s House System and ensures that all students have fun competing for their teams. Before coming to Richland, Mr. Demers was the Athletic Director at a Canadian International School in Hong Kong.


Suzanne Kovac

Performing Arts

Suzanne is Richland’s amazingly talented Performing Arts teacher. Ms. Kovac has a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Specialized Honours in Music, and additional certification from the Royal Conservatory of Toronto, as an Orff Music Specialist, and an Early Childhood Music Educator. She believes in building a love of music and a sense of music appreciation, while at the same time teaching children the technical aspects of music.


Amelie Thompson


Amélie joins Richland Academy after 19 years of teaching French and Spanish in the UK in a variety of settings. Born and raised in Brittany, France, she moved to England to pursue a successful career in teaching. She brings her positive energy and her infectious enthusiasm and passion for languages. In her free time, Amélie enjoys exercising and hopes to join a volleyball team in the area. She is beyond excited to be living her lifelong dream of relocating to Canada with her family and embracing all the riches and opportunities this beautiful country has to offer.


Adrianne Kraft

Information and Communication Technology

Adrianne brings to Richland her exuberant energy and her love for learning. She has worked with children in a variety of roles- coach, tutor, and teacher for over 5 years. She is known for her enthusiasm for life and brings a creative and fresh outlook to the classroom. As a teacher, her goal is to help guide children to discover the joy of learning in and out of the classroom. She too, continues to learn and grow as an educator and is currently pursuing the ‘Applied Behavior Analysis’ program and ‘Diploma in Teaching English as a Secondary Language’ program to further help support her students to becoming life long learners. When Adrianne is not at school you can find her traveling the world or ‘krafting’ a costume for her next upcoming convention.


Ilana Burshtein

English Language Learner

Ilana Burshtein teaches English Language Learners at Richland Academy. She has a master's degree in teaching from the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in printmaking from OCAD University. She has also taken additional qualifications in English as a Second Language and Special Education. She has worked with children as a teacher, tutor, art instructor, volunteer for reading programs and ``nanny angel`` at the Nanny Angel Network (a charity that supports parents with cancer.) During the recent quarantine period, Ilana taught visual art classes over Zoom. Ilana likes to use hands-on learning materials to make education tactile, fun and relevant to children's lives. She has previously incorporated students into art projects that have been shown professionally. Ilana's educational interests include bringing environmentalism into the classroom, portfolio-based learning, and making technology in the classroom a social experience.

Office and Facilities Staff


Bessy Bianco

Office & Admissions Manager

Bessy Bianco has a Honors Bachelor of Arts degree from York University. During her university years Bessy volunteered in Daycares, Elementary Schools and was hired by a School board to tutor children who were temporarily ill and could not physically attend school. Her compassion lies in helping others. Most of all seeing children happy, healthy and growing to their fullest potential. Bessy has worked many years in administration and loves being organized. She is thrilled to be a part of the Richland Academy administrators where she has the advantage of working with all the members of the organization as well as the students and their families. Her focus and concerns are on the well-being of our Richland students.


Angela Poleto

Office Administrator

Angela has had the privilege, as a member of the Richland community, to provide assistance to students, families and visitors in the Main Office since she joined the Richland family in 2008. Providing a safe and inviting environment to students and staff is the goal which Angela wishes to accomplish each day. Angela has been part of the education field for over 10 years. Prior to working at Richland Academy, Angela worked with the York Catholic District School Board. Angela is a graduate of Ryerson, and furthered her education in Business Computer Skills.


Nancy Neumann-Causi

HR Officer/Librarian

Nancy holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours Degree from the University of Toronto, with a specialty in Economics and a major in German Literature. Nancy’s administrative responsibilities at Richland are complemented by opportunities to interact with our young learners. Nancy is happy to share in the children’s academic journey, and to view the world through the young eyes and minds of our students, who hold such promise and potential!


Rafael Nieves

Campus Manager

Rafael came to Richland in 2011 with an impressive background. Originally from Mexico, Rafael graduated from the University of Technologies and Sciences with a civil engineering degree. In addition, Rafael is an accomplished soccer player, having played for Mexican second division league. Rafael ensures Richland operates smoothly on many levels, both internally and around the campus. He brings a creative eye and attention to detail in all that he does.


Raymund Narciso


Born in the beautiful Philippines, Raymund grew up under the care of loving parents and grandparents. He thought he heard a calling to Priesthood and entered the Seminary. He completed high school and went on to study philosophy in college. Raymund decided to leave the Seminary and sought a new beginning in Canada, where he was sponsored by relatives. He trained as a Personal Support Worker, and then opened his own janitorial business. Raymund is excited by the opportunity to work at Richland.


Clinton Chang


Clinton was born in a little town in Vietnam, he moved to Taiwan at the age of 5. He completed his high school studies, then venturing overseas to pursue a new life in Canada. Shortly after his arrival, Clinton became a dedicated Custodian in 1990 enforcing sanitation regulations one clean classroom at a time. During his free time, he enjoys jamming out music, watching soccer, and spending time with his family. Clinton also enjoys talking and meeting new people from different walks of life. As a dedicated and hard-working individual, he believes that a safe and clean environment fosters a happy and motivating space for everyone to be in.