Ms. Shelly Gow-Sullivan, M.Ed.
Head of School/Founder and Owner of Groton Farm School and Luina Greine Farm
Shelly Sullivan received her M. Ed. from Lesley University, Cambridge, MA, with a focus in Curriculum Development and Reading. She has several years of teaching experience in both private and public schools. Shelly is a long time equestrian and lover of all animals. Together with her husband John, they built and grew Luina Greine Farm, completely on their own, beginning in 2010. This is now home to approximately 25 farm animals on their 20-acres of pasture, meadows, and apple orchards.
Shelly’s children grew up on this farm, caring for the animals and the land, in many capacities, as well as doing farm chores, every day. Caroline and Patrick are now in college and accomplishing great things! She attributes their success to having grown up on a farm!
Ms. Sara Spaanenburg, M.S.
Curriculum Enhancement Specialist
Sara Spaanenburg earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy and Master’s Degree in Sports Medicine at the University of Lund, Sweden. After graduating, Sara spent her time teaching at a horse stable that specialized in helping children with disabilities become active, gain confidence, and enjoy animals and nature.
Sara grew up in Sweden close to forests and lakes, where her love of nature began. Some of her fondest memories growing up include hiking in the northern Scandinavian mountains, horseback riding, fishing, and ice skating. These days, she spends her free time hiking, exercising, and walking with her two children, husband, and dog.
Ms. Barbara (Babs) Dasilva, B.A.
Arts Instructor and Community Liaison
Barbara comes to Groton Farm School with a B.A. in Communications and Graphic Arts from Simmons College. She worked in publishing for over 30 years as a Book Designer and Art Director. Ms. Babs has designed historical publications for many museums, such as The Newport Preservation Society, the New York Historical Society, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, and House of Seven Gables for Applewood Books in Carlisle. Barbara is not only our amazing Arts Instructor, but also our Community Liaison. When she is not inspiring the young children of Groton Farm School, Ms. Babs enjoys photography and watercolor painting.
Ms. Kim McNeil, M.Ed
Special Education Teacher
Kim McNeil received her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Fitchburg State University. She holds teaching licenses in Young Child With Special Needs, Early Childhood Education (K-3), and Intensive Special Needs (K-12). Kim has several years of teaching experience in public schools, as well as in Collaborative Classrooms. In her free time, Kim enjoys photography, arts and crafts, hiking the trails in Groton with her Goldendoodle, and spending time at the lake in Maine with her husband and two children.
Ms. Debbie Carroll, B.S.
Literacy and Enrichment Specialist
Debbie Carroll comes to Groton Farm School with her passion for teaching young students. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree from Fitchburg State University, as well as certification from Lesley University as a Reading Recovery Teacher. Ms. Debbie taught both in private and public schools. She brings her 20 years of teaching experience as a public school First Grade Teacher, responsible for planning and teaching all areas of the curriculum. Groton Farm School is thrilled to have Ms. Debbie as our Literacy and Enrichment Specialist. When she is not in the classroom, she enjoys knitting, exercising, and spending time with family and friends including her beautiful 18-month-old, Ragdoll kitty, Finley.
Ms. Sarah Kiessling, Academy of Orton-Gillingham Certified Practitioner
Sarah Kiessling received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from Western Michigan University. In 1994, she moved to Groton with her husband and two children. Ms. Sarah worked at the Groton Community School from September 1998 to June 2000. In September 2000, she was hired by the Groton Dunstable Regional School District and worked there as a classroom Paraprofessional and Substitute Teacher until June 2010. Sarah was accepted into the prestigious Garside Institute For Teacher Training @ The Carroll School in Waltham, MA, where she was trained on how to successfully work with students who have language-based learning disabilities, such as dyslexia. Sarah received her Orton Gillingham Academy Associates Certificate and was hired by The Carroll School in June 2011. While working full-time, Sarah earned her Orton-Gillingham Academy Certified Certificate. She retired from the Carroll School in June of 2022 and has since accepted a position at Groton Farm School as a Reading Interventionist.
Ms. Jacquie Waters (aka Strega Mama), B.A.
Ms. Jacquie, also known as “Strega Mama” to our students, comes to Groton Farm School with an enthusiasm for reading like no other! She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Early Education and Fine Arts at Bridgewater State University. As an Interactive Storyteller, Jacquie has worked and continues to perform in a number of local libraries and schools, including The Groton Public Library (every Tuesday!). “Strega Mama” has been working with children for many years, bringing her enthusiastic energy and creativity to the classroom. Her story times are a fun-filled experience for all ages, including lively readings, interactive games, laughter yoga, sign language, and singalongs. In Jacquie’s spare time, she likes to go on adventures with her three daughters, read, and create art! If interested, follow the fun with Strega Mama at
Ms. Holly Tonnessen, M.Ed.
Holly Tonnessen earned her Masters of Education in Training and Development from North Carolina State University. She comes to Groton Farm School with a background in corporate training and course development. Holly is in charge of Admissions/Enrollment and managing administrative tasks. Besides staying active outdoors with running and hiking, she loves traveling with her husband and daughter.
Mr. John Sullivan, M.B.A.
Director of Finance
Mr. Sullivan is a graduate of Providence College, R.I. He brings his 30 years experience in business, sales, and finance as Vice President of World Wide Sales for several software security companies.