Our Administration & Staff
- Beth DiPerna, MA, CCC-SLP - Head of School
- Karen Pentkowski - Business Administration/Development
- Donna Tesler - Administrative Support
email@example.com Beth has been working with kids with language and learning differences for 22 years. A trained Speech-Language Pathologist, she graduated from Rutgers University with a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Psychology. Beth went on for her Masters Degree in Speech-Language Pathology with minor focus in Audiology at New York University. She has worked in a wide variety of settings with a wide variety of populations, most recently in private practice which allowed her flexibility as a mother of four kids. This is Beth’s 6th year at Orchard Friends School, and she previously served as the school’s Director of Admissions as well as Interim Head of School.
firstname.lastname@example.org Karen moved to New Jersey from the Lake George, NY region about 30 years ago. She was the Business Manager for a local Engineering/Architectural firm for thirteen years before coming to OFS in 2001. A firm believer in volunteerism, she served on the Advisory Board for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for seven years where she chaired a sub-committee responsible for procuring donations and promotional items for over 5000 cyclists for the Annual MS 150 City to Shore Bike Tours. She was a board vice-president for a local shelter for battered woman and children; and the PTA Treasurer for several years at her children’s elementary school. As a mother who had two of her children struggle with learning difficulties in school she understands the needs and frustrations that other children and parents experience. Coupled with her management and fund raising experience she believes Orchard Friends School is the right place to be.
email@example.com Donna Tesler is a South Jersey native. She worked in the banking field before starting a family with her husband Dave. When their three children were in school all day she attended Harris School of Business and then worked for an engineering firm providing administrative support. Eventually the business closed and Donna began volunteering at OFS. When a position opened here at school, she was excited to join the OFS community full time where she provides administrative support, assists in fundraising efforts and many other things throughout the day. She finds it rewarding to witness obstacles overcome, and the growth each child makes here at school. She especially enjoys spending time with her 3 grandkids and likes to putter in her garden and travel.
Our Teachers and Faculty
(click the names to read more!)
Pam Carpenter, MEd - Special Education Teacher
Pam Carpenter has lived in South Jersey all her life and has been a teacher at OFS for 10 years. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Drexel University. Ms. Carpenter earned her Master’s Degree in Special Education, with a specialty in Autism, from Drexel University as well. She is trained in many programs including Wilson’s Fundations and Orton Gillingham. In her spare time Ms. Carpenter enjoys spending time with her family and volunteering for the MS Society and her local Civic Association. She lives in Cherry Hill with her husband and two children.
Michelle Critelli, OTR/L - Occupational Therapist
Michelle Critelli, OTR/L is a registered, certified and licensed occupational therapist with 26 years of pediatric experience. In 1991, she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from Kean University, NJ. Ms.Critelli has worked in a variety of clinical settings as the Outpatient Pediatric Rehabilitation/Early Intervention Center at JFK Hospital, Edison, N.J., Pediatric Rehabilitation and Neonatal/Follow Up Clinic at Jersey Shore Medical Center, Neptune, N.J. and extensively in schools throughout N.J. Ms. Critelli has also guest lectured at Seton Hall University and was an adjunct professor at Kean University teaching pediatric seminar courses. Ms. Critelli is the owner of Our Playground Therapy Services and currently works as an independent contractor with Orchard Friends School and Hainesport School District. Ms. Critelli lives in Medford with her husband of 26 years and is the proud mother of 19 year old triplets.
Becca Gutwirth, MEd - Special Education Teacher
Becca Gutwirth graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in Environmental Science. She graduated from Temple as an M.Ed in Sports and Recreation Administration. Becca joined Teach for America and taught middle school for two years in Paterson, NJ while obtaining her K-8 General Education and K-12 Biology certifications from William Paterson University. She continued teaching another 3 years in North Jersey, before taking some time off to raise her own children. During that time, she worked from home writing text books and state assessment tests in both math and science, and continuing her education to obtain her middle school math and science certifications. She spent several years as the Director of Education at Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge before returning to school at Rowan University to earn her certification in Special Education. Before coming to Orchard Friends, she was teaching high school inclusion and self-contained math and science in Cherry Hill. A lifelong learner, she is currently working towards her high school math certification. She lives in Medford with her husband and two high school age children.
Kate Johnson - Special Education Teacher
Kate Johnson, a lifelong resident of Riverton, has been teaching in a variety of settings since graduating from University of the Arts in 1990. Although her initial focus was primarily Art and Early Childhood Education, she quickly realized the benefits her students with learning differences reaped from an arts intensive curriculum. More recently, she attended Rutgers University to formalize her Special Education credentials and further study the intersection of special education and the arts. She is thrilled to have a home at Orchard Friends, where teachers are encouraged to think outside the box in an effort to serve the individual needs of each student. In her spare time, Kate works as a teaching artist, specializing in community mosaic projects. She also enjoys relaxing with a book or playing board games with her family and friends.
Caroline Mackie - Special Education Teacher
Caroline graduated from Widener University with a BA degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education. Prior to coming to Orchard Friends School, Caroline was a Special Education Teacher at Larc School and a Teacher Assistant for the Burlington County Special Services School District in the Pioneer Autism and Sensory Center. She is a resident of Cinnaminson and graduate of Holy Cross High School, where she played varsity basketball and softball. Caroline enjoys participating in outdoor activities, playing with her family’s two rescue dogs, Lambeau and Jordy, and spending time at the New Jersey shore.
Sharon Pearl - Speech Language Pathologist
Sharon K. Pearl, M.A., CCC-SLP has more than 30 years of experience serving children with speech, language, learning, oral motor (including Childhood Apraxia of Speech) and auditory processing disorders in private practice in the South Jersey area. She has served as a consultant in both public and private schools in Camden County. Sharon works closely with parents and teachers, empowering them to help their children, using the latest technologies. Language skills and learning go hand in hand. Sharon’s language therapy addresses skills needed for academic success such as phonological awareness skills, listening skills, language based reasoning skills, reading readiness skills, oral and written narrative skills and executive function/organizational skills. Working closely with teachers, often utilizing the student’s academic materials, supports the student’s educational process while simultaneously attaining speech therapy goals.Sharon received her training and education from Queens College, City University of New York for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), New Jersey Speech-Language Hearing Association (NJSHA) and Academy of Private Practice in Speech Pathology and Audiology. Sharon is licensed in New Jersey and certified by the NJ Department of Education and ASHA.
Sue Silvestri, BA - Special Education Teacher
- Dr. Sandy Rea, Chair
- Larue Evans
- Stan Filimon
- Polly Kimberly
- Mary Kinsey
- Janet Knowles
- Kiyo Moriuchi, member emeritus
- Matthew Riggins
Stan Filimon brings 25 years of business and financial experience to the Orchard Friends School board. Stan is the owner of Filimon Benefits Group in Moorestown, NJ. He was Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Child Development Center for five years. Stan served in the United States Army from 1968-1971, serving in Vietnam from 1969-1970. Stan graduated from Drexel University with a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance.
Polly Kimberly has been an independent school educator for more than twenty years. She began her career at a boarding school in upstate New York, where she worked for thirteen years as an English teacher, coach, and dorm parent. When her family moved to New Jersey in 2009, she worked at Orchard Friends School as a classroom assistant, and over those two years she fell in love with the school and its students and gained a profound appreciation for the importance of special education. For the past seven years she has worked as a college counselor and diversity coordinator at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia.
Board Member & Co-founder of Orchard Friends School since 1997, Kiyo is an advocate for hands-on, life-long learning. Growing up on her family farm many of her activities have been agricultural or ecologically based including service projects for international hunger relief, 4-H, Our Shared Ground and work for California & NJ Agricultural Extension. Past & present committee and Board service work has been for Pendle Hill Study Center, Moorestown Monthly Meeting, and Haverford College Corporation. Her work has centered around Moorestown Friends School working at the MFS Thrift Shop and as a costumer for MFS theatrical productions. Education: University of CA, Davis, MS / Wilmington College-Ohio, BA